March 15, 2011

Tracking Radiation Levels in Tokyo: A Minorly Scary Photo

Kyodo News/AP

This is the pic that’s really  making the rounds today.  Although the set up is frightening, I think the photo helps to bring into focus the question of how great the radiation threat actually is.

Shortformblog posted the photo with the title: “Tracking radiation levels in Tokyo: A minorly scary photo.” The accompany photo credit reads:

Photo of the day: “A radiation detector marks 0.6 micro-sieverts, exceeding normal levels Tuesday, near Shibuya train station in Tokyo. Concern over possible radiation exposure has increased after a fourth reactor released radiation, Tuesday.”To compare – this level is higher than average, but only a tiny percentage of what’s happening at the plant. 1,000 micro-sieverts per hour equals one milli-sievert per hour. So this is high, but still minor. (Kyodo News/AP) source

My take:

The fear would be “more minorly” if the high zone on the meter had a long red line, instead of a green one, and the marking beneath the needle was green instead of red, and the woman in the background wasn’t wearing a mask (often seen in Tokyo due to everyday pollution).  Clever shot.

I guess the main issue, in this photo, and in Japan to this point is: what is the definition of “minorly.”

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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