1. princess_six
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    princess_six New Member

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    Radiation poisoning?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by princess_six, Apr 12, 2009.

    My question is this:

    I have been doing a lot of research on radiation, radiation sickness, and nuclear warfare for my writing, and I have to say I find it fascinating, especially the effect it has on the immune system. So my question is this: If one were to survive a nuclear blast close to the detonation site due to cell abnormality (this is sci-fi after all), would it be plausible to say that the radiation in high levels (10+ grey) could cause a chronic illness of the immune system? Something a bit like AIDS I suppose? I know permanent skin damage is a side effect of radiation (scarring, weeping, etc.), but I would like to know if you think a permanent "disease", if you like, could occur from radiation poisoning, or if this sounds too far fetched?

    Thank you.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not at all implausible. Radiation damage to the T-cell producing bone marrow would by itself result in immunological deficiency, assuming the victim survived other organ damage.

    I'd have more difficulty believing the victim survived at all close to ground zero.
     
  3. princess_six
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    princess_six New Member

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    Her survival was a rarity, but will be explained in greater detail within the novel (well, towards the end). I am experimenting with the idea of genetic engineering, bone-marrow transplants, and the idea that perhaps she was in a shelter just strong enough to keep her alive. Again, she is a rarity, and also not the main character, just the character the story involves (quite to her brother's annoyance).

    The survival couldn't come without lasting cost, however, thus why I began constructing these severe maladies for her to suffer from. Of course, I am no doctor, although I do have access to a friend studying radiotherapy, which has been useful. Her survival would have been a fluke-a sort of medical marval coupled with having her brother present for a bone-marrow transplant, blood transfusions, etc. I'm not sure if that makes it more believable? Any criticisms are, of course, welcome, as I don't want to drift off into the relm of *too* unbelievable.:D
     
  4. othman
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    othman Member

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    Well, from my limited knowledge of Hiroshima, the weeping also largely consisted of the liquid being drawn out of the eyeballs thus the eyeballs sort of, well, melted. Sorry if I'm wrong but I think the consequences of being near the blast zone would be so severe that she would probably be bed ridden and in constant pain for the rest of her life:
    -possibly blind without a cure
    -skin in such a truly horrible way (maybe also has extreme skin cancer?)
    -Whole parts of her body blown away?
    -traumatized
    -she could well have odd mutations...
    and your concept, does, indeed, sound completely plausible.
     
  5. Klevis
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    Klevis Member

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    Just A Note- Isn't lead meant to withstand radiation at an extent. Just in case you decide against the cell abnormality.
     
  6. Addicted2aa
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    Addicted2aa Senior Member

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    If she's far enough away to survive the blast, she's far enough away to survive the radiation. As for lasting disease, I'd go with cancer. It will resonate well with readers and can progress without leaving your patient bed ridden till she's about to die.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Lead will block alpha and beta radiation, but is less effective against gamma radiation.

    Gamma radiation is highly energetic electromagnetic energy that can break molecular bonds and cause damage/mutation. The thickness of lead required depends on the energy level (frequency) of the gamma rays, and the percentage of the radiation that must be blocked to reduce the level to an acceptable level. If it takes 1 cm of thickness to reduce the level of 10Mev radiation to half, 2 cn will reduce it to one quarter, and so on, so the required thickness increases rapidly as the amount of radiation from the blast increases. So even if 8 cm (about 3 inches thickness) will block 99% of the incoming radiation. even that 1% of the radiation getting through would be more than enough to be fatal within a couple miles of ground zero.
     
  8. princess_six
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    princess_six New Member

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    My actual theory for her surviving is a) her cell abnormality, b) her brother being close at hand to donate bone marrow and plasma, and c) her being on the London underground when the blast occurred, so quite far below the blast. Of course, I realize her then coming to the surface would injure her, but her survival was dependent on those three things. Medical experimentation is also a very big part of the novel, so I am counting on that to be keeping her alive.
     
