Things that still haunt me: the helicopter pilots who put the initial fires out flew in 120-180C temperatures and pretty much all died of radiation. And the sequence that starts about here:
Where they are picking up radioactive materials by hand and throwing it off the roof next to the reactor because the robots they were trying to use all break down. Even 1 hour of exposure was deadly so they rotated through shifts, and the guys who did it were called "Bio Robots"
It has some of the same footage as the sequence in your link to t=3430, but there is a key difference: Chernobyl 3828 is about the people. The psychology of the cleanup was complicated. Some people ran while others faced the danger and accepted a "red badge of courage" because if they didn't, someone else would have to go in their place.
Or did they have lists of "expendables" for such emergencies, which would have been sorted by profession directly on-situ? Surely it wasn't completely random...
EDIT: hey downvoters, these are simple questions that help paint a better picture.
"they wouldn't need to go all the way to another region to get them"
It was a common practice for Soviets to get people from far regions to do dirty jobs, because it's easier to hide nasty deeds this way and prevent rumors from spreading. As an example, most of Lithuanians served in far regions of Siberia while at the same time most of soldiers stationed here were from Mongolia and the like.
Not much of an issue in the Soviet Union, though.
"- According to Vyacheslav Grishin of the Chernobyl Union, the main organization of liquidators, "25,000 of the Russian liquidators are dead and 70,000 disabled, about the same in Ukraine, and 10,000 dead in Belarus and 25,000 disabled", which makes a total of 60,000 dead (10% of the 600 000, liquidators) and 165,000 disabled.
- A UNSCEAR report places the total confirmed deaths from radiation at 64 as of 2008.
- Estimates of the number of deaths potentially resulting from the accident vary enormously: the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest it could reach 4,000"
According to the WHO report from 2006 (which is stupidly in the form that can be neither searched nor copy-pasted, I guess intentionally!) 600,000 persons did receive the official certificates that they worked as the liquidators there: around 200,000 people worked during the first two years, others afterwards. See page 2.
The same report on page 107:
"The RNMDR data indicate that 4.6% of the Russian emergency workers fatalities that occurred during the 12 years following the accident can be attributed to radiation-induced diseases."
I remembered distinctly when it happened, well when it was anounced on TV on evening news. It was really mentioned in passing -- oh by the way, there was incident at Chernobyl, a quick flash or some white smoke coming out in the distance and then ... sports.
My dad knew it was something more than that and said something like "Oh shit, this could be really bad". People have learned when they published something as small in the news, they would multiply by some factor to get an idea how bad it really was.
Then something really bizare happened. Refuges had started to stream into different cities. And for some strange reason, they were shunned. Others somehow thought these survivors were contaminated, cursed, builty or what have you. So instead of being embraced and helped, they found themselves trying to hide who they are and where they came from.
There is an excellent book that tackles this very subject named "All that is Solid Melts Into Air" by Darragh McKeon. I highly recommend the book and it's not too long - 200 pages give or take.
It chronicles a bit of the disaster as well as the lives of some people that live near it as well as rescue workers called in to respond to it.
Obviously not directly applicable but in a crisis it might be the kind of mistake people would make.
Thanks for that!
Either I'm about to get schooled on physics or I pretty much can't trust anything said in this documentary (cool film footage notwithstanding).
WHAT? the timer of the shutter has nothing to do with the the actual shutter speed. Using a timer for an old skool selfie has no relationship to blurriness in the exposure caused by too slow of a shutter speed.
You'll look a little bit transparent and be surrounded by fainter motion blur from when you were getting into position. I've done exactly this on moonlit nights, and the result looks completely consistent with the photo in the article. You also get ghostly duplicates if you hesitate as you get into position.
