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27 Comments

  1. I think it’s a little too soon to be handing out material like this, when the crisis is ongoing.

    1. Why – should we add stress to upset stomachs to the list of potential issues? It is important to share information and facts when you have them, especially if they can calm unreasonable fears.

      1. I understand where you are coming from, but if you start passing out material like this and something unexpected happens, it can do more harm than good.

        1. @moebius22 – Believe it or not, some of us study this kind of stuff for enjoyment and for a living. We engage in lengthy, science, math and engineering discussions of “what if”. We analyze the results of experiments and previous accidents. We put together both lengthy tomes that only serious professionals will ever read and then we summarize the findings in places like Science Magazine http://bit.ly/gxJNYm
          That preparation allows us to know the limits of the unexpected and gives us the technical confidence to respond in times of emergency based on prior knowledge.

          1. @moebiu22- If you have children, I really hope you approach to talking with them about the ongoing events Japan is not waiting until there is definitive conclusion. There will be new information surfacing for weeks and months, and it would be irresponsible not to start communicating now.

  2. It’s a noble cause and I think their heart is in the right place. However, misspelling “generating” doesn’t help their efforts.

  3. This is meant to be a starting point for a coversation with kids who may be truely terrified at the influx of information and images all over the media. Most american adults do not have the techinal knowledge to put this situation into context for themselves, much less for thier kids. It is important to talk with kids about the situation in Japan as it occurs. As things transpire the image will be updated or changed as needed.

  4. Is there any news of infrastructure problems in japan that aren’t related to the nuke plants? Or is pretty much any video of any fire anywhere being played underneath voice over talking about the nuke plants? If they really lost the pressure containment that sounds bad, but isn’t that what they were doing with controlled venting anyway? So they vented more more quickly but is it necessarily much worse now?
    How much decay heat can they still be dealing with at this point? It’s been days, shouldn’t it be down to a fraction of a percent of the output? Is that still enough to damage the cores further? I feel like this crisis should be winding down now and it’s really not.

  5. Primary containment is broke at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 – that’s what the NEI web site says.
    This arrogance you have in man’s technology being invinceable against acts of God or nature is your own undoing.

  6. At the time this was published it was accurate. It will be updated as soon as we have all the info on unit 2. There is nothing arrogant about putting important information into context for young children.

  7. Hey all,
    I learned just this minute watching CNN that fuel rods in these reactors can reach temperatures of 2200 Celsius after shutdown if cooling water is lost, but they melt if they get to 2100 Celsius.
    What kind of engineering is that???!!!!

    1. If you are getting your engineering information from CNN you are a fool. Half of their “experts” are from anti-proliferation think tanks who don’t have the slightest idea what they are talking about. If you happen to see one who was actually licensed to operate a BWR, you can resume paying attention.
      BTW, the critical temperature for oxidation for Zircalloy begins above 2200 degress F, not C, but even if the whole core slumps down to the bottom of the vessel, no member of the public is going to die.

  8. “Hope” is right. I hope the contamination from this disaster doesn’t reach the States.

  9. I love the hysterics from the antinuclear side, everything they write is going to be rubbed into their faces down the road and they are too stupid to see it coming. It just proves that they can’t think. Had they waited for things to settle, they would have had some chance of controlling the framing, now they have lost that, and with it control of the debate.

  10. Having spent several years working with kids in crisis situations, I can assure you that children know when something is wrong and they are aware of the crisis in Japan. There is no good reason to allow our kids to feel scared and upset unnecessarily, when we can instead talk openly about what is happening in Japan, based on the most current information we have. I am sure that many parents and teachers are struggling to offer support and age appropriate information to their kids, and that was the motivation behind making this graphic. It will be updated as needed.

  11. Two other efforts to do the same …
    30 days of earthquake data as sound. Music to help us understand the uncertain, and the difficulty of grasping events at very large time scales.
    And Nuclear Boy and his stinky Flatulence. All of this courtesy of Dot Earth at the Times.
    Sadly, his poo is starting to stink a bit with reports today of high levels of fission products in soil samples 40 km from the plants: “The ministry found 43,000 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 per kilogram of soil, and 4,700 becquerels of radioactive cesium-137 per kilogram about 40 kilometers west-northwest of the plant.”

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