Wade Allison, Professor of Physics at Oxford University, argues that this public apprehension of anything nuclear, which was fostered during the Cold War, is not justifiable and, with the onset of climate change, nuclear radiation needs to be assessed in more realistic terms when difficult choices between power sources have to be made.
Professor Allison said: ‘Current environmental regulations that attempt to keep variations in radiation exposure to a fraction of the natural level are over-cautions by a factor of about 500 to 1000. This factor is unnecessary and unaffordable. In no other field is such a safety factor applied.’
In his lecture, ‘How dangerous is ionising radiation?’ given on 24 November 2006 as part of the mainstream Colloquium series in the Oxford Physics Department, he shows that in fact there is good evidence to demonstrate that life has evolved immunity to the dangers of radiation up to a certain threshold. Below this, any damage is completely repaired.
A value for this threshold may be determined from the health records of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example. The existence of this threshold, or non-linearity as he describes it, is supported by data on the acute victims of Chernobyl, on laboratory experiments, on radon in homes, on the recovery of patients receiving radiotherapy – indeed, without this non-linearity, current radiotherapy treatment would not be effective.
Professor Allison argues that this threshold behaviour is the norm, describing, for example, how people recover completely from minor cuts and bruises, loss of blood, body temperature excursions and so on, up to a certain threshold. Nuclear radiation, or ionising radiation as he more correctly describes it, occurs naturally in the environment, and mankind has adapted to deal with it by developing repair mechanisms that prevent long-term damage.
Professor Allison said: ‘Members of the public tolerate radiation exposures for their own health which are 1000 times higher per day than those that are currently deemed barely acceptable in the environment per year. A far greater tolerance to radiation in the environment is needed if the health of the planet is to be treated with the same respect and judgment as personal health.’
Barbara Hott | alfa
Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators
14.12.2018 | DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet
14.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy