The Glory of Being a Nerd

Last week, podcaster and Chicago radio producer Jimmy Mac covered the topic of being called a nerd on The ForceCast. His position was that the term nerd is derogatory and shouldn’t be used to describe fans of Star Wars. I couldn’t disagree more.

The crowd at Wikipedia have defined “nerd” as “a term that refers to a social perception of a person who avidly pursues intellectual activities, technical or scientific endeavors, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests, rather than engaging in more social or conventional activities.” That got me thinking. Based on that, why shouldn’t we embrace the term nerd?

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How Much Will the Radioactivity from Japan Affect You?

The President and numerous experts tell us that the radioactivity coming from Japan will have no health risks associated with it.

How much will the radioactivity coming from Japan affect you?

I’d say less than…

…that luminous LCD wristwatch you’re wearing, which offers 0.006 mrem of exposure per year.

…cosmic radiation from space, which varies from 26 to 96 mrem/year.

…the radiation from the naturally occurring elements in the very ground you live on, which varies from 23 to 90 mrem/year.

…than the exposure from the concrete, stone, or brick building you live or work in (7 mrem/yr).

…than the naturally occurring radiation in your body, including the potassium-40 and carbon-14 that’s been in your tissues since birth or the naturally occurring radon you take in with every breath (240 mrem/yr).

…the radiation from traveling by airplane, which comes to 1 mrem/year for every 1,000 miles traveled.

…the exposure from those porcelain crowns and/or false teeth (0.07 mrem/year).

…the activity from your gas camping lantern (0.003 mrem/year).

…the x-ray machines at the airport (0.002 mrem/year).

…the radiation from your television or video screen (1 mrem/year).

…the activity from your smoke detector (0.008 mrem/year).

…the radiation from your plutonium-powered cardiac pacemaker (100 mrem/year).

…those diagnostic x-rays (40 mrem/year).

…that provided by nuclear medicine, such as thyroid scans (14 mrem/year).

…the exposure from living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant (0.0009 mrem/year).

…the exposure from living within 50 miles of a coal-fired electric plant (0.03 mrem/year).

All told, naturally occurring sources provide you with roughly 300-350 mrem/year. When they tell you there’s no health risk, they’re telling the truth.

So, don’t panic.


Personal Annual Radiation Dose Calculator

Sources of Radiation

Man-Made Radiation Sources

Natural Radiation Sources

Doses in Our Daily Lives

Revisited: An Easy Explanation of Japan’s Nuclear Emergency

Yesterday I posted about the situation in Japan. That post can be found here at Creative Criticality and cross-posted to Fringe Scientist. As with most crises, things change rapidly, so I am taking the time to revisit the topic with updates and more level-headed discussion.

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An Easy Explanation of Japan’s Nuclear Emergency

I’ve come across quite a few people who are understandably afraid of what’s happening with the situation at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant after the earthquake in Japan. The situation is not helped by the media reporting without context to a public that does not understand how nuclear power works. This post is an attempt to break down what’s going on and mitigate some of those fears.

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