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HBO's Chernobyl |OT| Do you taste something metallic?

Oct 25, 2017
1,502
There’s a story about 2 homeless men in South America who broke apart an X-ray machine in an abandoned hospital and gave themselves radiation poisoning. Not quite what you’re asking but it could happen!
There was this one in Brazil where it killed some people. Its only second to Chernobyl in death toll of radiation poisoning. It was Cesium 137.
 
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Oct 26, 2017
279
99% of naturally occuring uranium is U-238 which is only weakly radioactive. In general uraniun is also found in ores and minerals in small quantities and not solid nuggets.

Only man-made or purified materials are as strongly radioactive as the irradiated graphite in the show.

The biggest natural radiation hazard is probably radon gas that tends to accumulate in poorly ventilated basements the sun.
FTFY
 
Oct 25, 2017
166
Reading the accounts of the firefighters Vasily's wife Lyudmilla in Voice From Chernobyl, is rough, super depressing. I'm sure the show will cover quite a bit of it, but what happens months and years later is nearly has harrowing as the days right after the accident and just as sad.
 
Nov 7, 2017
2,065
I wanna watch this after online raves, but, I dont wanna pay for HBO :(

At least when something people talk about comes on netflix or Amazon prime I've already got those or they're dirt cheap anyway.

Chernobyl story is fascinating, I've pored over that wikipedia a few times. Nuclear anything is just so chilling, as it's almost a supernatural power to deal with.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,678
San Francisco
I wanna watch this after online raves, but, I dont wanna pay for HBO :(

At least when something people talk about comes on netflix or Amazon prime I've already got those or they're dirt cheap anyway.

Chernobyl story is fascinating, I've pored over that wikipedia a few times. Nuclear anything is just so chilling, as it's almost a supernatural power to deal with.
Could just wait until all episodes are out then binge them with a free trial. That said, this show is great and I'm going to get another month of HBO for this show alone.
 
Oct 28, 2017
454
Currently rewatching episode 2. That moment when Bryukhanov theatrically turns to Fomin, asking why there is graphite on the roof is almost like I'm watching The Witness (except it isn't comedy of course).

It's impressive how well they captured the absurdities of the old system.
 
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Oct 28, 2017
896
That last shot of blackness with the audio was a total "daaaaammnnn" moment.

Hitting my girlfriend pretty hard though, her parents had friends and relatives that lived in the area. I've never seen her react to a tv show this intensely before.
I have wondered what people that lived or are from those areas would think of this show. Its pretty upsetting / interesting to watch it as an outsider.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,903
Incredibly dumb question: if someone stumbled on uranium in the wild, like in a cave, would they get radiation poisoning? Would it burn them like the graphite does in the show?
Generally you would only really find it in mines in specific areas in the world, at least in the US a lot of those old mines are marked as such. Also the radiation, as mentioned is weak, so it would be like maybe getting an extra chest X-ray or two.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,903
There’s a story about 2 homeless men in South America who broke apart an X-ray machine in an abandoned hospital and gave themselves radiation poisoning. Not quite what you’re asking but it could happen!
One interesting thing to read about are criticality events. Basically very rare happenstances where two things that really should touch do touch and the fission material reaches criticality, instantly exposing the workers in question to often fatal doses of radiation.

Probably the most famous instances being the ones during the manhattan project while scientists were studying domes of uranium, knicknames named the ‘demon core’ after two separate fatal criticality accidents.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticality_accident

Fat Man and Little Boy has a good re-enactment of the screwdriver test failure with John Cusack, which honestly looks like the dumbest test possible.

The December 1958 one with the water vortex and dissolved plutonium is particularly horrifying.
 
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Scientists pointing out facts about reality
Generally you would only really find it in mines in specific areas in the world, at least in the US a lot of those old mines are marked as such. Also the radiation, as mentioned is weak, so it would be like maybe getting an extra chest X-ray or two.
Just like the 3.6 roentgens coming from Chernobyl after the accident. It's just like getting a chest x-ray!
 
They panicked because the radiation is too high. Then the flashlight stopped working because of the high radiation.
There might be a scene right there that was cut, in real life one of the men noticed a crack on the wall and he could see something glowing on the other side, he put the radiation detecter up to the crack and it went crazy so he yelled to the other two to hurry up and they started running down the hall. When I watched it I was kind of confused because they all of sudden start rushing really fast, I’m like now you hurry? I would be getting in and out of there as fast as possible and at first they were moving really slow.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,545
There might be a scene right there that was cut, in real life one of the men noticed a crack on the wall and he could see something glowing on the other side, he put the radiation detecter up to the crack and it went crazy so he yelled to the other two to hurry up and they started running down the hall. When I watched it I was kind of confused because they all of sudden start rushing really fast, I’m like now you hurry? I would be getting in and out of there as fast as possible and at first they were moving really slow.
I took it as bubbles implied heat and anything hot down there is immediately maximum scary no need to check it just get far away quickly. Maybe it was just patch work in editing realizing they would not be able to do the crack in the wall scene too late.
 
