back to article Fukushima reactors lend exotic nuclear finish to California's wines

Savants reckon radiation released by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear kerfuffle has made its way into California's wine. A paper emitted this month by researchers at the University of Bordeaux Centre d'Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan (CNRS) in France revealed that levels of cesium-137 in the atmosphere rose as a result of …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    Somewhere in Austria, winemakers are wondering how the American's can get away with putting radiation in their wine but they put anti-freeze in their bottles and everyone lost their minds.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Because the Austrians didn't share and put anti-freeze in every wine everywhere like America did with the Cs137 (and on that note Soviets, British, French & Chinese).

      what other icon possible!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Worse than anti-freeze!

        There are detectable levels of Di-Hydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) in all California wines! DHMO is a well-known industrial solvent and coolant, and is used in virtually every commercial food growing operation in California! This chemical is adsorbed into all foods during production, and even after a thorough cleaning it is still present! Worse, it is present in all California produced foods, even if they are gluten free, dairy free, non-GMO, unfiltered and organically grown with no tree or ground nuts!

        Ban all food produced in California! Write to your Congressman demanding the banning of DHMO, before it becomes so common you drown in it!

        1. Jamesit

          Re: Worse than anti-freeze!

          DHMO is highly addictive!! Once you start using it you can't stop or you DIE!!!

          1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

            Re: Worse than anti-freeze!

            DHMO is especially pernicious in Ice Wine. The phase changes dramatically.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge

              Re: Worse than anti-freeze!

              "DHMO is especially pernicious in Ice Wine. The phase changes dramatically."

              Even in the Canadian Ice Wines?

              1. aqk
                IT Angle

                Re: Worse than anti-freeze!

                Even in the Canadian Ice!

        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Worse than anti-freeze!

          "Known by the state of Cancer to cause California"

        3. JustWondering

          Re: Worse than anti-freeze!

          Jake: Don't they use that stuff in pesticides too?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Worse than anti-freeze!

            They actually dilute it with pesticides!

            It's evil, I tells ya! BAN IT!

        4. Oflife

          Re: Worse than anti-freeze!

          ICEee what you did there.

    2. DMcFarland08

      Because the levels of radiation are less than what you'd find in just about... anything around you. We're talking mBq per liter.

      If you eat a single banana, you'd get more radiation exposure than if you chugged enough of this wine to give you alcohol poisoning.

      Also, please, keep in mind that Radiation and Radioactive Particulate are different things. You can't really "put radiation" in anything, any more than you can "put light" in anything - most radiation we interact with *is* light, after all, and little of it lasts more than a few milliseconds.

      Radioactive particulate is a different matter; it emits radiation.

      Still, we are talking mBq/Liter. You might as well measure a beach by milli-granules-of-sand. Becquerels are not often used in professional communities regarding radiation because you wind up with measures on the orders of "Hundreds of Thousands of Becquerels" without it meaning * a dang thing *.

      More common is the Curie.

      1. Michael Strorm

        > If you eat a single banana, you'd get more radiation exposure

        It's true that the level of radiation being discussed in this story is tiny, and nothing to worry about.

        That said, since we're discussing the banana equivalent dose, I'd point out that it's misleading. It rests upon the fact that bananas contain potassium, of which a very small percentage (in nature) is the radioactive isotope potassium-40.

        However, your body doesn't retain potassium much beyond the amount it needs; anything in excess will be secreted via the usual channels. (#) Thus, unless you were deficient to begin with, eating a banana isn't going to noticeably increase the amount of potassium- and hence radioactive potassium-40- in your body, which will remain fairly constant. (Hence, in turn, the (incredibly low) level of radiation that it exposes you to should also remain constant.)

        In short, the radioactive potassium from bananas doesn't "build up" inside your body if you eat more of them, in contrast to other radioactive substances that can accumulate in your bones et al.

        (#) It doesn't really matter whether the potassium it got rid of is the existing or "new" stuff, as it has a half-life of just over a billion years.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Obligatory XKCD

        Radiation

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Grapes do not absorb much

    The interesting tests are cucumber peel and mushrooms.

