I spent the day yesterday building my first Geiger counter. It is a bGeige and I had the great good fortune of learning how to do it from Joe, Sean, Pieter (three out of four of the founders of SAFECAST) and Dan Sythe of International Medcom.
As an intentional action by human beings, fission–the splitting of atoms–has been called by some an evolutionary step for our species. If that is so, then SAFECAST is another next step in our evolution.
Born from the radioactive debris and contamination challenging the communities in Japan near the triple meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors, SAFECAST is giving human beings the ability to see the invisible radioactivity that is fission’s legacy.
A collaboration among people committed to the value of solid, credible, transparent and accessible data SAFECAST has, for the first time in the Atomic Age:
*invented radiation detectors that are affordable;
*can be assembled by the owner;
*include a GPS link so that counts per minute of radioactivity are linked to geographic location automatically;
*a new survey method where the detector is attached to the outside of a car (or bike) to collect readings while traveling;
*are standardized so that all measurements from any instrument can be compared “Apple to Apple” instead of “apples to oranges;”
*data is uploaded worldwide to a single database that, as of today, contains more than 17 million data points.
Like other major steps forward, only a few of us so far are part of it, but that will change once crowd-sourcing has generated enough data points to create a global map. The map will include both measurements of “baseline” in many places and in others a picture of the mess fission has made. We will all be eyes wide open then.
Thanks to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for hosting this workshop. Hopefully there will be more!
Mary Olson is director of NIRS Southeast office in Asheville, North Carolina.
April 22, 2014
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