This is how depleted uranium can kill You!
The Russians blew up an ammo depo in Ukraine. Moldovans are already experiencing headaches.
Russia blew up an ammunition depo that may or may not have contained British depleted uranium rounds for the Challenger tanks sent to Ukraine. The online virologist/war expert community suddenly had to become expert in nuclear stuff, and so they did, overnight, with the expected result: producing endless, idiotic trash.
There’s a lot of stupid shit surrounding this event filling up the tubes right now.
There are Moldovans reportedly getting headaches; this, in turn, is giving me headaches. Any news with “uranium” in it is weapons grade hysteria. Poles checking the border in hazmat suits. Elevated levels of bismuth detected. The European radiation monitoring map is suspiciously down.
This post really should end here and stay in draft forever, but once in a while I’m allowed to record my rage and publish it for all to see.
I won’t provide any link for these articles. I’ve glanced, and lost IQ points and faith in humanity by doing so. This post already contains too much sperg rage for my taste (and hopefully yours), but it won’t get less agitated. When a normie, let it be a politician or a civilian, says anything on any nuclear topic, let’s say they utter the word “neutron bomb”, 999 times out of 1000 they will say something bonkers retarded.
They’re as knowledgeable as 12 year old boys are experts in sex: they kind of get the basics, saw adults doing it in the media, might even be interested themselves, but you know not to ask them for a sexual advice, because whatever they believe must be 100% off, made up lunacy.
Society, when it comes to nuke stuff, either becomes one of the 12 year old boys one upping each other on their wisdom of the clitoris, or becomes one of the boys’ speechless audience member, listening in awe from the side.
They’ll argue for pages and pages and pages, disagreeing on all aspects but one: that the clitoris is located in the girls’ belly button. They all agree on that. I don’t need to consume such content, not even as entertainment, LLMs can already produce endless trash.
Do not listen to anyone on any nuclear topic: there’s a 99.9% chance that they will be wrong. Not even your country’s chief medical officer, after a nuclear plant popped next to your city, and they have some “advice” to give. Oh wait, you already don’t trust those people, sure, but my advice also stands for the pre-COVID world, and it doesn’t imply malice from the Powers. They just don’t know shit.
Instead, listen to me!
Think of it as Uranium-238, as pure as possible, don’t get lost in the weeds. I’ll get you in the weeds and guide you through them, but only as much as it’s strictly necessary. Just think of depleted uranium as uranium-238, as pure as possible. Then immediately move on to
We do like natural stuff. People pay premium for it. This is why we should start with Free Range Uranium, the one you find in nature. 🌱
Natural uranium is almost pure U-238, with some U-235 in the mix. The latter is the good stuff, the useful, for bombs and reactors. When it’s painstakingly separated (ratioed) from the shitty uranium (U-238), the shitty becomes “depleted” of the good stuff. Hence the name.
Depleted uranium is an unnaturally pure form of the useless kind (isotope) of uranium. In all aspects, it’s the same as the natural one, except radioactivity, in which case it’s even safer.
A block of depleted uranium is less dangerous than a block of natural uranium.
To further complicate this simplification attempt, there’s no such thing as a block of natural uranium. Sure, it’s in some mineral. Or it is a mineral? Whatever the case, you can’t have a “block” of a given radioactive material, as the material, per definition, is unstable. The second you finish making the block, it begins to transmute into other stuff, as atoms in it begin to decay. Some of this new stuff will also be radioactive, some even more radioactive than the precursor element. Some will become stable, and the chain stops there.
Neutrons will be around, even more so than they usually are. This leads to further complications:
some stable elements will become radioactive, by absorbing neutrons, and becoming a different, unstable isotope.
Some will remain stable, even if they absorb an extra neutron, as some elements have multiple stable isotopes.
Some radioactive ones will become even more radioactive, by absorbing a neutron.
Some will violently split, when they encounter a neutron, which is what we call fission.
There’s also spontaneous fission, when atoms of certain elements just crack, because God snapped His fingers.
The nitpicky spergery surrounding this topic could go on and on. There’ a reason why nuclear hobbyists and nerds who like complicated role playing games overlap 1:1. It’s important to point out that the half-life of the original element that the block is made out of will influence how fast this transmutation occurs: if it’s very, very long, then your block, from a human perspective, is de facto stable.
No matter how stable it is though, as long as it was made by humans, impurities (which tend to be other radioactive elements) and eventual decay products make any block of any kind of uranium, let it be a natural mix of U-235/U-238 or a very very depleted one, radioactive (scary to civilians) and traceable (claims about it objectively verifiable, if one truly seeks clarity).