Could the shutter speed was an accident and the subject happened to pause enough to show up visibly on the image- much like the first photographed human, who was getting his shoe shined: http://mashable.com/2014/11/05/first-photograph-of-a-human/
If it's not a selfie, it's an extraordinarily lucky accident that there's a recognizable human in the photo.
ed: it's possible it was just really dark, and all the photos were exposed for that long. Someone wanted a picture of Korneyev, and he moved during the exposure. But the combination of "blurry person" and "crisp person" makes me lean towards the selfie hypothesis. Someone trying and failing to stand still won't wave a flashlight around. Someone rushing to get into a selfie shot might.
Of course, it actually contains two humans -- the man getting his shoes shined, and the one doing the shining. Somehow it's always bothered me that the shoe-shiner hasn't gotten equal credit. Arguably, he was actually first, since it looks like he's a bit closer to the camera.
A dumb camera would fire the flash immediately upon shutter click. The guy would not be able to to stand in front of the camera to allow the flash to bounce off his body
The result would be a "properly exposed" shot for anything except what was moving during the shot, which would presumably be him running so he could stand still and be exposed during the already running exposure.
I would imagine that someone working near the elephant's foot would be moving very fast.
This article is filled with inaccuracies and/or guesses (as other HN'ers are pointing out in other comments).
For example, it's increadibly unlikely the photographer of this image is still alive. Standing that close to that much radiation for long enough to setup a camera, walk around it and putz around for a while... I don't buy it. Majority of the workers involved in the containment died shortly afterwards, or developed terrible ailments due to extreme radiation exposure, leading to early death.
If were to take a 10 second photo, 4 seconds in one spot, 1 second moving and another 5 seconds in another spot I wouldn't be a full blur. The part of me moving only accounts for 1/10 of the entire exposure and the places where I stood still would be much brighter. I can exaggerate this by turning off my flash light when I was moving.
Your explanation still doesn't explain the lack of motion blur walking over to the spot, although we see the flashlight(s) blur. There also appears to be two distinct flashlight blurs.
There is only so much range a piece of film can achieve. I don't know how much you know about photos but exposure and light are usually discussed on a log(base 2) scale. Each exposure "unit" called a "stop" equates to doubling or halving the amount of light. So a 4 second exposure is 1 stop darker than an 8s one because it lets in half the light.
Assuming there are no other light sources we can assume the entirety of the exposure came from the flash light. There is a shadow behind and above the elephants foot which tells us the elephants foot was illuminated by a light below the camera. Assuming the guy had the camera at almost eye level, shines the flashlight at waste level could produce this kind of shadow.
Now let's say the guy turns the flashlight off walks over to where he is in the photo and starts moving the flash light more, shift position and does it again. You will not see him walk to the spot in the photo even if the room was not completely dark.
If he took a 60 second photo, he set the exposure for 30ish seconds of light from flash light and not from ambient light. This means the ambient light reflecting off the guy while he walked probably exposed a trail that is over 10 stops below what the light from the flash light did. In good conditions your average color negative film has about 7 stops of dynamic range or +3 from middle tones before turning completely white and -3 from going to complete black. It's not hard to set up a photo where you don't register because you're trail exposes below the range of the film. Many people do these kinds of photos and they are called "lightpainting".
This is very commonly done in landscapes where certain features of landscapes like trees and rocks are painted. You don't see the people walking around because they turn their lights off when they do it. They do produce walking smears but they account for such a small proportion of the overall exposure they don't show up in the final photo. I believe this what these guys do and notice no people in their photos:
However they might compositing images. Here is another example:
I've personally done photos like that in a single long exposure. I'm sure the photos I linked have lots of photoshop to get them perfect to get them perfect the principal stands. I'm assuming a lot of photography sophistication that the elephant foot photographer may or may not have but how knows!
Doing some back of the envelope calculations, with a somewhat bright room, you could take the exposure in anywhere from 15s to 2m which is plenty of time to walk across the room.
Of course all this is irrelevant because timers (mechanical and electronic) had been standard features in cameras for decades by 1996. It looks to me like he just moved in the midst of a 2 or 3 second exposure.
