Wednesday, July 06, 2022

I'd heard of the Demon Core, and I finally remembered

to look up the information.  

Damn.  Surprising a lot of these people lived as long as they did..


Arthur said...

There's a YouTube channel called "Plainly Difficult" that goes over a lot of Nuclear/Radiological incidents - he covers the Demon Core as well.

I'm constantly amazed that people - even skilled, knowledgable people - will go out of their way to disregard safety protocols, disable interlocks and other mechanisms designed to keep them from dying horribly. Even if they are well aware of the danger they're in.

Back at the beginning of the nuclear age when people didn't have a full understanding of radiation effects I might be more charitable. But even in recent times people regularly fry themselves because they wanted to save a few minutes or a short walk to a control panel that had really bright DANGER! DANGER! signs flashing all over it.

markm said...

I wonder how many of those experimenters died of cancer 20 or 30 years later? Radiation kills, but it takes a tremendous dose to kill quickly, and some people will survive much longer than others.

For example, Marie Curie must have absorbed several time the lethal dose in small increments over her career. It did kill her finally, but in the meantime she'd had a long and very productive career, and outlived many chemists of her era who never worked with radiation but made some tiny error with flourine. She and Pierre Curie had to process many tons of uranium ore to get a few grams of radium, and I've heard of them working through their lunch, eating sandwiches while stirring a great vat of radioactives. They worked carefully with flourine compounds and other highly poisonous solvents but had no idea the radiation itself was dangerous. Pierre was killed by a beer wagon before the radiation affected him. Marie carried on, finally drilling down to identify the entire decay chain, including radium and radon, then continuing her research. She outlived several lab assistants and at least one of her children before she began to suspect that what she'd been working on for decades was deadly in the long run.