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Smart Idiots

Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:32 pm

This thread is a place for me (or others) to keep notes on occasions in which scientists or other experts in their fields lead the way in reckless, stupid actions for which others are left to suffer the consequences.



A good summary of how such stupidity comes about from an economic and management perspective:



Gambling With The Planet By Joseph E Stiglitz

Full article here


Excerpts:

Experts in both the nuclear and finance industries assured us that new technology had all but eliminated the risk of catastrophe. Events proved them wrong: not only did the risks exist, but their consequences were so enormous that they easily erased all the supposed benefits of the systems that industry leaders promoted.

Before the Great Recession, America’s economic gurus - from the head of the Federal Reserve to the titans of finance - boasted that we had learned to master risk. "Innovative" financial instruments such as derivatives and credit-default swaps enabled the distribution of risk throughout the economy. We now know that they deluded not only the rest of society, but even themselves.

These wizards of finance, it turned out, didn’t understand the intricacies of risk, let alone the dangers posed by "fat-tail distributions"- a statistical term for rare events with huge consequences, sometimes called "black swans". Events that were supposed to happen once in a century - or even once in the lifetime of the universe - seemed to happen every ten years. Worse, not only was the frequency of these events vastly underestimated; so was the astronomical damage they would cause - something like the meltdowns that keep dogging the nuclear industry.

Research in economics and psychology helps us understand why we do such a bad job in managing these risks. We have little empirical basis for judging rare events, so it is difficult to arrive at good estimates. In such circumstances, more than wishful thinking can come into play: we might have few incentives to think hard at all. On the contrary, when others bear the costs of mistakes, the incentives favour self-delusion. A system that socialises losses and privatises gains is doomed to mismanage risk.


......


And later:



For the planet, there is one more risk, which, like the other two, is almost a certainty: global warming and climate change. If there were other planets to which we could move at low cost in the event of the almost certain outcome predicted by scientists, one could argue that this is a risk worth taking. But there aren’t, so it isn’t.

The costs of reducing emissions pale in comparison to the possible risks the world faces. And that is true even if we rule out the nuclear option (the costs of which were always underestimated). To be sure, coal and oil companies would suffer, and big polluting countries - like the US - would obviously pay a higher price than those with a less profligate lifestyle.

In the end, those gambling in Las Vegas lose more than they gain. As a society, we are gambling – with our big banks, with our nuclear power facilities, with our planet. As in Las Vegas, the lucky few - the bankers that put our economy at risk and the owners of energy companies that put our planet at risk - may walk off with a mint. But on average and almost certainly, we as a society, like all gamblers, will lose.

That, unfortunately, is a lesson of Japan’s disaster that we continue to ignore at our peril.
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby OneWhiteEye » Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:50 pm

Major_Tom, great article. It's funny because I ran across this very article yesterday and favorited it. I was going to cite it if I got any more crap from the smart idiots at Rational Skeptic. At the time I wrote this a few days ago, I had not heard the terms "fat tail" or "long tail" distributions, as they are relatively recent.

I wrote:Any risk assessments made prior to this time can be segregated into one of two categories:

1) the probability of an event like this occurring this year was estimated to be near unity
2) worthless

Such is the double-edged sword of stochastic processes. Knowledge about a process only establishes confidence that you'll win, not assurances you won't lose. Post-hoc devaluation to zero is the par for the course when it comes to risk assessment; the value is strictly a priori.

Hazard mitigation often comes down to the simplest of arithmetic. The product of numerical assignment of severity and calculated probability of occurrence give a rough measure of how much you need to worry about a given condition. This is an honest and useful metric but naturally is contingent on the quality of the probability estimation. Unfortunately, outcomes having extremely low probability are the most difficult cases to estimate, and one hopes the most severe cases are the least likely to occur.

