Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

Quote of the week.

with 4 comments

A beautiful analogy to explain why the LNT hypothesis seems like it might be something of a stretch:

DV82XL Says:
July 22nd, 2008 at 12:04 am

If the LNT were applied to falling as it is to radiation, we might note that 100 percent of those falling onto concrete from 100 feet are killed, but only 50 percent of those falling from 50 feet die. With these data we would linearly extrapolate to say that 10 percent falling from 10 feet and one percent of those falling from one foot would die. Armed with this “linear no-threshold falling theory,” we could confidently assert that jumping rope should be banned on all school playgrounds since statistically anyone making 100 one-foot jumps would die.

Written by Luke Weston

July 23, 2008 at 2:45 pm

4 Responses

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  1. The LNT hypothesis fails as a scientific hypothesis on empirical grounds. Many studies of people exposed to radiation have shown that slightly elevated levels of radiation is not associated with elevated levels of radiation linked illness. Studies of nuclear plant workers report that they live longer than members of the general population. Studies of people who live close to civilian power reactors show that they do not experience higher levels of radiation linked illnesses.

    Charles Barton

    July 24, 2008 at 9:24 am

  2. A riveting analogy, although, like all analogies, it is not exactly fair (a risk of unfairness is probably endemic to analogies). The argument implied in the analogy, i.e., that people’s common sense understandings of how the world works should lead them to suspect LNT is a foolish theory, is most powerful when joined with reference to credible studies, i.e. studies that are well done and independent. Can anyone provide links to studies of the type that Charles refers to?

    Frank Jablonski

    July 24, 2008 at 1:24 pm

  3. Oh dear – This passage I am afraid is not mine. It belongs to Ed Hiserodt. I posted it to Depleted Cranium, and in haste forgot to attribute it to the original author. My apologies to him and those that re-quoted it thinking it was by me.

    DV82XL

    July 24, 2008 at 4:00 pm

  4. “We have no evidence that any dose of radiation below ten percent of which will kill you has any ill effects.” – David LeBlanc

    Albert Tremblay

    November 18, 2014 at 1:36 am


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