Jun 24, 2018
843
There might be a scene right there that was cut, in real life one of the men noticed a crack on the wall and he could see something glowing on the other side, he put the radiation detecter up to the crack and it went crazy so he yelled to the other two to hurry up and they started running down the hall. When I watched it I was kind of confused because they all of sudden start rushing really fast, I’m like now you hurry? I would be getting in and out of there as fast as possible and at first they were moving really slow.
Yeah. They mentioned the crack in the wall in the show podcast. It's probably cut to build up more tension in the scene.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,706
AZ
This series is incredible. I haven't felt this much dread and tension since watching fucking Threads. This shit is horrifying. It's hard to fathom that this disaster actually happened. That's probably the most terrifying aspect of all this.

This series has literally had me at the edge of my seat. I can't even relax when I watch this lol!
 
Oct 27, 2017
644
One interesting thing to read about are criticality events.
Weeeeelllll.... there's also this:
A natural nuclear fission reactor is a uranium deposit where self-sustaining nuclear chain reactions have occurred. This can be examined by analysis of isotope ratios.
(...)
Oklo is the only known location for this in the world and consists of 16 sites at which self-sustaining nuclear fission reactions are thought to have taken place approximately 1.7 billion years ago, and ran for a few hundred thousand years, averaging probably less than 100 kW of thermal power during that time.
Nature, you scary.
Published in 2010, a controversial hypothesis about the origin of the Moon proposes that the Moon may have been formed from the explosion of a natural reactor located along the core-mantle boundary at the equatorial plane of the then-rapidly rotating Earth, 4.5 billion years ago.
Basically, Earth did Super-ultra-deluxe worst case Chernobyl before it was cool. Maybe. Probably not, but an amusing thought nonetheless.
 
Oct 25, 2017
839
There’s a story about 2 homeless men in South America who broke apart an X-ray machine in an abandoned hospital and gave themselves radiation poisoning. Not quite what you’re asking but it could happen!
It happened here in Brazil, in the city of Goiânia, in 1987 (just an year after Chernobyl). Two scavengers found an old radiotherapy machine on an abandoned hospital (that machine shouldn’t be there), broke it for pieces to sell and found a capsule of Cesium 137 releasing the material. They were amused by its shining. 4 people died and 1600 were affected in the city. Worst radioactive incident on America’s, it was classified as 5 in the 1 to 7 of the International scale of Radioactive Accidents. The amount of material was tiny (0,093 kg) but it highly radioactive. I remember the news back then, the complete city was in panic.

Edited: some descriptions here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goiânia_accident
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,730
It happened here in Brazil, in the city of Goiânia, in 1987 (just an year after Chernobyl). Two scavengers found an old radiotherapy machine on an abandoned hospital (that machine shouldn’t be there), broke it for pieces to sell and found a capsule of Cesium 137 releasing the material. They were amused by its shining. 4 people died and 1600 were affected in the city. Worst radioactive incident on America’s, it was classified as 5 in the 1 to 7 of the International scale of Radioactive Accidents. The amount of material was tiny (0,093 kg) but it highly radioactive. I remember the news back then, the complete city was in panic.

Edited: some descriptions here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goiânia_accident
What in the hell...

They could probably make another terrifying mini series about this incident. This right here hurt to read: Radioactive caesium chloride falls into a little girl's sandwich and she eats it. Also rubs it all over herself. Gets horrifically sick and is maltreated by hospital workers out of fear, and her burial causes riots because people were scared she would poison their land.

What a fucked up world.
 
Oct 25, 2017
839
What in the hell...

They could probably make another terrifying mini series about this incident. This right here hurt to read: Radioactive caesium chloride falls into a little girl's sandwich and she eats it. Also rubs it all over herself. Gets horrifically sick and is maltreated by hospital workers out of fear, and her burial causes riots because people were scared she would poison their land.

What a fucked up world.
There was a movie here made about the accident. And a documentary. I don’t know if there are English dubs/subtitles for them however.

Yes, what happened to that little girl was horrible. She was one of the worst poisoned (she rubbed the material all over herself as makeup to glow, and also eat particles with her food) and no one wanted/knew how to treat her. I was a teenager at the time (15) and remember watching the news about people rioting about her burial .
 
Oct 27, 2017
644
Those orphan sources are far more numerous than one would like.

