Before I forget - Dr. Woosley reminded me to support Solar Ham. This site is basically always on my desktop. I stare at the sun a lot. Look, it is
important for my work. Watching the flares, coronal events, etc. Just seeing what the velocity of the solar wind and the Ap of the Geomagnetic field ... well ... for me it is like checking the
traffic and weather every morning.
Support the site. He's giving away an awesome framed picture... grumble... durn kids keep needing fed.
Frankly you have heard about such things for years, without being told what the heck you were supposed to be afraid of. Short answer - nothing
Here is a prime example of a risk that made everyone in the radiation business crazy for a few days. Thieves car-jacked a transport of Co60 between the hospital and the storage facility. It has been recovered, but it was a worry for a few days. Thieves have not been found, but I hope they get medical treatment soon.
Cobalt 60 is a created material. It has a half-life of around 5 years (5.27) and decays into a perfectly normal Nickel isotope. If you have a Co60 problem, leave it alone for a couple decades and it goes away. It is created by bombarding normal cobalt metal with slow neutrons, a percentage of the Co59 gets transformed to Co60 - depending on a whole bunch of very boring variables, and a precentage turns back into Ni60. You do some math and at some point you pull the Cobalt metal out of the reactor or Californium source, or whatever, and put it into a Co60 machine - which is either in a pool of water or a lead box.Since Co60 produces a lovely spectrum of 1 MeV (or call it 1000 keV) gamma rays, we usually call them Gamma cells.
This is a picture of a pool with a Co60 source at the bottom. Safe as roses to be up here, but when the pulley drags the source out of the water, well, you'd get dead pretty quick. Which is kind of the problem with stealing gamma cells.
As a comparison, everybody has had a dental x-ray. They run from 20 - 100 keV. So at minimum, the gamma cell is 10 times hotter than a dental x-ray. The technicians wear lead coats to keep the exposure to a minimum, they do a couple dozen shots a day. Maybe a minute or two of exposure, total. Frankly, it was shown that x-rays will give you cancer - by Marie Curie - but she had hundreds of hours of exposure, with no shielding.
Gamma cells are hotter than x-ray machines, so don't play with them without training. Certainly don't put them in the back of your car and drive around for a few days. And don't eat any of the pellets. That is all stupid-dangerous. If you are of the mind to do that, stay away from scissors and other deadly apparatus. (Eating scissors is also bad for you.)
Dirty bombs are what scare the normal folk, that some crazy would blow up a gamma cell, irradiating miles of landscape with "deadly radiation." Yeah, pretty over rated. Mostly, radioactive materials - when blown up with simple explosive - are not much different than anything else. Yeah, it could take a few days to clean up and you probably want to protect yourself from exposure if you are going to be handling it a lot, but not really worth "fearing."
picture 9/11 families for a Safe & Strong America
I mean, a BOMB can kill you. If a terrorist is setting off a bomb, that is scary. So are terrorists shooting guns, or flying planes into buildings. Ok, lets set that - 9/11- as a Scale = 10. Scale = 0 is a bearded guy yelling scary Arabic words at you.Where should a dirty bomb fall?
The bomb part could still take down a building, with people in it. An act by itself which could theoretically be an 8 or 9) SO, for arguments sake, lets let the dirty bomber blow up the mall at midnight, after the janitors leave, with a Co60 dirty bomb. The mall is ruined and it is a few months of clean up to get back to a parking lot. We'll call that a 3 for 20 million dollars of property damage and zero casualties.What does the "dirty" add to the "bomb." Physically? It means that the cleaners will have to wear protective gear, which multiplies time required by a factor of 4. SO, it would mean that the mall was out of action for a year. (and that you would have to endure a year's screaming from ignorant media about the "deadly attack" even if it didn't kill anyone) I mean, it doesn't add a casualty, so I'd leave it pretty much a 3. In my book, the lone gunman with 1 kill is a lot scarier than 40 million in damages, but maybe somebody would say differently.
Dirty bombs are only effective at making people stay out of areas. This is good for "site denial" attacks, such as shutting down an important bridge and costing people a lot of money. This is good for "Fear" tactics, so long as the media is a bunch of ignorant savages. Frankly, guns are more frightening - if you don't own one.
