The famous photo of Chernobyl's most dangerous radioactive material was a selfie


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It’s really no big deal. I see that all the time in Minecraft.


IIRC, didn’t Chernobyl produce new and unique minerals?


I love that he’s “probably still alive”, like Schroedinger’s cat.


So dangerous radioactive material from Chernobyl has not only become self-aware, but has learned how to use cameras?


I guess a camera with a timer? Because if my friend asked me to come take their photo next to two-minute-death radioactive lava, I would not oblige.


Even better, @frauenfelder says, “Remarkably…” …which…is a little odd. He might be alive, he might not–remarkable!


why someone would take what is essentially a selfie with a hunk of molten radiated lava

What else are you going to do with a hunk of molten radiated lava?

Hey, at least it’s not a sophmoric tourist photo…


Dose-response effect varies wildly when it comes to radiation exposure and a number of factors would be relevant here. People have survived fairly high exposures and gone on to die at very old ages.


Also, the actual article says the “dead in less than two minutes” thing was in 86, not 96 when the photo was taken.


<pedant hat> If comparing to the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment he should technically be both dead and alive simultaneously. Not either or. </pedant hat>

mutter… mutter… grumble …grumble… <shuffles off into distance/>


Unless someone observed him. Then his state would collapse and he’d be either/or.

But if no one has observed the observer …


Yeah, and it would also be known. Anyway, just a pet peeve of mine.


[chuckles] you call that a close up shot of the elephant’s foot
Now, this is a close up shot of the elephant’s foot

What I remember for the time that the selfie was taken, is that the elephant’s foot dose rate was roughly 1/10th of the 1986 number, so ~1000 rad/h on contact.
Given that it looks like he is able to keep ~1 meter away from the source, that would put the dose rate ~2.5 rad/h – a radiation worker in the US could spend 2 hours there before reaching the occupational limit of exposure.
If he spent 5 minutes setting up and taking the photo, then he got ~210 mrad of exposure which is about 1 years worth of natural background radiation – so not so much really.
The current average “background” dose in the US is 620 mrem (mostly due to the increased use of CT imaging which can average in the 1-2.8 rad range).



Actually, it is remarkable that anyone would willingly get within one hundred miles of Chernobyl, much less a hundred, or ten, or five feet away from the “Elephant’s foot”. Sometimes I lean a little over balconies, and I have surfed regularly in California’s Red Triangle, but getting close to radioactive sources in the basement of Chernobyl is never gonna happen for this guy.


My favorite example is the man Robert Oppenheimer could not kill. A survivor of both A-bomb blasts. My pick for toughest man who ever walked the Earth. Tsutomu Yamaguchi. And he wasn’t even wearing protective gear of any type like the Chernobyl guy.


I hope this doesn’t seem totally weird, but… does the guy in this photo totally look like he’s doing an intense guitar solo to anyone else?



Those Russians and their extreme selfie culture :smirk:


I’m pretty sure he’s playing a red Telecaster in that photo.

Maybe they were filming a music video.


Radioactive Man!