There was a similar but way less deadly event in Thailand involving a Cobalt source that ended up on a scrapyward which lead to a redesign of the radioactive warning ("trefoil") sign - the people that cut off the lead containment didn't recognise the various warning labels... and that happened post-Chernobyl, not even twenty years ago.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,947
Craig Mazin mentioned that one scene they would have loved to film for this episode but ran out of time was a scene showing how the Swedes first detected that something had gone wrong in Chernobyl. Apparently one of the workers there was walking outside and got a piece of fallout from Chernobyl on his shoe and once he went back inside the radiation caused an alarm in their facility to go off.

Like, wow.
That Minsk window scene already stood for that.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,903
What in the hell...

They could probably make another terrifying mini series about this incident. This right here hurt to read: Radioactive caesium chloride falls into a little girl's sandwich and she eats it. Also rubs it all over herself. Gets horrifically sick and is maltreated by hospital workers out of fear, and her burial causes riots because people were scared she would poison their land.

What a fucked up world.
Hey at least they let people know. Here in Los Angeles we had the worst nuclear event on US soil and no one was told. There’s a specific part of the San Fernando valley that has really high thyroid cancer rates as a result. People and children would leisure in the foothills below the site. Really fucked up.
 
Oct 28, 2017
2,386
Liked ep 2 except for the bit with the helicopters which was hilariously overexagerated and dramatized.

In real life the chopper crash was one of hundreds of runs that occurred 2 weeks after copter runs began, and it wasn't at all because the pilot flew directly over the reactor. The whole "send the next one in" was just waaay too artificially constructed to me, whatever point it was trying to make could have been made better without misrepresenting the deaths of several people by portraying them and their CO's as bumbling idiots.

Footage of the crash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICOu7KksgUA
 
Oct 27, 2017
359
The entire series is WAY over dramatized. People breaking down in situations where they actually were calm, birds dying instantly, "we will be dead in 5 years", people bluffing their way past military police (in the Soviet Union!) and many others. In other words, it isn't the series for me.

I'm glad others are enjoying it though.
 
Oct 28, 2017
2,386
The entire series is WAY over dramatized. People breaking down in situations where they actually were calm, birds dying instantly, "we will be dead in 5 years", people bluffing their way past military police (in the Soviet Union!) and many others. In other words, it isn't the series for me.

I'm glad others are enjoying it though.
This is definitely true, I've been able to make my peace with most of the dramatizations though, but that one really rubbed me the wrong way.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,364
The entire series is WAY over dramatized. People breaking down in situations where they actually were calm, birds dying instantly, "we will be dead in 5 years", people bluffing their way past military police (in the Soviet Union!) and many others. In other words, it isn't the series for me.

I'm glad others are enjoying it though.
This is an odd complaint, as both the Party Minister would be dead in 4 years (of unknown causes but still).
 
Oct 27, 2017
359
This is an odd complaint, as both the Party Minister would be dead in 4 years (of unknown causes but still).
That doesn't mean it was certain. Only the most extreme dosses could ensure death (in a matter of weeks). With the two of them not even getting a high enough dose to get radiation sickness, the most that can be said is that the CHANCE of death for the rest of their life was higher. And, of course, Lugasov died from suicide after failing in his attempts to reform the Soviet scientific community (and the damage to his career that his activism caused).

People who got higher doses are still alive today. Of course, there are many who didn't get Acute Radiation Syndrome yet still eventually died of causes that are difficult to link directly to their radiation exposure (cancer chief among these). But the point is that there was NO WAY to be able to make such a statement. Their exposure increased their chances of dying early, but the effect was totally unpredictable.
 
Oct 26, 2017
443
Alhambra, CA
Are people complaining about THIS show? In the midst of the greatest collapse of a long running series in tv history! (On the same channel no less?)

Chernobyl is nearly flawless so far.*

*I'd say collapsing the nuclear physicists that intervened into one individual (Emily Watson's character), with no character flaws or unique motivations, is a weak choice... (she's basically a perfect individual right now).. and the only misstep.
 
Oct 24, 2017
171
How grotesque/gory is it? I've read a bit about Chernobyl and I'm interested in watching, but I'm a bit squeamish. Thanks.
Not very so far, but looking at the trailer, there might be some more gore later on to visualise what's happening with the victims of radiation.

There's a fireman with a bloody hand on the first episode. Some people are shown vomiting and faces and bodies reddened like they're getting sunburnt. I might have forgotten other stuff.

If you can handle the trailer, I think you should be good for the series.
 
The entire series is WAY over dramatized. People breaking down in situations where they actually were calm, birds dying instantly, "we will be dead in 5 years", people bluffing their way past military police (in the Soviet Union!) and many others. In other words, it isn't the series for me.

