Monday, March 14, 2011

Not Good

SOMA, Japan -- The second hydrogen explosion in three days rocked a Japanese nuclear plant Monday, sending a massive cloud of smoke into the air and injuring 11 workers. The blast was felt 25 miles (40 kilometers) away, but the plant's operator said the radiation levels at the affected unit were still within legal limits.

Later Monday, fuel rods at a separate reactor in the plant were fully exposed after it lost its ability to cool down, officials said. The exposure raises the risk of the unit overheating and adds to fears of a potential third explosion at the plant.
On the levels of scary shit, that seems pretty high, but I won't know for sure until 6.54 weighs in with a terrifying post.


  1. As a scientist (albeit a biologist) I can tell you that potential nuclear melt-downs are right on up there on the scary-shit-o-meter.
    On a 1-10 scale, I'd say that's about 9.3, where 10 is an actual nuclear warhead detonation and 1 is a de-clawed kitten. (Global nuclear war sits at around 15 on this scale. Notably, this is a log scale)

  2. insert "nerdy science retort disproving your log scale analysis" here

  3. yeah, there was some fudging of data involved in that particular analysis. I couldn't get it published in any respectable journals, so I just put it up on the internet. Apparently I'm "not qualified" to publish in "Nature: random scary crap"

  4. Hey, once you get five or so orders of magnitude off any scale, it's all game.

    Here's your fun interim scary fact: the fact that there were explosions at all is actually a way worse sign than the explosions themselves (well... probably). For a reactor-produced hydrogen explosion to occur means that A. The core was exposed to air at temperatures catastrophically higher than normal operation; and B. that air was then vented out of the core.

    Fuuuuunnn tiiiiiiimes.

  5. from what I've read, the core had to be vented to relieve high pressure levels inside in order to allow them to put more coolant (or possibly the seawater you talked about in your other post) into the reactor.

    Also I'm not sure I follow the logic. The explosions were a worse sign than the explosions? Or the fact that there were HYDROGEN explosions is a worse sign than explosions in general?

    Back on the random log-scale thing: I think global nuclear war deserves to be somewhere a few orders of magnitude above every other mildly plausible occurrence on the planet on the scary-shit-o-meter. I mean on a linear scale, with one being a kitten that can't scratch you anymore... yeah, 10 kittens just still isn't scary.
    now, 1,000,000,000,000,000 (10^15) kittens? THAT could do some damage.