HOW THINGS WORK
A baby in Japan being checked for radiation.
In the aftermath of the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan following the quake-cum-tsunami there, a primer on nuclear meltdown, its dangers, and how to protect oneself:What is it?
: 'Nuclear meltdown' is an informal term for a nuclear reactor accident, from overheating. It releases radioactive material into the atmosphere, which can result in radiological contamination of the environment and, in turn, human life.Contracting contamination:
Contamination can occur through multiple routes: the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, or even through the pores of the skin.Safety measures:
Use physical protection gear like a gas mask. Do not consume food or water that has not been checked for contamination. Eat nutrient dense foods, drink cod liver and olive oil, avoid sugar and wheat. If contaminated, potassium iodide is an antidote.
JUST WONDERINGWork not in progress
The 27-km long Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge in Bihar remains incomplete 15 years after it was first proposed. Touted as the longest rail bridge in the country, which would connect Patna to Sonepur across the Ganga river, it has been shrouded in controversy from the start. When survey work for the project began in 1996, two political stalwarts of the state, Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan, took opposing positions on it: Lalu supported it, while Paswan preferred an alternative site. Paswan's stance led to furious protests by the residents of Sonepur, forcing police to open fire. Later that year, then Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda laid the foundation stone for the construction of the bridge. But the project still failed to take off. Finally in 2001, the bridge was sanctioned at a cost of Rs 700 crore, and assigned a completion deadline of 2009. Two years beyond the deadline, work on the bridge still continues.
Compiled by Anamika Butalia
Cough it up,
Last fortnight, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directed the Postmaster General of Kerala to fork out airfare for a job aspirant. Why? Kiron Rasheed from Kollam had been called for an interview with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, or IRCTC, on August 25, 2005. The letter was dispatched by IRCTC on August 16. But it was delivered to Rasheed on August 22. With just three days in hand, it was impossible for him to reach the interview venue - in another city - unless he took a fl ight. The question nobody asking is: What if the letter had reached after August 25? Would the postmaster have been asked to get Rasheed a job? Or pay him a salary out of his own pocket?
Risking life for a taste
Fugu, the blowfi sh, is a lethal Japanese delicacy. It hardly looks deadly. But it is, if not properly cleaned before cooking. Indeed, fugu is said to be 1,250 times more poisonous than cyanide. It comes from the port town of Shimonoseki, also called the fugu capital. Fishermen who catch the fugu are known to stitch up their mouths to keep them from biting and killing one another while being transported. Each fugu chef is bound by law to taste his own preparation before offering it to others. If a customer dies of eating fugu, the chef is honour-bound to take his own life as well. There is a fugu museum in Osaka.