    My family has a couple of friends who pinched a Geiger counter post Chernobyl and measured everything they could get their hands on (which was going to end up on the table).

    There were only two things which drove it off the scale. Cucumbers (specifically the peel) and forest mushrooms.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Grapes do not absorb much

      There were only two things which drove it off the scale. Cucumbers (specifically the peel) and forest mushrooms.

      And there's not mushroom for error, there :)

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: Grapes do not absorb much

        > not mushroom for error

        Dead Man Fingers a

        Devil's Boletus and finds

        Its flesh bruises blue...

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Grapes do not absorb much

          And there are no cèpe-tions to that.

        2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: Grapes do not absorb much

          Ta for the upvotes. We seven in the emerging field of myco-horror haiku salute you!

      2. aqk
        Joke

        Re: Grapes do not absorb much

        And there's not mushroom for error, there :)

        As long as it's done with a Toad's tool, so that it will not fung us!

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Grapes do not absorb much

      Just cucumbers? Not melons, squash or gourds?

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Grapes do not absorb much

        Just cucumbers? Not melons, squash or gourds?

        Cucumber peel specifically. Cucumber collects all sh*t from where it grows and deposits it in the peel. This was in the days when lead fuel was still in wide use so a couple of years later I decided to run some spectrometer tests on the peel. The results were let's say not pretty. I have been peeling cucumbers ever since (the core has little or no contamination).

        1. Tannin
          Pirate

          Re: Grapes do not absorb much

          "Cucumber peel specifically. Cucumber collects all sh*t from where it grows and deposits it in the peel. This was in the days when lead fuel was still in wide use so a couple of years later I decided to run some spectrometer tests on the peel. The results were let's say not pretty. I have been peeling cucumbers ever since (the core has little or no contamination)."

          The peel also collects all (or nearly all) the useful nutrients. You know, the stuff that keeps you alive. The inside of the cucumber is mostly water. So, essentially, you have a choice.

          * You can eat the whole thing, in which case you die slowly of radiation poisoning.

          * Or you can peel it, in which case you die slowly of malnutrition.

          (Unless, of course, the di-hydrogen monoxide gets you first.)

    3. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Grapes do not absorb much

      > There were only two things which drove it off the scale.

      > Cucumbers (specifically the peel) and forest mushrooms.

      You mean mushrooms like this one? ------------------------>

    4. bpfh Bronze badge

      Re: Grapes do not absorb much

      Interesting that rosé has less Cs than reds and supports your cucumber peel reading: rosé wines are either pressed or more often “bled” off, so the actual fermenting juice is separated from the grape skin, so it would seem that it’s concentrated in the skin, and not just on it or in the yeast used for the wine ( the white powder on a grape skin is actually yeast and can be used to ferment the grapes naturally, though it can be filtered out in “post processing”.

      As for mushrooms, in Germany if you hunt boar, you have to do a radiation test on them as some of them are not clean for human consumption due to their personal consumption of forest mushrooms and sometimes have to be disposed of as low level radioactive waste, and there have been some studies about using fungi in radiation cleanup as they do clean some radioactive elements from the earth where they grow, following some studies in Chernobyl where fungi growing in the plant were much more radioactive than the supports they were growing on - and explains the glow in the dark wild piggies who love shrooms...

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Radioactivity, wild boars

        ...what -were- they putting in the magic potion in that indomitable Gaulish village? (besides tea leaves, canonically established :-)

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Radioactivity, wild boars

          magic potion in that indomitable Gaulish village? (besides tea leaves, canonically established

          No no no - tea was for fobbing of those Eenglish with fake magic potion on the basis that they wouldn't know othewise.

          Slightly ironic given what later happened to Napoleon[1]..

          [1] Yes yes, I know that he was beaten by a coalition at Waterloo (British, some Germans and various Prussians). But the Peninsula War was mostly British with bit-parts by the Portugese and Spanish.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Grapes do not absorb much

        glow in the dark wild piggies who love shrooms...

        But that's enough about last night's drugfest..

    5. Bibbit

      Re: Grapes do not absorb much

      Did the mushrooms look cloudy?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grapes do not absorb much

      > Forest mushrooms

      Did they get them from the Red Forest by any chance?

