Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Personal Radiation Detector

Today's article was taken from Yahoo's news page.

As everyone probably knows there was a huge earthquake off the coast of Japan on March 11th, 2011. That earthquake damaged one of Japan's nuclear power plants which is located in Fukushima. The power plant started going though a shutdown using generators because outside power was cut off. Not long after the earthquake a title wave hit the power plant, destroying the generators and shutting off the water cooling system for the nuclear fuel. That, of course, (as it does) lead to a partial melt down and several radiation leaks.

That happened 2 months ago today. At that time a lot of people that live in the Northern part of Japan were worried about an increase in the normal background radiation because of the nuclear melt down. It was a very real fear for those that lived near the crippled nuclear power plant, but the problem was the people that lived far away from the plant and were panicking because of a little extra radiation. The fact is that no one knows what a little extra radiation does to the human body, but the chances of it resulting in cancer is low.

This brings us to the article I linked to above. It seems a company called RAE Systems has made and started marketing a personal radiation dosage detector. You can see the detector along with its USB stand in the picture below.

RAE Systems's DoseRAE
For those of you that might be interested, here are so specs:
   Can be programmed to take a data point at any time between 30 seconds to 3600 seconds.
   Can measure data ranges from 0.01 mSv/h to 10Sv/h.
   Data can be transferred to a computer and it can be charged by means of USB.
   Comes at an alarm (vibration or LED lights) that can be set using a computer (XP or Vista).
   Current radiation dosages can be displayed on a computer when in a USB dock.
   MSRP: 79800 yen

It is a little pricey, but for those that are truly worried about their radiation dose (those that live close to the power plant or those that have to work at it), it might be a good buy. Other than that, I would say it is a geek's must buy fashion accessory because it comes with a nice plastic clip that can be used to clip it firmly in place in the front pocket. Very sexy.

There is one drawback though, the device uses thin film technology (instead of the same technology as a Geiger counter) so it will only truly detect X-rays and gamma rays. It can not really be used to detect the radiation caused by alpha particles or beta particles. It is not an all around detector, but and all around detector would be much bigger and cost a whole lot more.

It is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 放射線(ほうしゃせん). It is pronounced hoshasen and it means radiation. I know that radiation can be scary because it is something that we can't see, but hey if it gets bad enough maybe we will all end up like the hulk or spider man.

See you next time at JJNN!

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