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You can taste fission

  1. Jan 29, 2005 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    I thought this was interesting. On The History Channel there was a show about the crew of the Enola Gay - dropped first atomic bomb on Japan. In the diary of one crewman he comments that as they were hit by the blast wave, another crewman commented that "you can taste fission". "It tastes like lead".

    Does this make sense to anyone? Does gamma radiation or any of the trash from a fission reaction induce a sense of taste?
     
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  3. Jan 29, 2005 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Adrenaline, perhaps?
     
  4. Jan 29, 2005 #3

    Moonbear

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    I don't think my sense of taste is refined enough to detect a difference between lead and any other metal. We could probably assume the same is true of the crewman making the comment, that it was a metallic taste of some sort, maybe not specifically lead.

    In addition to the radiation, what else would they have been exposed to? Though, could tissue damage from the radiation alone have been sufficient to cause a metallic taste sensation? It wouldn't surprise me that something caused the taste, but I wouldn't expect it to be fission, per se.
     
  5. Jan 29, 2005 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    That's why I was thinking of adrenaline. Doesn't that produce a metallic taste when released in large doses? My thinking is that seeing a nuclear detonation would probably get my adrenaline going.
     
  6. Jan 30, 2005 #5

    dlgoff

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    Well. On the history channel last night, there was a program about the Chernobyl reactor accident. The fire fighters that were first on the scene said they had a metallic taste as they approached the reactor fire.
    Regards
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2005
  7. Jan 30, 2005 #6
    yes i saw that documentary before and that part was really interesting. i looked online to see if i could find anything else about the the air tasting like metal but i didnt find anything
     
  8. Jan 31, 2005 #7

    Chronos

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    Think taste. Taste buds on the back of the tongue are stimulated by odors. If you have ever been in a welding shop, you can 'taste' different alloys being welded by the fumes. I can rather easily tell the difference between stainless and mild steel that way.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2005
  9. Jan 31, 2005 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    I managed to find one anecdotal reference to adrenaline causing a metallic taste. It is also mentioned in a medical journal in association with toxicity due to lidocaine w/epinephrine [adrenaline], but it wasn't clear which was the cause. It is a close match to what I was thinking, and since the two drugs are apparently always given together, it seems a bit coincidental that I would be wrong about this. Still, I didn't find anything stating explicitly what I was expecting - that large releases of adrenaline can cause a metallic taste in one's mouth.

    Shooting from the hip...what about ozone? Ozone has a metallic odor. I could see the fire fighters smelling burning metal, but what about the Enola Gay crewman? Could air be sufficiently ionized at that distance so as to produce detectable levels of ozone?

    Something else that Integral brought up was all of the above ground testing done in Nevada in the 50's? Someone would have reported this. Of course, this could be well known to some people but who else would know? On the other hand, what were the levels of exposure of any Nevada group as compared to air crewman or the fire fighters. Most personnel on the scene at Chernobyl received lethal levels of exposure.
     
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