Tag Archives: lethal dose

The End is Near: How Japan Will Nuke Us All – Or Not

Editor’s Update: Because there are times when sites like WordPress are blocked or difficult to access, KateWhitney occasionally cannot properly access the site to publish her posts. For this reason I help her upload photos, and sometimes repost things she emails me. Though I am listed as the author, the following is her work.

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CLARIFICATION: a Nuclear melt down is NOT when the fuel rods in a nuclear reactor become SO hot that they fuse together in a molten mass, and melt through their containment vessel, and continue to melt through the Earth until they reach the core of the earth, at which point we no longer are able to control their reactions. Which as a consequence of the lack of human intervention, they reach a critical mass and blow the earth apart in an apocalyptical nuclear explosion that ends life as our universe knows it. That last sentence is mine – it seemed like the natural progression of the idea.

This is the explanation I overheard in a conversation yesterday. Please, if you don’t know what something is, don’t make up an answer. It makes you look ridiculous. As Abraham Lincoln put it — “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, then open it and remove all doubt.”

Frankly, if it the overheard scenario were the case, it would be most helpful for us if the spent fuel rods would sink into the core of the earth. It would solve all our problems. The earth would act as a natural barrier to the radiation, protecting us, and eventually when the rods reached the molten lead deep down, they would cease to be an issue.

This, my dear hominoids, is what Wikipedia was invented for; to eradicate ignorance and prevent the spread of its destructive influence. Phrases like “I’m not sure but I THINK….[insert baseless idea here]” should no longer be a part of our daily diction, as we have no excuse for not being adequately informed. If you find yourself too busy to keep up with the situation — just don’t talk about it! There’s no shame in just not sharing an opinion you haven’t yet had the time to verify.

As China is so close (~2,500 km) to the site of the Japan accident, there has been a sudden fear of imminent destruction by radioactive fall-out. Never mind that the wind doesn’t blow this direction from Japan.

But undeterred by this rational people have taken to rushing to the stores to buy salt. There progression of this idea is this: potassium iodide is the chemical compound used to treat people who are exposed to or will be exposed to iodine radiation. Potassium iodide also happens to be one of the chemicals used to ionize table salt. Thus it is found in minority quantities in any salt you buy.

If you buy enough salt, you consequently end up with the useful dosage of KI (potassium iodide). The question that remains to be answered, is how people intend to extract the KI to make it a useful dosage in the event of a meaningful amount of radiation floating across the China Sea? Salt, in large quantities, is lethal. For a 220 lb male, this is about 300 grams — or about 12 ounces of salt.

Table salt consists of something like 0.006% potassium iodide (wiki page on salt). This means that in 300 grams of salt, one only gets about 0.018 grams of KI. Incidentally, if my calculations are correct, this is roughly a single dose for radiation exposure. Unfortunately, if you we’re somehow able to intravenously ingest the salt, you also just killed yourself from your lethal dose of salt. ( I say intravenously because of course there was now way you were just going to swallow about 12 ounces of table salt!)

Really, what you should do is read this VERY helpful article on nuclear fallout and the use of potassium iodide.

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