Radiation Chart

There’s a lot of discussion of radiation from the Fukushima plants, along with comparisons to Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Radiation levels are often described as “<X> times the normal level” or “<Y>% over the legal limit,” which can be pretty confusing.

Ellen, a friend of mine who’s a student at Reed and Senior Reactor Operator at the Reed Research Reactor, has been spending the last few days answering questions about radiation dosage virtually nonstop (I’ve actually seen her interrupt them with “brb, reactor”). She suggested a chart might help put different amounts of radiation into perspective, and so with her help, I put one together. She also made one of her own; it has fewer colors, but contains more information about what radiation exposure consists of and how it affects the body.

I’m not an expert in radiation and I’m sure I’ve got a lot of mistakes in here, but there’s so much wild misinformation out there that I figured a broad comparison of different types of dosages might be good anyway. I don’t include too much about the Fukushima reactor because the situation seems to be changing by the hour, but I hope the chart provides some helpful context.

(Click to view full)

Note that there are different types of ionizing radiation; the “sievert” unit quantifies the degree to which each type (gamma rays, alpha particles, etc) affects the body. You can learn more from my sources list. If you’re looking for expert updates on the nuclear situation, try the MIT NSE Hub. Ellen’s page on radiation is here.

Lastly, remember that while there’s a lot of focus on possible worst-case scenarios involving the nuclear plants, the tsunami was an actual disaster that’s already killed thousands. Hundreds of thousands more, including my best friend from college, are in shelters with limited access to basic supplies and almost no ability to contact the outside world. If you’re not sure how to help, Google’s Japan Crisis Resource page is a good place to start.

Edit: For people who asked about Japanese translations or other types of reprinting: you may republish this image anywhere without any sort of restriction; I place it in the public domain. I just suggest that you make sure to include a clear translation of the disclaimer that the author is not an expert, and that anyone potentially affected by Fukushima should always defer to the directives of regional health authorities.

744 thoughts on “Radiation Chart

  1. Even so each cell phone discharges some
    sum of radiation which in the long run could cause significant well being issues.
    The mechanism is very clear: charged particles or photons of sufficient energy shred cellular tissue by kicking electrons out of molecules.
    So here you have it in a nutshell, if you want to prolong your
    life then start using your speaker phone on
    your cellphone more often and stop using your microwave oven to heat food.

  2. ay is, perhaps, the best western movie about Budhism.
    He is born, lives and dies everyday, sdover and over untill ove

  3. Pingback: Fukushima, 2 Years Later | The Grand Adventure of El

  4. The comment about cell phones or microwaves emitting dangerous radiation is fallacious. It’s stated that cell phones “discharge” a “sum of radiation”, which is immediately followed by the assertion that “charged particles or photons of sufficient energy shred cellular tissue by kicking electrons out of molecules.” These are used together to conclude that one should “start using your speaker phone on
    your cellphone more often and stop using your microwave oven to heat food.” The problem is that the first statement — that cell phones output some form of radiation — has nothing to do with the fact that photons can kick electrons out of molecules. This is, by definition, ionizing radiation; of which neither cell phones nor microwaves emit. This is like saying “since the Sun emits light — some of which is UV and causes sunburn — one should also avoid traffic signals given that they, too, emit light.”

  5. It’s been more than two years since the Fukushima incident. Do you plan to update the chart with the new informations we keep getting?

  6. Great to see that the HTML+CSS+JS workflow is improving. However, I cannot help to think that this “app” would feel smoother in Flash. I think it has to do with small details such as how dropdown lists are rendered, how the page resizes when the elements are loaded, how the hoover selection in the dropdown feels a bit too instant etc. I guess this can be improved by tweeking the css, but these things are natively done right in Flash.

  7. Nice tutorial. I was wondering how I would go about not showing a particular piece of an html template, is that possible? For example in employee-details.html how could I conditionally show or not show the manager field? Normally I would surround that in an if block with my server side scripting language but with backbone I don’t understand how to accomplish that. Any suggestions?

