Monday, April 13, 2015

WATCH: Uranium emits radiation inside a cloud chamber - ScienceAlert |


"Ever wondered what radiation looks like? If you have, I bet you didn’t think it would look as cool as this. This is a small piece of uranium mineral sitting in a cloud chamber, which means you can see the process of decay and radiation emission..."
– WATCH: Uranium emits radiation inside a cloud chamber - ScienceAlert 




A sealed glass container contains liquid alcohol at the top. Emanating alcohol vapors fill the whole volume of the container until they reach the bottom of the chamber maintained to a very cold temperature (-40°C).
Most of the vapour condenses on the glass surface creating a mist, but a small fraction of it stays in vapour form above the cold condenser. This creates a layer of unstable sursaturated vapour which can condense at any moment. When a charged particle crosses this vapor, it can knock electrons off the molecules forming ions. It causes the unstable alcohol vapor to condense around ions left behind by the travelling ionizing particle : the path of the particle in the matter is then revealed by a track composed of thousands droplets of alcohol...



The Uranium Waltz
By Sue Prent

 Unless you’re a science geek who routinely trawls YouTube for entertainment, you probably haven’t seen this fascinating clip that observes a small pellet of uranium as it just sits sealed in a lighted cloud chamber infused with vaporized alcohol.

 To the strains of a Strauss waltz, puffy little trails begin to erupt from the uranium in staccato straight lines, shooting through the alcohol cloud and radiating in all directions like soft white fireworks. It’s a mesmerizing sight to behold.

 It is also a sobering one, because what we are enabled to observe through that cloud of alcohol is the behavior of one of the most aggressive toxins on earth: radioactive decay.

This is the stuff that gives nuclear weapons their destructive energy; the instability that, in the course of things, has been somewhat inefficiently harnessed to generate simple electricity.

 It takes a whole lot of uranium, a relatively low energy source of radiation, to produce a little bit of weapons-grade plutonium. Between the mine and the battlefield, turning uranium into reactor fuel is a convenient first step on the way to enabling nuclear weapons, which is a major reason so many countries want “nuclear power”.

 The dependent relationship between nuclear weapons and nuclear power stations provides one of the biggest bones of contention in the world today.

 Setting that aside for others to consider, and returning to the simple lesson that is so vividly illustrated by the video, one cannot ignore the fact that even the tiniest particle of uranium is alive with radioactive potential.

 Imagine the environmental hazards associated with every stage of uranium processing, from extraction to waste disposal, when every tiny particle is literally bristling with projectile energy.

 While uranium in minute amounts is a common enough component of rock and soils available almost everywhere, there are relatively few places on earth where concentrations of uranium rich mineral deposits are great enough to represent opportunities for cost-efficient mining.

 The danger to mine workers is not so much from the uranium ore, which has low concentrations of pure uranium relative to the mass in which it is sequestered. The real danger lies in the fine particulates and radon gas that are released from the rock in the course of mechanical extraction.

 This hazard threatens the surrounding environment and population as well, since slurry and waste from the mining operation find their way into groundwater and may be redistributed through the air as well.

 Even decades after uranium mines have been exhausted for all practical purposes, surrounding populations must endure the continuing threat posed by tailings, a waste byproduct of uranium mining. For example, hundreds of residents of the Navajo communities of North Church Rock and Quivera, New Mexico, where two nearby uranium mines ceased to be profitable and were abandoned at the close of the Cold War have suffered enormous health risks due to the mountainous piles of waste that the uranium mines simply left behind.

 Ever since these New Mexico mines closed, corporate owners of the two lethal stacks have been feuding with the federal government over who is responsible for the cleanup.

 At least one of the waste piles is scheduled to move down the road to a tailings dump, which will distance it somewhat from the local population, if not from the greater environment.

 That move in itself raises another point of contamination in the uranium fuel chain: transportation. To transfer the waste to a less objectionable location, it is estimated that 38 open dump trucks will be required. Loading the trucks will stir up so much harmful particulate matter that the government will relocate residents for up to five years following the move in order to allow the dust to settle again, and to monitor the grounds for remaining contamination.

 Just imagine each of those tiny particles being energized like that uranium pellet in the cloud chamber, and small enough to be inhaled… Now imagine what happens on a cellular level when all that bristling energy lodges deep in the human lung and continues to radiate indefinitely.

 As those loaded dump trucks wheel through the environment to their ultimate destination, it isn’t difficult to imagine that they will be seeding the air with radioactive dust and particulates, endangering all who live and work along the way.

 These same hazardous scenarios play out on a daily basis around active uranium mines, and at the processing plants where uranium ore is refined into nuclear fuel. I would guess that the concentration of harmful radiation in millings and tailings might be even greater as the uranium undergoes further refinement in the fuel production process.

