August 25, 2011 |
For the first time, astronomers say they've borne witness to a supermassive black hole consuming a star. Two papers released Wednesday by the journal Nature describe powerful blasts of radiation whose brightness and behavior can be explained only by a sun-sized star being torn apart by the gravitational forces of a black hole at the center of its galaxy, the authors say. Scientists believe they have seen the aftermath of such stellar violence...
July 26, 2011 |
Still recovering from March's devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan is stepping up efforts to draw foreign travelers, even recruiting Lady Gaga to spread the word that much of Japan is safe for visitors. As part of the effort to lure visitors before the summer travel season ends, the Japan National Tourism Organization recently posted online the radiation levels for downtown Tokyo, which the tourism group says are lower than in tourist destinations such as New York, Singapore and Hong Kong.
July 12, 2011 |
Japanese scientists have some good news for farmers (and eaters) near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant: The soil can be made safe for planting. After the meltdown that followed the devastating magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11, radioactive isotopes of cesium escaped from the plant. With a half-life of up to 30 years, those particles threatened to turn Japanese cropland into wasteland for several generations. But as Nature News reported Tuesday, researchers who have been monitoring the soil have found that the Fukushima radiation hasn’t penetrated very far. Most of the fallout is still within the top 2 inches of soil, according to Tomoko Nakanishi, a plant radiophysiologist at the University of Tokyo.
June 27, 2011 |
Radiation after a mastectomy for advanced breast cancer is part of the standard treatment guidelines. But more than a decade after the lifesaving value of radiation was confirmed, about half of all women who should get radiation therapy aren't getting it, researchers reported Monday. In the mid-1990s, several studies confirmed that mastectomy patients with advanced breast cancer have better outcomes if they undergo radiation after surgery. Initially, the medical community seemed to pay attention to the findings.
June 5, 2011
You don't have to be a tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoiac to be worried that the electromagnetic radiation from modern wireless devices may be harmful to your health. But are the "smart meters" being installed by utilities throughout the state frying homeowners' brains, as many consumers and even municipal governments fear? The risks are vanishingly small, while the economic and environmental benefits of smart meters are wide and obvious. In fact, we wish L.A.'s municipal utility would get busy installing the devices, though that isn't likely to happen any time soon.
May 31, 2011 |
Koichi Yamada is living proof of an old business axiom: From the jaws of even the worst disaster springs opportunity. Yamada works for one of Japan's top-selling makers of radiation measuring systems. Before the deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeast Japan and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the company sold 5,000 dosimeters a year. Since the crisis began, orders have exploded to 1,000 a month. "It's been like 'Boom!' with orders, and we couldn't get parts to keep up," said Yamada, department manager at Hitachi-Aloka Medical Ltd. "We've been working overtime and fielding the surge of phone calls.
May 29, 2011 |
The parents were furious: Why, they demanded, had Japanese officials raised the acceptable level of radiation exposure for schoolchildren near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant? By upping the limit, children were allowed on playgrounds containing higher levels of radioactivity than had been permitted before the nearby atomic plant was damaged by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the parents said. While it may be impossible to rid the air of dangerous isotopes, they added, the ground is a different matter.
May 16, 2011 |
Leaning against a wall in the busy Akihabara electronics district here, Tomomitsu Funayama was enjoying a do-nothing day off from his architectural job. Yet he looked less like a slacker than a surgeon late for a big operation. For years, the 26-year-old Tokyo native had resisted the urge to follow the millions in this city who don face masks during the "wheeze and sneeze" hay fever and flu seasons to protect against allergens and help stop the spread of germs. This year, Funayama joined the pack.
May 5, 2011 |
For the first time since the magnitude 9 earthquake and the tsunami struck Japan nearly two months ago, workers on Thursday entered a damaged reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The recovery team began a project to lower radiation levels by installing six ventilation machines that would absorb isotopes from the air in the No. 1 reactor, said company spokesman Taisuke Tomikawa. Because of the high danger of exposure, teams were expected to spend only 10 minutes at a time inside.
May 5, 2011 |
For the first time since the March earthquake and tsunami, workers on Thursday entered the No. 1 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. The recovery team began a project to install six ventilation machines that would absorb isotopes from the air inside the building, said company spokesman Taisuke Tomikawa. Due to the high risk of radiation exposure, teams were expected to work in shifts inside the reactor. The goal is to lower radiation levels so that workers can replace the facility's cooling systems that were damaged by the tsunami, causing a hydrogen explosion that released damaging radioactivity into the air, soil and water.