  8. Really nice App. Thank you. I am a beginner and it will help to start learning backbone and Bootstrap. I have some ideas I will try to learn and do my webapp on my own. I am wondering why you didn’t commercialize this. Small companies can buy this right and is very useful for them just like any time tracking app.

  9. Need small Info: Based on backbone+Bootstrap, are there any open srcd/example templates where a simple app that has support for user login/signups. I want to create an app that allows user to login and enter some details for app to work. One cant access others data. Any pointers how to go about ?? Any one else can also help me.

  10. I’d like to see your mojo source code. I have just put a mojolicious with bootstrap boilerplate on github and maybe we could complement it with some mojo with backbone boilerplate. Please feel free to contact me at tudorconstantin

  11. An extended version of this tutorial w/ additional login and admin capabilities.
    One of the biggest question to newcomers on rest-like architecture is how handling login and performance security operations (like adding or removing contents, auth, and so on). I’m sure it will be a great follow up article

  12. I wonder how I can do to mount this tool locally (localhost). Right now I work, if not due to .htaccess is not set in my MAMP. Or is that the folder “api” PHP is not well located within the project and is not accessible.

  13. Pingback: Spinneyhead | Daily Blog 03/20/2011

  14. The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation.The “electromagnetic spectrum” of an object has a different meaning, and is instead the characteristic distribution of electromagnetic radiation emitted or absorbed by that particular object.

  15. Most parts of the electromagnetic spectrum are used in science for spectroscopic and other probing interactions, as ways to study and characterize matter. In addition, radiation from various parts of the spectrum has found many other uses for communications and manufacturing (see electromagnetic radiation for more applications).

  16. “chart of how much ionizing radiation a person can absorb from various sources, compared visually. 1 Sievert will make you sick, many more will kill you, however, even small doses cumulatively increase cancer risk.”

  17. Randall’s “Radiation Dose Chart” does a great job of illustrating scale and proportion in a two dimensional static graphic. The transitions in scale showing the combination of all previous elements makes visual sense and helps the viewer compare any two dosages on the graphic. The chart responds to alarm expressed by news sources with a scientific explanation of radiation doses in the context of every day occurrences.

  18. Pingback: Radiation Dose Chart by Randall Munroe at xkcd.com | nuzreal.com

  19. The Fukushima-related doses are correct; I was in the Tokyo Bay area at the time with a radiac and was given an internal dose investigation for the incident.

    Missing one, though: Transpacific Flight from Japan to America: ~70 μSv.
    Compared to staying in Japan during Fukushima: ~40 μSv.
    Not freaking out because you know not to worry: Priceless.
    Or, you know, not buying a plane ticket costing over a thousand dollars.

    Also, for anyone wondering “limits” when it comes to radiation are not something typically reached by anyone.

    Source: US Navy Reactor Operator.

  20. Beautiful info-graphic, BUT there seems to be a truly terrible typo.
    The two green blocks in the top-right box are labelled “Extra dose to Tokyo in the weeks following F = 40mS” Either there should be many more blocks, or this should read micro-S (sorry, can’t do a mu in this comment box). It’s really unfortunate because at the moment the graphic seems to show how insignificant the Fukushima dose was, but the error raises the question of whether the true dose was in fact 1000 times greater than depicted here.

  21. For people who asked about Japanese translations or other types of reprinting: you may republish this image anywhere without any sort of restriction; I place it in the public domain. I just suggest that you make sure to include a clear translation of the disclaimer that the author is not an expert, and that anyone potentially affected by Fukushima should always defer to the directives of regional health authorities.

  22. Pingback: Radiation Dose Chart {Infographic} » Best Infographics

  23. Pingback: banana for scale | Ştefan's rant

  24. Your blog is very good. It is a pleasure to be having to read this blog. If I ever were to chose a random article, and I got this one, it would be an honor for me.

  25. I almost never leave a response, but i did a few
    searching and wound up here Radiation Chart | xkcd.
    And I actually do have some questions for you if it’s allright.
    Could it be only me or does it give the impression like a few of these comments come across as
    if they are written by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are
    posting at additional sites, I would like to follow everything fresh
    you have to post. Could you list of every one of all your social pages like
    your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>