NASA risk estimates prior to the Challenger disaster entered the round-file stage on January 28, 1986. Now would probably be a good time to archive the public risk assessment documents from the nuclear industry if you're interested in before/after comparisons of the practical efficacy. The problem is simply this: Actuals for these types of events are comprised almost exclusively of the null result. The third exception just happened a few weeks ago. Some assurance is had in that these events are essentially uncorrelated, thus no clustering of incidents are expected, if you discount the fact that there are actually 7 incidents going on right now.

If it's possible to do large numbers of trials such that a failure rate is established with confidence, theoretically only dynamic factors act to change the assessment: process or materials change, environmental change, age of the system...

Catastrophic failure is a distinct category in itself. Small components can be proof tested by the millions to establish a high confidence performance profile, including the entire spectrum of failure modes. As the systems become more complex and expensive, the number of catastrophic event instances to establish the profile reduces. Cars are fairly liberally crash tested, passenger jets are not. Shuttles never are. Obviously, subsystems are tested to failure but any systems engineer will tell you an integrated systems test is the only way to assess the functioning of the system as a whole. The shuttle risk assessment prior to Challenger was, by definition, composed solely of statistical aggregation of unit test results.

So systems like space shuttles and nuclear plants get integration testing only while in-service. Nuclear plants go a step farther because, by their nature, catastrophic failure must be avoided. Not only can you never induce failure in the lab, should failure occur the forensics can be sharply limited. There's no collection of wreckage to assemble in a hangar as the NTSB does for an airline crash.


http://www.rationalskepticism.org/general-science/nuclear-power-safety-in-the-aftermath-of-the-japan-earthquake-t20414-380.html#p783129

Clearly I understand intimately the concepts of these power law distributions, though at the time I wrote this I didn't know the terms.

I've been accused of fear mongering for recommending caution going forward with nuclear. In the meantime, the smart idiots there with avatars showing the world melting away into space from global warming cite sources which led me straight to James Lovelock, who says:

As James Lovelock states: "There have been seven disasters since humans came on the Earth, very similar to the one that's just about to happen."

He argues that billions of people are likely to die in the ensuing famine. "Enjoy life while you can.

"Because if you're lucky it's going to be 20 years before it hits the fan".


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8214045.stm

OK, I just want to get this straight. Lovelock says with virtual certainty that billions will die from climate change within 20 years, but I'm fear mongering by relating REAL, PRESENT issues associated with nuclear plant risk assessment?

Major_Tom, I don't like the smart idiots in positions of prominence. I hate plebian smart idiots. Look at the comments by Macdoc in the thread I linked for examples.

I will fill this thread up like no other. I have countless links of smart idiocy sequestered away.
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:26 am

I read the thread. Macdoc is a good example of a rather naive person.

In most all threads in this forum we try to solve problems or work towards a solution.

In this case I don't think there is a solution. It is just the way things are. No doubt since the Manhattan project in 1945 there has been a looming awareness that the capacity for destruction on a planetary scale is one of man's new attributes.



Consider the Lovelock quote. Is it not strange that the 20th century is considered to be filled with technological successes and progress while scientists are openly talking about mass extinction as a result of all the pollution and poisoning?

It is totally schizophrenic.


On the one hand you have these people enjoying their i-pads and thinking everything is getting better and better (for them), while others don't even expect their children to live a normal lifespan as we know it.

From my own experience, I have seen this "smart stupid" mentality in 2 ways: One in scientific and financial experts, and another in how people in industrialized countries are often horrifyingly ignorant of their true relationship to the large majority of the earth's inhabitants.

The 2 forms:

1) Reckless vain idiocy of scientific and financial experts

2) Inability for those with access to resources to understand the condition and experiences of the majority who are starved of resources and subject to much harsher living conditions.


There is this bizarre belief in the wonders of 20th century progress for islands of people in industrialized countries while the evidence of destruction and decay is everywhere.


I've watched this but there is little anyone can do about the inevitable train wreck.
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:45 am

The inter-relation between the 2 kinds of stupid seems to be that one group uses the other group as a giant buffer system against calamity.

It is as if there is an ocean of poorer people below that act like a pillow upon which these societies can thrive.

If human beings are considered as another resource like oil or copper, there exist large reservoirs of people willing to work very hard just for basic necessities.

I think of them as living in "people farms" and they exist around any major city in the "developing" world in places sometimes called "slums". Millions and millions of "extra" people in resource-starved environments.

These places provide a virtually unlimited supply of reusable and disposable humans for the needs of industry and the richer societies.



So the great progress was progress for whom? Do some of these scientists understand that after all this wonderful progress the slums pretty much look the same?
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby SanderO » Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:21 am

I think you need to introduce some Marxist critique about the nature of the structure of society and in especially that of capitalism which is built on the notion that the world is organized on the basis of selfish interest of wealth creation which offers those with more of it the better things in life. Capital exploits labor and labor is provided the minimal existence and some distraction as industrialization builds an increasingly complex infrastructure. The essentially fallacy of unending growth in a closed system is becoming the undoing of capitalism which is in a continual quest for exploitation to create more wealth. We are now coming to the end, and seeing the effects of this drive to the "thirst for more". Fine and good when there is more out there, but not so when the demand outstrips the supply. The system crashes and that is where we are now. Capitalism offers no alternative to unending (impossible in a closed system) growth. Many have been predicting this (it's self evident) but many don't have the long view to appreciate the inescapable truth - capitalism is like filling a car with gas and going for a trip.... When the tank is empty, the trip ends... the car becomes a useless piece of junk, at best a work of art, but certainly it doesn't perform as it was intended to.

Industrial societies are all fast approaching the limit and looking for scientific solutions to solve the insoluble problem. Capitalism and finance has abandoned the idea of advancing society with new and better products and devolved into naked ponzi schemes of extracting their (drug) wealth from any and everywhere. Finance no longer creates anything but debt and the illusion of wealth which in the end is nothing but money which itself is an illusion of wealth.

It's not long now folks.
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sat Apr 09, 2011 2:03 pm

I agree. I am trying to express the perception as a "gut feeling" rather than as part of any ideology. A "gut feeling" that many people share.



21st Century Schizoid Man: Enthusiastic Genius Boy Meets Post Thermo-nuclear Wasteland.



One personal example given by Richard Feynman. During the Manhattan Project a young Richard Feynman in this mid-twenties was singled out by Physicists such as Niels Bohr and Robert Oppenheimer as having unique abilities. Quite a rush for a young man. Consider his own reaction to his success.



(On 6 August 1945 the atomic bomb was exploded over Hiroshima.)

The only reaction I remember - perhaps I was blinded by my own reaction - was a very considerable elation and excitement, and there were parties and people got drunk and it would make a tremendously interesting contrast, what was going on in Hiroshima. I was involved with this happy thing and also drinking and drunk and playing drums sitting on the hood of - the bonnet of - a Jeep and playing drums with excitement running all over Los Alamos as the same time as people were dying and struggling in Hiroshima.

I had a very strong reaction after that was of a peculiar nature - it may be from just the bomb itself and it may be for some other psychological reasons, I'd just lost my wife or something, but I remember being in New York with my mother in a restaurant, immediately after (Hiroshima), and thinking about New York, and I knew how big the bomb in Hiroshima was, how big an area it covered and so on, and I realized from where we were - I don't know, 59th Street - that to drop one on 34th Street, it would spread all the way out here and all these people would be killed and all the things would be killed and there wasn't only one bomb available, but it was easy to continue to make them, and therefore that things were sort of doomed because already it appeared to me - very early, earlier than to others who were more optimistic - that international relations and the way people were behaving were no different than they had been before and that it was just going to go the same way as any other thing and I was sure that it was going, therefore, to be used very soon. So I felt very uncomfortable and thought, really believed, that it was silly: I would see people building a bridge and I would say "they don't understand." I really believed that it was senseless to make anything because it would all be destroyed very soon anyway, but they didn't understand that and I had this very strange view of any construction I would see, I would always think how foolish they are to try to make something. So I was really in a kind of depressive condition.





