Although the devastating tsunami that destroyed Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and villages along the country's northeast coast happened more than six months ago, pockets of radiation from the crippled plant remain in many parts of the country. The group Safecast is traveling the country with radiation detectors known as Geiger counters to find those pockets and record them in detail on the Internet.
To help them map the entire country, Safecast scientists are enlisting the help of the Japanese public, giving them counters to use and teaching them how to record the radiation in their area. They then submit their findings to a website, which "crowdsources" everyone's results into a detailed map of radiation levels.
Although radiation is understandably highest in the restricted areas around the crippled nuclear plant, there are pockets of high radiation in other areas because the wind has blown it there or because contaminated people or objects traveled there. The scientists behind Safecast hope their project will help make the Japanese people more aware of how radiation travels and where it's the most dangerous.
"We started to realize how important it was when it turned out that the government wasn't releasing data." - Joi Ito, MIT Media Lab
"Because people are waving these (counters) over their food and thinking the food is safe to eat or they're thinking that where they're living is safe and safe for their children to go to school. So I think it's almost criminal to produce (counters) that don't work." - Dan Sythe, Iospectra-International Medcom
1. What is radiation? Where does it come from?
2. How does a nuclear power plant work?
3. Why is radiation dangerous to humans?
1. Why do you think the Japanese government is reluctant to release data about radiation levels in Japan?
2. According to the video, why could it be dangerous to distribute unreliable Geiger counters to Japanese citizens?
3. What is a half-life? When do you think it will be safe for people to go back to the restricted zones around the power plant?
Quake Strikes Japan, Alters Earth's Axis: