Just a quick note today on radiation and the irrational fear it provokes. -Take it from someone who works around “rad” professionally in nature and in industry: Radiation isn’t scary. It’s normal.
Radiation comes from the sun above, the mountains around, the soil beneath, our wi-fi routers, radio stations, and heck – our own bodies emit infrared and gamma radiation, just like radioactive waste. (Though, granted, at a much lower intensity.)
While some radioactive elements emit particles as well as “energy,” the simple truth is that the same electromagnetic waves that stimulate our retinas (visible light) are identical in form to the elctromagnetic waves that warm our hands in gloves (infrared rays,) cook our food (microwaves,) burn our skin (ultraviolet waves,) check our bones (x-rays,) and that on the extreme end can be very physically harmful to our tissue (gamma-rays and cosmic rays). Think of them as colors our eyes can’t see.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Radiation is natural, not just man-made. We grew up around it, and our bodies are built to take it. There’s even a fair amount of serious research to suggest moderate exposure to radiation helps keep us healthy by stimulating our defense systems.
So, why the mystique? Tradition. Radiation is associated with atomic bombs, nuclear holocaust, physics perceived to be too complex for any ordianry person to understand (which is completely untrue,) and it’s invisible to human senses. General misunderstanding is the culprit when we really have nothing to fear but… yes, fear itself.
Now – this fear is really getting in the way of some important developments in power, propulsion, and industry. What can we do to counter such pervasive fear? Perhaps we should call it like it is.
See the included examples of microwave, radio, etc., radiation symbols that accurately place radiation with radiation. Enough with the marketing – call an apple an apple.
Perhaps if we started putting these symbols out with our appliances and various gadgets and at beaches to denote the threat of sunburns and skin-cancer, we’d realize that not all radiation is truly harmful, and that the radiation that is a hazard is something we’re more than capable of dealing with – and that we really already do. After all, what is sunscreen but a mild, high-density radiation shield? (Ever wonder why sunscreen is so thick?)
4 thoughts on “Confronting radiation fears through symbology”
Hmm that symbol you have used is for ionising radiation! Not applicable for Microwave, Ultraviolet or any other EM wave!
This was precisely my point, actually: That ionizing EM radiation is taken out of context in the electromagnetic spectrum (ionizing is not the only damaging form) and that all EM wave fields should be presented with a consistent nomenclature to help people understand that there isn’t anything magical about gamma-rays, for instance. They’re simply a more intense version of the light we already see, block with sunscreen, etc. Thoughts?
We need to start presenting apples with apples if we are to ever begin to combat the hysteria associated with radioactive material and nuclear energy relative to the commensurate risks already accepted by the public when it comes to chemicals, driving in a car, etc.