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A Safe Dose?
The normal condition is the normal condition. 
In sharp contrast, the abnormal condition is abnormal

that is a version of the 'precautionary principle' and is a 'first principles' method toward understanding nuclear radiation, background radiation and other aspects of the ecosystem

"first principle is a basic assumption that cannot be deduced any further. Over two thousand years ago, Aristotle defined a first principle as “the first basis from which a thing is known.”"

Not only is background radiation the normal condition of the living world, research indicates it is intrinsic to biological function and thus essentially 'safe' .   It is seen that the theme of 'no safe dose of radiation'  does not serve the anti nuclear debate. The no safe dose theme should not conflate abnormal radiation with natural radiation exposure .

The theme "there is no safe dose"  of ionizing radiation is used often to argue against the nuclear industries.   Is that statement well supported scientifically?   How does it help win the anti nuke argument?  

 I suggest that to strengthen their case, the anti nuclear movement should emphasize the difference between nuclear fallout and normal background radiation, rather than unify them.    By throwing all ionizing radiation into one basket, anti nukers are doing themselves a disservice.  The ramifications are simple and should be obvious;  

If abnormal radiation exposure is the problem, and not background radiation, then all blame for radioactively induced disease rests squarely on the shoulders of the nuclear industries

On the other hand, if background radiation and fallout have the same biological effect, it is difficult to place blame on low level anthropogenic radiation sources.  This is because the quantity of radioactivity from fallout is often at or below background levels. When natural background radiation exposure is 100 times greater than nuclear fallout, it does little good to say there is no safe dose. 

We should find out the truth, because there are big ramifications.  The anti nuclear movement stands to gain tremendous advantage if it is found that nuclear fallout is the cause of diseases, and not background radiation. 


Studies show that
When background radiation is removed, health is reduced
Natural radiation exposure is not unhealthy, but the same dose from artificial radiation causes disease.

There are quite a lot of papers that proclaim there is no safe dose. Some are from anti nuclear advocates and others from the mainstream.  We can look at a few.

A comprehensive study by the National Academy of Sciences concludes:

"that the current scientific evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that there is a linear, no-threshold dose-response relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and the development of cancer in humans."

Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2 

They specifically imply that background radiation is the same as man made and moreover that its impossible to tell if  radiation is causing cancer at low levels;

"One challenge to understanding the health effects of radiation is that there is no general property that makes the effects of man-made radiation different from those of naturally occurring radiation. Still another difficulty is that of distinguishing cancers that occur because of radiation exposure from cancers that occur due to other causes."

They illustrate that the contribution of man-made radiation sources is only 18% relative to  background radiation (82%)  and that the nuclear fuel cycle represents only one percent of our radiation exposure.  

A very inconvenient truth for the anti nuke camp.  I notice that many try to argue against this, but its largely a losing battle. 

BEIR VII makes an estimate that background radiation, excluding radon, is responsible for

1 cancer incidence in 100 of us. That equals 60 million people worldwide


This quantity is a guess, mainly an extrapolation from atom bomb victims, and not actually studied.  The study is not possible because we cant turn off natural background radiation.  But a few studies of reduced radiation exist, and they dont support the above conclusion.   

There are differences between man made radiation and natural background radiation. Science is only now in the process of unravelling what biological effects these differences have.  For example, primordial radiation sources have very low radiation density, or 'specific activity'.  This produces diffuse exposure where highly radioactive sources can cause very high local peaks of radiation. 


In this paper, we can read the authors arguing against the linear, no threshold dose, arguing for hormesis, and arguing for relaxed exposure regulations. The paper includes commentaries by by Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake and Christopher Busby

Epidemiology Without Biology: False Paradigms, Unfounded Assumptions, and Specious Statistics in Radiation Science (with Commentaries by Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake and Christopher Busby and a Reply by the Authors

Busby believes the ICRP LNT dose model is a major failure, and this is evident in his commentary; 

"Analysis based on linear assumptions (the LNT dose response) is invalid, neither is it protective"

."..the current radiation risk model is flawed by being based on severely limiting reductionist assumptions about the dose–response relationship, which both biological considerations and implausible correlation approaches clearly invalidate. ...

and this more or less sums up Busby's view on the paper;

"However, the assumptions of the authors are similarly questionable and are the result of fitting a prior paradigm, that of “hormesis,” to those pieces of observational data that fit their chosen interpretation. A deeper investigation of the issue both biologically and philosophically reveals that not only are the authors in error in their attempt to increase the regulatory limits, but that the limits should be altered in the opposite direction because the true dose response is biphasic,"

Rosalie Bertell,  PhD, who was a well qualified authority and an ardent anti nuclear advocate states there is no safe dose
“…there is no safe level of exposure to ionising radiation, and the search for quantifying such a safe level is in vain.”—Rosalie Bertell, PhD.


and seems to mostly agree with the BEIR VII report

In this Paper, Bertell gets into the subject of depleted uranium. 
She again asserts there is no safe dose.    
 One explanation given is that there is a biological response specific to low level radiation, and she gives three examples;

"...secondary mechanisms  specific to the low-/slow-dose conditions. Three such secondary mechanism have been observed by scientists: the Petkau effect, monocyte depletion, and deformed red blood cells"

Bertell cites over 10 papers in support of her views.  

