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Radioactive Snails Crawl Up From Beneath 397

slidersv writes "Reuters is reporting discovery of radioactive snails in the area where three hydrogen bombs were lost by US in the 1966. The radioactive creatures crawl up from underground, where authorities suspect deposits of uranium and plutonium may be located."
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Radioactive Snails Crawl Up From Beneath

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  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @03:07AM (#16404967)
    Actually, IIRC, humans have a very low radiation tolerance. Some of the characteristics that serve us well in other areas are counterproductive for surviving radiation.

    For example, we hit reproductive maturity late. This means that the time period in which we might be subject to radiation damage, but can't start breeding yet, is longer. Say hello to sterility and genetic damage! We're omnivores at the top of the food chain, so irradiation of plant and animal life can work it's way up to us more easily, either by subjecting us to contaminated food, or to starvation if food sources die out. We're social animals, so we do not do as well when our numbers take a hit - individual humans can't survive alone as well as other animals. Our life expectancy is fairly long, so the likelyhood of getting cancer is higher in humans than in most other species, since cancer takes time to develop.

    All of the above means that biologically we're particularly vulnerable to fallout. Culturally we're also reluctant to subject ourselves to risk - a 1 in 100 rate of radiation damage would be too high for humans to consider safe, and too small to affect most other species. Most animals in the wild don't live long enough to have to worry about cancer, and it takes an awful lot more radiation in the short term to aflict them with radiation poisoning or sterility.

    In fact, in the case of the Chernobyl life, we evacuated low radiation areas where the lack of human presense is doing more good than the radiation is doing harm - either the animals are more resistant than us, or they are suffering losses to radiation that we would consider dangerous, but that local life doesn't especially notice.

    Basically what it boils down to is that nuclear accidents and nuclear weapons are a larger problem for mankind than for the rest of the planet. I've always thought of radiation as more of a safety hazard than an environmental one.
  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @03:18AM (#16405017) Journal
    Why should Spain pay for part of the clean-up? It was our mess. We should be cleaning it up. Either the military goes in and fixes it, or we taxpayers foot it.

    When I was a kid, I was raised to clean up the mess I made, not entangle everyone else (financially) into the task. I broke a window, I worked it off.

    It's all about responsibility...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @03:59AM (#16405189)
    Which tells you the kind of people we are dealing with here.

    Mid air refuelling is hazardous.

    Nuclear weapons are hazardous.

    When these idiots combine the two, WHO CARES what Afghanistan/Iraq/Iran/North Korea/insert-favourite-scapegoat-here do.
  • by cyclomedia ( 882859 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @04:09AM (#16405233) Homepage Journal
    Another thing to add to the factors you mention is that when humans' offspring are not quite, shall we say, perfect. We do our damndest to save them, be it an emergency cesarean to save mother and baby both or via ongoing operations and treatments afterwards. The reason that so many seemingly health animals are seen hopping around Chernobyl could well be down to survival-of-the-fittest, radio-mutant embryos having been quickly aborted and another mating attempt made.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @06:50AM (#16405855)
    If god made humans in his image, does that mean he is also a weakling?
  • by tgv ( 254536 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:03AM (#16405917) Journal
    As stated before, Spain was not in NATO at that time. And NATO does not have any control over nuclear weapons: the US has it.

    If some oil carrier spilled a large part of its cargo somewhere, say Alaska, would you say that the people living there should pay for the cleaning? After all, it was there for the good of these people as well and they knew the risks living near the coast...
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @07:14AM (#16405979)
    He had a bad mirror.
  • by BobTheLawyer ( 692026 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:00AM (#16406303)
    The reason is that the ratio of surface area to volume for a small insect is very high, so they lose heat very quickly to the surrounding air (which, of course, the microwave doesn't heat).
  • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @08:57AM (#16406799) Homepage
    Actually we're a lot more resistant that is commonly believed.

    In the 60's they worked out how much radiation damage was caused by things like hiroshima and basically worked out our tolerance by drawing a straight line on a graph.

    The problem is chernobyl has shown that it isn't a straight line at all - at low-medium radiation exposure we are quite hardy - just as resistant as the animals around us (as you would expect - there's nothing 'special' about humans that would make us especially vulnerable). Predicted mutations/cancers for those who live in the affected areas isn't anywhere near what the simplistic graph would predict... in fact it's barely above the background.

  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @09:32AM (#16407255)
    IIRC, what you're talking about is the theory that low levels of radiation are dealt with fully by cellular repair mechanisms up to a certain threshold, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. The older linear model of radiation exposure assumes that nothing can repair the damage caused by exposure, which ignores the fact we've been dealing with low levels of background radiation for all of our evolutionary history.

    But that isn't restricted to humans. Background radiation is pervasive, and every form of life would have to develop some mechanism to deal with it. People are still more vulnerable than average for the reasons I listed in the GP; it just turns out we're probably able to tolerate low levels better than we used to believe.

    The basic point I was trying to make was that a major nuclear accident, or war, would have far worse implications for humans (and other long lived apex predators) than for the rest of life on earth. What would be a disasterous level of fallout for us would be far less serious for animals that breed faster, or live shorter lives, or are otherwise in a good position to deal with the aftermath.
  • by Gulthek ( 12570 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:21AM (#16407959) Homepage Journal
    No matter how many times I repeat this, there are always more of you that don't "get it".

    Evolution is NOT thwarted by allowing "weak" individuals to live. Evolution takes place when those better fit for reproducing reproduce *more* over the long term.

    Evolution is not a progression towards a perfect being, it is a reaction to changing environmental stresses. You cannot stop it, it's not a Plan, it's just the mathematics of breeding played out over millennia.

    Evolution depends on a varied gene pool to be able to pull new traits from. Removing any genes, even "bad" genes, from that tool box LIMITS the capability of our species to evolve. Taking your example to the extreme: kill off all genetic strains of humanity until you are left with a single "strongest" line. Now severely change the environment. The "strongest" is suddenly at a big disadvantage and our species, lacking any other lines to draw from, quickly becomes extinct.

    How can so many of you people get this stuff so wrong? It's not like what I'm describing is a deep arcane mystery. It's obvious to anyone who spends more than two minutes considering how evolution works.

Marriage is the sole cause of divorce.