The 2017 Atomic Heritage Roadtrip, Part 1: ABQ & the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Well, I’ve now stood on my second nuclear weapon ground zero. (the first I did on this trip) April 1st was the Trinity Test Site open house, one of the two times a year that the White Sands Missile Range opens up to allow the public to visit. They used to open it up on …

So, You Want To Test A Nuclear Weapon?

I dedicate the following rant to my Lovely Assistant, who can probably recite this by heart now, and Meredith Yayanos who hit boggleface about halfway through an in person version and asked “PLEASE, WRITE THIS SHIT DOWN.” Now I have. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you have a brand new nuclear weapon. Let’s …

Herr Direktor Funranium Goes to Chernobyl & Kiev, Part 3 – Kiev, Hero City

Let me get this out of the way upfront. I didn’t even spend long enough in Kiev and I want to go back before it’s too late. My time in the city was all too brief and all too enjoyable, among people who are putting on a brave face over deep insecurity and fear. Get …

Herr Direktor Funranium Goes to Chernobyl & Kiev, Part 2 – Chernobyl, the Town & the Reactors

When you have the incredibly photogenic and not bulldozed ghost city of Pripyat to take pictures of, it’s easy to forget the other towns and villages that were once there, or still are in the case of the city of Chernobyl. Generally the name “Chernobyl” is associated in everyone’s head with the the reactor that …

Herr Direktor Funranium Goes to Chernobyl & Kiev, Part 1 – Pripyat

The very short version, to paraphrase Ghostbusters: if someone asks if you’d like to go to Chernobyl, you say YES! Fair warning, there are going to be units related to radiation dose discussed in this post. For an idea of what they mean and to put them in perspective, I recommend this excellent infographic by Randall …

BBotE Vacation Alert, Big Trees, Bad Air, and Camping Theory

Scheduling information first: the short ordering window that closes on September 19th, before I get on a plane to Boston, is now open for most items. After the 19th, another ordering window will open so you can continue to place orders, but nothing for that one will ship until after I return on October 5th. …

Recent Improvements, New BBotEs, and Vacations

Let’s begin with the improvement you can’t see or, rather, won’t see anymore. At some point a “helpful upgrade” was done by BigCommerce who provide the architecture and servers for the store side of Funranium Labs. In the course of this upgrade, they managed to break the 3rd party SSL chain and depending on the browser …

Antarctic Medical Evacuation 2003

I’m putting this here to, potentially, stop questions. I, honestly, remember near to nothing about the medevac we had in late 2003. Hypothyrodism due to protracted exposure to cold and dark takes a lot of forms and mine was memory loss and appalling Yoda like grammar. I remember very little about September 2003 and near …

Great Moments In Teaching – Fecal Samples

PLEASE NOTE: there is a very good reason there are no pictures associated with this story. As some of you may know, I teach a radiation safety course at a local community college. A while back, we were discussing bioassay techniques (read: ways determine if there’s been an uptake of radioactive material in the body, …

The Picric Acid Tale or “Why I Can’t Have Four Day Weekends Anymore”

Once upon a time, the radiation safety officer (RSO), let’s call him Bob, had been out performing the inventory of source material* and ran across a bit of excitement. In this particular lab, they had approximately 10 grams of uranyl acetate, a very common contrast stain for electron microscopes.  The poor unfortunate grad student who was …