radioactive strontium

Okay, so I got to wondering about the whole vegetarian Junkers thing. (if you’re wondering where this came from, please see this post here.) I’m really wondering if their vegetarianism is due to choice or necessity. See, radiation is a funny thing. After a catastrophic event such as, oh, say… A nuclear reactor meltdown, all kinds of nasty shit is spewed out for hundreds of miles. We’re talking radioactive iodine, caesium, strontium, and plutonium, none of which you really want to be putting in your body. The radioactive iodine decays rather quickly, usually in the span of a few years, but others like caesium will stay in the soil for hundreds of thousands of years unless all of the contaminated soil is completely replaced.

So, what happens is this radiation gets absorbed by any plants that grow in that soil, and that radiation in turn is transferred to the animals that eat the plants, then to the humans who eat both. There’s no way to “cook” something like Caesium-137 out of food, whether it be plant matter or animal meat. Once it’s contaminated, that’s it. Can’t do anything about it. But what you can do is set up a sealed area isolated from the radiation, import some non-contaminated soil, and grow safe fruits and vegetables. Now, this would probably be extremely difficult to pull off for a group of essentially outlaws like the Australian Liberation Front and later the Junkers, so they’d probably cherish those growing operations like they were the Holy fuckin’ Grail. I also can’t imagine they’d go through the trouble of growing food only to feed it to livestock, so they’d stick to fruits and vegetables as a matter of practicality and convenience.

Since I’m sure there will be those who use the information in this post for stuff like Junkers-centric fanfiction, here’s a few other related factoids you can use:

  •  The two types of plants that absorb the most radiation are mushrooms and berries, so those would be something they wouldn’t even get close to, let alone eat. Seriously, a mushroom growing in the surrounding areas of Chernobyl will make a Geiger counter click like fucking crazy, and I imagine the area around the Australian Omnium wouldn’t be much different.
  •  They would avoid running into or laying in grass for similar reasons as above. 
  • Rainwater would be iffy at best and would have to be filtered through activated charcoal several times before it would be considered safe.
  • Newly-dug wells, however, would be relatively safe, as almost all of the radiation would remain only in the topsoil. It would have to be dug very carefully, very deep, and well-shielded by concrete towards the top.
  • Iodine pills and activated charcoal would be considered essential equipment for Junkers.
  • Radiation has a strengthening effect on metals, but also makes it more brittle. Therefore Junkrat probably has to rebuild his leg and replace shattered parts quite often.
  • Metals also tend to hold onto radiation, and will usually cause a rash-like burn if kept close to skin for extended periods, even when separated by clothing.
  • Main building materials for Junkertown would likely be concrete, since it wouldn’t be affected by the radiation.
  • Abnormal growths and probably cancers would be commonplace among the Junkers and surrounding wildlife.
  • Whatever Junkrat found in the Omnium is likely to be EXTREMELY irradiated and likely highly dangerous if only because of this fact.

And before you ask; yes, I am one of those sick dorks who obsessively researches nuclear disasters like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Hiroshima, ect. I’d like to think I know a thing or two about this stuff.

Amazing Structure: A Conversation With Ursula Franklin

It’s hard to describe what Ursula Franklin’s done in her life. There’s just too much.

The 92-year-old metallurgist pioneered the field of archeometry, the science of dating archaeologically discovered bronzes, metals, and ceramics. Her research into spiking levels of radioactive strontium in baby teeth factored heavily into the U.S. government’s decision to institute a nuclear test ban. She delivered the Massey Lectures—an important, annual series of talks delivered by Canadian public intellectuals—in 1989, and she was the first woman to be named University Professor at the University of Toronto, the university’s highest position.

She was also born in Munich in 1921, and was imprisoned in a Nazi work camp for the last 18 months of the war.

Read more. [Image: loozrboy/Flickr]