      (Then again, that's assuming they can grow there at all, given the radiation's adverse effects on bacteria and fungi...)

  3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

    What's that in Banana Equivalent Dose (BED) ?

    The entire purpose of the BED is to put exactly these sorts of things into proper perspective. Shame not to put it to use here.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

      A useful site conversion site.

      https://www.translatorscafe.com/unit-converter/en/radiation-activity/

      It gives 7.5mBq/litre as about 0.45 decays per minute, so if you drink the whole bottle (0.75 litre) you'll have to cross your legs for a long while to reach the 1860 particle decays in 1 BED minute (31 becquerel/gram)

      and obligatory XKCD ref.

      https://xkcd.com/radiation/

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

        So 1860 / 0.45 = 4133 bottles of wine to reach one Banana Equivalent Dose. I'm working on it, but it may take the rest of my life. Cheers.

        1. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

          At a bottle per day, that's only eleven and a third years. Even if you give it up for Lent, you should be done by April 2032ish.

          1. Symon Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

            From a technical standpoint, the BED doesn't make much sense. Your body keeps more or less the same amount of potassium in it though the gift of micturition. This will help --->

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose#Debunking_the_Banana_Equivalent_Dose

            1. Tomato42 Silver badge

              Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

              @Symon you misunderstood; BED is not a precise scientific unit, it supposed to be just an aid in understanding if the radiation levels being talked about are well below background radiation, around the background radiation level, or well above it

              1. Symon Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

                @Tomato42, yes, I get that it's there to try to explain to radiation exposure to people, but I would hope the commenters here understand what a sievert is. The fact of the matter is that eating a banana makes fuck all difference to your radiation exposure, because you piss out the potassium anyway. Now, your C-137 has a biological half life of c.110 days in a human*, so exposure to C-137 is more dangerous than potassium exposure, because it's an additional dosage.

                Caesium is also more dangerous than potassium if you do this with it.

                https://youtu.be/6ZY6d6jrq-0?t=101

                * https://www.birpublications.org/doi/10.1259/0007-1285-37-434-108

                1. Tomato42 Silver badge

                  Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

                  > but I would hope the commenters here understand what a sievert is.

                  and if the article gave the exposure in µSv (or likely nSv), I wouldn't complain, what it did is give the following:

                  > cesium-137 activity from about 7.5 mBq per liter to around 15

                  And Becquerel is about as intuitive as chains to the hogshead for fuel efficiency.

                  (I'd also hope that commenters here know that all SI units named after people are capitalised, or do you don't know of Rolf Sievert? j/k)

          2. bpfh Bronze badge

            Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

            You should be able to get a bottle or two on during Lent - you have to drink somthing with the host don’t you ?

          3. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

            Re: Banana Equivalent Dose (BED)

            @Jake

            At a bottle per day, that's only eleven and a third years. Even if you give it up for Lent, you should be done by April 2032ish.

            Hang on a minute...does this mean that we now can work out a formula to convert the BED in to a representative number of liver transplants, such that we could make a statement like "...a dose of radiation like that is equivalent to eating one banana, or to put it another way, a total of 6 months in rehab over a course of 4 visits, as well as 2 liver transplants"?

  4. Tomato42 Silver badge

    yes, our scientific equipment is amazing...

    ...it can measure differences in dangerous substances couple of orders of magnitude below their dangerous levels

    +1 on the BED above; how many hundreds of litres (litre is 1/159th of a tierce, for the metrically-challenged people) that need to be drunk for 1 BED?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: yes, our scientific equipment is amazing...

      Two litres is more than enough for me to end up drunk and in bed.

  5. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    Devil

    Olde Japanese Spice

    How do you ensure integrity, add a little Fukushima.