With regard to moral questions, I do have something I would like to say about it. The original reason to start the project, which was that the Germans were a danger, started me off on a process of action which was to try to develop this first system as Princeton and then at Los Alamos, to try to make the bomb work. All kinds of attempts were made to redesign it to make it a worse bomb and so on. It was a project that we all worked very, very hard, all co-operating together. And with any project like that you continue to work trying to get success, having decided to do it. But what I did - immorally I would say - was to not remember the reason that I said I was doing it, so that when the reason changed, because Germany was defeated, not the slightest thought came to my mind at all about that, that that meant now that I have to reconsider why I am continuing to do this. I simply didn't think, Okay?



What is "genius" in this sense? The ability to see, invent and apply mathematical patterns. But what about emotional intelligence? What about a deeper awareness?


(A few readers may notice that Feynman is a 20th century man and that the first bombs were not by definition "thermonuclear" (which refers to a hydrogen bomb), but I still like the title.)
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:28 pm

SInce one act of colossal stupidity is happening right now, this thread can act as a place to update information on the current condition of Japanese reactors.

Follow-up info that you won't see on the news.

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/ongoing-cover-nuclear-crisis-american-and-japanese-governments-and-companies?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+zerohedge%2Ffeed+%28zero+hedge+-+on+a+long+enough+timeline%2C+the+survival+rate+for+everyone+drops+to+zero%29
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sat Apr 09, 2011 7:08 pm

Einstein:

"Because of the danger that Hitler might be the first to have the bomb, I signed a letter to the President which had been drafted by Szilard. Had I known that the fear was not justified, I would not have participated in opening this Pandora's box, nor would Szilard. For my distrust of governments was not limited to Germany."

It is during the Manhattan Project that a new reality was brought to the physics community. After this project, a new breed of scientist was introduced where human values would no longer interfere with cold war military priorities.

Einstein is certainly well known, but how many people have read his personal views during or after 1945?

There is one letter to President Truman after the first atomic bomb test but before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima a few weeks later. The original copy is in a small museum inside Kirkland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Home of Sandia Laboratory).

It is difficult to find a copy.....


Here it is:



"Discoveries of which the people of the United States are not aware may affect the welfare of this nation in the near future. The liberation of atomic power which has been achieved places atomic bombs in the hands of the Army. It places in your hands, as Commander-in-Chief, the fateful decision whether or not to sanction the use of such bombs in the present phase of the war against Japan.

We, the undersigned scientists, have been working in the field of atomic power. Until recently we have had to fear that the United States might be attacked by atomic bombs during this war and that her only defense might lie in a counterattack by the same means. Today, with the defeat of Germany, this danger is averted and we feel impelled to say what follows:

The war has to be brought speedily to a successful conclusion and attacks by atomic bombs may very well be an effective method of warfare. We feel, however, that such attacks on Japan could not be justified, at least not until the terms which will be imposed after the war on Japan were made public in detail and Japan were given an opportunity to surrender.

If such public announcement gave assurance to the Japanese that they could look forward to a life devoted to peaceful pursuits in their homeland and if Japan still refused to surrender our nation might then, in certain circumstances, find itself forced to resort to the use of atomic bombs. Such a step, however, ought not to be made at any time without seriously considering the moral responsibilities which are involved.

The development of atomic power will provide the nations with new means of destruction. The atomic bombs at our disposal represent only the first step in this direction, and there is almost no limit to the destructive power which will become available in the course of their future development. Thus a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale.

If after the war a situation is allowed to develop in the world which permits rival powers to be in uncontrolled possession of these new means of destruction, the cities of the United States as well as the cities of other nations will be in continuous danger of sudden annihilation. All the resources of the United States, moral and material, may have to be mobilized to prevent the advent of such a world situation. Its prevention is at present the solemn responsibility of the United States—singled out by virtue of her lead in the field of atomic power.

