Rampaging Particles and Dr. John Gofman

Bow shockwave of the EarthThere’s the journey of our Earth and its magnificent shields against high-energy particles. And there’s the journey of the cells in our body with the risks we encounter from speeding particle energy.

While thinking of conversations with Dr. John Gofman, remembering, after he’s left us at the age of 88, the grand realm of the invisible is lifted to the top my day.

It’s a stunning exercise to teach my brain that mass is not what I perceive. Thoughts are marvelous, thinking is tremendous, living is fantastic and exploring the vast infinities of form and energy is pure fun. The moment is eternity.

After posting about John Gofman in Sunburn and Bowling Balls, I found this article at Counterpunch where Russel D. Hoffman writes in ‘My Favorite Scientists’:

“He was the best, and so naturally, the nuclear industry hated him, denounced him, tried to discredit him, and, whenever possible, ignored him.

“They hated him because they could not disprove his theory that low level radiation was a lot more harmful than officially recognized, and potentially deadly down to the last radioactive atom.

“Gofman never was discredited, and his research stands. Radiation is dangerous down to the last decay, and Gofman is our hero. His work on the Manhattan Project should have made him a hero to the rest of society, as well, but America doesn’t like anyone who questions the standard dogma of the nuclear age, so he was never recognized for his contributions to our understanding, or his vital contributions to the war effort.”

Are we listening?
Biopact reports that 250 new nuclear power plants have been approved in our rush to offset fossil fuels.

“Because of the serious price increases for oil and gas and growing awareness of the need to mitigate climate change, nuclear has become an attractive option. Several countries are investing heavily in the technology.

“According to the World Nuclear Association, 28 new plants are currently under construction, construction plans for 64 others have been approved and another 158 are planned for the near future. The bulk of these projects can be found in China, Russia and India.

“In total some 250 new plants are in the pipeline, against the 440 that currently dot the planet.

We must make every effort to diligently restrain and control radiation in our environment.

How ionizing radiation affects cellsThe impact of radiation is complex physical, chemical, and biological events. In seconds, there’s damage to DNA, proteins and more. In minutes, the cell changes genes and proteins.

“Time has proven Gofman correct about low-level radiation. Over the years the accepted standards have become more stringent, not less. On three separate occasions the International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP), which draws up the rules for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has tightened up the standards.

“In 2005 Gofman was finally vindicated in full when the National Academy of Sciences, after a five-year comprehensive investigation, released a 700-page report that endorsed what he and a few other brave scientists have been saying for many years, namely, that all radiation exposure is cumulative and adds to the risk of cancer.

The notion of a safe dose is an oxymoron.”

To manage radioactive discards from power plants, medical devices and weapons for tens of thousands of years is a challenge I do not believe humanity can easily achieve.

But much is achieved every day as choices become increasingly clear while we transit from an industrial revolution toward our sustainable frontier.