 Even if none of the collateral contaminants distributed by mining are considered, when nuclear energy production is viewed strictly from the perspective of fuel sourcing, it is clearly far, far from a “clean” energy source.

– via Fairewinds Energy Education​ [email]



The Energiewende – made in the USA – German Energy Transition


To many both inside and outside Germany, the Energiewende seems special. Questions therefore often focus on where the Germans got the idea. Craig Morris says they stole it from an American...

The Energiewende – made in the USA – German Energy Transition


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Judge permits Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon: No Tribal Consult, No Environmental Update; Appeal Expected | Mining Awareness Plus




The nuclear fuel chain destroys the environment and kills from the start, with uranium mining, to the finish, with long-lived, deadly, nuclear waste. Why does the US government refuse to protect America’s National Forests and water supply? Why does it fail to uphold its obligations to the American Indians?Especially at the behest of foreign mining companies? Why must Americans fight foreign companies in court, and even fight Congressmen, to protect the land and water?

full story: Judge permits Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon: No Tribal Consult, No Environmental Update; Appeal Expected | Mining Awareness Plus


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

U.S. Right to Know Calls for Investigation of Monsanto Cover up, Harassment of USDA Scientists | Sorry, Monsanto. The Science Is on Our Side, Not Yours





U.S. Right to Know sent letters today to the chairs and ranking members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees, and to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting an investigation of a possible cover up for Monsanto, and whether USDA scientists are being harassed when their work runs counter to the interests of the agrichemical industry.





more: USRTK Calls for Investigation of Monsanto Cover up, Harassment of USDA Scientists


SEE ALSO




Sorry, Monsanto. The Science Is on Our Side, Not Yours: Here are just a few examples of the latest reports, articles and books exposing the dangers of GMOs, Big Ag’s toxic chemicals and evidence of a decades-long cover-up to keep consumers in the dark.




SIGN THE PETITON TO BAN ROUNDUP

Friday, April 3, 2015

Star Trek’s George Takei on Leonard Nimoy: He Represented the Best of an Inclusive American Society | Democracy Now!




Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock in the Star Trek television series and movies, died in February at the age of 83. We speak to his Star Trek co-star, George Takei, who said, "Leonard played an alien, but he was the most human individual I ever met."

Star Trek’s George Takei on Leonard Nimoy: He Represented the Best of an Inclusive American Society | Democracy Now!


#toxics :: Oh, but You Are | Organic Consumers Association



Newsletter Issue: 

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

We Are The Guinea Pigs
You’ve seen the signs and social media posts: “I am not a science experiment.”
But you are. We all are. And this new documentary, out on April 17, explains why.
From actor Sean Penn and Emmy award-winning journalists Dana Nachman and Don Hardy comes a new documentary, "The Human Experiment." The film examines the personal stories of people who believe their lives have been affected by chemicals. 
“The Human Experiment” suggests that it’s not the big chemical spill we should be afraid of, but the insidious, much-lower levels of exposure to toxic chemicals, inflicted over generations and affecting every person on the planet.
The Human Experiment' lifts the veil on this shocking reality—where untested chemicals are ubiquitous in our products and the health of future generations is on the line. The film follows a band of unlikely activists who are fighting back. What will it take to stop this vast human experiment before it’s too late?



Oh, but You Are: Newsletter Issue: Organic Bytes #463: Doubling Down on Monsanto


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Science, Meet Journalism. You Two Should Talk. by Louise Lief | Wilson Quarterly




When I began my term as a public policy scholar at the Wilson Center last year working on the project “Science and the Media,” I ran into a journalist colleague I hadn’t seen in years. When he heard what I was doing, he said in astonishment, “Science? How did you get interested in that?”

He wasn’t the only one to react that way. It’s a symptom of the relationship — or more precisely, the lack of a relationship — between scientists and the vast majority of journalists who do not cover science that such an interest is seen as unusual.

Not only journalists view science in this way. Many in the public do too. To the majority of Americans, science is a foreign country.

I don’t have a science background, and developed an interest in the sciences through a somewhat roundabout route. Years of taking groups of editors on fact-finding/study tours to Africa, Latin America, Asia and elsewhere introduced me to landscapes and creatures in the natural world of astonishing beauty and variety, and the fascinating professionals who often took insane risks to study them, seeking to understand how things worked and why.

So for my project I decided to concentrate on the general media — the 90 percent who almost never meet scientists or write about science, and to focus on the natural world. I wanted to see what the barriers were to engagement, and to explore how these two groups might begin a conversation, and maybe even work together in mutually beneficial ways.

In the process, I discovered how much these two communities have to offer each other, far beyond the subject matter.


MORE: Science, Meet Journalism. You Two Should Talk. by Louise Lief | Wilson Quarterly