 It is notable that all of the references are studies done of anthropogenic radiation sources, not natural background exposure.  It is also noteworthy that natural background radiation does not cause the three secondary effects she mentions;  Petkau effect, monocyte depletion, and deformed red blood cells


Even if is argued there is some harm from background radiation,  the question of the safe dose can be framed by the magnitude of toxicity.  If natural background is toxic, it is not nearly as toxic as fallout.  The European Committee on Radiation Risk has shown that fallout is many hundreds of times more toxic than background radiation.  

We dont normally caution that there is no safe exposure to dogs, or that all snakes are dangerous, or that there is no safe dose of air.  Strictly speaking, its true, sun and oxygen are 'harmful'  yet common sense dictates we differentiate the dangerous animals and substances from the non dangerous ones. We accept that some damage is done by normal functions...getting some sun, breathing, exercise...It would not help to say nothing is safe when arguing against toxic exposures. 


So it seems that probably the majority of scientists, pro and anti nuclearists adhere to the no safe dose theme, with a few outliers who dont believe it, ascribe the safe dose to hormesis and argue for significant increases in allowable radiation exposure.

We can examine our basic assumptions and question their validity

Everyone throws all forms, all sources of ionizing radiation into one basket and assumes the biological effect is the same regardless.

However, several research papers do not support this assumption. In fact, everyone agrees that the differences between alpha, beta and gamma are enormous, in regard to physical characteristics, path ionization density, penetration depth and toxicity.  

Science already invalidates the assumption that all ionizing radiation is the same
with  one biological effect. 

Mainstream science incorporates a 20 fold range of toxicity, which is a rather large factor. This is increased even more when considering different organs and absorption paths.  But theres more;   radiation effects depend on biological responses.

Microbeam studies have elucidated some low level radiation effects.  A key feature is the biological response called the bystander effect.  Some scientists have declared that this effect predominates low level radiation effects.  It is shown that different types of radiation may or may not induce the bystander effect.  Also, thresholds have been detected.  The radiation hit to the DNA is not considered the primary requisite cause of harm by some researchers, who detail a complex system of biological and chemical reactions mediated by information pathways.  The bystander effect is under ongoing research.  

Our largest natural radiation source, potassium, has not been shown to be mutagenic

One study showed no change in mutation rate from K-40, the radioactive component of potassium, whether the radionuclide was increased over 100 times, or decreased to near zero. Another paper from Oak Ridge found that animals do not thrive without k-40.  Clearly science does not yet have a full understanding of all the biological effects to all radiation sources at all  doses.

In contrast, studies  show harm from nuclear fallout at levels comparable to natural background radiation. This is significant.  We are healthy with doses of natural radiation and unhealthy with unnatural radiation.

Then there are studies of below normal background radiation which usually show reduced biological functions. Deep underground labs are studying  reduced radiation biology.

Much of the research and theory in support of the no-safe-dose theme comes from anthropogenic radiation.  So we cant assume the data applies to natural background radiation, which often differs in specific activity, form, 
dispersion, dose rates and electromagnetic frequency.  The theme is more valid if they add "man made".  

 No amount of man made radiation is safe.  

This is of course a general statement, since man can make some naturally occurring radionuclides.

Whatever harm natural radiation causes requires the systemic context.  Some damage may be a natural state of biology.  This is true for example when considering oxidation and other sources of free radicals.

Breathing is an example.  There is, strictly speaking, no safe dose of air.  The DNA damage from breathing is significantly higher than from background radiation.  Yet when we are fighting air pollution we dont constantly repeat there is no safe dose of air.  It doesnt help. Breathing air is as healthy as you can be, even though it causes DNA damage.    Normal metabolism and breathing causes 2000 times more DNA damage than background radiation.

" it has been estimated that as many as 20′000 DNA base lesions are generated every single day in every single cell under physiological, unstressed conditions through hydrolysis, oxidation, and non-enzymatic methylation alone "

by comparison, background radiation of 5 mGy produces an average of about 1 electron track per cell resulting in 5–10 damaged bases, 2.5–5.0 SSBs, and 0.25 DSBs.

Incidentally, some of the damage caused by reactive oxygen species is required for normal biological function

 "ROS have a quite central role in cell growth signalling by influencing mitochondrial metabolism, cellular proliferation as well as cellular stress responses . Indeed, ROS have been found to be an integral part of many physiological signalling pathways,"

The Hormesis Argument Fails Basic Principles of Logic

Regarding hormesis,  its my view that ascribing hormesis, an adaptive response, to all low level radiation is philosophically flawed.  Accurately phrasing hormesis from natural radiation shows that it doesnt make sense;  "the natural state of biology includes radiation, which stimulates biology to be better than it is."   This is a nonsense statement, because it implies a change from the non radiated biological state. But the natural state of biology IS radioactive and no natural state of non radioactive biology exists. Since background radiation is very constant, no change is made....you cant be healthier than you are if you remain the same.

