Nukophobia or reasonable concern?

Unless you were asleep for the entirety of term 1, you may have noticed that there was some “consternation” about a (pending) nuclear disaster in Japan. To review the story, after a huge earthquake (magnitude 9+, depending on who is asked), an enormous Tsunami (tidal wave), one of Japan’s oldest nuclear power plants was severely damaged. A great deal of concern was raised about the potential for disaster – meltdowns, fallout, radiation sickness, catastrophic nuclear explosions. If you want to see some of these stories about the panic, these links show some examples (1, 2, 3). These are far from the worst – some of the reporting in the media was nothing short of fear-mongering, and is cause for concern. The “Journalist Wall of Shame” lists some of the most egregious offenders.

At the current time, well after the incident is no longer being reported in the media, there have been exactly zero reported deaths from the Fukushima incident.



Please take a moment to go back and look at some of the articles linked to above, predicting up to millions of deaths, the radioactive sterilisation of the entire pacific ocean, and fallout clouds as far as America. The fear generated by these media reports is a greater danger than the incident itself – But that is not the focus of our studies in this unit.

XKCD is a fun comic that often focusses on the misreporting of science – one of the best graphics produced recently shows exactly how much radiation you could be exposed to and compares it to the worst exposures from the Fukushima incident:

If you want specific information about the incident, what occurred and the science behind it (and you should…), try this power point.

Good information about Radiation effects can be found at one of my favourite blogs, Depleted Cranium

We are looking at how nuclear science is used to generate power and as a weapon.  There are two previous posts on this blog that are important for you to read: “Want some salt with your Fission Chips?” and “Boomology – the Science of Nuclear Explosions”.

See you in class!

Explore posts in the same categories: Physics

11 Comments on “Nukophobia or reasonable concern?”

  1. Sansin Says:


    hey sir speaking of irrational fears, what are your thoughts of this news ive been hearing rumours about the earths magnetic pole shifting?

    kudos for an answer

    • CyberChalky Says:

      The Earth’s Magnetic pole shifts infrequently; it does happen and we don’t know how to predict it. I am deeply sceptical of any person, organisation or affiliation that claims to be able to predict it. Regardless, magnetic pole reversal do not appear to correlate with extinction events, so any catastrophic predictions are nothing more than fear mongering or end-of-times scams.

  2. Lei Says:

    hi, sir, where is that link of the worksheets that you mentioned in class???

  3. Rares Says:

    Sir can i please have the link for the nuclear power plant simulator. Thanks!

  4. Sansin Says:

    check the bit baout a country shuttign its nuclear reactors down by 2022

  5. […] have written many posts on this blog about nuclear power (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) (you may want to pay particular attention to the comment streams…). Not only is nuclear […]

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