  9. thegearheart
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    thegearheart Member

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    Well, we all still read Spider Man, and that has a hero that gets his powers from a radioactive spider.

    However, direct exposure to a massive amount of gamma is a death sentence. There is no cell abnormality that could save you from that. Why bother with realism, though? This is sci-fi, as you said?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Radioactive exposure takes place in two ways. The bomb blast emits a burst of high energy penetrating radiation (and an EM pulse that fries electronics - the effects of that pulse on human tissue is a question that IMO has not been adequately explored).

    The other part, radioactive fallout, is a layer of dust contaimated with radioative materials. Those materials can adhere to skin or clothing, or be inhaled into the lungs or taken into the body with food and water. They continue to emit radiation into the affected body, causing tumors, internal bleeding, burns, etc. Depending on the quantity of the contaminants and the environmental conditions, fallout may be wasjed away (and concentrated in low lying areas, by rainfall and runoff. Near groud zero, the level of fallout contaimiantion would probably remain lethally high for years, even decades.
     
  11. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Make sure you also consider "food chain concentration" which causes certain radioactive isotopes of Cesium, Iodine and Strontium to build up in human bodies. Your MC might survive the initial blast but suffer genetic alterations associated with the radioactivity from these fallout products as they accumulate in her body. As far as "what" disease might occur, genetic alteration can mutate in just about any way a writer might want to speculate. Who would have dreamed about an "auto-immune" disease like AIDS before it actually became a reality? Genetic mutations are often thought of as "bad" effects like having a deformed limb or missing eye. But, genetic mutation can take any form . . . super intelligence, extreme strength, extraordinary hearing, brilliant musical composition ability. If you can imagine an enhanced human trait (within the limits of physics), then genetic alteration due to radioactive exposure is plausible.
     
  12. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    In 1976, a Russian pilot defected to the US with his MiG-25 . . . the state of the art front-line Russian fighter jet. My father was one of the "experts" who took apart that plane to study the Russian technology. The technical crew was initially stunned to discover how out-of-date the Russian electronics were. The MiG-25 used old fashioned vacuum tubes, while all the front line US fighters had gone solid state. Then, my dad pointed out that the Russians developed their fighter for combat during a nuclear war theater. Vacuum tubes would survive an EM burst and continue to function while the US solid state systems would be completely "fried". Not so dumb, those commies! LOL
     
  13. ToxicWaste
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    ToxicWaste Member

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    Yes but to be fair vacuum tube and other non-solid state electronics have a low MTBF (mean time between failure). This was most likely due to the Russian's inability to manufacturer functional solid state electronics.

    Secondly radiation decays exponentially. That is to say those compounds that emit the most radiation have the shortest half lives. Within two weeks after a nuclear attack people can walk around outside their bunkers just fine. So to say the radiation would remain deadly for decades is a factually incorrect.

    I recommend reading Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson Kearny.
     
  14. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Very true. I had radiation treatment but I don't think that's really all that useful in this situation. :p It just makes this topic much more interesting to me.

    Yes gamma radiation can definitely cause cancer. In fact some people who get radiation treatment for cancer can later get a secondary cancer if they use gamma radiation. (I believe mine was proton radiation). I obviously had what was within safe limits though I felt wretched during treatment. It makes you feel completely exhausted and sick. It also gave me a weird tan following the shape of my spine on my stomach. It looked like I'd gone tanning but just that one area. I know most of this may be totally useless but I thought on the off chance it's useful I'd share it. :)

    I did research one day on radiation poisoning out of curiosity. You know how in sci fi movies they show people getting blasted by a laser and all that's left is a silhouette? It's true. If you are close enough to the blast the heat will basically vaporize you. Also they had pictures showing where people had the patters of their clothes get burned into their skin! I saw pictures of people who had these red dots on their bodies and basically it's small hemorrhages all over the body because the radiation weakens the blood vessels.

    Hope that's helpful. :)
     

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