A more prudent and accurate philosophy would be that background radiation is the normal condition and deviations from the normal condition are abnormal. In fact this is what studies indicate.

Now one is on the firm footing to debate whether they believe an abnormal condition...in this case the addition of radioactive poisons to the environment or directly to the body...is an improvement on nature.   Industries are not adding more of the natural background (except C-14), they are adding abnormal radiation types.   If those few hormesis promoters who want to relax pollution standards  want to prove their case, they would need to test the actual man made radiation sources on many different life forms and environmental conditions for multiple generations....a nearly impossible task. By differentiating the normal from abnormal radiation exposure, poisoning the earth for health becomes a difficult sell!  What the science shows so far is that 

we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout

The adaptive responses known in hormesis overlap with the bystander effect
therefore no conclusion of benefit can be claimed

A biological adaptive response, regulation of DNA repair, intercellular communications, stimulation and cell suicide are some examples of this overlap.  The bystander effect is most often associated with negative outcomes.  It is doubtful that hormesis can be seen as an isolated response, unrelated to bystander effects, and thus would include negative endpoints.  There are other reasons too which invalidate a hormetic response as justification for poisoning the ecosystem.    It seems highly unlikely that deregulation of nuclear pollution on grounds of hormesis could gain traction.  Even hormesis author Calabrese is saying we should decouple beneficial effects from the definition of hormesis



We can sum up the trend indicated by research studies;  

The normal biological state contains the normal background radiation, and any deviation from that is abnormal and creates various stress responses. 

It is helpful to distinguish natural and unnatural conditions and exposures.    This is comparable to the precautionary principle; 'nature knows best'.  We must be very careful when assuming we can improve or second guess normal biology and the integrated function of the ecosystem.

This is a significant subject, because if normal radiation can be considered to be not morbific, then blame for the majority of negative radioactive effects is shifted to the nuclear industries.  Comparing fallout to background is no longer valid.  Obviously this would be a huge benefit for the anti nuclear argument. A little thought reveals that considering normal radiation as normal does not give the nuke industries or regulatory bodies the green light to pollute more and allow more radiation from anthropogenic sources

The best finding would be that the natural state is a safe dose


Even elevated levels of normal background radiation often show no overall detriment

Global transcriptome profile reveals abundance of DNA damage 
response and repair genes in individuals
 from high level natural radiation areas of Kerala coast


"The high level natural radiation areas (HLNRA) of Kerala coast in south west India is unique for its wide variation in the background radiation dose (<1.0mGy to 45mGy/year) and vast population size. Several biological studies conducted in this area did not reveal any adverse effects of chronic low dose and low dose rate radiation on human population."

Background radiation does not appear dangerous, while the same dose from fallout is dangerous;

"Several investigations have been carried out in this area, which includes studies in wild rats, plants , demographic characterization of human population. In addition, epidemiological studies are carried out to find out cancer incidence in adults, congenital anomalies in newborns and a case control study of mental retardation and cleft lip/palate in this population . So far, no significant changes are observed at phenotype level. This population has also been investigated for several biological end points such as chromosome aberrations, micronuclei, telomere length measurement and quantitation of DNA damage .None of the above DNA damage end points have shown significant difference between the population from HLNRA and the adjacent normal level natural radiation areas (NLNRA). The spontaneous level of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) has not shown any increase in DSBs"

compare to Chernobyl fallout at background doses;

 "Neuropsychological performance was significantly weaker in the 84 adolescents exposed prenatally compared to the 94 controls on measures of verbal working memory, verbal memory, and executive functioning when controlling for possible confounders. Our findings add new and important support to the hypothesis that the Chernobyl accident had a specific effect on the neuropsychological functioning of those exposed prenatally."

The Chernobyl Accident and Cognitive Functioning: 
A Study of Norwegian Adolescents Exposed In Utero

Several studies find threshold doses for different effects;
"Our results indicate a threshold dose of ~ 5.0mGy/year for chronic low dose exposure in HLNRA population for activation of molecular pathways of DNA damage response and better cell survival."

You cant estimate risk from low radiation doses by extrapolating from high radiation doses;

" Increasing evidences suggest that the effect of IR at low and high doses of exposures is qualitatively and quantitatively different . At high acute dose exposures, IR may lead to deleterious effects at cellular and molecular level thus leading to adverse consequences like cell death, accumulation of mutations, chromosomal aberrations and carcinogenesis. However, there is still uncertainty regarding the risk/effect due to low dose and low dose rate exposures to humans, below 100 mSv. At such low dose exposures, biological mechanisms such as adaptive response, bystander effects, hypersensitivity and genomic instability may play important role which is not clearly understood yet. "

We seem to be tuned to normal rates of double strand breaks;

Radiation dose-rate effects, endogenous DNA damage, and signaling resonance


"We conclude that the results reflect a physiological principle whereby signals originating from induced DSBs elicit responses of maximal effectiveness when they are produced at a rate near that of the production of endogenous DSBs. We refer to this principle as “signaling resonance.”'  ...about 50 endogenous DSBs occur per cell cycle, although most are repaired without error."
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
I have been editing the above post.  If anyone managed to read through the thing, Im interested to hear if it was convincing. Do you agree or disagree.  Where is it lacking, how could it be improved?  

thanks for your comments
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
an overwhelming error
nuked evolution

Codependent Life on Earth is a self seeding fractal

Fractals and Ecology

"... the most important biological processes (like evolution, succession, ect.) are clearly spatio-temporal processes, where both,space and time should be taken into account, even if the methodology involved is frequently troublesome."