  6. jake Silver badge

    " researchers at the University of Bordeaux Centre d'Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan"

    Ah, yes. Those wacky French folks ... still trying to find ways to scare people off of California wines after gittin' a severe whuppin' at the Judgement of Paris back in '76 ... Sorry, guys (and gauls), our wine is still world-class, and it's going to stay that way.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to the hospital to have this spare eye growing out of my left ear looked into.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: " researchers at the University of Bordeaux Centre d'Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan"

      I suggest California and France hold another wine-off, this time a blind radiation tasting. 'Topes rule, baby!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: " researchers at the University of Bordeaux Centre d'Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan"

        <clickety-click>

    2. Alistair Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: " researchers at the University of Bordeaux Centre d'Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan"

      Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to the hospital to have this spare eye growing out of my left ear looked into

      I hope your health benefits package is all paid up this month. That could end up costin ya!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: " researchers at the University of Bordeaux Centre d'Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan"

        Costing me, Alistair? Hell no! In the spirit of good-old American entrepreneurship, I'm charging them!

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: " researchers at the University of Bordeaux Centre d'Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan"

      our wine is still world-class, and it's going to stay that way.

      And, even more amusingly, at a blind tasting of sparkling white wines recently, a French judge scored an English wine more highly than Champagne.

      Said English wine went on to claim the top prize.

      Rumours that he had to flee into exile are, I'm sure, exaggerated.

    4. defiler Silver badge

      Re: " researchers at the University of Bordeaux Centre d'Études Nucléaires de Bordeaux-Gradignan"

      Sorry, guys (and gauls), our wine is still world-class, and it's going to stay that way.

      It did amuse me that the French were having a pop at Californian wines. Some of them are really nice, some of them are garbage. But then, it's the same in France. Give me Spanish reds any day.

  7. Michael

    dramathon

    I'm slightly amused at the use of the term dramathon. It's also the name of a marathon. They happen to have a Japanese whisky available for limited finishers. I wonder if it will have detectable levels of caesium 137 too?

  8. mikus

    Good thing Californians are there to absorb the radiation for the rest of us more eastward. Here's to hoping they don't fall into the ocean too soon to soak up all that radiation.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Mmmm. As someone once said, "Live in New York once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in SoCal once, but leave before it makes you glow in the dark."

      1. BillG Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        As someone once said, "Live in New York once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in SoCal once, but leave before it makes you glow in the dark."

        And don't forget to wear sunscreen.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          And don't forget to wear sunscreen.

          And remember, no matter what a stripper may tell you,

          there's no sunscreen in the Champagne Room.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Well, our veggies are radioactive, anyway.

      Have those of you East of the Sierra ever noticed where the produce at your local grocery is grown? I'll bet you a nickle that over 85% of it is grown in California.

      Eat meat! Let the vegans die of radiation poisoning!

  9. -tim
    Flame

    They missed a source

    It turns out the trees are very good at concentrating cesium and now that more of them are being burned near wine country, all that lovely cesium from the cold war that has been concentrated in trees is now being released into the air when those trees burn. The wines from down under seem to have less of an issue but it did show up with the major fires in the last decades. That mostly flat line on their graph is heading up towards the right if the scale is changed. One report from downunder was trying to understand why home fireplaces are releasing more of the stuff than forest fires. Last winter in Europe, most reporting stations are seeing a year on year increase in radiation in the air.

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: They missed a source

      "Last winter in Europe, most reporting stations are seeing a year on year increase in radiation in the air."

      Reventlov and Olivaw, those bastards!

      Damned zeroth law nonsense, I said it would lead to no good.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: They missed a source

        I get the Asimov reference, but it was not R.Daneel Olivaw or R.Giskard Reventlov's plan. It was Levular Mandamus who set up the nuclear intensifier. The two robots merely did not stop the plan, in order to invigorate the human race.

        This caused the demise of R.Giskard, as he did not have the flexibility to work around the first and zeroth law.

        I always found it strange that R.Daneel was able to invent and invoke the zeroth law, and then partly ignore it to allow 'harm' the humans on Earth for their long-term benefit. He was quite an early humaniform robot (at least in the 'Spacer' era, and ignoring Tony and Georges Nine and Ten), so why was his positronic brain so adaptable?

  10. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Pint

    A dry red with notes of cherry and a pleasing strontium aftertaste...

    So I guess this gives me another excuse to drink more beer while telling everyone that I am being responsible and avoiding radiation poisoning? Ka-ching!! Thank you, Fukushima!!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: A dry red with notes of cherry and a pleasing strontium aftertaste...

