The Chernobyl Project - HOME

Friday, October 31, 2008


I guess this is the dark side of online shopping... I've ordered a book last week, Chernobyl 1986 by Vic Parker. I have received an email confirmation today, that I may pick up my copy at the Oxford Border's store. I was really looking forward to the good read, especially that it was about such a rarely discussed topic that captures my interest.
To my surprise, the book was not really a book - I should call it a brochure with merely 50 pages, and large typography. This is not the worst part of, it - the book is meant to a young audience as the author describes her target readers. One thing is that I can hardly imagine the crowd of teenagers interested in the nuclear disasters, who is not quite ready for the adult books.
I personally think that the style is too patronizing even for young people, the writer treats the reader (even if young) as an idiot, and spells out common sense knowledge, especially in a book about a fairly obscure topic. The worse is yet to come: the text is plagued with the usual "I'm a humanities graduate, so I can afford to write bullshit relating to science" attidude. There is a great deal of inaccuracies, and misleading "facts". I don't recommend it to anyone to be perfectly honest. Oh well, "shift" happens. (owing this pun to Scott Adams)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Inside the sarcophagus

I've found a documentary on YouTube about the sarcophagus. The picture quality is pretty inferior, as I have the feeling that it was ripped from a VHS tape. Most of the time its dark, but you can see some very creepy and chilling pictures as the scientists take readings inside the Chernobyl containment - known as the sarcophagus.
The commentary comes again with the old scare tale: "[...] under the right conditions this missing fuel could unleash a chain reaction [...]". The key phrase here is under the right circumstances, since I believe the chance of that is infinitesimal.
It is pretty funny how the commenter refers to the film crew wearing "western respiratory equipment". Yes, the far superior western respirators will shield you from gamma radiation. Probably the paper masks worn by the Russian scientists filters out the dust just as well... Another gross error in the commentary is "[...] Roentgens or Rads". Well these units are different and their definitions are not identical. Rad is obsolete anyways, its use is discouraged in scientific community. Sometimes I really have the feeling that journalists as other humanities graduates feel that science is complicated, so they have the right not to understand it and misreport things. See the health scares, reports on homeopathy and other funny stuff: Bad science...
Well, if you have not been put off by this introduction, here are the short movies. Note that the documentary has been split into two parts, due to the ten minutes limit on YouTube videos:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Radiological instruments at the MOSI

I've visited my friend in Sheffield, UK last weekend. We also took a day trip to check out Manchester. How cold two engineers kill a rainy afternoon? By going into the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) of course. The museum itself has a pretty interesting collection - at least interesting in any technically/scientifically wired brain:)
Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours to fly through the exhibitions. I could recommend a visit there, you could spend a day around all the exciting stuff. We stumbled into a small collection of radiological instruments - mostly from the 70's and 80's. I will post some of them, along with a short description. So here we go:The one above is my favourite - the big sphere is actually part of the instrument. This is a neutron meter, used to measure the number of neutrons around a reactor or a plutonium store. It was used from the late 60's to the late 70's...This one above is a vintage beta and gamma dose rate meter from the seventies. Used to measure radiation dose rate in the field or at the workplace.
This is a more interesting one. The one in the middle is a portable air sampler, from the late 60's. The filter paper on the front was removed regularly. It was examined for alpha, beta radiaton and assessed later. Could be used for Iodine 131 monitoring as well.Here we go onto the more exotic fast neutron meter. This early 60's instrument was used around a nuclear reactor.This one above is just a regular gamma dose rate meter from the 70's.And a background radiation monitor, used around nuclear waste in the 70's. It has its readings in counts per second: CPM. I like the cool "gun shaped" design. I wonder wheter it is meant to give readings from a distance...
Here we go onto some film badges. Were worn by workers in the nuclear industry, have been largely replaced by digital, reusable equivalents. The films became more darker as they gathered radiation - this way the dose could be estimated. The one on the right (blue) is actually sensitive to slow neutrons too!
That's all, hope you enjoyed our little tour to "retro" equipment - sorry for the bad quality photos. It was really dark in the whole museum, and this exhibition was no exception...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not my trip to Chernobyl... ...yet.

It's been almost a year now, that we made this website with my friend Danex. Sadly enough, we have not visited the Zone yet. I don't really know how Danex feels about this, but there is a strong yet from my side. I still want to go, its more a matter of when, and not if.
As you could see from the number of post, the "project" is on hold currently. Let's see someones pictures from a trip to Chernobyl. Thanks for the link from a kind unknow, who posted it on my other website. (In Hungarian, sorry.) So let's look at those photos, shall we?