And so we sow our manmade seeds of silent swords into the fractal of life.

Inherited Damage Is Found In Chernobyl Area Children - APRIL 25, 1996

"Ten years after the disastrous nuclear accident at the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine, scientists report that they have found inherited genetic damage in people exposed to the fallout."


Failure to thrive is a result most humans do not have much experience with...
We always ask what have we done because we don't know what we are doing.

Jebus, cant tell you how much I appreciate your post.

The fractal defines biological structure and function.  If people were to spend more time in nature, they would have an intuitive understanding of this.  Fractals are complex structures that maintain a characteristic shape or function through different scales.   The biophysics using fractal methods will no doubt shine light on the mysteries of how nuclear fallout affects the living world. This is sometimes called 'systems biology'   

We are fractal. Our cell structures, our lungs, our circulatory system, our brains are fractal structures.  In nature, the fractal is everywhere but not always noticeable like it is in this plant...

radiation from potassium does not appear to disrupt this fractal integration whereas nuclear fallout, at similar doses does disrupt it.

[Image: cauliflower-is-fractal-ly-delicious.1280x600.jpg]
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
(06-01-2019, 04:04 PM)Code Wrote: I have been editing the above post.  If anyone managed to read through the thing, Im interested to hear if it was convincing. Do you agree or disagree.  Where is it lacking, how could it be improved?  

thanks for your comments
Pretty good, tackling a complex subject.  I read it the first time and was glad you fixed up the too small and too large fonts it had, makes it easier to read being a little more uniform.  A couple of the links you list could be made clickable.  I'll have to read it thru again.  In general, you're arguing that by adding fission products the nuclear industry has made background radiation different than it was before, more dangerous.  Not just a little more, a lot more dangerous.   The toxicity of fission products is, of course, the greatest consideration.  Some of the isotopes are produced naturally but nuclear activity has added to those as well as giving us new isotopes to worry about.  The equipment used to measure and evaluate the radioactivity of matter has improved and points to a need to revisit conclusions made before we had today's more sensitive instruments.  Most of the studies talk about the Gamma portion of background radiation, I'd like to know more about how the Beta and Alpha portions of background have changed since the Uranium atom was split.  Plutonium and Tritium come to mind, they aren't being included when we only look at Gamma background.  The chemical forms of isotopes man has created are different than what nature intended.  Uranium dioxide isn't the usual natural form.  It would be unethical to conduct tests on humans to find answers but that is in fact what they're doing.  The experiment doesn't have controls, lifetime exposures aren't being tracked, and we don't have enough experts gathering the data and doing the work that would be required to say definitively that a given level or type of ionizing radiation is safe or not.  The fail is by design.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
almost normal sunflower with  normal radiation (not normal since the nuclear era actually)

[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTqTesZ_DMreR0oiTsUoif...4aSbqJJ5y4]    and some mutated sunflowers

[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQwGEsfx4_Zu6R93nzfTbV...G5S9YO_sxe]       [Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRnK_NF6oUVkJ2vOiYyotz...GyauFca3VQ]

'stem fasciated, a Recessive Mutation in Sunflower, Alters Plant Morphology and Auxin Level' MARCO FAMBRINI
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
The mutations in plants and animals at Chernobyl and Fukushima is proof that the old paradigm isn't predictive or indicative of safety.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Horse, thanks for your comments.  Thanks for reading my piece which as usual is too long, and summarizing it.   BTW, how do I make the links clickable?

You summarize thusly " In general, you're arguing that by adding fission products the nuclear industry has made background radiation different than it was before, more dangerous"

Some of the research indicates natural background might be intrinsic to natural biological function.  Taking that radiation away seems to cause a stress response and decrease various markers of health.   So if that is true, then the nuclear industry didnt make background more dangerous.  It turned our once healthy radiation exposure into an abnormal, unhealthy one. This may be an important emerging finding.  Such a distinct difference of biological effect between background and anthropogenic sources throws a wrench into the hormesis thought, the comparison always made of fallout and background and the linear no threshold dose model.   this is a good thing

Our thinking about ionizing radiation is so ingrained, it is difficult to imagine any dose could be healthy. But if we look at the magnitude of energy,  or if we compare other formative influences, like gravity and the electromagnetic spectrum, it is easier.  The energy of background is something like a butterfly falling off a sugar cube.  Its very small.   