      I once bought some bottled water in Austria - from an alpine spring naturally. Or a Sunbeam Alpine that had sprung a leak...

      Anyway, their food labelling regs are rather tougher than ours. One of the minerals it contained was strontium - and there was actually a small radiation symbol on the ingredients list. I didn't think to check if bananas carried a similar warning though.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: A dry red with notes of cherry and a pleasing strontium aftertaste...

        Or a Sunbeam Alpine that had sprung a leak...

        I think they all left the factory pre-sprung. All the ones I ever saw[1] seemed to leave a puddle behind them..

        [1] Two - one of my friends Dad had two. Both returned to the dealer after breaking down multiple times. I think that, in the end, he bought a Datsun.

      2. aqk
        Flame

        Re: A dry red with notes of cherry and a pleasing strontium aftertaste...

        Bananas do not contain a warning?

        After what I have read here, they bloody well should! (Perhaps the California ones do- they are not sold here)

        Now, I have to wait until dark, then flip off the light-switch to see which ones glow!

        They will go to my well-stocked Hazardous Waste bin, along with all those toxic CFLs, that keep breaking here (cough-cough!) and I shall only eat the safe bananas at breakfast!

        I wish I had never read this disturbing thread....

  11. Crisp Silver badge
    Boffin

    How much wine would you need to drink to get superpowers?

    My own research suggests that the onset of superpowers starts after around a bottle and a half.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: How much wine would you need to drink to get superpowers?

      Thanks for that, Horizontal Man.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: How much wine would you need to drink to get superpowers?

        I am Projectile Vomit Man!

        Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to bring down fleeing criminals with a single aimed chunder.

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

          Re: How much wine would you need to drink to get superpowers?

          Jimminy Jillikers!

  12. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge
    Pint

    New grape variety

    Variation on pretentious wine snob: "Try the 2018 Californian Carpe Diem. The name means 'cesium the day', you know"

    Beer icon, because it's always unadulterated. Oh hang on...

  13. Craigie

    So the French are saying that Californian wine is getting a bit radioactivey? Well that's not likely to be biased at all is it?

  14. Bibbit

    Hiroshima & Nagasaki

    Probably showing my ignorance here but would not caesium from the atom bomb strikes on Japan show up in wine before 1952?

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Hiroshima & Nagasaki

      Actually, you can tell if something was stored in a sealed bottle before this:-

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_(nuclear_test)

      "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Hiroshima & Nagasaki

        My favourite quote from that event in history was told to Oppenheimer (by Bainbridge):

        Now we are all sons of bitches

  15. DMcFarland08

    Millibequerels per liter?

    Seriously?

    Are we worrying about this?

    You literally can't detect levels this small except when measuring by hundreds of gallons *because natural background overpowers it so drastically*. Even on such a scale, you have to evaluate *chemically* unless you have *extremely sensitive equipment*.

    We are talking 15mbq per liter. 0.015bq per liter. For reference, take a banana, average, 7". Take a 0.1778mm slice of that banana. Literally so thin you can see through it.

    Then blend it up in a 1 liter bottle of water.

    THAT IS THE LEVEL OF RADIOACTIVE EXPOSURE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      They believe in homeopathy in France.

      1. jake Silver badge

        When you have to explain the joke ...

        ... it loses something.

      2. bpfh Bronze badge

        Unfortunately too much for my tastes

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @DMcFarland08

      "We are talking 15mbq per liter. 0.015bq per liter. For reference, take a banana, average, 7". Take a 0.1778mm slice of that banana. Literally so thin you can see through it."

      Mixing imperial and metric in the same breath. Tut tut.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: @DMcFarland08

        What's wrong with mixing metric and imperial? Different units have different uses, and best of all it confuses pretty much anyone who's not from the UK or the Commonwealth.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The article actually tells you why they're doing it. They've built up a database of the relative levels in wines over the years - and that allows them to test any vintage bottle and make an estimate as to whether the label has been faked - and the wine is actually something from a cheaper year.

