Skip to main content

March Tech of the Month

I realize there's been a lot of free advertising for radiation detector companies out there and rightfully so. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of people (even people outside of Japan) are purchasing these elaborate detection instrumentation that is frankly, overkill. As a health physicist, I've been doing my best to try and calm the American & Canadian population and inform as much as I can. I just want to state for the record: Purchasing sodium iodide pills here in the US is absolutely pointless. There is no possible way significant amounts of radioactive iodine will ever reach the west coast.

Now, for those interested in Japan's situation, according to the NewScientist, radioactive iodine-131 was discovered in Spinach grown at the Fukushima prefecture. As much as 15,020 becquerels of radiation per kilogram. Let me just say, that's not an insignificant amount. Here in the US, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows radiation workers to orally ingest 30 uCi of iodine-131 (approximately 1,110,000 becquerels) per year. This amount corresponds with the 50rem per year or 0.5Sv per year limit to the thyroid gland here in the US. That means, I would have to ingest 73kg of spinach or leeks from the prefecture affected in an entire year. Let's put that into perspective... According to the FDA, the average American eats 1500lbs of food per year (approximately 680 kg). If I'm doing my math correctly, spinach or leeks would have to account for about 10.7% of my daily intake of food (in mass) in order for me to reach my legal limit. Typical recipes call for about 2lbs of spinach to serve 4-6 people. That's about half a pound of spinach per serving during a meal (~230g). Think about it people... That's a lot of spinach in a year! Amounts to about 321 radioactive spinach salads in a year!

In terms of water contamination, it was reported that they measured 965 becquerels of radiation per kilogram. Average person drinks about 2L or 2kg of water in a day which amounts to 730kg of water per year. In order to reach my legal limit, I would have to drink 1,150kg of water in an entire year, nearly doubling my normal intake. I don't even want to get into the fact that iodine-131 has an 8 day half life i.e. 1000 becquerels would decay to 500 in 8 days! The Japanese government is very cautious and conservative in their limits to the public and they should be! But we always have to put things into perspective.

Back to the tech stuff! Actually, I almost took a position in product development for the company that manufactures the radiation sensitive film in Wayne, NJ. I'm not exactly endorsing this product (royalties would be nice though) but this is exactly what I would recommend for the general population.

Laurus Systems RADView webpage.

In terms of having an easy to decipher radiation detection device, film dosimeters are by far the simplest way of determining any danger to yourself or your household. These little devices are about the size of a credit card. These cards have a film in it that is sensitive to ionizing radiation and will darken the greater the radiation absorbed. Keep in mind the time factor as these do not subtract the annual background radiation we receive (240 mrem per year - world average). The technology isn't very sensitive but it is extremely user friendly and easy to read. They even made one for fire fighters in the Fukushima Daiichi plant as they hose the reactors down to cool the fuel rods!

Anyways, please visit the website and try to read articles from reputable sources that know what the heck they're talking about. Remember, there are no stupid questions; feel free to post any questions or comments.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Outdated! Charter Cable Box UI

When I was living with my old roommates, we used Direct TV and Time Warner Cable to satisfy our TV cravings. While I hated, hate, and will always hate Direct TV for their barbaric two year contracts, I give them credit for having a neat looking user interface (UI). But because of their two year contract and lies, we cancelled. We paid about $400 dollars to get Direct TV's grubby paws out of our living room. At that point, it wasn't about the money, it was about principles. And so a happier relationship was started with Time Warner Cable. Though a lot of things were better with Time Warner Cable, I couldn't help but notice their cable boxes' UI was "fugly". Little did I know...

Recently, I've moved away from the parents old roommates. The new area I'm in is serviced by Charter Cable. I was shocked by the UI of the Charter cable boxes.  See picture below:


The UI of the Charter cable box made Time Warner Cable's UI look like it was from the year 2020.…

Next Big Thing: Galaxy Note II

So while the suits in Motorola are chewing bubble gum, checking for updates on their Facebook page, and holding meetings, Samsung is preparing to host a big event on October 24, 2012. The Samsung event will be about their upcoming Galaxy Note II phone. Samsung is going to do what Motorola cannot do, they are going to give their formally announced product a release date.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II will be another monstrous phone much like the original Galaxy Note. The original Galaxy Note has a 5.5 inch display, the Galaxy Note II has a 5.55 inch display. For reference, all iPhones (except the iPhone 5) have a 3.5 inch display and most Android phones have between 4 to 4.8 inch display. Bottom line, the Galaxy Note line of phones is gigantic. The tech blogs refer to these phones as "phablets". The offspring of a phone and a tablet.

Yesterday, while at Costco on an errand to pick up some garlic french bread, my wife wandered over to the jewelry section. At the speed of light…

3-D Printing is Here

Several months ago, my sole daily reader, co-worker, and friend- Matthew- showed me a small green plastic airplane. The green plastic airplane was no bigger than three inches from nose to rudder. He told me that the airplane was created from a 3-D printer. At first, I did not believe him. But then I used some logic, if humans have fission energy, made it to the moon, and created iPhones, then why not 3-D printers? Never doubt the ingenuity of humans. If we can imagine something, it will be a possibility one day.
After my internal monologue, which happened in less than three seconds, I must have responded to Matthew with a calm, "Cool". And indeed the 3-D airplane was cool. Some weeks passed by, then Matthew brings me a 3-D printed barrel, pictured above. I begin to ask more questions about this printer. Apparently, the printer is custom made. The limitations of this printer are a length and width of a few inches, the height being more flexible. This particular printer only …