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The Nasty Effects Of Radiation

The Nasty Effects Of Radiation

Usually when we think about radiation, we think about nuclear bombs. And this is a big cause of an intense radiation. The whole of the world could be covered in a blanket of radiation if a nuclear war were to occur. But the fact is that this is not the only radiation we can be exposed to.

There are naturally occurring substances on earth that have radiating effects — that is, they shed particles that are harmful to humans. Our own sun gives off radiation that can be harmful to us if we sit too long with our skin exposed to sunlight. However, nothing on earth is more intense than the radiation given off by a fission or fusion bomb.

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What really happens when you are exposed to radiation?

An intense dose of radiation of up to 50 rem (rem is the dosage of radiation akin to one rad of X or Gamma radiation) will cause minor changes in the blood. From 50 to 200, there is some illness and tissues breakdown, and your intestines boil inside you. A dose of 200 to 1,000 rem can kill you, and the higher the dose, the faster you die. No human alive can withstand a rem measurement of 1,000. This won’t be pretty for anyone. And if you do survive a high dose of radiation, your reproductive tract and other organs are changed so much so that your children will have problems in the form of nasty birth defects.

Where can I find radiation?

Some of the everyday things you can find radioactive isotopes in can even be found in your own kitchen! There’s a form of potassium found in bananas that is radioactive, but obviously not enough not harm you. Other sources include the aforementioned radiation from the sun and isotopes found in the soil right under your feet. Radium, uranium, or plutonium can be mined from the sediments in a wide variety of locations. No one country controls the world’s deposits of Uranium 235 or Deuterium gas, which allows the world to produce weapons of mass radiation.

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When the bombs drop

The only real case study we have for widespread radiation sickness is in Japan. This is from an array of events like the bombs dropped in World War II and the Fukushima industrial leak from a power plant. This leak is not like the events at Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Instead, there is a continuous leak from the plant that is endangering the ocean’s plant and wildlife.

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fukushima_radioactivity_2011_and_2012

    The fallout from a nuclear bomb is intense, and the effects of the radiation have been felt for generations after the events. Effects caused by the leak from the power plant will be felt long term as well. This is due to the fact that the leak continued for so long. Now, locals can’t eat many of the fish found near the area of the event. These fish may have more than two eyes or an extra fin by now, since fish reproduce rapidly.

    If a war did happen…

    In the event of a hypothetical nuclear war, certain steps could be taken to protect us from the radiation. Potassium Iodide can be taken to shield the body from the effects of radiation. Some organizations or countries have already given the pills to their people in the event of power plant failures or bombs. If you work in a nuclear power plant, you may be familiar with this substance as well as others that can treat or prevent the effects of radiation sickness.

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    The video game company Bethesda, along with others, created the Fallout video game series that places you in a post-apocalyptic world where bombs have already been dropped all around the world. Life goes on, but in an entirely different fashion. The keys to survival in reality may be hiding underground, but not all of us have the privilege of having underground bunkers and stores of food for a long nuclear winter. If one were to survive the initial blasts, you might find yourself fighting for survival like in the Fallout games — let’s hope this never happens.

    Featured photo credit: uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on September 10, 2018

    Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

    Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

    We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

    Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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    Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

    Looking at images of loved ones

    While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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    In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

    Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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    Exercise

    Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

    Meditation

    Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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    In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

    When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

    With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

    Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

    Reference

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