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]
Texas State University’s Body Farm (AKA Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University or FACTS) is a 45-year-old facility where the corpses of medical body donors are left to decompose so that researchers can observe the rate at which human remains are consumed by the elements, scavengers and microbes, allowing them to accurately date the […]
A better understanding how a sperm swims its way toward an egg could help inform new treatments for male infertility. Researchers from the University of York have now come up with a mathematical formula to model how large numbers of moving sperm interact with fluid they’re swimming through. From the University: By analysing the head […]
Dr Gale Ridge is a public entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where an average of 23 people a day call, write or visit; an increasing proportion of them aren’t inquiring about actual insects, they’re suffering from delusional parasitosis, and they’re desperate and even suicidal.
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]