Posts by Dr. Y

A foolish consistency

Consistency is good – there’s a sense of security in knowing that some things will generally remain constant over time. We can always count on gravity, for example, to hold us firmly to the ground; politicians are typically pandering and self-serving; I can count on radioactivity to consistently decay away; and so forth. Of course, […]

The Mexican radiation accident (Part II)

A highly respected colleague and friend of mine says he no longer refers to “lessons learned” but, rather, to “lessons recognized” because he has noticed that we don’t always learn our lessons. It’s not too early to recognize some lessons from the Mexican accident of the other week, but the fact that this accident happened […]

The Mexican radiation accident (Part I)

Most news stories involving radiation are, to be blunt, overblown. Radiation can be dangerous, but the risk it actually poses is usually far lower than what the media stories would have us believe. So my first inclination when I hear about another story involving “deadly radiation” is to be skeptical. And then every now and […]

Death by polonium?

Last year I posted a piece that, in addition to 2 other short bits, briefly discussed the possibility that Yassar Arafat might have been poisoned with polonium-210 (Po-210) in 2004, including the apparent finding of elevated levels of the nuclide in Arafat’s remains. At the time I was dubious that there would be enough Po-210 […]

Once more into the breach

I’d been planning on waiting a little longer before returning to the topics of Fukushima and radiation health effects, but a particularly egregiously bad New York Times op-ed piece deserves some attention. So once more into the breach. Writing in the October 30 New York Times, pediatrician and anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott used the nuclear […]

Where does the plutonium come from?

Last week I wrote about how the shortage of Pu-238 might impact the exploration of the outer Solar System, but I didn’t much get into where the plutonium comes from. After all, while there are trace amounts of natural plutonium, there certainly isn’t nearly enough to fuel a space probe. So this week it seemed […]