That’s so Rad!!!!

Here are a few facts about radiation:

What is radiation: Radiation is a form of energy. Ionizing radiation which is vastly different from heat radiation (what you feel off of a fire) is the radiation that is cause for concern.

Why is there radiation: Ionizing radiation occurs when an atoms nucleus is unstable either naturally or man-made. Energy is given off spontaneously in an attempt for the atom to reach a stable state that does not release any energy spontaneously

There are 4 types of radiation:

Alpha particles pose the smallest external threat. They deposit all of their energy very quickly and can be stopped by the dead skin layer on your skin. They do however pose a pretty significant threat if alpha particles were to be ingested/inhaled. The soft tissue inside of your body is very sensitive to alpha radiation because all of the energy present will be deposited in your tissue.

Beta particles like alpha particles do not pose a huge external threat. They can not be stopped by a piece of paper, but can be easily stopped by glass, plastics or aluminum foil. If the energy level of a beta particle is extremely high and ther is a large acute dose present, damage to the skin can occur. Like alphas though they are most dangerous when ingested or inhaled.

Gamma rays or photons or x-rays is the radiation catorgory that everyone seems to flip out about the most. While gamma rays/photons/x-rays are not stopped by glass or plastics, they are easily stopped by lead and large amounts of concrete. Gammas do pose an external hazard, but just like betas it is all dependent on the dose and energy levels (there are other factors, but I’ll talk about them later). Gamma emitters are frequently used in the medical industy. If you have ever had a thyroid check you most certainly have swollowed a radioactive isotope! But don’t worry. This particular isotopes are chosen because the radiation is not stopped by your soft tissue or bones or skin. It comes straight out of you, depositing very little energy into you body. The same principle exists for an x-ray machine. The x-rays go straight through you to create the picture and deposit very little energy inside the body.

Did you know men are more radioactive than women?!?!?!: While this is true in most cases it isn’t always. There are naturally radioactive materials that we ingest almost every single day. The most prominant internal emitter (which means you have ingested it) is potassium-40 (K-40). K-40 is found in bananas and is stored in the body and used in many of the everyday bodily functions. If I remembered my physiology better I could tell you more about how it is used, but its an important factor in your body. Men tend to have more muscle than women. Muscle is one of the main places in your body that K-40 is stored. This leads to the conclustion that men are normally more radioactive than women because we have a higher fat content and generally speaking have less muscle than a man.

What is natural background radiation: Background radiation is the amount of radiation present before an expsoure (artificial or natural). Natural background radiation is radiation that is produced by the Earth and found through out all of nature. Many people study and track the natural background around the world. In some parts of India the general public recieves an annual dose of over 500 mrem (we’ll talk about units some other time). Their highest recorded annual dose was over 5 rem. The federal limit in the US for annual exposure is 5 rem. It is interesting to note that there are areas in the world that naturally get the max allowable exposure (by US federal law) and till continue to leave happily. Some areas of Brazil can get over double the allowable max exposure. The background in your area is dependent on soil type, what types of metal ore is found in your area, concentration of soil, concentration of radioactive material in the soil and other factors.

How to I portect myself: First off never go into an area marked “radiation area”, “contamination area” or if you see the yellow and magenta sign with the trefoil unless you are trained and authorized. If you are trained and authorized to go into that area always practice ALARA (as low and reasonably achieveable). This is done by utilizing the principles of time, distance and shielding. Never stay in an area you don’t have to be in too long. Do as much as you can from a distance. If you have to stay in an area and you know where the source is DO NOT stand next to it till you have to be near it. And always protect your self with PPE (coats, gloves, respirator (maybe)). If you can try to always work with something solid between you and the source, Plexiglass shield, glove boxes, and etc.

So I think that is all for today. I’ll probably try to post some fun statistics or weird facts soon.


The Life of a Rad Worker

Last night I was talking to my mom on the phone about my new job and hers (she just be came a librarian). Ethan has a night class on Monday nights so it is a good time for us to talk without Ethan in the house. Something she said surprised me. She said she was worried about me everyday. If you don’t know, I work at Argonne National Laboratory. I am apart of the health physics group which provides support for other division thats research utilizes radioactive materials or helps with construction to ensure that old duct work and the like has no contamination. While this does sound scary for most I was surprised that my mom worried that much. I studied radiological health engineering in college, she is married to a former engineering officer on a nuclear sub and former engineering at a Nuclear Power plant.

It surprises me that someone that has been exposed to the rad worker life for over 25 years is still extremely worried when a child follows the other parent into the same industry. While it isn’t a workplace that should be looked at flippantly, I feel like my mom’s reaction really shows the ignorance the public has when it comes to radiation. If a woman who has heard about it and all the thousands of regulations that come with the industy is still scaried for her daughter while she is at work, no wonder so many people that have no exposure to radiation are deathly afraid of it.

This was just an interesting observation that I had. Its nothing to deep or profound, but it does make me wish that more people were educated on this topic. Radiation is encountered everyday but every single person on this planet. It is nothing to be afraid of, but something to be respected and handled carefully.

Once again I fail at this whole blog thing…

So my last post was in January, WOW. I’m obviously not very good at this blogging thing and I am sure that no one actually reads my posts. So I have a bit of up dating to do. Here is a quick list.

