Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi: Update

I cannot in good faith go without writing an update on this issue, given the new information made available to the public.  Now, the worst sounding of these news stories (the first link) consists of unofficial information, leaked to the press.  The basic summary, according that news story (and since reported in a great many places, including the PBS Newshour) was that the fuel in Reactor 1 melted very shortly after the loss of power, and may have violated the integrity of the pressure vessel (there has been some throwing around of the word 'containment' in an unclear way in the press, which is not helpful).  There has also been a substantial uptick in the estimated amount of radiation released.

Now, a few points here:  Firstly, the last news story linked above suggests that TEPCO does not believe the pressure vessel was seriously violated, which is in line with what happened at Three Mile Island as I discussed briefly before. Second, all of the information reported thus far has been based on estimates of what took place, the size of potential breaches, new information obtained by the recalibration of instrumentation on site, etc.  What this means is that these new numbers are potentially not much better than the previous, and in keeping with much of the data presented by the Japanese, is something of a worst case.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

And now: space!

Saturn, and its various satellites, to be more specific.

Cassini has been a spectacularly successful mission, by any standard, documenting conditions on Titan, finding water geysers on Encedalus, providing clues to the forces that form and maintain Saturn's splendid rings, and much more.  It also has returned some of the most beautiful imagery of a member of the solar system thus far.

Enter Chris Abbas, who has taken the raw, uncorrected imagery, and produced a dazzling little film.  It's is absolutely gorgeous, and makes just about perfect use of the 'open source' Ghosts music project, by Nine Inch Nails.

CASSINI MISSION from Chris Abbas on Vimeo.

Watch it full screen.

(h/t to Warren Ellis!)