Looking at gravity,  this is always 'detrimental' to remaining upright or having any form other than flat. It causes us to fall and get hurt.   Yet it is gravity which guides the formation of biological structures.   Our balance is based on it.  The impact of our body on the ground due to gravity causes piezo electric signals in the bones which helps in the catabolic anabolic structuring of bone.  Indeed the entire skeletal shape is formed on the basis of needing to overcome the forces of gravity and deceleration.

In the end, we succumb to gravity, but we wouldnt be us without it.  Some might call this hormesis, but like  for background radiation, I think the term is philosophically misapplied.  I cant say gravity has improved an organism by being a constant formative force.  The force was always there, so there is no prior state on which to improve.  Keeping the analogy,  the ideological leap that if a little gravitational "hormesis" is good, more must be better doesnt work at all.  Increasing gravity would change the entire world.  Likewise, claiming that there is no safe amount of gravity is a conceptual error.  Its true technically, but not practically. The world needs gravity to be what it is, even though it crumples everything down in the end...

interesting photo here

a pair of sister chromatids that separated later than the rest, most likely because they were improperly attached to the molecular machine(#spindle ) that pulls them apart. 

[Image: 12555861_1706657902912705_1973662015_n.j...tagram.com]

The spindle is the kind of star burst shape of cell microtubules which are functional in cell shape and cell division.  The cytoskeleton is made of polymerized tubulin which is affected by radiation

[Image: 250px-Kinetochore.jpg]

Effects of ionizing radiation on the polymerization of microtubules in vitro.
Zaremba TGIrwin RD.

"Exposure of  tubulin to ionizing radiation results in a reduction or loss in its ability to participate in polymerization"

I think its currently assumed low levels of radiation, including medical x-rays dont have much effect on this, but a hot particle might

This possible significance because much of radiation damage occurs during cell division.  The cytoskeleton is sensitive to very high frequencies, voltage, ions and protons

one random link...


"Fractal dimension has been used as a characterization parameter of premalignant and malignant epithelial lesionsof the floor of the mouth in humans"

"Fractal morphometry has provided quantitative information concerning the link between molecular, cellular, and tissue changes during the development of canine tumors "

"Fractal theory has provided the basis for a unique software platform program, which has been developed for use in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and has shown great promise in the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer."

"a wealth of investigations have documented the fractal organization of the brain and nervous tissue system, and the implication of fractals for neurosciences has been unambiguously affirmed"


A paradigm shift from a reductionist approach to a systems biology approach is long overdue.

"Cancer is a highly complex disease due to the disruption of tissue architecture. Thus, tissues, and not individual cells, are the proper level of observation for the study of carcinogenesis. This paradigm shift from a reductionist approach to a systems biology approach is long overdue. Indeed, cell phenotypes are emergent modes arising through collective non-linear interactions among different cellular and microenvironmental components, generally described by “phase space diagrams”"

I could mention that there is one theory that the weak nuclear force of our radioactive potassium was responsible for the L-enantiomer predominance of amino acids.    Like a snail shell...which way the fractal of life turns.  This enantiomer chirality influences biochemistry
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
Well,  we drift a little, but that may be good here.  The links, I go to the url and copy it out of the browser and paste it into the reply.  That avoids any formatting problem that makes a link incomplete or just text.  I use the 'insert a link' if I want a hyperlink, text showing instead of the link.  The gravity of the situation will be more fun.  Gravity is such a weak force, it really doesn't account for all that we see in the Universe.  It varies with mass so I don't think of it as a real constant.  We don't know much about gravity.  It may be the binder of all but the Electro-Magnetic Force is magnitudes stronger than the Gravitational Force and probably plays a much larger role in the workings of the Universe.  Gravity doesn't hold an atom together, electro-magnetic forces do.  EM is the movement of electrons.  Ah, see I made it back to radiation.  Our gamma detection instruments measure the electrons being released from atoms.  The speed of an electron determines if we feel heat, see light, or detect a gamma frequency.  The higher velocities of some electrons disrupts the atoms of normal matter as they seek charge equilibrium.  You may think the energy of background is something like a butterfly falling off a sugar cube, but at the atomic level the energy is more like a speeding train hitting a pedestrian.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Have they started teaching kids about electricity yet as a part of common knowledge?  I'm still trying to grasp the concept of an electron and have had a little education learning electronics.  Electro-magnetism is a spectrum of energy we talk about depending upon its frequency and amplitude.  Gamma radiation is a range of frequencies in the EM spectrum.  Beta and Alpha radiation are said to be particles.  In all things nuclear we are trying to understand the workings of a simple atomic structure.  To make matters worse in trying to understand radiation there is the nuclear forces, weak and strong, that form the nucleus of an atom.

Quote:What does a strong nuclear force do in an atom?
strong nuclear force. A force between elementary or subatomic particles that holds quarks together to form protons and neutrons, and also binds protons and neutrons together in the atomic nucleus. The strong nuclear force is one of the four basic forces in nature, along with gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the weak nuclear force.
Strong nuclear force - definition of strong nuclear force ...

