atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#6673: And yet the ozone hole got smaller. Go figure.

China's still making and using CFC-11.

* * *

So, last night my right ear was bothering me.

It felt like I'd had some loud noise going on my right side for hours. I hadn't; I'd been sitting at my desk with my work headset on. Not doing much else.

Anyway, wiggled a finger in my ear, and then everything was quiet on that side. Sighing, I got up and got a few Q-tips. That made it a little better, but not much, so I broke out the Ear Goo.

Ear Goo (proper name temporarily forgotten) is this stuff that's about 90% glycerin. The active ingredient is some kind of peroxide, though, and when it comes in contact with earwax it foams up and dissolves it. I put the recommended 5-10 drops in that ear and then lay on the sofa, listening to the Ear Goo as it crackled, and occasionally wincing at how it tickled.

After the crackling had died down I plugged that ear with a napkin and headed for the bathroom. Got out the syringe bulb and hosed out that ear. First blast knocked out a little bit of earwax; second blast kind of hurt, briefly. Third blast, and BLOOP out came a plug of earwax about 1/4" by 1/2". I hosed out my ear a couple more times but that was it.

I have always had that kind of problem with earwax. I wash my ears every day, but my ears generate a prodigious amount of that guck, and all swabbing with q-tips does is to pack the crap, so I usually just let the shower hose out my ear canals.

Tonight I'll do the left side.

* * *

Interesting story.

* * *

So, I wanted to learn why the Chernobyl reactor exploded after the engineers hit the "SCRAM" button.

Started down a Wikiwander that led me here, and I found something that got my interest.

See, the core was still molten and the basement was full of water. Three guys had to go into that basement to open a valve so the water could be pumped out. They were right under the reactor and they were wading in highly radioactive, contaminated water.
The bubbler pool could be drained by opening its sluice gates. However, the valves controlling it were underwater, located in a flooded corridor in the basement. So volunteers in wetsuits and respirators (for protection against radioactive aerosols) and equipped with dosimeters, entered the knee-deep radioactive water and managed to open the valves. These were the engineers Alexei Ananenko and Valeri Bezpalov (who knew where the valves were), accompanied by the shift supervisor Boris Baranov.... Alexei Ananenko continues to work in the nuclear energy industry, and rebuffs the growth of the Chernobyl media sensationalism surrounding him. While Valeri Bezpalov was found to still be alive..., the 65-year-old Baranov had lived until 2005 and had died of heart failure.

Once the bubbler pool gates were opened by the Ananenko team, fire brigade pumps were then used to drain the basement. The operation was not completed until 8 May, after 20,000 metric tons of highly radioactive water were pumped out.
They were wading in "highly radioactive water" but two of the three men are still alive today, 33 years later.

A fiver says that the gunk in the water was emitting primarily alpha and beta particles, and a wetsuit would actually be pretty good protection from both of those. And since they were wearing respirators they weren't breathing anything but canned air.

Learning the facts--or, rather, refining my understanding of them--about the Chernobyl disaster has only helped to cement my support for nuclear power. This is the absolute worst nuclear disaster in the history of commercial nuclear power, and best estimate is that 237 people died from acute radiation poisoning. The UN's IAEA estimates a total of 4,000 cancer deaths due to the radiation from Chernobyl, among the five million people who were in the affected area.
The report projected cancer mortality "increases of less than one per cent" (~0.3%) on a time span of 80 years, cautioning that this estimate was "speculative" since at this time only a few cancer deaths are linked to the Chernobyl disaster. The report says it is impossible to reliably predict the number of fatal cancers arising from the incident as small differences in assumptions can result in large differences in the estimated health costs. The report says it represents the consensus view of the eight UN organizations.
And that's good enough for me. People are looking at this seriously and soberly (rather than "OOOHNOES NOT THE NUKESSSZZ!!") and the numbers they're providing sound reasonable, given the circumstances.

Coal power kills something like 1,500 people per year all around the world.

* * *

Ah, another day is done. Time for fun!
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