Here's another little treat for my fans! This is an excerpt from my first children's book, StarSong. It is intended for students from advanced 3rd grade to 7th grade. (But I've had adults telling me they liked it, too!) It's a fantasy, blending elements of Native American lore, European fairytales, and a hint of Tolkienian influence.It's available in Kindle and print, and purchase links can be found on my website, along with more information about the book.
In the Far West, in a cheerful little farming village in the midst of a broad, green plain of great and unknown size, lived a girl. She had long, beautiful dark
hair, big, sparkling bright eyes, and a smile that made people happy just to see it. Her name was StarSong, because she loved to sing to the heavens at night, and her voice was, so the villagers
said, as beautiful as the stars themselves.
As she grew older, however, she became aware of her beauty, for all the young men began to court her. And she knew she had a lovely voice, for everyone said so.
Thus her thoughts turned inward. But where the mind goes, the gifts follow. Therefore, so, too, did her songs, which became all about herself. She became vain and self-centered. Her dresses always
had to be colorful and adorned with embroidery, her hair elaborately braided, and her songs were always sung from the flat, patio rooftop of her home so that the entire village could hear.
"Creator has greatly blessed you," her father would tell her. "You should sing for Him."
"No," StarSong would reply defiantly. "I will sing what I please." And she did, singing every night of her own beauty and worth.
This had gone on for many years, since she became a teenager, and as she grew older, near the time of marrying, her worried parents despaired.
"StarSong’s vanity grows worse each day," her mother wept. "Now, none of the young men of our village are good enough for her, according to her. And they are all
becoming tired of being spurned by her, and they are marrying other girls. The other girls scorn her, for she scorns them first. She will soon be left alone. And she has refused to learn the skills
needed to fend for herself. She is ‘too good for such as that,’ she says."
"I know," said her father sadly.
"Now she is even saying that the village is beneath her," the mother cried. "She desires to go elsewhere, where the life is more exciting, and more befitting her
"I know," her father said again, even more sadly.
"What did we do wrong?" Starsong’s mother wailed with grief and guilt. "How could our lovely child become so self-centered and vain? What did we do?"
"Nothing, my dear," Starsong’s father said wisely, taking his wife into his arms and comforting her. "Every person must make choices, once they are old enough to
understand them. Our young StarSong has chosen, and there is nothing that we could have done differently. We must pray that, someday, Creator teaches her different choices."
And so day followed day, each the same. StarSong sang her own melody, growing more and more self-absorbed, and her parents prayed.
Until one day, when a black speck appeared on the western horizon. It grew swiftly as it fast approached the little village, eating up the sky with darkness as it
went. Soon the villagers started to run, screaming in terror.
For it was a giant, spinning windstorm, black and angry, such as none of them had ever seen before, and it overtook the little town in seconds. The villagers, their animals, even their houses, disappeared in the horrible storm, which tore the very grass from the earth. Terrified, poor StarSong stood, frozen to the ground, her normally beautiful voice raised in an ugly scream of fear, until the whirling storm was upon her, and she, too, was swept away.
I am going to die! the poor girl thought in horrified despair as she felt the ground disappear beneath her. I shall never have the chance to have my beauty looked upon, or my voice heard, by those who are worthy to enjoy them.
Far, far, over tree and stream, poor frightened StarSong was carried high in the air for a long, long time, expecting each moment to be her last. Finally the
whirlwind beneath her began to weaken and fade.
Oh, no, she thought in horror. Now I shall be dashed in pieces upon the ground, far below. She hadn’t thought it possible, but if anything, that thought left StarSong even more frightened than before.
But instead, she drifted down like a feather, floating along, until she landed gently atop a high, steep mountain with a flat top. StarSong sang in relief.
"I’m safe! Safe, safe, safe!
Down I shall climb,
Be home by bedtime,
And no longer be a waif!"
But her glad relief soon turned into worry, for StarSong could find no way down. The flat top of the mountain was small, and the mountain’s sides were sheer cliffs, made up of odd columns of rock, and there was no way for her to climb down. She was trapped atop the mountain.
