On May 21, the screwdriver slipped, the upper beryllium hemisphere fell and caused a “prompt critical” reaction, resulting in a burst of hard radiation. The “blue glow” of air ionization was observed and a “heat wave” was felt by the scientists in the room. Slotin instinctively jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor. He exposed himself to a lethal dose (around 2100 rems, or 21 Sv) of neutron and gamma radiation, in history’s second criticality accident. In addition to the blue glow and heat, Slotin experienced a sour taste in his mouth and an intense burning sensation in his left hand. As soon as Slotin left the building, he vomited, a common reaction from exposure to extremely intense ionizing radiation.
Slotin died nine days later.
The web is the ultimate time suck, but it’s an educational time suck, so I think that makes it better than say something like television. How did I get to this article? Lets see, I started reading about a new solar power plant in Australia –
The government will contribute $57 million to the $319 million project to build a 154 megawatt solar power plant in Victoria state, which will use mirrored panels to concentrate the sun’s rays, Treasurer Peter Costello said.
The plant, which is to be built by Melbourne-based Solar Systems Pty Ltd., would begin operations in 2008 and reach full capacity by 2013.
“The project aims to build the biggest photovoltaic project in the world,” Costello told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Yahoo News Link
(Images of Solar II (above) always reminds me of Sim City.)
This article had me wondering how a 154 Megawatt solar power plant stacks up against nuclear power plants. Turns out your typical nuclear reactor can crank out 1 gigawatt of power, and nuclear power stations tend to house 2 – 4 reactors.
Which had me digging into the different types of nuclear reactors, as well as reading about Chernobyl.
Which in turn reminded me of an old test nuclear reactor in Denver that was plagued by problems – Fort St. Vrain, which has since been decommissioned and is now a natural gas power plant.
In the process I came across Wikipedia’s “List of military nuclear accidents” which ultimately landed me on “Tickling the Dragon’s Tail”. Cool!
Now I need to get back to work. 🙂