I had to go through this to show how nuances can be blown out of proportion, be misrepresented / misinterpreted by those who seek absolutes, or gotchas to contradict absolutes in nuclear science. It’s all very delicate, very fluid, you need a very good command of magnitudes to stay focused on the important matters. From now on, things will start to get simpler.
Instead of pursuing a block of natural uranium, we’re going to use chemistry to produce something that will be more practical for this post, an oxidized powder of it: yellow cake uranium, which is, from an industrial standpoint, the initial form of the metal once it’s been extracted from the ore.
Uranium, chemically, is uranium. Chemistry happens at the electron layer, it’s not affected (much) by the isotope of the element in question. This means that we can get very pure uranium (again, an oxide, so there’s oxigen in there) with little fuss.
The uranium in yellowcake is almost exclusively (>99%) U-238, with very low radioactivity. U-238 has an extremely long half-life, over 4 billion years, meaning that it emits radiation at a slow rate. This stage of processing is before the more radioactive U-235 is concentrated, so by definition, this stage of uranium has the same radioactivity as it did in nature when it was underground, as the proportions of isotopes are at their native relative concentration. Yellowcake is hazardous when inhaled.
Countries handle this crap all the time. Both advanced countries and shitholes. Uranium, just like oil, has no political preference for its location in the ground. It’s not a big deal: I’m sure the UN and other busy bodies do their best to monitor the production, trade and possession of yellow cake uranium as much as they can, but they don’t lose sleep over it.
There’s a lot more yellow cake uranium around than depleted uranium tank shells, and it’s under a lot less control.
You can stand next to a bucket of yellow cake uranium and you’ll be fine. For extended periods of time even. Keep it in your bedroom. Just don’t breathe it in, which is a wise advice to any powder made up of a heavy metal’s oxide.
Medical radioactive sources (not made out of uranium) are a lot more dangerous on all levels, and those get lost all the time. If you’re near a bucket of those, or even just a sugar cube portion, leave the area ASAP.
I really don’t want to sperg too long on this, so I’ll try to present it in a nutshell.
Think of decays in batches of 10 half-lives, which is a 1/2^10 = 1/1024 multiplier on the original quantity. So, if something has a half-life of 8 days, in 80 days only one-thousandth of the original quantity will remain. In 160 days, only one-millionth. In 240 days, you’ll need a very sensitive instrument to detect that it ever existed (What if I look for the decay products, you might ask? Stop derailing my presentation, sperg, is my answer.)
If something has a very short half-life (days, hours), it’s nasty, stay away. The good news is that you can stay away, because it’s humanly possible to do so. You can sit it out in a bunker! It might decay before it could rain down on you. You can oversaturate your body with its stable isotope, so both get flushed out of you before the radioactive kind could do much harm (iodine tablets).
If the half-life is kind of short, but still comparable to a human lifetime (like 5 years), that’s the worst kind: it’s still on the very active end, but you can’t wait its decay out. To decrease the radiation to 0.1% of the original would require 50 years. For it to be gone for good, a century. (This is why a cobalt salted bomb is what you should truly fear.)
Once we enter half-lives that are significantly longer than human lifetimes, the whole thing becomes somewhat less concerning. A macroscopic particle of plutonium, unless you ingest or inhale it, shouldn't concern you. You can frame it and put it on your bedroom wall. Just don’t ever break the frame. Plutonium is a very good cutoff for reasonably radioactive materials, as it decays fast enough to become warm to the touch, should you have a large enough ball of it (don’t make it too large though).
Half-lives in the million/billion/multiple ages of the universe range should only concern scientists. That’s where depleted uranium is. And yes, there is at least one retarded article that claims that Poland is now forever radioactive, because some isotope with the half-life of a billion billion years might have fallen on their soil. Good thing that you, my loyal reader, is now one of the smart kids who knows better, and smugly smile at such nonsense, knowing full well where the clitoris is (it’s a lie made up by those mean 8th grade girls).
And this ends the nuclear science part, which was, mostly, not nuclear science. In fact, this whole part could have been skipped by renaming “depleted uranium” to “super lead”, and you’d get the same point.
It’s super hard, it’s super dense, it’s super toxic. Depleted uranium is lead, squared.
How to kill people with SuperLead
In a hollow, cylindrical form, depleted uranium can be very lethal. Just like a lead pipe, but much harder. Hit someone in the head and they’re done for good.
You can also shape it into a 9mm bullet. It would perform worse than lead and softer materials, because it’s very hard, and humans are very soft. Expect a clean entry and exit, with a lot less kinetic energy dumped into the target, and no funny Tokyo Drift inside their body to mess vital organs up. Now, if the human wears body armor, your SuperLead bullet might actually be more useful, but such applications are only rumored. Human body armor can be pierced with less exotic armor piercing materials.
