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Japan’s citizen scientists map radiation

Japan: Using Geiger counters, a group of tech-minded citizen scientists in Japan measuered fallout in the disaster area (March 11 earthquake and Tsunami). They assembled thousands of radiation readings plotted on maps (https://safecast.org/) that they hope will one day be an invaluable resource for researchers studying the impact of the meltdown at the crippled nuclear complex.
A Geiger counter is a type of particle detector that measures ionizing radiation. They detect the emission of nuclear radiation: alpha particles, beta particles or gamma rays.
The volunteer network of scientists, tech enthusiasts and residents of Japan collectively known as Safecast (an amalgam of “safety” and “broadcast”) sprang to life in the weeks after the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, cutting off power to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and knocking out its backup generators. That shut down the plant’s cooling system, triggering meltdowns or partial meltdowns in three of the plant’s four reactors, followed by explosions that released radioactive substances into the air and allowed contaminated water to leak into the ocean.
“For the scientific community, this is a huge chance to further understand what this all means,” said Pieter Franken, co-founder of Safecast and a senior researcher at Keio University in Tokyo, which is collaborating on the project. “Chernobyl was 25 years ago and delivered lots of information. But we’re now in the Internet age, and we have a huge opportunity to do a much better job in measuring it and tracking it.”
While signing up volunteers, Safecast also developed a training regimen so the recruits would be able to take reliable readings with the instruments and send the data to the group.
“We want to bring the radiation levels to people’s doorstep, so people can see around their house what is happening,” Franken said.
Source: MSNBC