That's really getting down to stuff we can't directly measure.  When we start agreeing on terms we can start to talk about the things.  You like analogies so I'll try one.  I tend to think of gamma radiation and highly charged particles of Beta and Alpha like a bad sunburn.  Some sun is nice, a tan is good, but too much exposure starts burning and tissue is damaged.  I can sense the sun and know what it'll do, but I can't sense Gamma, Beta, or Alpha radiation and won't know the harm it's doing till systems failure.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Ive been interested in the vibrational characteristics of the cell, and the cytoskeleton in particular for a while. I used to have a thread on it. But you are right, that subject, while possibly relevant to radiation effects, doesnt quite fit in this thread. I will create a seperate thread and move that stuff.

I mentioned the energy level because scientists think in terms of energy deposition, and also many people use the term 'fried'. How could any radiation be OK if we are being fried by it?

so if background is say 3 mSv/yr, I get 0.003 joules per kg per year
That should be the same as watt-seconds
multiply by 70 kg to get a whole body dose of 0.2 watt-seconds per year
to get a feel for how much energy this is interacting with your body every hour, we divide by the hours in a year, 8760. I get 0.000024 watt-seconds per hour

I think thats the same as 0.24 gram force-centimeters. A Swallowtail butterfly weighs about .25 gram and a centimeter is roughly the height of a sugar cube. Thus, the visualization of a butterfly falling off a sugar cube once per hour, or a small flashlight beam hitting you for 0.000024 seconds

Yes, the energy density of a radiation track is high enough to strip off electrons and ionize a small amount of water in your cell. I suppose we could think of air ionization. Some negative ions are good for us. for comparison, breathing causes far more reactive oxygen species than low level radiation.

The look at energy is only meant to give a feel for the magnitude of energy, not prove a point. So for me, it becomes easier to imagine there might be a safe level, but also it shows how amazingly toxic the fallout is. That butterfly drop has the power to reduce cognitive function, mess with the heart, promote cancer etc. More powerful than kryptonite on super man!

I wasnt clear, but gravity was meant as an analogy for the low dose/hormesis question. Gravity is a constant on earth. It is a powerful formative force. It defined our structure! It is an ultra small force compared to electromagnetism. The analogy hoped to shed light on the philosophy of hormesis. If you increased gravity and saw an improvement in health or something, that would be an adaptive response, and one might call it hormetic. But its constant, so regarding a hormetic philosophy, I wouldnt say gravity is hormetic. This has ramifications on how we look at background and artificial sources of radiation. But I admit, its a subtle semantic distinction. Let me put it a different way....a few people like Luckey and Calabrese are saying...hey this low level radiation triggers your DNA repair and some dozens of genetic regulations, so its a good thing and we should not worry about a little extra. And Im saying well thats just a ridiculous philosophy. Gravity makes you tick too, but a permanent weightless or a high gravity environment is going to have serious outcomes. Dont mess with the normal baseline! Moreover, your added radiation is not the same stuff...its materially different, with different radiation distribution potential and so on.

Sorry, Im struggling to make the point. I think putting hormesis, the adaptive response to stressors, in a continuum with the bystander effect is valid and a good way to show the flaw in hormesis philosophy of people like Calabrese.

wiki on background radiation
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
After what all we lost, this thread is as good a place as any to discuss this again.  I chuckle at all the different types of dose there are just trying to describe exposures.  Then try telling me doses can be turned into magic numbers like Joules per kg per year s/b the same as watt-seconds, is somhow  mSv's?  Joules is heat, right?  Watts is a power measurement P = I * E, electrical power, watts, equals current times voltage.  http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-ohm.htm
Current is the electron flow.  
Ohm's Law E = R * I
Voltage = Resistance times current
Voltage can be thought of as the pressure pushing charges along a conductor, while the electrical resistance of a conductor is a measure of how difficult it is to push the charges along. Using the flow analogy, electrical resistance is similar to friction. For water flowing through a pipe, a long narrow pipe provides more resistance to the flow than does a short fat pipe. The same applies for flowing currents: long thin wires provide more resistance than do short thick wires.
Resistance makes heat.  Ohm's law helps me follow electrical flow. No, I'm not getting your conversions but it's only because your using silly old Sieverts.  

Gamma radiation has electrical properties.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Think of it as lightning striking a cell, not like energy heating a cell up.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
I‘m trying to bring the electrical properties of ionizing radiation into play.  Let me try analogies out on you, Our bodies are electrical systems just like electronics that are also damaged in the same way by ionizing radiation, too much current flow.  It is something that biology accepts electricity without knowing that much about it.  It is possibly the reason that K-40 can be utilized to provide a current flow, while other radionuclides cause too much current to flow resulting in harm.  Now if you think you have difficulty enlightening people, see how far I have to go revealing some of my observations.  Ionizing radiation is like a supra conductor that shorts out normal cell electrical power functions and normal cell communications systems.  Normal matter can have a current flow that indicates life processes are functioning, Too much electrical current causes malfunctions to life processes.  This is the missing component in discussions of radiation damage to tissue.  Limiting the conversation to chemical processes only, has failed to reveal the mechanism by which ionizing radiation does its damage.  Ionization of materials temporarily increases their conductivity, potentially permitting damaging electrical current levels.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Yes, I can agree with the electrical analogy.in that each cell is a low voltage, low current, variable resistance, device.