In addition, maybe it's just the lighting effects, but the figure standing almost upright is wearing what appears to be a yellow jumpsuit, while the figure bending over is wearing white. The red box on their hip is probably some sort of geiger counter, and most folks getting this close probably had one.
Even if the camera was put into lead encasing, the shielding shutter was opened for quite a long time and pointed directly at the source of the gamma rays.
That is why pretty much every western reactor has a reservoir of sand under the containment vehicle, if the worst of the worst happens, it melts into the sand which becomes glass.
Having seen the movie, suspect that a lot of people saw what they wanted to see, and not what the movie actually said. I'm fairly certain the comment about the core melting "all the way to China" was a joke/hyperbole.
Fusion OTOH is fusing together atoms of fuel that are relatively benign on their own - fusion is only possible at the high temperatures inside the reactor. I'm no expert on the physics, but AFAIK as soon as a fusion reactor is breached the conditions needed to sustain the reaction will quickly disappear and the reaction will almost immediately stop.
Even a fusion reactor has small thermal mass relative to the rest of the earth.
This is statement is a bit too definitive, because it simply isn't known yet how bad the breach is at Fukushima Daiichi No. 2 - from muon radiography it certainly seems to have breached the primary (steel) containment.
> "Don't worry, Soviet radiation is the best in the world. It makes hair thicker and men more potent."
There are some great stories from the Mir station. Brewing mash from random carbs, and distilling "vodka". The haze of tobacco smoke. From black Russian tobacco.
And remember, Chernobyl was caused by a team of (probably drunk) operators just fucking around. Juggling a big knife, basically ;) Showing off, for kicks.
58 points by hberg 1 hour ago | flag | 21 comments
The test itself was criminally dumb, even if the reactor was running nominally.
The reactor was pushed so far out a normal working envelope it is a wonder no one though about resheduling
The reactor design itself is just abysmal. 
While I personally doubt vodka was involved in that one, it would not be surprising. 
Basically everyone apart from a goddamn trainee was drunk (as far as i remeber the story from when i first heard it)
Im on mobile, so i cant even read my own links (YAY "MODERB WEB 999.0)
But just about everyone old enough was at least somewhat drunk, at all times. Except for the Jews, anyway. And that was a very good thing, because without them, there would have been total chaos.
For context, I also found that many Americans were at least a little drunk, most of the time. It was just part of some cultures. People drank at lunch, and then seriously after work. Many a bit in the morning, to take the edge off.
We had friends who would show up drunk, after driving for several hours. Beer and vodka in the trunk. Cops would help you get home, and tell you to sleep it off. As long as you were white and at least middle class, anyway.
That culture was just stronger in Slavic areas, and it lasted longer. The Soviet Union didn't have WASPs to keep people sober. They had Jews, but they lacked the authority. They just got stuff done, and imposed a little sanity. And the got out, as soon as they could.
I was in volgograd not long ago, the locals now exclusively call is stalingrad once more, they were playing the communist international up by rossiya-matushka, people were crying and singing along, young and old.
In astrakhan they're flying the hammer and sickle above government buildings, along with the tricolor.
Did it ever even go away?
Ditto, but never heard this even once. Just to add perspective.
Soviet sentiment is strong among Russians which is even more bizzare considering that Russians (as opposed to other Soviet nationalities) were the bulk victims of most Soviet mistreatment.
A quick Google search shows it already has been done => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra7YbBvbRYQ
Had drones existed in 1986 and deployed to take close photographs of disaster, would it have been safe to access that drone after it returned?
Quote from wikipedia:
"Equipment assembled included remote-controlled bulldozers and robot-carts that could detect radioactivity and carry hot debris. Valery Legasov (first deputy director of the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy in Moscow) said, in 1987: "But we learned that robots are not the great remedy for everything. Where there was very high radiation, the robot ceased to be a robot—the electronics quit working.""
They've tried to put drones into Fukushima, attempts so far have been unproductive one way trips. Not all of that is the radiation killing stuff, apparently the geometry to be navigated has some pretty narrow passages as well.
