Glenn Fleishman writes, "A responsible dealer of the radioactive element radium, a substance once pushed widely as a quack cure, tried to keep the genie in the bottle. Theresa Everline explains that in the first half of the 20th century, Frank Hartman, known as the Radium Hound, kept track of accidents and incompetence in handling radium. His diaries reveal that radium lingers in forgotten places."
Radium has a spectral quality. And it’s hard to fathom. If a box of it gets dropped in a dumpster, you won’t feel it when you’re nearby. Its energy is logarithmic: you can be six feet away from it and be fine, then you can move to six inches away and still be fine, and then you move slightly closer and it’s suddenly causing you grave harm. One can imagine this mystery fueling all the stages of people’s reactions to radium, as Lavine identifies them: the fascination, the commodification, the backlash when, as Lavine puts it, “People got tired of waiting for the miracle to happen.”
Now Allard and his radiation-protection team are the ones mopping it up in Pennsylvania. What they find can sound startling to the layperson. He tells about a plant in Lock Haven, designated as contaminated in 2008, that once manufactured aircraft instruments, many of which were coated with radium paint so they’d glow: one building razed, 543 tons of soil carted away. Or a whole neighborhood in Lansdowne that needed cleaning up because in the 1930s a University of Pennsylvania physics professor enriched radium in the basement of his house; five decades later, after the contamination was discovered, the house was demolished, the sidewalks and portions of the street torn up, the sewer line replaced.
Radium Hound [Theresa Everline/Medium]
A Mars science news update from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California.
Graduate student Jason Ahrns captured a stunning image of red sprites over Nebraska while aboard a plane chartered by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. And behold Scott McPartland’s rare video of the phenomenon in May.
Randy L. Korotev from the Washington U in St Louis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences presents this handy flowchart (based on this one by Deborah Guedes) for deflating your excitement at having found rock that may be a meteorite but almost certainly isn’t. Today’s XKCD offers a handy abridgment if you find this one […]
To be a Pokémon master, you’ll need a phone that won’t constantly die on you. Because nothing is worse than seeing the screen go black right as you’ve finally found the Charizard of your dreams.That’s why we’re so excited about the LinearFlux PokeCharger Portable Battery ($39.99). With its 3.0 Amp HyperCharging technology, this slim battery will […]
The tech industry is constantly innovating, and in order to stay competitive, you’ll need to keep up. The Programming Into the Future Bundle was created to teach you the skills employers are looking for at this very moment, including in-demand coding languages like Google Go.The bundle of courses includes instruction on a range of innovative tools that advanced coders […]
If you’re running low on MacBook storage, your options are pretty limited. External hard drives mean toting around another piece of bulky equipment, and you probably don’t want a USB stick constantly protruding from your laptop.That’s why the Nifty MiniDrive for MacBooks is such a desirable alternative, and one of our top tech finds this year. You can add […]