alt="Indescrible image of Softbank CEO, dog and man with pan pipes on his hear"
Are they wearing tinfoil waistcoats?
Japan's third network operator, Softbank, has outfitted its latest mass-market handset with a radiation dosimeter, proving that the inscrutable Japanese are just as vulnerable to fear-driven advertising as the rest of us. "I hope that mothers of children will feel safe by carrying this smartphone" said the operator's CEO …
This is a terrible review and not up to The Registers usual standards! What is the battery half life for instance?
For those unable to comprehend, the above is a joke. Phone runs ICS, a 4 megapixel camera (0.3 front), 3.7 inch screen (854 x 480 resolution) and wakes you up in the morning saying...
"Wake up onii-chan! Radiation levels are high!"
Even the BBC are still on this bandwagon
They are reporting that Fukushima radiation has been detected in California.
"in very small amounts"
If only these fools would realise that scaring people with irrationality and overblown rhetoric is never real 'news' and enever a marketing gimmick.
Just this morning on the BBC News they were dramatically "reporting" how tuna caught in California is contaminated by Fukushima fall out, with the "report" being accompanied by pictures of mutant tuna zombies swimming inexorably to poison the Pacific Coast waters and cause the end of the world as we know it.
Then, at the end of the piece, they just casually mentioned that the "contaminated" tuna is actually perfectly safe to eat...
I would rather like my phone to have a Geiger counter in it.
In fact, I think that such gadgets will do much more for improving public perception of nuclear safety that any amount of reasoned explanations by specialists.
When you know you can detect and measure something mysterious and dangerous whenever you want it stops being mysterious and dangerous. When you try time and time again and all you see is the absence of danger you become reassured. When an accident happens elsewhere and you know you can check the things directly without trusting someone else telling you don't feel the need to panic. And the accident itself becomes an unfortunate event, like a fire or a landslide but which will not cause the Earth to open under your feet and the creatures of Hell to come out and the Sun to grow dark and red with a pentagram on its face and DOOM music in the background...
Whilst I agree in principle with what you say, I fear you have too much faith in people being logical.
I think it's more likely that when people perceive that there might be a threat, and then measure it and find that there is none, they will most likely say "phones broken - it's not detecting this clearly dangerous thing"
This is more a case of some people will never believe the truth, no matter who tells them - succumbing to scaremongering is far more convenient!
...when Chernobyl was blamed to radioactive sheep in the UK. Nowt to do with Sellafield/Windscale of course. Self-cooking lamb is good for me.
Anyway why can't we have those detectors in the UK - we'd be able to track down all those dodgy radium dumps around the UK or where they just buried early nuclear stuff somewhere remote like Woolwich Common (now that would explain all the genetic mutants that live there!)
Hmmm Nuke disaster - good days to bury bad news and blame them for all the dodgy stuff in your own back yard!
All it has to do is click every few seconds to simulate background radiation.
What's leftover from Fukushima would only give a few extra clicks and only if the detector's right on top of it.
The most radioactive thing anyone will ever encounter in their lifetime is probably hanging from your ceiling right now, staring balefully at you. (the smoke detector, not the giant mutant spider!). It's putting out thousands of times more radiation than anything you'll find even from Sellafield.
Agreed, though in a society that is conditioned to acknowledge that something has already been nuked by the sound of a PING then it gets down to how it alerts you. So a soft spoken voice going radiation is at a unhealthy level compared to a two-tone annoying PING.
Basicly bad news can be presented in a non offencive and alert inducing way and good news can send you into a panic when alerted badly.
We read (with suitable correction to unit naming ... FFS EL REG!!)
"µSievert/h suggests that the detector is a dosimeter measuring radiation dose from all sources as opposed to an actual Caesium-137 detector which would be expected to read in Becquerel."
Why? A debimeter might be expected to read in Becquerel (decay events / second... basically Hertz) but that unit is not going to help you know about Cs-137 around you. It would also be meaningless to the civilian. Sievert, with a suitably (magically?) calibrated detector to be able to somewhat meaningfully extrapolate to the effects of the hunk of meat holding said detector, are at least somewhat usable (still a difference whether the Cs is on your skin or in your gut though.)
And how do you determine the distribution of Cs-137 or any other radioactive material in trace amounts anyway? Do you look for beta decay at precise energies? I suppose not. I suppose one grabs dirt, chemically binds any Cs, then measures the activity of the extract, preferably over a few minutes to get good numbers.
Now, can we know more about how the chip magic in this phonedosimeter works? Does it use a camera to look for luminescence? Does it look for bit pattern errors in vulnerable memory cells? What? My dosimeter still has a tube and it's not cheap even though it's clearly a mass-produced piece of plastic-encased use-once electronics, with integrated irreplaceable battery.
This is clear profiteering from fear mongering.
A recent article by the Daily Yomiuri - http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120523005514.htm - tells us that TEPCO's latest estimate of the amount of caesium released at Fukushima after the mishap is only 360,000 terebecquerels. While this admittedly is about 4.2 times the amount of caesium estimated to have been released at Chernobyl, the fact that the Fukushima reactor released no radioactive isotopes other than caesium and iodine, and Chernobyl a whole slew of others as well, means the total terabecquerels from Fukushima amount to only about 15% of Chernobyl's (770,000 vs. 5,200,000).
Although some unknown amount of radiation is said to still be leaking, it all goes into the ocean which is well known to quickly dilute all pollutants - whether radioactive or not - to levels that are of no concern to any aquatic life, let alone humans.
I hope the housewives have fun with their radiation detectors...
The Nature report reads like a whitewash. It seems pleased that many cancers caused by Fukushima will not be attributed to the disaster, and that the government estimates of radiation released were correct "to within a factor of ten." (I think I'd like something this important to be just a wee bit more accurate, personally.) It also seems to tally ONLY the direct effects of radiation release during the accident, which are trivial compared to the long-term danger of radioactive particulates in the environment. This is a tactic often employed by those who'd like to minimize the risks of nuclear technology, and I'm disappointed to see both Nature and The Reg going for it.
Particulates are why vast swaths of land around Chernobyl will be uninhabitable by animal life for generations. And they're the reason for large and very expensive parts of Japan being similarly abandoned. Forget the loss of life... these massive costs must be factored in when judging the viability of nuclear power. At the very least, they should indicate the pressing need to move from current technology, which inherently wants to fail, to any of the newer, safer designs.
And the long-term effects of all of the toxic industrial chemical washed out to sea during the tsunami's destruction of coastal industry?
It annoys me the way the mass-media press fixates on the nuclear incident and ignores (more or less) the enormous damage and loss of life caused by "safe" water elsewhere.
My own conclusion is that the government was more worried about panic than almost anything else. There could have been a massive radiative event, and they would have just dealt with it, but they were most concerned about not scaring too many people with those possibilities.
As regards the disaster itself, every time I learn more about it, the more amazed I am by the incompetence of the proximate response--but I still blame the Americans for pushing that particular style of nuclear reactor. Short-term profits, military applications, and worst of all, the actual desire for MORE plutonium at a time when we were concerned about a possible shortage of nuclear weapons.
I'd get one, be great to mess about with and educational I'm sure, people might start learning a little bit about radioactivity.
Does anyone remember that episode of "Tomorrow's World" where they had a fluid in a cup and passed a Geiger counter over it? The needle went haywire and then audience was asked would they drink the fluid? They all said NO!, Then they were told the fluid was just a cuppa tea! Yeah they were good times back then...
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