Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Atomic Man

The Atomic Man.   That was the destiny awaiting this young man seen here in his high school graduation picture.   I think that it's true what Forrest Gump's mother said that, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get".     I don't think that this young man knew what life's "box of chocolates" had in store for him.   Later in life he would become known as "The Atomic Man" as the result of a terrible radiation accident involving massive contamination.    
It was August 30, 1976 and he was working the midnight to 8:00 am shift at the Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant located in the state of Washington.  
He was 64 years old and had been working at the Hanford plant as a Chemical Operations Technician since the 1940's.  
He was a seasoned veteran at his job.   Working with glove boxes to extract radioactive Americium-241.   It was a very large glove box.

It might be hard to visualize just what a glovebox is and how it is used and so here is a picture of what a typical small one looks like.
The glovebox isolates the material that you may be working with if it is hazardous.
Harold McCluskey was working as a chemical operations technician at the Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant and more specifically in the Americium Recovery Facility.
             Hanford plant
At 2:45 am on that early Monday morning of August 30, 1976 when there was an explosion inside the glove box that Harold McCluskey was working at.
He was blown backwards and his gas mask was ripped from his face.   Pieces of metal and glass contaminated with Americium-241 were embedded in his face as well as breathing in Americium-241.   He also received a blast of nitric acid to his face which temporarily blinded him.   In a few seconds he had received 500 times the amount of Americium that was considered safe.   He was placed into isolation in the medical unit where they tried to decontaminate him but he was still radioactive, and thus became known as The Atomic Man.   He received free medical care for life and a settlement of $250,000 for his injuries.   He also received a life of radioactive contamination causing some of the townspeople to shun him.
There had been some speculation as to whether or not he might die from his radioactive contamination.   However, he lived another 11 years dying at the age of 75 from heart trouble.  An autopsy was performed and no cancers were found in his body.   He was buried in the cemetery of the nearby town of Prosser where he lived.

His wife Elladale lived for another 16 years after his death and passed away in 2003.
It is amazing how much an individuals life can change in a matter of a few seconds.   I was glad that I could find some pictures of Harold McCluskey to include in the blog to remind us that Harold McCluskey was not a fictional character but a real person who undoubtedly had the same ambitions and hopes that we all have.   Let's not forget this individual and his story.
For a similar story of another individual do an internet search on The Radioactive Boy Scout or David Hahn and an absolutely fascinating story (real life) will be revealed.
                 David Hahn
              David Hahn
Have a good day of surfing the internet for interesting articles to read.    Lew



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all

It is Christmas morning and we have had breakfast and opened our Christmas presents.   Here is one of the gifts that I wanted, a 32 GB memory stick (you can never have too much memory).   I was surprised to see so much memory in such a small device.   I find this degree of  miniaturization absolutely amazing.   I just can't imagine filling this memory stick with 32 GB of files, but pictures do seem to use up the memory of my 1 GB memory stick pretty fast.
We got lots of presents including our princess of a cat, Tammy.
Here she is looking bored, trying to decide whether or not to jump up on the couch and take a nap.   Yes, very pampered.   Some would say spoiled but I prefer the word pampered.   To entertain her we got a remote controlled mouse.   She should have a lot of fun with it.
I will let you know in a future blog how Tammy the cat reacts to her toy mouse running around all over the place.
Christmas just isn't Christmas without a Christmas tree.   Mary did a fine job on decorating the tree.   The tree is really pretty at night when the bulbs are giving off their rich colors.
And did I mention Mary's Christmas Cake.   It was a chocolate cake and she added maraschino cherries inside the cake (yummy) as well as walnuts.   Then for the coup-de-grace she put more walnuts on top of the red frosting as well as Christmas sprinkles.   And what a nice deep red the frosting is.
Merry Christmas to all with hopes that you got lots of presents.   And for those of you living up north in snow country instead of down here in warm Florida I must end this on a bit of not-so-funny humor.     Lew

