Radiation By Numbers
Radiation Dose Chart, courtesy of xkcd.com.
Since Japan's triple-whammy of tragedy struck, we've all been struggling to grasp what damage, if any, humans might face regarding the unfolding nuclear disaster. With so much conflicting, confusing information out there, sometimes a handy chart is all you need to put (some) things in perspective.
Enter Randall Monroe, a physicist and cartoonist for the web comic xkcd, whose nerdy focus centers on "romance, sarcasm, math, and language."
Inspired by a conversation with a friend who works at a reactor, Monroe created the Radiation Dose Chart. In a flow-chart cluster of green, blue, orange, and yellow squares it shows the difference in scale of, say, radiation exposure from flying on a plane and radiation exposure ten minutes after the meltdown in Chernobyl.
As informative as it is just plain cool, this chart doesn't necessarily answer the most pressing questions of the day—like will any of Fukushima plants have a full meltdown?—but in a time of such anxiety and ambiguity, it's nice to have some stats to believe in.