The added material strength which this lead gives to the United States brings with it the obligation of restraint and if we were to violate this obligation our moral position would be weakened in the eyes of the world and in our own eyes. It would then be more difficult for us to live up to our responsibility of bringing the unloosened forces of destruction under control.

In view of the foregoing, we, the undersigned, respectfully petition: first, that you exercise your power as Commander-in-Chief to rule that the United States shall not resort to the use of atomic bombs in this war unless the terms which will be imposed upon Japan have been made public in detail and Japan knowing these terms has refused to surrender; second, that in such an event the question whether or not to use atomic bombs be decided by you in the light of the consideration presented in this petition as well as all the other moral responsibilities which are involved." (Leo Szilard, His Version of the Facts, pp. 211-212). "

By Szilard, not Einstein.



A last testimony of the innocent "boyhood" of the very people who hastily agreed to design the first bomb quickly brought to an end.

A sane "plan" as some of them understood it would have been to invite an Ambassador of Japan to the New Mexico desert to witness the first test, and then report back to his government.


Another relevant comment by Einstein:

"Albert Einstein, equally peaceable but more discerning, said of the weaponry developed before the First World War—machine guns, massive artillery—that entrusting human beings with modern technology was like putting a meat ax in the hands of a psychopath. The flower of Wilhelmine chemistry devoted itself to devising chemical weapons that would eviscerate the throats and lungs of the French and British enemy in the Great War. When Fritz Haber, the presiding genius of German chemical weaponry, was implored by his wife, herself a chemistry Ph.D., to give up his work on poison gas, he replied that in peace a scientist serves mankind but in war he serves his country. His wife killed herself that night." Source

This comment by Einstein sums up my personal feelings on the relationship of nuclear technology to the capacity of human beings.


Out with human priority, forward with the great "progress" of mega-technics and the introduction of the smart idiot as the new "ideal" public servant, an obedient employee.
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sat Apr 09, 2011 8:01 pm

Compare the concerns of Einstein and Szilard with the new breed of scientist.

Just one example: MIRV Technology


The image that Feynman had about the effects of a bomb in New York is tiny compared with the technology of hydrogen bombs installed in one MIRV.

Where did the "concern" go?

Applying Feynman's comment: ".....not the slightest thought came to my mind at all about that, that that meant now that I have to reconsider why I am continuing to do this. I simply didn't think, Okay?"

He had a conscience. The present breed of weapons researcher has no such constraint.
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:13 pm

Expressing human values as a sign of "weakness".




"The atomic bomb related work that Einstein did was very limited and he completed it in two days during December 1941. Vannevar Bush, who was coordinating the scientific work on the a-bomb at that time, asked Einstein's advice on a theoretical problem involved in separating fissionable material by gaseous diffusion. But Bush and other leaders in the atomic bomb project excluded Einstein from any other a-bomb related work. Bush didn't trust Einstein to keep the project a secret: "I am not at all sure... [Einstein] would not discuss it in a way that it should not be discussed." "(Clark, pg. 684-685; G. Pascal Zachary, "Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century", pg. 204).

Original link here

The new scientist will need to be "trusted" (assume military and corporate priorities as the greatest good). Einstein, expressing reservations about unfettered violence, couldn't be "trusted".


This era ushers in the scientist as a mere servo-mechanism of military and corporate ideas. Einstein was "old skool".





........

The Oppenheimer Historian Cassidy on the change of scientific ideals during the project....

"Cassidy sees this feeling of reduced moral responsibility as largely a product of the prevailing culture rather than of Oppenheimer’s distinctive sensibility: “Under Vannevar Bush [the M.I.T. engineer who sold the Manhattan Project to President Roosevelt], the scientist as the enlightened keeper of cultural ideals and an equal partner with military and political leaders was replaced by a new conception of the scientist as a mere technician of physical processes, an employee working under orders at the bottom of a bureaucratic hierarchy.


>>>>>>>>>>

And most of us know the fate of the "father" of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, when he expressed reservations and human values....,.


