Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Pico is Tiny: My Post at Northwest Clean Energy

White radium paint
on an old clock

The term "pico" refers to a trillionth of something.  It would take a thousand "picos" to make a billionth.  The term "pico" is mostly used in describing radiation.

A Curie is the amount of radiation emitted by one gram of radium.   But radiation limits are usually described in pico-curies. That's a trillionth of a curie.  There are very few things that can be measured at such a low level.  You can't just go into a lab and measure a "trillionth of a gram" of something.

But you can measure pico-curies.

I wrote a blog post about this which is published at Northwest Clean Energy blog.  My post is Me and Pico--Nuclear Power and Scare Stories.  In this post, I also share some stories of the days when I was a water chemist, specializing in analyzing pure water (and water problems) at power plants. I write about water and what it contains at low levels (like urea).


And yet, my post is not really about pico-curies.  David Ropeik wrote about recent anti-nuclear videos. Ropeik describes the ways that people have strong motivations to fit in with their group. If the group says radiation is unacceptable, then the people in the group will agree that it is unacceptable.

However, anti-nuclear groups often place a high value on an imagined future in which people use very little energy and live in rural surroundings.  I point out how such a future is actually a dystopia.

Talking about picos is not usually effective with people who are "going along" with an anti-nuclear group.  However, it is effective to talk about the values of living a life with abundant clean energy.

I hope you will read my post and perhaps comment on it.

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