Tag Archives: environment

Plutonium and an Announcement

Plutonium is element 94 and as such it has 94 protons in its nucleus. There are twenty known isotopes of plutonium with half-lifes ranging from 14 years (Pu-241) to 80 million years (Pu-244); there are no stable isotopes of plutonium, so it is only found naturally in trace amounts and most plutonium in use was created by human activity. The most obvious use of plutonium is in nuclear weapons, and the production of Pu-239 has made it the most abundant of the plutonium isotopes. The atomic bomb “Fat Man”, which was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945 used 6.2kg of plutonium, and 1-4kg of plutonium is considered to be all that is needed to build a well-designed nuclear device. Nuclear fuel is also a viable use of plutonium, the space probes Cassini, Voyager and New Horizons all use a plutonium, probably Pu-238, fuel source. Finally, if you ever have the opportunity to eat plutonium, don’t. Particulate plutonium can enter the lungs, where it decays and could cause radiation poisoning or cancer. Besides, plutonium tastes like metal.

Now, I’m off school for the next couple of months, so expect more Apocrypha. I don’t plan on setting up a formal schedule right now, but perhaps in the future I will. Anyway, have a great summer (or winter for you southern hemisphere people)


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Filed under Meta, Physics, Science

Nature’s Bad@$$es: The Pen-Tailed Treeshrew

I’m changing the “Historical Bad@$$” series to the “Bad@$$es” category, which will also include different species of animals.

Like many treeshrews, the pen-tailed treeshrew has a high brain-to-body mass ratio, but unlike other treeshrews, it is nocturnal. Also, its diet consists mainly of alcohol. The pen-tailed treeshrew spends several hours each night drinking fermented nectar from the bertam palm tree equivalent to 10-12 wine glasses of 3.8% alcohol. The pen-tailed treeshrew does not get intoxicated, despite alcohol levels that would affect humans, because they make extensive use of an alcohol metabolism pathway not highly used in humans.

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Filed under Bad@$$es, Biology, Science