XKCD Radiation Dose Chart

Internationally recognized symbol.

Image via Wikipedia

With the nuclear reactor incident in Fukashima, Japan making headlines world-wide, do you know exactly how much radiation is bad?

Randall Munroe of XKCD created what is probably the most informative chart about the different doses of radiation you get from various activities of life, from sleeping next to someone to flying over the USA to getting a chest X-ray and more.

Check out the chart here.

How Nuclear Power Plants Work

Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing wrote an excellent piece on how nuclear power plants work. With the devestation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the Japan nuclear power plan situation, this is a great read to get up to speed on the basics of a nuclear power plant.

For the vast majority of people, nuclear power is a black box technology. Radioactive stuff goes in. Electricity (and nuclear waste) comes out. Somewhere in there, we’re aware that explosions and meltdowns can happen. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that set of information is enough to get by on. But, then, an emergency like this happens and, suddenly, keeping up-to-date on the news feels like you’ve walked in on the middle of a movie. Nobody pauses to catch you up on all the stuff you missed.

As I write this, it’s still not clear how bad, or how big, the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant will be. I don’t know enough to speculate on that. I’m not sure anyone does. But I can give you a clearer picture of what’s inside the black box. That way, whatever happens at Fukushima, you’ll understand why it’s happening, and what it means.