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Armed Forces Reserves

Armed Forces Reserve
This stamp was issued on May 21, 1955.
I found one of the uniforms in this picture perplexing.   I know that the individual on the far left is a Marine.   And the individual on the far right is Air Force and the fellow next to the air force is Navy.   And in the middle is Army.   But what about the individual between the Army and the Marine?   Looks like Navy to me.   I went on the internet and researched the stamp and found that it was issued on May 21, 1955 (armed forces day).  I also found out that the individual between the Army and the Marine was the Coast Guard.   Here is a picture of an individual in his Coast Guard uniform.
His name is E. J. Jarvis II and the picture was taken in the spring of 1963.   He was in the Coast Guard and his uniform matches the picture in the stamp perfectly.  
Here is a group picture of some men in their Coast Guard uniforms.
Yep, their uniforms match also.   So now we know the services represented on the stamp: Marines, Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force.   But isn't there one service missing?   What about the Merchant Marine?   Would the term United States Maritime Service be more appropriate?   They wore uniforms and a lot of them got killed in World War II when their ships were sunk by U-boats.   Perhaps there isn't a Merchant Marine Reserve like the other five services.    Anyone have any ideas on this?   Have a good day and please post any thoughts that you may have on this in the "comments section".   Lew  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

atomic hand grenade

The Atomic Hand Grenade.   Is this for real?   Is this a joke?   I had heard about the nuclear hand grenade years ago but didn't find much information on it.   It was said that a soldier could throw a hand grenade for about 100 feet.   Unfortunately, the kill radius of the atomic hand grenade is suppose to be around 300 feet.   So the soldier who throws the nuclear hand grenade will get killed by the blast or radiation.   To see a larger version of any of the pictures, just click on them.
No, the above explosion is not from a nuclear hand grenade.   I never did understand how you could pack a critical mass of uranium into something the size of a hand grenade.    That is probably why I took the stories of a an atomic hand grenade "with a grain of salt".

With this recent round of talk of the development of a nuclear hand grenade it is proposed to use hafnium-178m.   What is hafnium?   It is just an element much like oxygen, carbon, or your other elements.  
It's atomic weight is 178 atomic units (protons + neutrons) which means it is heavy.   But what about the "m"?   That is the "kicker".   The "m" stands for metastable meaning that the nucleus of the atom has absorbed some energy and is now in an excited state,   It has too much energy for the nucleus to handle and it has to get rid of some of this excess energy.    It does this by giving off a gamma ray to carry away the excess energy and becomes hafnium-178.   No fissioning of the nucleus like in uranium and no fusion of nucleii like in the hydrogen bomb.    The nucleii of the hafnium-178m just slowly give off the gamma rays with not that many atoms giving off the gamma rays at any one time because it's half-life is 31 years which is the amount of time it takes for half of the hafnium atoms to give off a gamma ray and return to the Hafnium-178 stable state.   By the way the excitation energy of each Hafnium-178m nucleus is 2.4 million electron volts.  Wow!  But what if you could get a chunk of hafnium-178m to cascade and dump all of its excess energy from all of its atoms at once.   It is claimed that this can be done and the intense radiation would be lethal.   Would there also be a blast effect?   I don't know.   Perhaps someone reading this blog may know or have an opinion and post it in the comments section for all of us to read.   So would a nuclear hand grenade be possible?   Could be.    Pity the poor soldier throwing it.  
Sometimes the Davy Crockett atomic bazooka is referred to as a nuclear hand grenade causing some confusion over the nuclear hand grenade controversy.   Now this atomic bazooka was actually developed and test fired.
Yeah this had a nuclear warhead.

Well perhaps the nomenclature of bazooka really isn't appropriate.   I think that atomic recoilless rifle would probably be more appropriate.
This is the warhead.   It really isn't very big in size but it sure packed a whallop.
The warhead weighed 51 pounds and had an explosive power of 20 tons of TNT.   And it was actually test fired at the Nevada Atomic Test Site twice.   One test was called Little Feller I and the other test was called Little Feller II.   Here is a couple of websites where you can actually see the Davy Crocket nuclear being test fired.
This is the Little Feller I.

Here are some websites with videos of the test firing of the nuclear bazooka.