As the sun went down in the west, and the stars came out, little StarSong — feeling very little, indeed — sat down on the ground. But instead of singing, she cried.
I hope you enjoyed it! I loved writing it! I think it would make a wonderful holiday gift for the kids in your life!
The More Things Change is another of my ebook shorts. This one might be termed a novelette. The promo blurb runs,
Griblich and his family are happily ensconced in the Village, a settlement of The People, who are offshoots of The Founders. Their lives are peaceful and pastoral as they hunt and gather and play beneath their lovely red sun and green skies, and love and sleep by the light of their moons. But as Griblich is fond of saying, "Wait awhile, and everything will change."
And it always does...
So sit back and enjoy.
Chapter 1 ―The Beginning
"Oh, for the energy of youth!" he told his wife with a half-smile quirking one corner of his mouth.
"Hush that," Bihune smacked him with one ofher front limbs, retracting her claws lest she hurt him. "Here, eat." She handed him a plate of greens. "Children, meal time!" she called, and their offspring galloped toward them, their stubby little eight legs taking them as fast as they could go. "Besides," she added to Griblich, "you know better, and I know better. You hardly lacked energy last night." She threw him a broad grin, all three lips parting wide to show her teeth as her multiply-faceted eyes sparkled. She waved her sensory bristles at him suggestively. He chuckled in return, and waved his own bristles right back at her.
"Well, I do have the most beautiful wife in the Village," he proclaimed as their six children gathered around to eat. He surveyed the lavish spread before them. "You did wellin gathering today, love. That looks delicious. Maybe tomorrow we can make a fresh kill together and have something to eat besides salad."
"Salad is good, Daddy," little Biblich murmured around a mouthful of food. "I like salad."
"There's my baby girl." Bihune smiled again. "But knowing Birglah, he wants meat."
"Well, salad is okay," Birglah decided, chewing thoughtfully. "But a nice fresh steak is better."
"You know Daddy's saying," Loblich interjected. "'If you just wait long enough, everything changes.'"
They all laughed.
* * *
And it did. Some days the hunt was good, and The People had steak with their salad, and fresh,
clean water from the nearby sacred Spring around which the Village was situated. Other days the hunt was less so, and fresh salad was the order of the day. But the plants along the Spring, near which Griblich's home was situated, were lush and plentiful and varied, and no one ever went hungry or became malnourished. And the children grew.
Until the rains stopped.
* * *
As the drought deepened, the temperatures rose. The normally pale green skies turned a hard orange and grew hazy as dust rose into the air. The herds that provided part of the Village's food migrated elsewhere. Unfortunately, no one knew where "elsewhere" was.
But worse, theSpring's output began to decrease, and as it did, the vegetation around it wilted, then turned brown and died. Finally the flow stopped altogether, and the pools and puddles left behind began to dry up.
"I'm hungry, Father," Biblich murmured. "No food today, either."
"Yeah," Burglah agreed. "I'd take a salad today, for sure."
"I'm sorry, children," Griblich told his brood with a heavy heart. "Your mother and I ranged even farther afield than you did, and could find nothing."
"Are we going to die?" Loblich,their youngest, wondered, afraid.
"No, no," Griblich protested, soothing his little one. "No fear of that. Wait long enough and everything changes. But I am beginning to think the Elders are right..." He waved his bristles in deep thought.
"Time to oversleep, you mean?" Bihune wondered, waving her own in sympathetic vibrations.
"Yes. Yes, I think so," Griblich decided. "Come, children. Let us go to the cave."
* * *
So, deep inside their shelter, in oversleep, neither Griblich's family, nor the rest of The People of the
Village ever knew when the wildfire swept through and obliterated what was left of the Village itself, taking their homes with it. The skies went from orange to black with smoke in its aftermath.
But when the rains began, and the water started to drip from the ceiling of their cave, the entire family awoke. Griblich stretched, then hobbled stiffly over to the cave entrance.
"Dear?" Bihune asked, as all the children looked on, bristles quivering in anxiety. Griblich took his time surveying their surroundings.