You can see robots being used to clear off debris here: https://youtu.be/ezohqY-vg4s?t=57m43s
What? I bet it doesn't. There's no way cooling will interfere with the half-life of the elements. They probably mean that solidifying the extremities reduces toxic/radiation exposure.
For instance, cooling it will make the molten metals harden, meaning that there will no material transport. So once some piece of the sludge goes out of criticality, cooling ensures that it will stay sub-critical and decay along a more preferable path.
There is also the possibility that water will do something funky to the chemistry beyond the cooling.
Wow, so even at absolute zero, decay happens at the same rate? It kind of makes sense, but it's surprising if you've never thought about it.
Wikipedia seems to confirm it: "A number of experiments have found that decay rates of other modes of artificial and naturally occurring radioisotopes are, to a high degree of precision, unaffected by external conditions such as temperature, pressure, the chemical environment, and electric, magnetic, or gravitational fields." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_decay )
Beryllium-7 decays purely by electron capture with a half-life of somewhat over 50 days. Differences in chemical environment can alter the half-life by around 0.2%, and high pressures produce somewhat similar changes.
A much more spectacular alteration is if you strip away all the electrons from the very weak beta-emitter rhenium-187 in a particle accelerator, to form a bare nucleus. Neutral rhenium-187 has a half-life of 42 × 10^9 years, the fully ionised rhenium-187 has a half life of just 33 years - a billion fold speed up in decay rate!
You'll never get to absolute zero (reality and practicalness aside), because the element radiates it's own heat.
See the GP, this has been tested and proved to have no effect.
Their big point about dating methods was that radioactive decay could be influenced by external factors. No matter how slight that influence, a tiny little bit was enough to disprove all our dating methods.
Hydrates contain hydrogen, which is a neutron moderator. To the extent that corium's complex decay involves neutrons, changing the neutron energy spectrum (what a moderator does) could change the decay pathways and durations.
Electronic ("normal") and nuclear chemistries can interact.
Edit: Also, water dumped on hot stuff can crack it. Cracks mean that regions of material have changed their geometric relationships, which affect nuclear decay.
Because we already use water based neutron moderators. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_moderator
Is there any solid info or is this just clickbait at its best?
This is patently absurd. Those exposed to the most radiation are all dead and died from radiation exposure, effects, and side effects.
The idea is that a small amount of radiation spread over time is survivable. So in sum total he may have had more than anyone else. (I won't include anyone who instantly died in hiroshima.)
My initial thoughts went to Marie Curie (small amounts over time), and Harry Daghlian and Louis Slotin, or other Los Alamos engineers involved in criticality accidents.
Plus, other clean-up workers working in disasters like Chernobyl whose deaths from radiation caused illnesses most likely went unpublished.
So at best, that puts him in 10th place with a very loose interpretation, or otherwise significantly behind, and maybe in the top 10 of living individuals. The phrase "in history" is poor writing, however.
"These days Mr. Korneyev works in the project management unit, but because of his health — he has cataracts and other problems related to his heavy radiation exposure during his first three years — he is no longer allowed inside the plant. “Soviet radiation,” he joked, “is the best radiation in the world.”"
You can find her videos on youtube.
Yeah, wouldn't that have been exotic. Having worked many years with high end scanning and digitizing photographs from the 1850 to today I can say that apparent grain in a photo from the 80s is not a strange thing, especially if it's a high ISO film. Correcting a bad exposure when post processing enhances that grain. The "graininess" here looks more like interpolation artifacts after upressing, possibly a highly compressed JPEG, though.
part of BBC Horizon series called "Inside Chernobyl
Sarcophagus" --> www.imdb.com/title/tt1607059
from the article:
[...] so it’s likely this photo was an old-school timed selfie. The shutter speed was probably a little slower than for the other photos in order for him to get into position, which explains why he seems to be moving and why the glow from his flashlight looks like a lightning flash. The graininess of the photo, though, is likely due to the radiation.