How can it not be and operate under the laws of physics that humans use to describe the world around them.

Maybe theorizing how much current a cell can sink before all circuits are fried, is prudent to attach to nuclear waste?

What have we done if nature's life is actually just the frequencies and amplitudes that it alludes to be?
We always ask what have we done because we don't know what we are doing.

Horse, I am following your thoughts above.

Much of my motivation for digging into the energy levels or biological responses is simply to refine the view. I dont think the public has a 'feel' for this subject.   Actually nobody has a feel for it because the biology is so freakin' complex and beyond our normal realm of comprehension.   The ultra small is, in many ways, a totally different world.  Quantum mechanics is the ultra small.   Radio-biology has an interface with the ultrasmall and quantum mechanics, which is impossible to have an intuitive feel for.

We veered from safe dose to fractals to cell structure to hormesis and now to energy levels and electrophysiology.   These subjects, along with the banana dose and bystander effect are closely intertwined.  

A note on hormesis;  I had many discussions about hormesis with anti nukers.  It seemed there was  an emotional impulse to throw out hormesis, to disparage or ridicule it.   Same for the safe dose.    I was saying, hey, just follow the findings and see where it takes you.  How do you know if hormesis would prove the opposite of the push to relax pollution standards?  

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”   Einstein

We must have an open mind.  We all have, scientists included, an emotionally pinned bias.  This so often stands in the way of insight

So I looked into it a little and I realized fighting hormesis is just a losing battle.  The battle ground of hormesis is not the findings, but the philosophy...our assumptions of what the findings imply.  That is where to fight hormesis.   Hormesis is a just a variety of findings of biological responses to stimuli.   In my opinion, its fairly obvious that the findings of hormesis support less, not more, radioactive pollution.  Hormesis helps fight against the nuclear industry.   


looking at the energy equivalency was just to establish a mental reference.   As you know, these are all measures of energy;  Joule, calorie, horsepower,  watt-seconds.  Energy is also potential; height times mass and the acceleration of gravity.  or compressed spring or whatever...    We can look at this through the eyes of a physics guy and see that the energies are vanishingly small.   We arent being 'fried' by low level radiation

you say "Ionizing radiation is like a supra conductor that shorts out normal cell electrical power functions and normal cell communications systems"

Bioelectromagnetic physics is overwhelmingly complex. You were an expert radio operator.  Intuitively, we think the body must function on some radio principles, but biology paints a picture of tinker toys, locks and keys, and some chemical reactions. Oh, of course the nerves and the heart...where electricity enters western biophysics.   I was interested in electrotherapy for a long time.  I found that the science behind it was not accessible.  Much of that work seems to come from eastern europeans, and they really go to a deep level.  I will never comprehend it within three lifetimes.   Our sense of radio transmission starts to break down.  There is a transform of EM radiation to physical waves, surface waves, sonic waves which are submultiples of the EM frequency, secondary radiation like biophotons.   The action is very difficult to comprehend.   But, on an analogous level, its easy to imagine that a hot particle of fallout could throw a wrench in cell phospholipid membrane surface plasmon resonances....or something like that

How ionizing radiation affects biology is not fully known.  Science presents this picture like they know all about it.  The subject is so complicated that it will take a multidisciplinary approach to unravel it. This will be beyond the grasp of the layperson.  
we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
I'd like to present the concept of Hormesis in it's proper context here, so that others, (laymen, the public), do not erroneously associate it with just radioactive decay...

Hormesis: Decoding Two Sides of the Same Coin

We always ask what have we done because we don't know what we are doing.

Code, I had to maintain and fix the radios too.  For that, I had to learn how all the components make a system work and the system functions they perform.  It doesn't matter whether its silicon or carbon, the systems perform similar functions.  What they have in common is they're both electrical systems.  I'm just saying that an electric shock to an electrical system can result in system failure even if only one component fried. Jebus sees it, "in that each cell is a low voltage, low current, variable resistance, device".  It would be prudent to ask "how much current a cell can sink before all circuits are fried"  An EM pulse and subsequent component or system failure describes the bystander effect.  While medical science has looked deeply into the chemical functions, little research is done on the electrical functions because it isn't so easily measured or tested.  I'm not saying the body works on radio principles, I'm saying the body works on electrical principles and is governed by the same laws.  

Jebus, great link for understanding hormesis.

We live in an Electric Universe.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."
Hi Horse....Im not sure if you think I was in some way disagreeing with you.   I wasnt.  Only trying to add my humble views.    