      Remember there's serious money involved in this. My Dad bought a case of 96 Chateau Lafite for about £2k as part of his pension investment in 99. He decided to take a couple of riskier punts with small amounts. Sold it for over £8k ten years later. There's quite a lot of incentive to commit fraud when single bottles of vintages are going for £1,000 or more.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Sold it for over £8k ten years later

        I was recently looking at prices of some of the older rare whisky bottles. It was a tad annoying to see that some of the ones I've had over the years would be worth a fortune if I hadn't drunk them!

      2. Bibbit

        What profit did the Blue Nun make?

        1. jake Silver badge

          None.

          All the prophets agreed she was a bad kisser. Now you know why she was blue.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      You literally can't detect levels this small except when measuring by hundreds of gallons

      At this point I'm debating whether to sign up for radioactivity testing of French red wine. Especially if it means being sent hundreds to bottles for free.

      If I survived[1] I'd certify that they were free of radioactivity..

      [1] Except from liver failure

  16. Symon Silver badge
    Headmaster

    It's caesium.

    We gave up sulfur, but we kept caesium and aluminium! At least, it is according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

  17. lee harvey osmond

    1952?

    137Cs is a 235U fission product. In principle we started making that as soon as we started doing uranium fission in Dec 1938. The first significant discharge into the environment would have on 6th Aug 1945, unless the Hanford crew lost some spent fuel before then and told nobody

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: 1952?

      Nope. 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_(nuclear_test)

      1. lee harvey osmond

        Re: 1952?

        Nope.

        The Trinity test used a plutonium pit, same design as Fat Man on Aug 9th.

        The fissile material in Little Boy on Aug 6th was 235U.

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: 1952?

          Indeed, but Caesium-137 is produced from the nuclear fission of plutonium as well as uranium. That's because the plutonium 239 turns into uranium 235. So, the first substantial release of Caesium 137 was the trinity test.

          1. Robert Sneddon

            Re: 1952?

            That's because the plutonium 239 turns into uranium 235

            Uh? I'm puzzled as to the process that makes Pu-239 into U-235... Fission of U-235 produces a zoo of isotopes, nearly all of them radioactive. The proportions of each isotope follow something called the M-curve in terms of atomic mass with most of them being roughly half of 235. The commonly-produced longer-lived ones like Cesium-137 (half-life about 30 years) are the ones to worry about since the short-lived ones are gone in a few milliseconds, days or weeks, for example Iodine-131, half-life 8.5 days.

            The same thing applies to the fission of Pu-239 nuclei, most products are roughly half of 239 which is damn close but not exactly the same as the fission of U-235. It's one way to characterise a nuclear test, to determine whether it was a uranium or plutonium core (there are other ways and there are methods to obscure the results if the tester doesn't want others to find out easily).

            TL;DR -- the Gadget exploded at Trinity in July 1945 released Cs-137 into the atmosphere just like Little Boy did over Hiroshima in early August a month later. Saying that, some Cs-137 probably escaped into the wild from the startup of the Chicago Pile-1 reactor back in December 1942.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fission_product_yield

            1. Symon Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: 1952?

              The normal decay chain of plutonium 239 goes through uranium 235 via alpha decay. But, OK, you're right, in a bomb there are so many neutrons crashing into things, that there's a zoo! I should've said that some plutonium turns into U-235.

              http://metadata.berkeley.edu/nuclear-forensics/Decay%20Chains.html

              1. Robert Sneddon

                Re: 1952?

                Pu-239 has a longish half-life, about 24,000 years. Any Pu-239 created in the early days of atomic weapons development in the mid-40s will not have experienced much radioactive decay -- one online calculator I've used suggests that about 0.2% of that original Pu-239 would have decayed into U-235.

              2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

                Re: 1952?

                The normal decay chain of plutonium 239 goes through uranium 235 via alpha decay.

                That may be so, but a Plutonium bomb (or reactor) doesn't work like that. 235U is not an intermediate step between 239Pu and *kaboom*.

                1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                  Re: 1952?

                  However - there was practically no Caesium-137 in the atmosphere before we started trying to make nuclear weapons.