1. Spring semester was easy but yet super frustrating

2. Ethan and I decided to move to Chicago so he could go to graduate school

3. Finding a job for a Health Physics/Nuclear engineering major was surprisingly more difficult that I thought it would be

4. Ethan and I got married on May 17, 2014

5. Ethan and I moved to Chicago on May 22, 2014 (quick I know!)

6. On June 7, 2014 I accepted a position as a Health Physics Techinician at Argonne National Laboratory!

7. I also work on the weekends as a swim lesson teacher because private Christian Universities are super expensive


Overall, the move went smoothly and starting my job hasn’t had too many hiccups. Changing my last name was surprisingly easy and pain free. We have done some exploring of the area and I think we will enjoy it here. My commute is currently an hour long so we are hoping to cut that in half after Ethan graduates from Judson in May. Other than that there is not much to say!

Nerding Out

Ethan and I are both huge nerds. We fit every possible definition of what a nerd is so for our engagement pictures we decided to bring some of that into our pictures. Okay, really a lot of it into our pictures. We decided on representing our particular favorite fandom instead of doing books or a more subtle nerd look. We went as all out as you could before cosplay. While he and I share fandoms we have different favorites. I have grown up in a huge trekkie family so I decided to show my trekkie side. Ethan on the other hand expressed the Whovian in him. Here are a few of our favorite of this outfit.ImageImageImageImage

Just too excited!

Well as of October 18, 2013 around 10:15pm, Ethan and I have been engaged! In the past two weeks I have basically planned out the entire wedding except for actually making things come together in real life. We still have plenty of time. We aren’t getting married till May 17, 2014… the saturday after I graduate college!

I just can’t contain how excited I am to become Erin Meadows. It’s super weird to think of having a different last name, but it weird in the best way. I’m going to have to think about my signature for awhile. All that muscle memory of the year so signing Erin Dulaney has to be changed.

Our wedding is going to be at 2:00pm at the church that we met at 7 years ago. The reception will be there as well which means no dancing or alcohol. Which are two things I don’t mind missing at my wedding. Growing up baptist I have never imagined either of those at my wedding in the first place. Through planning and pinning ideas on Pinterest the “tea time” theme came to life. We are getting married at tea time and we both love tea so “tea time” it is! The theme was really solidified when my friend and bridesmaid Kristen was trying to help me find cute small flower arrangements and we discovered these adorable tea cup arrangements that were placed on a stack of nice hard back books to make the arrangement taller! It is perfect.

I’m also strangely excited to start pre marital counseling with our sunday school teacher/will be officiant and his wife. I know the pre marital gets into money and the non-loving-dovy stuff about marriage, but I’m so ready for Ethan and I to start talking to one another about those things even more. We talk about money a lot right now because we are trying to save for our life together, but its never been sitting down and working out the numbers. I’m ready to get advice from an awesome couple that isn’t our parents. Not that are parents aren’t two great couples to emulate because they are, but getting a different perspective from someone who isn’t our parents is excited.

I’m just so ready to be married. The thought of getting married has decreased my about of stress about getting and job. I thought it would be the other way around, but I know that Ethan will love me even if I don’t immediately get a job wherever we end up. Our life together is going to be so great.

Nothing too profound here

I’m probably not going to write about anything too profound. Its been awhile since I’ve done a post and that was just a simple “telling you whats going on” post. 

Nothing much has been going on. School started in August and I have no idea what the Nuclear Engineering Department at Texas A&M was thinking when they made the Nuke and Rad. Health degree plans for the fall of senior year. It is absolutely ridiculous. Nuclear Experiments (writing intensive), Environmental Nuclear Engineering and O-chem 1 in one semester for me! And the poor nukes have Nuclear Experiments, Senior design and another nuclear specific programming class! Think all of us are just kind of existing in school and going through the motions. I only have one class that I am enjoying and its my astrophysics class to finish off my physics minor (since I had so many physics classes from starting in that major why not minor). I think I would enjoy my environment nuclear engineering class, but we have a professor that doesn’t really teach and most of us don’t know what is going on in the class and we have a test on tuesday… no big deal right? Nuclear experiments was fun at first. Going out to the NSC (nuclear science center) and messing with the triga reactor was so cool for the first two weeks and now the novelty has worn off and writing a paper every single week is getting really monotonous as well. 

I just really want it to be May. I’ll be graduated and marrying Ethan. Starting a new chapter in my life. I really need something new. I’m tired of school and really don’t want to go to graduate school anymore, but trying to find a job is so stressful. 

Well, there isn’t anything else that I feel like I need to say. Till the next random day I decide to write something down.

wow its been awhile

So it’s been awhile…. okay thats an understatement. Its been a hell of a long time since I have been on here. So lets do some catching up.

1. Ethan and I kept talking over Christmas break

2. I went back to school in January

3. Ethan and I decided to get back together in February (woot)

4. Long distance is hard.

5. Finally saw Ethan in May after he graduated college

6. My spring semester went really well. Got good grades except in physiology but that was expected

7. I hate my job and am quitting on monday

8. Working in a professor’s lab is an interesting experience

9. Football starts soon (thank God!)

10. Ethan and I have decided to get married probably in May. (he hasn’t proposed yet or asked my dad, but its going to happen)

11. I leave for a back packing trip on Tuesday! We’re going to Yellowstone and one of my good friends from work gets to come with us.

12. I am continuing to grow my hair out. I secretly (or not too secretly) want to cut it shorter again. A nice flirty bob.

I think that is about it. There really isn’t much going on, but I thought I should finally catch everyone up (I don’t think many people actually read my blog or anything… or I don’t think anyone reads by blog).