Oppenheimer to President Truman: "I feel we have blood on our hands,"

Truman's reply: " "Never mind. It'll all come out in the wash,"
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:31 am

The purpose of the last few posts was to put the current smart-stupid perception of the physical scientist into a short historic perspective within the last century.


Consider what we have recently observed as an economic meltdown.

The leaders who originally sponsored the EU viewed nation states as having plunged the continent into a millennium of warfare. But today, finance is the new mode of warfare. Its objective is the same as military conquest: to seize the land and basic infrastructure, and to levy tribute – euphemized as bailout repayments, as if the financial system were necessary to fuel industry and labor rather than siphoning off their surplus.


Source

It is interesting to consider how induced financial collapse through unpayable loans can be much more effective than direct military conquest.

They lead to "people farms" which provide "cheap labor" while the bulk of the Govt revenue is sent to banks in other countries as "tribute".

It is important for "advanced economies" to have large "people farms" within the country as well as the "seas" of people farms around all major cities in the "developing" world in the form of slums and other forms of shanty-towns.

Otherwise, who would do all the dirty work at such low wages?
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:34 pm

RESOURCE-STARVED COMMUNITIES

This is what many people know as "poverty", but that word is so tainted with mythical bullsh#t that it is pretty useless.

FIrst, it is interesting to ask if there is such a thing as resource-starved communities in nature. Beyond the human experience, are there parallels in animal and plant life?

To a plant resource starvation leads to stunted growth or death. For groups of animals resource starvation leads to a decrease in population until balance is re-established.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

In the case of nature resource starvation leads to a natural rebalancing. But there is no species that desires or requires the endless extraction of labor from another species among animals. This is unique to human beings.

Certain human beings have a unique bottomless pit of insatiable greed that animals do not share. Resource starved human communities are a human invention, there being no parallel in nature of large scale "poverty".

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Food, shelter, access to medicine and security are the 4 necessities required for a person to live to a natural old age. All else is extra.

Because it is known that a person must suffer a great deal if deprived of these 4 basic necessities, they have been used a tools to manipulate and control.

One working principle of "people farms" is that of barely providing enough for the basic necessities while creating conditions within the communities that is so repulsive, so intolerable for those within that they will do just about anything to get out of there.

It is not desired that the populations of people farms perish, for that would destroy a wonderful resource for those that harvest people for labor and services and benefit from the induced desperation. Even organ harvesting is growing in popularity these days.
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:59 pm

This is the cultural context in which I see the smart idiot.

Idiots in that they don't seem to realize their actual dependent, parasitic relationship with their fellow humans.

They often assume corporate and military values to a level in which little if any independent thought and feeling remain.

(Afghanistan is the perfect example.)

Human priorities and values are ignored for the quest for "progress" under a general believe that science is somehow taking all of us to some wonderful place.

In truth, I could have a more intelligent conversation with a group of taxi drivers from Bolivia than I can with a scientific idiot.
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:17 pm

article


From article:

Of Chernobyl 25 years later:

'In 2010, Mousseau and colleagues published the biggest-ever census of wildlife in the exclusion zone.

It showed that mammals had declined and insect diversity, including bumblebees, grasshoppers, butterflies and dragonflies, had also fallen.

And in a study published in February this year, they netted 550 birds, belonging to 48 species at eight different sites, and measured their heads to determine the volume of their brains.

Birds living in "hot spots" had five percent smaller brains than those living where radiation was lower -- and the difference was especially great among birds less than a year old.

Smaller brains are linked to a lower cognitive ability and thus survival. The study suggested many bird embryos probably do not survive at all.

"This clearly ties to the level of background contamination," said Mousseau. "There are bound to be consequences for the ecosystem as a whole."


....................



"Radioactive dust and ash spewed over more than 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 square miles) after Chernobyl's No. 4 reactor exploded and caught fire on April 26 1986.

Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were most affected, although deposits reached as far north as Scotland and as far west as Ireland, requiring in some places long-term restrictions on cattle grazing.

Contamination, even in the notorious exclusion zone, is not uniform.

