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Friday, March 25, 2011

Foto Friday: Rems and Roentgens and Rads, Oh My!

Cane Fire, Mar 2011

When I started reading about Japan's nuclear problems, all the numbers were in sieverts. What the hell is a sievert? (My spell checker doesn't know either.) When I was learning this stuff, we had curies, roentgens, rems, and rads, and that was good enough for us. None of your fancy-schmancy European "sieverts".

Anyhow, if you are old and confused like I am, this will explain it to you, though you may still remain confused, not to mention old. (I graciously link to this even though the author stole(*) my title for one of his subheads. Though since mine is better I'm using it anyway.)

The article also has this useful bit of information:

We usually confuse the amount of heat in something, and the temperature. In ordinary life, the difference doesn’t matter — materials are enough alike we don’t care. But not always, even so — a cake in a metal pan at 350 will brown more where it’s in contact with the metal than it will in a glass pan.

I was just telling someone the other day that I kind of wish I had taken home ec in high school; then I would know this stuff. (We were talking about why you used certain ingredients in cooking -- why milk rather than water, or oil rather than butter, and what eggs are for.) Instead I took physics and calculus.

Martin's talk of X-rays reminds me of an upper-level undergraduate lab I took, in which we were supposed to design our own experiments. They wouldn't let us play with the campus reactor (no, really), so instead we did something involving X-raying turkey slices. I forget what exactly the point was, but it involved putting slices of Buddig dried turkey into a table-top X-ray machine the size of a medium pizza. I don't remember wearing any protective gear. We used to pipette acids and mercury by mouth in high school, too. Those were the days when men were men, and so were the women, if they wanted to do science.

Oh, the photo? That's a cane fire, and totally not a nuclear bomb going off in central Maui. They stopped burning the cane while it was so dry, and have recently started again. These look cool at night. Then it really does look like a bomb.

* Pre-emptively, I mean, taking it out of my head before this was published. Because FF doesn't always go up on Friday.

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