Which leads us to tanks, the most armored things in the post-WWII era. Here SuperLead shines: very dense, very hard, the best penetrator material you can get. It also makes it the best penetrator stopper, so SuperLead is also used as tank armor.
This would neatly wrap this up, but SuperLead also shares a quality with all the other, common metals: it burns. They, in their elemental form, all do. The bucket of yellow cake uranium wouldn’t, as it’s already oxidized, it’s one calm boy. But make a bucket of any metal, say aluminium, in an atmosphere where oxygen isn’t present, put it in a sealed canister, and now you have an explosive. A thickly packed powder has the same surface as solid block of the same stuff, until it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, the surface becomes, practically, infinite (see: the problem of calculating coastline length). The cloud of a fine powder will burn as rapidly as chemistry allows, mostly limited by the amount of oxidizer present nearby. 💥
Any block of any metal is such canister, but since it’s solid, not a powder, it can’t oxidize rapidly enough to explode. Only very exceptional metals can oxidize quickly enough in a solid form to even call it a fire.
But what if I can turn a block of metal into a powder, very quickly? If you do it, in air, you will get a very rapid oxidization. 🔥
Don’t breathe this!
Being the crew inside a tank that has been penetrated by something kinetic is bad news to begin with: spalling, shrapnel, not a nice environment for any human. It’s also very noisy!
But SuperLead, probably due to its exceptional hardness (metallurgist please leave a comment) becomes a powder, a very hot powder, once it chewed its way through the armor. So once it’s inside a tank, where there are humans and hence oxigen, you get an extra explosion on top of the whole mess. Or a superhot fire. Or both.
Poor tank crew, right? No, nobody cares. What’s more important is that now our solid block is spread everywhere in a superfine, oxidized form. Very similar to yellow cake uranium, which, remember, is safe, unless you breath it in.
Is it safe to grow carrots where once a tank got busted by depleted uranium projectiles? Yes, it’s safe to grow. Is it safe to eat? I’d pass anything that was grown on a patch that (possibly) has a high concentration of heavy metals. But that’s true to all heavy metals, not exclusive to depleted uranium. Unfortunately human society gets more agitated by atomic anything, than a landfill full of old thermometers, thermostats and batteries.
Back to the news, the undoubtedly giant explosion of the ammo depo in Ukraine
Fallout (of any kind)
remains mostly local, if the explosion is close to the ground. It’s true to any massive explosion, chemical or nuclear. In this case, the explosion was either on the ground, or under, so any fallout should remain local / regional, off wind. Swedish kids won’t grow two heads any time soon.
More over, in order to turn a U-238 rod into fine uranium oxide powder that the kids can breathe in, it has to be vaporized, properly. This would optimally happen by launching it out of a tank’s gun at high velocity, and making it impact a hard surface: being near a chemical explosion, mostly ammo cooking off, is not the most optimal way to turn SuperLead into oxidized dust.
I mean, come on now, conspiratards, jet fuel can’t melt steel beams, but metal rods near a chemical explosion turn into fine vapor? Not just any metal, SuperLead, which is the toughest of them all?
See all those cars burning in Paris? They all have a lead acid battery roasting in there. I wouldn’t inhale the smoke for many reasons, but I also wouldn’t get psychotic 100 kms off wind Paris, to the point of experiencing headaches.
If I were at the vicinity of a Soviet era building going up in a massive explosion, even if I assumed that it might have contained His Majesty’s SuperLead Tank Projectiles, my number one concern would be inhaling asbestos.
Would I be concerned by oxidized heavy metals also travelling with the smoke? Sure. Would I grow carrots in the vicinity? The answer is the same as above: absolutely, as long as it’s for export.
To wrap it up
Assuming depleted uranium ammunition was present at the massive Ukrainian explosion:
It wasn’t a nuclear explosion: I’ve just realized that I was too lazy, angry and disappointed to make this disclaimer earlier.
It wouldn’t result in radioactive death cloud that kills Europe. (You can literally sleep with a depleted uranium brick under your pillow without any risk to your health. It’s actually a pretty good radiation shield, while also being the most potent nuclear explosive, under the right circumstances, but just go to wikipedia at this point.)
It wouldn’t result in a heavy metal death cloud that kills Poland. (The concentration would be too low.)
Local contamination could be a problem, but that would be the case even if depleted uranium wasn’t present.
The clitoris is the thing girls pee out of.
If, after all this, you’re still not convinced, please
and should you ever find yourself concerned by possible exposure to any form of depleted uranium, my general advice is the same as Dr. Fauci’s: wear a mask!
This may have been a rant, but it was a really good, coherent explanation!