Let’s listen to the sound of radiation. Today, on Engineering Works!
The first time most people heard of radiation was probably when we dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. The destruction and death they caused made radiation scary.
But radiation has been around for as long as there’s been an earth. Millions of years.
Each of us is bombarded every second of every day by radiation from space. From the ground. Cosmic rays. If you like to tan by the pool, that’s radiation, from the sun. If you stay in the shade, you’re still getting radiation from the ground. In central Texas, where we live, it’s about 23 millirems a year. In Denver, it’s about 90 millirems.
In case you’re wondering, a millirem is one-thousandth of a rem, a Roentgen Equivalent Man. Rems measure radiation exposure. Like using inches to measure distance.
Ready for more? If you travel a lot, you’ll get about 1 millirem for every thousand miles you fly. Don’t travel? A year’s worth of watching TV adds one millirem. Smoke detector in your house? That’s eight-thousandths of a rem. Got an x-ray with your annual physical? 40 millirems more.
Live near a nuclear power plant? Compared to the other stuff that bombards you with radiation, it’s pretty puny – nine-thousandths of a rem. About like your smoke detector. A coal-fired power plant gives you more than three times as much, but it’s still pretty small.
We’re ready to stop radiating words. See you next time.
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