Monday, March 14, 2011

Science Mondays--- flashback to 1979

I guess it was soon after the doctor visit when I discovered Springsteen. I remember a sunset. I had forgotten it till this weekend.

There was a crisis which was unexpected to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Our power plants were built with so many safeguards that they thought of a meltdown was impossible. But the fear was on the mind of others. Twelve days before Three Mile Island became known around the world, this movie hit the big screen.

The best place to see a sunset in those days was to cross route 512 and walk behind a clothing factory. I remember watching a sunset. What day of the crisis was it? Surely not the first two when all reported that all was well on the Susquehanna River. Our governor having seen an evacuation plan that would have caused chaos (each county was to evacuate into the other) was at a loss when after days of all is well got a call to evacuate.

Seven years later in the worst case we have seen, Russia reports all is well.

So this weekend I wondered how well things were in Japan, they seemed to be telling more than we did in 1979. Maybe it is their history, which has led to a respect for radiation. Maybe it is respect for the citizens.

Peace to all those who have left their homes, all those living just outside the radius of evacuation, and to all those who know the whole story and are trying to prevent anything else from happening to a devastated nation.

This morning I introduced my students to an island they had never heard of, what is it they say about the reason to know one's history... if you have an hour:

By the way, the safeguards did work at Three Mile Island, except it shocked someone in the control room and they turned off the emergency cooling system.


  1. History is not a bad thing to have on tap...

  2. Funny how "history" becomes more interesting once you have reached the age where someone refers to an event by that label and you say to yourself as much as anybody else: "Wait a minute! That's not history - I was there!"....

  3. I like Jim's comment, because your story of watching sunsets made 3 Mile Island more real.

    We lived in Istanbul when Chernobyl blew. It was pretty frightening living on the other side of the Black Sea. We weren't supposed to buy tea for a year, because tea was grown on the hills between it and the Black Sea, but of course people did buy it. The cloud passed over Istanbul apparently. We were told not to go outside.

    I really hate nuclear power. I will never let anyone seduce me into believing it is safe.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I am feeling as if this is pulling hard on some emotional strings. I guess it would be hard for it not too. Still praying for an end to the disaster as if disasters have ends.


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