September 24, 2012

Uranium Film Festival Coming to Berlin October 4-12, 2012

If I could snap my fingers and be in Berlin this October 4th through the 12th, I'd love to attend this remarkable Brazil-based international event:
The International Uranium Film Festival is dedicated to films about atomic bombs the whole nuclear fuel chain and radioactivity: Uranium mining, nuclear power plants, atomic bombs, nuclear waste, radioactive risks, nuclear medicine. The festival wants to stimulate the production of independent documentaries, movies and animated films about any nuclear or radioactive issue.
Uranium Film Festival is a project of the Yellow Archives, a cultural and educational organization that hopes to increase public information about nuclear power, nuclear waste, uranium mining and radioactivity in general. Yellow Archives is the first-ever film library in Brazil and Latin America dedicated to non-profit, educational and research films about the nuclear fuel chain and radioactivity, and makes its archives open to schools, universities and other non-profit organizations. Among the films to be screened are Roberto Pires' riveting Cesio-137: El Pesadelo de Goiânia (Cesium-137: The Nightmare of Goiânia), the 2011 Audience Award winner for Best Feature Film, and Bill Kiesling's 2012 "Yellow Oscar"-winning documentary, "Not for Public Release: a Nuclear Incident in Lock Haven."

The next Uranium Film Festival is scheduled for May 2013 at Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Modern Art. The Uranium Film Festival and the Yellow Archives depend primarily on private funding for their work; you can get involved by becoming a sponsor, or by making a donation to the film festival. The full program of the upcoming October event in Berlin is available here [PDF], and you can also view the program brochure of the 1st Uranium Film Festival from 2011.

September 19, 2012

Argonne National Laboratory Energy Showcase: Photo Slideshow

As promised, Part Two of our coverage of the Saturday, September 15th Argonne Energy Showcase open house event. Our video highlights can be seen in the first installment of our Energy Showcase posts. Here's our full Flickr slideshow of over 50 photos with captions. Top: "Now, That's Cold!" Argonne researcher explains the technology behind the ATLAS (Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System) facility, the world's first superconducting linear accelerator for heavy ions. The object on the table is a model section of ATLAS' "superconducting split-ring resonator."

Center: "Hot or Not?" This very popular FLIR imaging exhibit in the Nuclear Energy building allowed visitors to see live video of themselves in the room with color-coded temperature gradients. As you can see, some people are literally hotter than others. A similar station set up in the Advanced Photon Source (401) complex let visitors take home a snapshot printout of their FLIR scans.

For even more images, visit Argonne National Lab's official Flickr photostream.
Bottom: "Clean and Green" One of the several advanced hybrid electric vehicles in the Sustainable Energy Tent. Some of the other new technologies on display were demonstrations of biofuel generation using fermented waste, vehicle charging stations, and an area where visitors could ride the "Energy Bike" to see how much pedaling they have to do to light up a conventional incandescent light bulb, versus the effort needed to make LED and compact fluorescent devices glow. As we can vouch, it takes a lot less legwork to make those clean and green LED's shine!

September 18, 2012

Argonne Energy Showcase: The Short Video

Some of the remarkable scientific sights and sounds RadioActive! The Nuclear Blog captured at this weekend's Argonne National Laboratory Energy Showcase 2012.

Video Highlights from Argonne National Lab's Energy Showcase 2012

Didn't get a chance to visit Argonne National Laboratory's 2012 Energy Showcase in the Chicago suburbs this past September 15th? Don't worry: we're very happy to share our video and photo highlights from this rare opportunity to peek inside the birthplace of modern nuclear science, and see first-hand some of the amazing research being done in America's heartland.

