Saturday, November 24, 2007

Drawing Attention to a Killer

Here is an interesting dilemma which I find rather intriguing. Take your spent fuel rods and bury them somewhere other than near the Hudson River. Then warn off the accidental and the curious who might want to dig the stuff up again - not a good idea if you are planning on dying in your sleep at a ripe old age. Here is the dilemma - what you write on the warning signs might be good for now. We all know the radioactive fan symbol and of what it warns. But what about this stuff that hangs around in lethal doses for ten thousand years. Those warning signs need to be legible AND understandable in ten thousand years as well. The text shown here tells the opening lines of the poem Beowolf. Believe it or not it is in English. The shift in language over 1000 years has been dramatic and few outside of Old English classes can read this text - not even I who spent three years studying the language. I am pretty rusty now. Look how many languages remained a mystery to us that were only 4,000 years old. Clearly warnings around radioactive waste need to have some ready currency in 10,000 years.
An interesting challenge that is actually being addressed by some of America's scientists. They flag some scenarios that speak to human nature as much as anything else. So we put up warning signs, saying "don't dig here, a horrible death awaits." That did not deter those who dug around the tombs of ancient Egypt or of Persia. Indeed, the more vociferous the warning, the greater the attraction. An archaeologist in the year 9007, whose hair has not already naturally receded from his pate and fallen out his ears, might think that the urgent warnings are signs that he is on the cusp of a famous and wealthy find. After all there would be no immediate signs of ill health. One of the more interesting solutions is to seal and bury the stuff without any signs or warnings. If someone is smart enough to find, the hope is that perhaps they are smart enough to be carrying Geiger counters with them - not always a safe bet with boffins. Thinking practically that is.

The Economist carried this article on future proofing nuclear waste bunkers that caught my eye.

2 comments:

dfadf said...

follow up with another email after a few days
Microsoft Office
often acknowledging that maybe the person
Office 2010
didn't get my message due to email trouble on my
Microsoft Office 2010
end (which, when I was in graduate school, was
Office 2010 key
For repeat offenders, I just use the phone whenever
Office 2010 download
Interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting.
Office 2010 Professional
I will be checking back for any new articles
I’ll likely be coming back to your blog. Keep up great writing. Find your great Travel News and sing the songs at Free Song Lyric or you can watch the drama at
Microsoft outlook
Outlook 2010
Thanks for kindly sharing it with us. Very well done indeed
Windows 7
Microsoft outlook 2010

zqy369 said...

In severe cases, ulceration. Selection of leather (broken skin. Sheepskin) and canvas (cotton) to do the uppers, pigskin and cotton made in the cloth, resin the end or the end of the TPR and tendon soles of shoes, shoes moisture wicking anti-odor soft. Lightweight and breathable.
nike free 3.0