Thirty years on from the world's worst nuclear accident, millions of people are still living with radioactive fallout from Chernobyl. In contaminated areas, radiation touches every aspect of people's lives: it's in the food they eat, the milk they drink, and in the schools, parks and playgrounds their children play in. The human toll of reactor accidents is why nuclear power may never gain widespread acceptance, no matter how much the industry tries to reassure us that risks are low.
Smartphones, the Internet and accessible research technologies deinstitutionalize science and get the inner scientist in all of us outside to contribute to a broader understanding of a variety of topics, from backyard birds to flower-blooming times. Science relies on observation. As more people examine natural phenomena and record and share information, we gain better understanding of the world. An increasing number of scientific inquiries now depend on contributions from ordinary people to help them answer important questions.
Is dilution really the solution to pollution -- especially when it's nuclear waste that can stay radioactive for 100,000 years? A four-member expert group told a federal joint review panel it is. The Great Lakes are already threatened by pollution, agricultural runoff, invasive species, climate change and more. We can't afford to add the risk of radioactive contamination to one of the world's largest sources of fresh water.
An Internet search turns up an astounding number of pages about radiation from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown that followed an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. But it's difficult to find credible information. With the lack of data from government, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is asking the public for help.
On an idle Tuesday in February at 4:30 p.m., I learned that the statistic "one in six men are diagnosed with prostate cancer" became, for me, one in one. I'll never forget that moment. My life's blackboard just went blank. I thought I had done everything right: eating a healthy diet, getting checked regularly, exercising -- but there it was on the biopsy.
Due to continued contamination following the Fukushima disaster, social media is now abuzz with people swearing off fish from the Pacific Ocean. Given the lack of information around containment efforts, some may find this reasonable. But preliminary research shows fish caught off Canada's Pacific Coast are safe to eat.
Sometimes there are no magical answers. Sometimes it's just that life is unfair, and some of us get dealt a really shitty hand, while others may not. I wish there was a better explanation than that, a story you could tell your children when they ask why bad things happen to good people. I wish things could be different.