According to an on-site event organizer, this year's open house was the first one held in five years, after tighter security restrictions post-9/11 put National Laboratory open houses on hold. This year's Energy Showcase was also the first to require visitors to pre-register online. While past events had as many as 20,000 visitors each, Energy Showcase 2012 hosted a more modest registered attendance of approximately 2,000* - not necessarily a downside if you were seeking a good, close look at the dozens of fascinating exhibits on hand. [*According to another person I spoke to later, the registration attendance was capped at 10,000, so I may have misheard the original attendance estimate. If any readers out there have more solid attendance stats, please let us know in the comments! - LR]

First, let's stop in at the Physics building to have a look at the Gammasphere, the world's most powerful spectrometer for nuclear structure research. If the Gammasphere looks familiar, you may remember that the device had a 'guest starring role' in the 2003 feature film "Hulk," as the contraption that triggered Bruce Banner's verdant transformation - back then, it was physically located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Read more at

Next, let's take a short drive south to the nearby Advanced Photon Source complex, a facility which provides the brightest x-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere to more than 5,000 scientists from around the United States and the world. Here's a panned view from the APS observation gallery, as a researcher gives a basic explanation of its workings in the final 30 seconds or so of the video. In person, the building and equipment are remarkably large; what you see here on the video is only a tiny fraction of the APS accelerator "ring." More at

Here is a live demonstration of a technique called "acoustic levitation" that uses high-frequency (~22kHz) sound waves to suspend small objects like liquid droplets, plastic spheres, and popcorn in mid-air. Bystanders could manipulate and rearrange the plastic beads within the sound column using a metal spoon, creating intriguing patterns. As you can see from the video, the column behaves as though the beads are 'magnetically' attracted along an invisible vertical line running between the upper and lower sound generators. The demonstrators explain that the beads are spaced at wavelength node intervals of about one-third inch, allowing visualization of the standing wave. More at

Down the hall, we stopped by to see an X-ray diffraction demonstration, which provides a simulation of how the APS' powerful X-ray beam can reveal the before-unseen inner structures of nanoparticles, proteins, crystalline structures, organic molecules, and many other materials. More at

In part 2 of our look inside Argonne National Laboratory, we'll visit ANL's Nuclear Museum, home of many historical treasures from the dawn of the Atomic Age.

September 06, 2012

Pentagon Releases Map of Estimated Radiation Doses for Americans in Japan During Peak of Fukushima Crisis

The Pentagon has released data showing radiation dosage estimates for the thousands of American nationals and military personnel in Japan at the time of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis at Fukushima. Named Operation Tomodachi, the registry seeks to "[provide] interested individuals with location-based radiation dose estimates for adults and children for the period of greatest potential exposure, from March 12, 2011 through May 11, 2011." According to the September 5th news report in Reuters,
"[T]he highest rate of adult exposure [was] at Camp Sendai, just north of Fukushima, where the estimated adult dose of whole body radiation was 0.12 rem and 1.20 for the thyroid - the organ most affected by radiation. By comparison, a full-body CAT scan yields a whole body exposure of 5.0 rem. Those American personnel who were stationed at Camp Sendai who check the website will see a message saying: 'Your whole-body and thyroid radiation dose estimates are well below levels associated with adverse medical conditions.'"
The Google API-based map [accessible here], which shows selected measurement areas with links to dosage estimate reports, is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, and will also incorporate dosage estimates and data for about 8,000 individuals who had direct radiation measurements taken.

[Image screencapture from Operation Tomodachi website, 09/06/12.]

September 05, 2012

Memorial Mass for Victims of the Goiânia Accident, 25 Years On

For our readers in Brasil, on 13 September there will be a 25th Memorial Mass commemorating the victims of the 1987 Goiânia accident held at the Igreja Nossa Senhora de Gloria, Jardim Meriti, São João de Meriti, Rio de Janeiro (via

For more background information on the Goiânia accident that claimed the lives of at least 4 people, sickened dozens with radiation illness, and caused widespread contamination (INES 5) throughout several districts surrounding the accident epicenter, see our April 30, 2012 post:

[Read the post in its original Portuguese.]