Many Gen-X’ers will remember the robot “Johnny Five” who was “alive” from their childhood. Most likely they recall that silly robot from the film “Short Circuit” (millennials click here) every time that someone like Stephen Hawking starts talking about A.I. ending the human race, or when DARPA comes out with a new monster to use against
the American people the criminal element or on the battlefield. Well if Japan were able today to create a robot that thought itself to be alive it would flee from the Asian nation just as fast as it’s miniature tank-like wheels could take it.
Much like in 2011 when TEPCO/General Electric tried to send various robots (defined in reality as any machine that can be assembled to move within a needed setting to complete a needed task; they don’t usually look human unless needed) into the Number Two reactor unit at the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a new robot has perished due to high radiation levels.
The plant, even now nearly six years removed from the 2011 meltdowns, is spewing so much radiation into the world that it even stops -“kills” – robots! Not only can’t man enter the unit to even find the toxic fuel that may not still be fully there, but man can not create any uniform/suit with enough mobility paired with enough protection to shield them from these levels of radiation.
Worse than that, mankind does not have the technology to even make a machine or a robot that can withstand the unspeakably high radiation levels that are literally burning everything down (at a cellular level) that comes even close to it’s splintered core. The radiation levels are so high that before the cameras short circuit – be they analog or digital in nature – their images display speckles and distortions which are radiation signature marks. Those that say that radiation can not be seen are quite mistaken. Unfortunately, but the time that anyone, or now even any robot, see’s it, it is already far, far too late. It can be thought of a “nuclear Medusa.”
The unfortunate robot that got sent in to clean the plant so that progress can be so much as hinted at within Unit 2 (of the four that are still glowing) began to experience camera problems well before operators had hoped. After all, in six years, with all of the progress that computing and science have made since 2011 (Windows 7, anyone?) even they expected more of a performance than this. They were let down when the robot that had been equipped with what TEPCO called a “high-pressure water nozzle” had to be pulled out after it went blind from radiation.
This is alarming beyond the scope of mere words because since this happened near the containment vessel, which is so named because it is designed to “contain” the metallic and molten fuel from getting out where it is then uncontrollable for the rest of eternity, the containment has probably experienced what is called “catastrophic failure.” The radiation levels are so high that we don’t have even have the technology to accurately gauge it, we simply know that our limits in recording such terror maxes out when attempted. Oh, and then the device used to detect it won’t work any longer.
The radiation is known to be so utterly life destroying that even the smallest paint chips must be removed before anyone can enter. Now imagine how many paint chips must be in a plant that was hit by a tidal wave, hosed with seawater, and which has sat only mildly protected from the constant storms of Japan for six years. For this reason, the robot was given the mission of removing deposits as thick as 2 cm from a seven-meter rail that meanders into an area underneath the pressure vessel that houses (or used to house) the core.
For the total scope of the horror to be known, the scientists had designed the robot to withstand an eye-opening 1000 sieverts of radiation. which is 1/5 more radiation than was released at Three Mile Island, Americas worst nuclear disaster. Since the 1000 sievert number is cumulative, that is to say in total based on exposure and not time, the robots that were outfitted and calibrated to be able to withstand 530 sieverts an hour. Therefore, they should have burnt out in just over two hours.
For problems to have arisen too soon implies that those that have long said that Unit 2 is vomiting out way more radiation than even 1000 sieverts may, unfortunately, be proven correct. TEPCO has lied to the people since day one, so it is not beyond imagination to wonder if they are hiding the real numbers, or if they even know them.
The reading given from Tuesdays foray into Unit 2 came in at 650 sieverts, which goes a long way in also proving how full of misinformation TEPCO really are. There may be hot spots that give off “blasts” in certain areas that are also creating havoc within. All that needs to be known is that even by TEPCO’s questionable number of 650 sieverts, that is OVER 2/3 of the WHOLE Three Mile Island accident, is uncontained, every day, for the last six years and counting….and it is only one of four reactors in like states.
Scientists think that they may have found at least some of the core from Unit 2, but what is not often mentioned is that they located one fuel rod out of many. For those that don’t know, there are many fuel rods in any one reactor, and they are in some instances as radiologically hot as some areas of the sun.
Are these rods scattered around like Lego’s just poisoning everyone on Earth or did “just” one fall free? If not, where are the rest, did they blow into the environment in the nuclear hydrogen explosions from Unit 1 and 3 in some way, and is there any way to get close enough to tell? According to the robot, the answers are “I don’t know, I’m blind, so ‘no‘.”
If scientists are right about the fuel laying in a blob called “corium” at the bottom of the reactor, this is only “good” news if the containment vessel is intact. If not, then the corium is going to just keep eating downward, into the Earth, the water table, the rain, and in the end, everyone alive. Such is the nature of the food chain.
Even if this fuel is just sitting there, we have no way as a species to even approach or build a shell around it like Russia did. It can not just be domed and forgotten without the fuel being prevented from just melting into the Earth first. Doing that means getting near the core which seems impossible for even robots.
While it may be Hollywood that imagines that robots are alive, we would do well to remember that the same things that are happening to those robots are happening to us every day no matter where in the United States or the northern hemisphere that one is located. That, more than anything, may prove that we don’t need robots to kill us after all because we are doing a good enough job of it ourselves.