NotDebonair on July 07, 2010, 07:31:45 am
I'll buy that.  Plutonium in nature occurs in amounts calculable in 'parts per trillion'.  Usable amounts have to be synthesized from uranium.  Now we get to find out whether this is the characters making a mistake that the author is using as a plot device, the author has decided that we are in a universe that varies from from the real world, or the author has slipped up.

  ???

wdg3rd on July 07, 2010, 02:07:56 pm
That biig a piece of straight plutonium would be well in excess of critical mass.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

SandySandfort on July 07, 2010, 08:00:57 pm
I'll buy that.  Plutonium in nature occurs in amounts calculable in 'parts per trillion'.  Usable amounts have to be synthesized from uranium.  Now we get to find out whether this is the characters making a mistake that the author is using as a plot device, the author has decided that we are in a universe that varies from from the real world, or the author has slipped up.

  ???


D. None of the above. Read the damned strip.

SandySandfort on July 07, 2010, 08:04:03 pm
That biig a piece of straight plutonium would be well in excess of critical mass.

Not necessarily. First, nobody said anything about straight plutonium. It could be mixed with something that damned any reaction and still have a specific gravity over 18. Second, it depends on the shape. If it were in the same of a thin plate, no critical mass.

NemoUtopia on July 07, 2010, 09:33:08 pm
Well, I was about to post a reply in one of these asking why everyone was making a big deal about Plutonium. I mean, it's just one in a list of elements...well, Sandy answered that. Think of it like having a lotto ticket, from a gambler's perspective. Of course you know that the MOST LIKELY thing is to get a little loss, break even, or make a small buck. But the whole time you're in suspense wondering if this is THE ONE, the big score. Judging from the brothers' personalities, it's a bit of that, a bit of chatter to pass the time while they work, and a bit of pulling the other's leg. Any number of reasons spring to mind.

GaTor on July 08, 2010, 12:13:18 am
What Sandy said regarding the shape, which is...critical :-)  After my comment the other day I did a bit of research and found that weapons grade plutonium is usually shipped in the shape of a ring to avoid critical mass embarrassments.  Check this out .:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plutonium_ring.jpg

Stuff sure doesn't look like much.  Then you realize that if you so much as barely touched that thing with your bare finger you'd probably be dead in a couple of weeks not to mention it's other properties.

Go forth and do good.

SandySandfort on July 08, 2010, 09:00:19 am
Check this out .:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plutonium_ring.jpg

I did not know that. Very interesting.

Stuff sure doesn't look like much.  Then you realize that if you so much as barely touched that thing with your bare finger you'd probably be dead in a couple of weeks not to mention it's other properties.

I doubt that. When Plutonium and Uranium are prepared for insertion in a bomb, They are highly polished into a slightly sub-critical sphere. The bomb is only armed once there is a go order. Then the bomber crew manually puts the sphere into the bomb. And by manually, I mean with their hands. (The may have worn gloves; I don't remember.) A friend of mine who flew BUFs, said it was warm to the touch. He's 63 and still alive.

NotDebonair on July 08, 2010, 09:29:13 am
D. None of the above. Read the damned strip.

I waited for the next few bits of the arc and read them.  Then I reread the whole strip from the very beginning.  This is one of those "as you know, Bob" expository segments made sillier by the characters' avoidance of the obvious: any object fitting the description given is most probably an artifact.  Maybe it even made the crater they are working in.

quadibloc on July 08, 2010, 09:58:37 am
I doubt that.
I think the reference may be to the extreme lethality of Plutonium when inhaled. Even there, though, it may take years, rather than weeks, to die from lung cancer caused by Plutonium-239's intense alpha emissions - or its chemical toxicity.

GaTor on July 08, 2010, 10:53:02 am
Hmmm, I swear I recall reading that plutonium is so toxic and radioactive that merely touching it would kill you.  Also, during the Manhatten Project or at Los Alamos was ther and accident where one of the scientists picked up the plutonium core and died as a result.  Oh well, more research (luv the internet).  Heh what makes this strip interesting.
Go forth and do good.

GaTor on July 08, 2010, 11:46:52 am
Okay I stand corrected. While plutonium is highly toxic and I certainly would not recommend anyone touching it, my memory of revolved around the death of Harry K. Daghlian at Los Alamos.  My error is the result I think of the story being hyped through the media and especially the oversensationalized and fictional account of the accident in the movie "Fat Man and Little Boy".  Daghlian had been working alone (against all safety protocols) and had dropped a tungsten carbide bar onto a subcritical mass of plutonium, causing it to go critical.  He fished out the tungsten bar (never touching the plutonium) and was exposed to a massive amount of radiation. Here's a link to the real story and events, the next page has a pretty grusome picture of his right hand which received between 20,000 and 40,000 REMs.

http://members.tripod.com/~Arnold_Dion/Daghlian/accident.html

I'm not one to speak badly of the dead, but the guy has no business doing what he did with only a security guard in the room with him.  I believe Heinlein said something to the effect of " The universe has little pity on stupidity and the penalty is usually death." I'm sure I'm misquoting but this is a classic example of how very smart people can do very stupid (and fatal) things.
Go forth and do good.

Rocketman on July 09, 2010, 09:46:40 am
Yea, I remember years ago once when I had a "brain fart" and touched the spark plug wires of a running engine that I was working on.  Knocked me right on my butt and my hand hurt for a good twenty minutes.  I knew better of course, but sometimes when your concentrating on the job you forget about safety, and it costs.   :o

SandySandfort on July 09, 2010, 04:50:29 pm
Yea, I remember years ago once when I had a "brain fart" and touched the spark plug wires of a running engine that I was working on.  Knocked me right on my butt and my hand hurt for a good twenty minutes.  I knew better of course, but sometimes when your concentrating on the job you forget about safety, and it costs.   :o

I can top that. When I was a kid, one of my uncles owned a concrete block factory. There was an exhaust fan that removed dust from the air where the blocks were made. While working outside of the area, my uncle didn't notice any dust coming out the vent nor could her hear the sound of the fan. So he stuck his fingers into the exhaust outlet.... I don't recall if he lost 2 or 3 fingers. And back in the '50s, you couldn't get them reattached.

dough560 on July 11, 2010, 01:46:06 am
During my tour of duty at my first post, the Vietnam Veterans I worked with, constantly stressed, "STUPIDITY IS A CAPITAL OFFENSE.  IF YOU ARE VERY LUCKY, THE ONLY ONE YOU KILL IS YOURSELF.  UNFORTUNATELY, THAT IS SELDOM THE CASE!"  The vets stressed this verbally and when necessary, physically.  Many had survived several tours in Nam, the Philippines and Thailand.  Stupid received zero tolerance.

One "lucky" individual I'm aware of, tried to duck between a maneuvering tank and a building.  Four ground guides were guiding the tank.  They couldn't get it stopped in time and he was pinned to the building by the tank.  Allegedly he was conscious after being pinned.  As the story went, he lived until the tank was moved and his body hit the ground in two pieces. 

wdg3rd on July 11, 2010, 07:31:30 am
I can top that. When I was a kid, one of my uncles owned a concrete block factory. There was an exhaust fan that removed dust from the air where the blocks were made. While working outside of the area, my uncle didn't notice any dust coming out the vent nor could her hear the sound of the fan. So he stuck his fingers into the exhaust outlet.... I don't recall if he lost 2 or 3 fingers. And back in the '50s, you couldn't get them reattached.

It's a bitch to get them reattached even now, half a century or so later.  Full function is still a work in progress.  Personally, I'll go with 'borg bits until the state of the art improves (unlikely with Obamacare).
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

 

anything