A notable researcher in electrobiology in the west is Michael Levin.  Sample paper here

Molecular bioelectricity in developmental biology: New tools and recent discoveries
Control of cell behavior and pattern formation by transmembrane potential gradients
Michael Levin

"Transmembrane voltage gradients (Vmem) determine anatomical polarity and function as master regulators during appendage regeneration and embryonic left-right patterning. A state-of-the-art recent study reveals that they can also serve as prepatterns for gene expression domains during craniofacial patterning."

I dont have any links at the moment for some heavy physics guys that go into this electrophysiology in a deep theoretical way.  But perhaps just as well since its all but incomprehensible. 


I had derived, perhaps incorrectly, that even at an average of one atom of Cs-137 per cell there is a toxic effect.   This unimaginably small level of contamination has really strained my brain.     Somehow thats enough to cause metabolic dysfunction.    Bandazhevsky showed that Cs137 bioaccumulates in some organs and tissues more than others.  He gets into some explanation in this paper and probably others

'Radioactive Cesium and the Heart: Pathophysiological Aspects by Professor Yuri I. Bandazhevsky, M.D.'

"peroxidation of fatty acid chains of phospholipids leads to changes in their structure and permeability for different ions, including Ca2+. At the same time, this naturally changes the activity of membrane-bound enzymes. The hyperproduction of free hydroxyl radicals and an amplification of lipid peroxidation contribute to the destruction of cell membranes."

stress hormones allow calcium ions to accumulate in the cytoplasm of heart cells.  
"As a result of this process, a high concentration of Ca2+ is formed within the cells. Arrhythmias or rhythm disturbances can occur when Ca2+ is inappropriately released from the cardiomyocytes"

The cell membranes are affected by the cesium-directly and secondarily by released chemicals, and this is like opening a gate ...the well known amplification principle.  This caused Irreparable damage to heart tissue from calcium ions .   I might mention that calcium ions are implicated also in destruction of cochlear hair cells...and in general that free calcium is a dangerous thing.

He describes damage to the kidneys;
" Contractures of myofibrils lead to a prolonged spasm of arterioles and hence the cessation of circulation in structures of the nephron. Deaths of cellular elements form a specific structural change in the glomeruli, a phenomenon called ‘melting icicles’. Dystrophic and necrobiotic changes gradually appear, accompanied by shrinkage and fragmentation of glomeruli"

So I will take advantage of Bandazhevsky's great work to reiterate my little theme;  These pathological cascades, with dysfunction in metabolic and neurological complex systems are dependent on the complex biological reactions, not just some evolution of random DNA mutations.  For me, this invalidates the stochastic, 'you're healthy, or have an unlucky cancer' meme of low level radiation.  It invalidates the common lumping of all radiation into one basket, because even at 20 bq/kg from cesium there is dysfunction, while there is no dysfunction from k-40 at normal levels which are, say 4 to 8 times higher.  It also invalidates any hormesis argument because with cesium the regulatory functions were not upgraded but destroyed.  The natural condition then, could be considered the baseline, rather than the low end of a continuum of harm, and this changes the philosophy that is generally held quite considerably...


These thyroid descriptions from Bandazhevsky clearly shows how the hormesis argument fails for this radionuclide.  The body responds alright, ...with dire consequences. 

"Radiocesium incorporated by the thyroid gland induces in its cells the energy shortage that does not allow reparative processes to occur properly, disturbs cell differentiation and allows that cell structural components become antigens to the immune system "

"The immunological reaction appears, then the thyroid gland becomes damaged by autoantibodies and immunocompetent cells resulting in the development of autoimmune thyroiditis and thyroid cancer against its background. In this connection, we think that the action of radiocesium on the thyroid gland may be regarded from the position of disruption of immune regulation of organ and tissue activities, as well as considering the nature of cellular element injury."

we are healthy with background radiation but unhealthy with the same dose from fallout
(06-03-2019, 04:14 AM)Code Wrote: I had derived, perhaps incorrectly, that even at an average of one atom of Cs-137 per cell there is a toxic effect.   This unimaginably small level of contamination has really strained my brain.     Somehow thats enough to cause metabolic dysfunction.   

How does one atom of CS-137 do so much damage?  We've discussed that it's not just chemical. Perhaps electrical energy might answer the question. Your attempts to put numbers in to quantify the energy are probably accurate enough, but, for me, they aren't specific enough. They kinda blur in my three pound brain.   A general heating of a cell is different than a cell being struck by an EM pulse which may cause a little heating, briefly.  I know, I simplify all the complexities and math by looking at the current flow in a circuit.  I was hoping to get your numbers into equations I do understand.  Gamma radiation is electrical, if it didn't come from a radioactive source the 'rays' would still be called X-rays.  A circuit does just fine with the current variations in normal operation.  The circuit breaks down when radioactivity changes the current flow.  The cesium doesn't have to directly hit a cell, or nucleus, or even the cells DNA to effect the electrical circuit.  It just has to be in contact or within the electrical field to start charge equilibrium.  The difference in potential, its voltage, is higher and can conduct more current.  That can really blow a circuit, what you call metabolic dysfunction.  Thanks for letting me throw in my two cents.
"The map is not the territory that it is a map of ... the word is not the thing being referred to."

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