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Dsitributed ifo: a network approach to things

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Thebastidge, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. Thebastidge

    Thebastidge 10411 NE Fourth Plain Blvd Vancouver WA 98662 Well-Known Member

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    As you may have seen from my profile, I'm an information technology professional for my day job. Many of my friends are also IT professionals.

    One of my former colleagues is currently in Japan, in Sapporo, which is well outside the current danger zone, thank {$deity}. I have several other friends and colleagues in Japan and tons of them in Korea. Understandably, I have been following the disaster news fairly closely.

    Obviously, the story continues to eveolve, both as new information comes to light, and as the situation changes. There's anopther thread in this forum, entitled things to learn from the Japanese crisis. This touches on that, but I'm taking it in a slightly different direction.

    Take a look at these links:

    Fukushima Nuclear Accident – a simple and accurate explanation « BraveNewClimate

    That's good for background. Here's a linkt hat is current:

    Gamma radiation data

    Now here's the email from my friend who sent me the link to the geiger counter data above:


    My reply:


    This is actually a pretty good idea. For some examples of similar concepts, the SETI group has an app that runs in the background on your computer, downloads a slice of data for processing, and uploads the results when done, using only idle CPU cycles and bandwidth. Anybody with a geiger counter that is capable of a data link who has an Internet connection could participate.

    To expand, Ham radio operators who are into packet radio (data) would have no real problem tying something like this into their data feed. With a server in a strategic location, this info could be aggregated. It would be of interest to both government and private citizens alike. Obviously, it would need to include geo coordinates to be of much use, but the data could be scrubbed before presentation; it doesn't need to show any personal details.
     
  2. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    I'm a former IT professional (left it go go make bullets). But either way, it's an interesting idea, and as far as ham goes (I'm an amateur operator also) you could use the extended data formats in APRS, which most software already supports.

    However, back to the more pressing need, the need to measure radiation. When you're talking about the minute quantities of radiation you need very sensitive equipment, usually scintillation counters, and geiger-muller tubes. Now there's a downside to using low range detectors, so you will also need to use some kind of ion chamber detector (gamma only). Low range detectors have a habit of saturating at the worst possible time, and instead of measuring lots of radiation, tell you everything is fine.

    While I appreciate the technical aspects of this project, the public at large would probably be appalled by radiation doses exceeding 10^-100 millirems, because they don't understand that they're probably getting more radiation from eating a banana while watching CNN on the TV than they are from a japanese nuclear incident, they know only one thing, and that's panic.

    Right now the best thing to do is not tell people how much radiation is out there (just like anti-gun nuts saying one gun is too many, anti-radiation nuts are cut from the same cloth) we need to push education about radiation, about chemistry, and reasonable response, as well as our personal responsibilities in reaction to both.

    If you want, check out my blog (yea, I realize how dumb that sounds) you are free to copy this blog posting, edit it, re-use it any way you like: (note, the original has a number of hyperlinks which will be lost from the repost)

    Ammo Blog: Japanese Nuclear Reactors, Potassium Iodide and Radiation Safety

    Japanese Nuclear Reactors, Potassium Iodide and Radiation Safety
    As a lifelong student of all things radioactive, a Disaster Emergency Services Worker, someone who has been trained in dealing with radiological emergencies (IS-00301, IS-00003) the paranoia and panic caused by the releases of radioactive materials from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant after last Friday's earthquake, is frankly more alarming than the release of radioactive material.

    Spawned by media attention, the response by the American public to stockpile Potassium Iodide tablets thinking this will be a panacea against radioactive contamination will be a comedy of failures. Due largely to the ignorance spread by the media in response to this disaster.

    While I won't say radiation is not dangerous, excessive doses of iodine rich compounds can also be dangerous to health. The biggest issue arises from a false belief that Potassium Iodide will protect the whole body against radiation. What KI (chemical symbol for potassium (K) iodide (I for iodine)) does is saturate the thyroid gland with stable isotopes of Iodine, preventing the uptake of Iodine-131, a short lived radioisotope with a half life of about 8 days.