"There has been a fire," he noted calmly. "We shall likely have to rebuild. But things are greening up. The Spring is running again, and the herds have returned. Let's go," he declared.
They went out in search of their friends and neighbors, ravenously grabbing a bite here and there from edible plants along the way.
Thus ends Chapter 1 of The More Things Change. Currently it is only available for Kindle, but it can be purchased here.
-Stephanie Osborn<< MORE >>
The Bunker is a short story that was originally published in the very first volume of the immensely popular Dreams of Steam anthology series of steampunk fiction, published by Kerlak/Dark Oak Press. When the rights reverted back to me, I decided to pursue getting it published as a standalone ebook short, through Chromosphere Press. I also have it available on CD as an audiobook, and plan to get it up on Audible as an audio download. Here's the promo blurb:
We all know that, in the Victorian era, Earth was invaded by aliens from another world. We have details on what happened in Europe, especially Great Britain.
But what happened in the Western Hemisphere? What happened in the United States?
An elderly inventor tells his young apprentice this tale, the tale of what happened in The Bunker.
“What’s that you have there, Henry?” the man asked, turning as his apprentice trundled in a large wooden crate on a hand truck.
“Delivery for you, sir,” Henry, a tall, lank youth, noted, easing the hand truck to the floor of the room. “This came with it.” He proffered a letter.
His master took the letter and opened it, scanning down through it. “Oh. My, my, my. Sooner than I would have thought. I’d forgotten all about this thing. Get a prybar, lad.”
Henry ran for the prybar on the tool rack, and came back. His teacher held out his hand, and Henry placed the bar into it, then watched as his senior eased the lid off the crate. The apprentice helped remove the kapok packing, then stared down at a wonder of brass, metal, and wood. “What is it?” he whispered, awed.
His mentor laughed. “No, you wouldn’t know about it,” he said. “Sit down by the fire, Henry, and let me tell you a little tale…”
They moved to the fireplace in the far corner of the room. There, a rocking chair sat on one side of the fire, a short three-legged stool on the other side. Henry took the stool as the teacher settled into the rocker. A light tap of the master’s toes set the chair in motion, and as he began his story, his voice was in counterpoint to the soft creak of wooden joints.
“Some years back,” the man said, “when I was a few years older than you are now, I was a telegrapher. A damn fine one, if I do say so. I was working in the Midwest that summer when an urgent message came in – for me. I was called immediately to… well, it wasn’t Washington, D.C. precisely. It was a town nearby in Virginia called White Sulphur Springs, and I was told to approach the front desk of The Grand Central Hotel and speak with the man who would be waiting there. Not only that, but my rail fare would be taken care of by the mere mention of my name.”
“Exactly,” his teacher chuckled. “I daresay my expression was much the same at the time. At any rate, I ran home, gathered my things, and set off, for the message came from a VERY high and reliable source, and brooked no delay.
“It was a long journey, and I can tell you, I was damned tired of the train by the time I reached my destination. I got directions and found my way from the station to the hotel, where I approached the desk clark and gave him my name. His eyes widened. ‘Yes sir,’ he said, ‘we’ve been waiting for you. Follow me, please sir.’ Sir. To me. A young whippersnapper of… mm, I think I might have been all of nineteen, if memory serves. And you’ll never guess what happened next.”
“I’m sure I shan’t,” Henry avowed.
“He led me into a back room and opened… a secret door, Henry! I followed him in, and we went down a set of spiral stairs. Down, and down, and down. At the bottom was a cave, for the hotel was built on the site of a sulphur spring, where people would take the waters. And in that cave was a fair beehive of people. I couldn’t begin to tell you everything that was going on there, even if I were permitted, which I am not… as yet. But this much I CAN say: I was brought there to coordinate, collate, send and receive the most urgent of telegraphy messages – for we were being invaded.”
“INVADED?! Sir!” Henry exclaimed, eyes wide.
“Yes, Henry, invaded. And not from Europe or Mexico or the like. No, these invaders… were from another planet.”
So, it seems that the carnage might not have been limited to Great Britain. Interested in what happens next? Find out by reading The Bunker!
Audio CD (bottom of page)
-Stephanie Osborn<< MORE >>