There’s a lot of confusion and panic circulating in light of the events at Fukushima Daiichi. I won’t comment on the general state of safety in the nuclear industry (except to say that I feel perfectly comfortable going to work every day at one of Fukushima’s sister sites), but I think there is a dire need for clarification and context when it comes to the general public’s understanding of radiation dose and what it actually means.
To this end, several artists have posted very helpful visualizations. Next door at Mad Art Lab, Steve tells us about the BEM (Banana Equivalent Dose). This is a great (and amusing) way to think about our everyday radiation exposure from sources most of us would never have considered.
Over at XKCD’s “blag”, Randall has created a nifty visualization comparing radiation exposure levels of everything from sleeping next to someone, to the current daily estimated dose at Fukushima, all the way up to the level that WILL KILL YOU. He emphasizes that he is not a nuclear scientist and his chart should not be taken as absolute scientific truth, though he did collaborate with an expert, and this really is one of the best treatments of the topic I’ve ever come across, as far as putting the numbers into a readily understandable context.
Happy banana eating!