    Iodine-131 is dangerous because it undergoes Beta Decay giving off an electron, when it does this inside the tissue (of the Thyroid) it may cause mutation, cancer, or cell death. Since the thyroid is so essential to managing the body's systems, damage to this gland may be catastrophic to the body.

    However, since the devil is usually in the details. Here's the rub with KI, Japan, it will be a several day journey for any radioactive contaminants released at Fukushima to reach even the west coast. That delay will give many of them a chance to partially decay, greatly reducing the quantity of radioactive materials which reach the west coast. Also, most of these materials are heavy, meaning they will drop out of the air column sooner than other materials, and they are all readily absorbed in sea water, where they will be greatly diluted.

    The next issue, Iodine-131 is not the only dangerous component of a nuclear release. There is also Cesium, Strontium, Barium, Xenon and other materials which are substantially more dangerous than Iodine. Strontium, Barium, and Cesium are readily taken in by plants, and animals and incorporated into bone and other tissues, as an analog for Calcium or Potassium (in the case of Cesium). All of these are longer lived isotopes, and many have higher energy decay processes including alpha and gamma, which can be much more deleterious to human health.

    A general rule taken from Civil Defense, is that for every 7 fold increase in time, a 10 fold decrease in radiation will be measured. So when you measure 50Rad/hr (100 Rad = 1 Sievert Sv = 1 Gray), 7 hours later only 5 R/hr should be the measurement. With a given travel time of 2 days, or 48 hours, the amount of radiation arriving will be 10^-7 or 1/10,000,000th the amount of radiation. Some US experts have suggested longer travel times, insisting radiation will be more on the order of 1/1,000,000,000 (one billionth). So even a release of compounds at the plant exceeding 500Rad/hr by the time they arrive on the west coast, the amount of radiation you may receive will be 5x10^-7, or less radiation than you get having a smoke detector in your house. It is important to understand radiation is all around us, a site with good information on this is the EPA's Radiation Dose Calculator.

    If you are still scared, radiation monitoring is thankfully an exact science, it is very easy to measure the quantity of radiation in a given sample of material, in fact it is easier to find radioactive contamination than it is to find any type of toxic contamination, as radioactive isotopes give off particles which common Geiger Counters, Scintillators and other simple equipment can detect. Additionally, Japan and the Fukushima plant is a great distance from the continental united states, and while the jet stream is more likely to carry contamination here, it will take days, days in which short-lived radioisotopes will decay off, and become much less dangerous. Additionally, keeping a high level of hygiene will aid greatly in removing any radioactive particles from the skin, clothing and hair. Wash your hands frequently, wash fresh produce, avoid foods that concentrate radioisotopes, and given time there is nothing to fear.

    Education is the most important issue when dealing with radiation there are three main defenses against radiation: Time, Distance and Shielding. Here in the on the West Coast, we have distance, and time on our side. Until we see that those are insufficient there is no need to run out and seek shielding, which our houses are quite capable of providing us with.

    If you are really looking for something to stockpile right now, don't stockpile KI, stockpile food, water, medical supplies (bandaids, antisceptics). The next disaster we face probably won't be nuclear fallout from Japan, it will probably be an earthquake on our own shores that gets us.
     
  3. Thebastidge

    Thebastidge 10411 NE Fourth Plain Blvd Vancouver WA 98662 Well-Known Member

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    I strongly disagree with the idea that more information is worse. True, people MAY freak out when they see it at first. But further exposure will force them to confront facts. If the background level everywhere is pretty similar, it's hard to sustain a panic reaction.

    Otherwise, good comment...
     
  4. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    I think you misunderstand me somewhat... information without qualification is worse. Before you throw a bunch of raw data at people, you need to quantify and qualify the information so they are capable of processing it in a reasonable and rational fashion.

    I have a friend who I was talking to last night after I posted, he is currently working on an ion chamber design for gamma ray detection. This would be an assembly for a small/portable radiation detector we were going to build enmasse her in the states and then ship to japan. No network capability, no trending, just an average bq measurement.