Some areas are quite clean. But a few hundred metres (yards) away, there can be "hotspots" -- determined by the winds and rain that deposited the particles, or the leaves that trapped them -- where radiation is far higher.

Today, the main threats are caesium 137 and to a lesser degree strontium 90, which decay slowly in a timescale measured in decades, according to France's Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN).

Their radioactivity has fallen by orders of magnitude from 25 years ago but in the hotspots it lingers in a 10- to 20-centimetre (four- to eight-inch) layer of topsoil. They thus provide a low-dose but constant and lasting source of exposure.

Radioactive particles pass from the soil into plants via their roots, into animals that eat the vegetation and into the humans that eat their meat or drink their milk.

Absorbed into the bones and organs, caesium emits alpha radiation, which damages DNA in close proximity, boosting the risk of mutant cells that become tumours -- or, in reproductive cells, are handed on in progeny."


........


"Valery Kashparov, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Agricultural Radiology, said the government cut off funds for radiation monitoring in 2008. Around 400,000 euros (600,000 dollars) are needed annually to ensure this food is uncontaminated.

"The contamination is going down, but it will take dozens of years for nature to bring it down to safe levels," he said.

In research presented in Kiev this month, scientists for Greenpeace purchased food from village markets in two administrative regions, Zhytomyr and Rivne.

Tests found caesium 137 above permissible levels in many samples of milk, dried mushrooms and berries, they said. Levels were extremely high in Rivne, where a peaty, waterlogged soil transmits radioactive particles more easily to plants than other soil types."


Muchrooms are mostly water, about 90% by weight. Japan gives the modern scientist a good opportunity to see how radioactive elements settle through rice fields in terraces of standing water (unless funding is cut off).
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Re: Smart Idiots

Postby Major_Tom » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:01 pm

In order to understand the following you have to give up the assumption that human beings are reasonable.

article

From article:

"TOKYO (AFP) – The operator of Japan's stricken nuclear plant said Sunday it will send two remote-controlled robots into a reactor building damaged by a hydrogen explosion to gauge radiation and temperature levels.

Emergency workers battling to stabilise the plant after a massive earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems on March 11 have not been able to enter any of the reactor buildings since the disaster.

The explosion -- one of several caused when a build-up of hydrogen reacted with oxygen in the atmosphere in the days immediately after the quake -- blew the roof off the outer structure housing reactor three.

A spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said the two American-made robots would enter the reactor three building on Sunday to check radiation, temperature, humidity and oxygen levels."


They have not been able to enter the buildings. What the hell can you do to stabilize a deforming reactor core with a damaged cooling system from outside the building?

Consider trying to fix the furnace of your neighbor without entering his house. Outside of chanting spiritual incantations, there isn't much humans can do from outside the buildings no matter how much of an expert one is.

In the OWE post there is a link to George Monbiot discussing nuclear power just after we all saw the roof get blown off one of the buildings, viewable at this link:
http://www.rationalskepticism.org/general-science/nuclear-power-safety-in-the-aftermath-of-the-japan-earthquake-t20414-400.html#p784238

The crisis in Japan quietly jumped to a "7", meaning the same rating as Chernobyl in severity. This was because there was a massive leak of radiation during and after that blast we all saw on television.

When it happened, we were all told it wasn't serious, just a little hydrogen. 2 weeks later people are told the event ranked as a "7" on the nuclear danger scale of 1 to 7.

Behold the depth of human stupidity and naivite when listening to the inteview with George Monbiot which took place just after we all saw the top of a building housing a reactor core blow up.

Is it possible to be less educated or more gullible about the consequences of a nuclear meltdown? He was born into the nuclear era. He is a journalist. How could he have lived in such a deep dream for so long?

WHen he saw the reactor roof blow off the building and the Japanese govt said it wasn't serious, how could he have been so obedient and doglike to have believed everything he heard?

It never ceases to amaze me how frighteningly detached from a sense of reality some people can drift in space and time.
Major_Tom
 
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