Have a good day and enjoy life to its fullest.    Lew

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oscar Meyer Weinermobile

Look at what was parked in front of our local Wal-Mart.   The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.
I remember seeing the Weinermobile in the Oscar Meyer commercials way back when I was around 10 years old.   Never got to see one in person though, until now.   This is a first for me.   This is Mary in front of the Weinermobile.   Just look at the size of those side windows.
A nice smile.    I think that she was having fun.
We went inside the Weinermobile to see what it looks like.   Entry was through this gull-wing door on the passenger side of the vehicle.
The interior was so colorful with the bright yellow and red seats.   Even the carpet was colorful.   I have no idea what that hot dog shaped thing on the dash was for.   Anyone know?
As I understand there are a number of weinermobiles touring the country.   The weinermobile is driven by college seniors who are about to graduate.   They are known as hotdoggers.   It must be a terrific experience for them.   Something that they will remember all their life.   They are on the road for one year and then a new crew of hotdoggers takes over.
When we went inside the weinermobile one of the hotdoggers gave both Mary and I our very own weinerwhistle which I have wanted since childhood.    Being a small town, the weinermobile just never made it to my very small hometown.   But now I have my very own weinerwhistle.   I have already tried mine and it works really good and is really loud.
Mary also got a coupon for $1.00 off Oscar Meyer Select product.   That is one heck of a deal.   Here she is holding the coupon in her left hand.

I didn't know that the Oscar Myer Weinermnobile was going to be at my local Wal-Mart today.   I just literally stumbled onto it by accident.   I am glad that I did.  But there is an internet site that you can go to that tells where the Weinermobiles are located, plus a lot more of other information about the Weinermobile.

Don't let the blue color fool you.   This is not a link to the site.   You will need to type it in.    They even have a map.
Their internet site is really neat and fun to explore.
Wikepedia also has a lot of information on the weninermobile.   Just do a search for "weinermobile".   Here is hoping that the weinermobile will be coming to your area soon and you can get your very own weinerwhistle.   To those of you who remember the weinermobile from your youth, it is really an exciting vehicle to see.    Have a great day.    Lew

Thursday, November 15, 2012

horror of sinkholes

Remember that blog of mine from December 10, 2011 titled "Good News, Bad News"?   It was about sinkholes here in Orlando, Florida.   Those mysterious holes that open up and gobble your car, sometimes trees, and yes, sometimes even your house.  
What a terrible thing to have happen.   Then it all happened again 6 months later to another home.   That was from my blog of May-4-2012 titled "Sinkholes and Hurricanes"?
This was a bad one and it looked as though they might lose the house but they got lucky.
They managed to fill the sinkhole in with lots and lots of sand which we just happen to have in abundance here in Florida.  Here is a picture after they managed to fill that sinkhole in.   I really don't like the looks of those large cracks in the sand.
All's well that ends well as they say.   Then less than 4 miles away another sinkhole opened up.   This was on Monday, May 12, 2012.  The red label B in the picture is the location of the large sinkhole described above.   The red label A is the location of the most recent sinkhole on Monday.
Hard to believe that anything like a sinkhole could happen in this scenic pastoral setting.   Wouldn't you just love to live here?   Of course you would.    The house on the left in the picture above is the one that had the misfortune of a sinkhole in their front yard.   So you say "Where is the sinkhole?".   Well, this pictures was taken in April of 2011, about 1 1/2 years ago.   Just continue to scroll down to the next picture.
So here is the scenario, you take your son to school one morning and everything is fine but when you return home you are greeted by this in your front yard.   That is the neighbors house in the background.   But the hole is definitely in your front yard.
How big will it get and how much will it cost to fill the hole in?   Good questions.

Here is an aerial photo of the area.   Just look at all of the lakes.   Looks like swiss cheese.   If you see a round lake in central Florida, it was probably formed by a sinkhole.   Could someone's house be sitting at the bottom of one of these sinkholes that filled with water and is now a lake?   It's possible.    California has earthquakes which can open up the ground and swallow you up.   Here in Central Florida we have sinkholes where the ground opens up and swallows you up.   But the weather here is great and we have Disneyworld, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and the list just goes on and on.    Have a great day and if it is cold where you are living, the weather here in Orlando, Florida is quite pleasant.   As they say at Disney, "Have a magical day".    Lew