I'm glad others are enjoying it though.
The lack of chill is something that stood out to me as well; both from a cultural standpoint (Soviets had an ingrained aversion to 'alarmism' and getting too heated was a genuine political and legal risk for many of these people) and an operational standpoint (real world team-based crisis response is remarkably detached and technical, because that's the only way for a mind to cope and focus on the task at hand in the midst of catastrophe.)

However, I personally think it's all pitched exactly right for a dramatization. We already have thorough and poignant primary and secondary non-fiction sources... a miniseries doesn't have to compete with that and I'm satisfied it is respectful of the suffering, bureaucratic stupidity, sacrifices and quiet heroism of the people affected.
 
Wait where are the people breaking down in this episode? Or the first one for that matter
They all look...remarkably stoic considering the gravity of the situation imho.

Some even absurdly so crossing over to denying reality *coughDyatlovcough*
 
Aug 22, 2018
793
Episode 2 was intense.
People, watch this!

Stop treating it like a documentary, nobody is pretending this is not a dramatization.
Well, we've had posters saying the people depicted are heroes who saved the world who should receive the highest honour, except they didn't know some of them were invented purely for the series. Others saying it should be mandatory watching for anyone involved in the nuclear industry. Given some of the histrionic reactions to the episodes some are clearly taking this for a verbatim reproduction of what actually happened,
 
Oct 28, 2017
352
I really enjoyed the first episode, but the second episode was a giant let down.
The portrayal of Legasov was already drifting into the Hollywood "hero scientist" archetype, particularly that ridiculous first Kremlin scene, but then the made up Watson character came in and she was just a walking TV trope.

And it was all unnecessary IMO.
 
Well, we've had posters saying the people depicted are heroes who saved the world who should receive the highest honour, except they didn't know some of them were invented purely for the series. Others saying it should be mandatory watching for anyone involved in the nuclear industry. Given some of the histrionic reactions to the episodes some are clearly taking this for a verbatim reproduction of what actually happened,
Yeah, this is a concern although you also see posters going down non-fiction and wiki rabbit holes because they want to learn more about the real events... not sure how it balances out.

I think the core theme of 'people and society pay a real cost when leaders ignore and distort reality and inconvenient truths' is a more relevant takeaway than looking to the series for guidance on nuclear energy policy.
 
Oct 27, 2017
644
Pretty much the first thing we hear in the first episode is that rambling thesis about lies.

That sets the tone, and is what this series is all about.
If you listen to the podcast, it's something the writer has a bit of a hard-on over. The series could otherwise portray pretty much any other catastrophe - while Chernobyl is a particularly brilliant case study with many unique aspects and a nigh-infinite supply of material, you'll find many if not all other manmade large-scale crises also involved some sort of head-in-the-sand philosophy at some point. For a more modern example take Dieselgate, Fukushima or the very recent plane crashes that stranded the entire model series for extended amounts of time.

If you look for the theme, there's always some moment where the chickens come home to roost after people lied or at the very least willfully ignored reality.
So, while others may want people of the nuclear industry to watch this, I personally feel more like anybody in a position of power should. Avoiding reality doesn't work. Creating a (workplace) mentality that's too focused on punishment and performance while muting dissent and stifling communication creates these large bubbles of half-truths and delusions, and when they eventually pop, shit really hits the fan.


In this particular example the stakes were ridiculously high - the cost in resources and human lives truly astronomical, with the potential fallout quite literally impacting all life on the planet for generations, but otherwise it's just the usual cautionary tale about human hybris.

So yeah, if you look for a documentation or in-depth review of the events at Chernobyl, you're out of luck. This is an entertaining series about a failure of leadership, a toxic mindset in all people involved in the run-up to and initial handling of the incident, and a bit about the invisible dangers of radioactivity. Plus the poor fuckers who had to come and mop up the resulting mess. They try to stick to the source material but aren't above taking shortcuts whenever the drama demands it.

This isn't a report created by the USCSB or the like (although they too make some damn fine - if somewhat unintentionally hilarious at times - videos).

And yes, any response to a catastrophe requires absolute, positively cynical detachment. Here in Chernobyl, it's "counting lives", but that's just the same principles used e.g. during triage. Limited resources, logical decision making, acceptance of horrifying outcomes. No romance involved. It's harsh on the stomach, but an absolute necessity.
 
Nov 11, 2017
2,112
It would be nice if the show was less over dramatized in certain parts and more strictly accurate and historical.

But to me the main point of the show and where it really succeeds is portraying humanities capability to ignorantly cover its own ass heedless of the lives of others. That's where it's scary as hell and hitting 100%. Its no wonder places like flint Michigan can happen. "Eh its fiiiiine"