                  However I would bet the first release was when some poor bugger was tapping a hemisphere with a ruler and got a blue light and died few days later after finishing his homework.

  18. Keith 12

    A superb 2017 Cali Cabernet Sauvignon..

    This really is a superb 2017 Cali Cabernet Sauvignon, with its aromas of rich dark currants, nectarine skins, gushing blackberry, but lots of fragrant tobacco, rich soil, white flowers, smashed minerals and metal. Medium-bodied and saucy but racy acidity stabilises the wine nicely – it’s definitely from the north facing vineyard; a piquant of 137 and it glows in the dark…

  19. Credo

    So,... a report generated by a French organisation, the largest winemakers in the world, is trumpeting an increase in Cs137 which "theoretically, may "potentially" make Californian wine dangerous to drink.

    I can't see any potential for self interest here,... none at all,... not even slightly.

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Pint

      "French organisation, the largest winemakers in the world"

      Apart from Italy, of course.

      https://www.statista.com/statistics/445651/leading-countries-wine-production-europe/

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Apart from Italy, of course.

        And Australia, South Africa and various South American countries.

  20. Disturbikus

    NERDS!

    (sorry)

    1. jake Silver badge

      Yes, we are. (TINW)

      Why are you sorry?

  21. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge
    Pirate

    Out of curiosity, is it possible to make wine without this in it in order to cheat the fake test?

    Eg: grown using soil dug up from deep underground, in a sealed building with filtered air?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Putting the "terror" in "terroir" ... "I Have No Mouth And I Really Need A Drink So Basically I'm Stuffed".

      I think you might as well go back to the anti-freeze method.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Sure, you can do that.

      For the radioactive traces, anyway.

      Now, if you can pass the taste test, you'll be an overnight billionaire (short version) ... but you'll have a bunch of really, really pissed-off old-school winery owners calling for your head on a platter.

  22. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    I know the author is based in Left-Pondia...

    ...where they like to simplify the spellings of things, but the element is called caesium not cesium. Named after the Latin for sky-blue (from its flame colour), caesius, and not the genus of moss, cesius...

    1. fobobob

      Re: I know the author is based in Left-Pondia...

      I was actually going to comment about this; though also a native of the left side, and having no significant background in chemistry, I have a strong inclination towards IUPAC names, including aluminium (it just sounds better to my ear). Sulfur over sulphur doesn't feel natural though, even though it was an established spelling well before I went to school.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: I know the author is based in Left-Pondia...

        It could have been worse I supposed, they could have tried to spell phosphorus fosforus...

  23. Tom 7 Silver badge

    You can still get irradiated Cumbrian sheep.

    Just saying.

  24. MatsSvensson

    Radiant sir!

    https://youtu.be/SlIEkdLkd1U?t=13

  25. rpark

    Cs137

    ...glad its back down to 'healthy' levels.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Mmm, Fresh clean bouquet, I'm getting orange blossom, I'm getting berry, I'm getting...

    ... radiation poisoning *

    * I normally say 'pissed' at this point

  27. taz-nz

    Same reason they use steel from old battleships for medical scanner.

    They salvage steel from old battle ships, because they contain large amount of steel made before the nuclear age, so it doesn't contain radioactive isotopes like modern steel, and thus doesn't interfere with modern medical and scientific equipment.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Same reason they use steel from old battleships for medical scanner.

      Kinda, sorta, ish.

      They did make "isolation rooms" out of scrap pieces of steel armor plate salvaged from warships, yes. This was to minimize background radiation when measuring exposure of various folks for various reasons. But that was then, this is now. Today, they just use normal metals & correct for instrumentation error. Computers are kinda handy when it comes to that kind of thing.

      One other bit of marine salvage that I am aware of ... SLAC, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore all have lead shielding that was salvaged from centuries old ship's ballast. Most of the stories included pirates of the Caribbean; some included lurid tales of how the ship was sunk. Allegedly this was because of the old lead's lack of man-made radiation, which would skew the data. Again, modern computers make this kind of thing pointless ... One of my older mentors wrecked the romantic stories by telling us that the real reason they used it was because it was the cheapest lead they could get their hands on at the time.

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