Alfonso Ribeiro

No 4 was a 1,000 megawatt RBMK reactor - a colossal structure composed of 1,660 10-metre-long channels filled with uranium fuel, separated by 1,700 tons of moderating graphite arranged into 2,488 columns. For more on ionized air glow by nuclear explosions see the near local midnight, high altitude test shot, Bluegill Triple Prime. 'He's so good,' says Natalia, 'that I think he's a reward for everything that's happened to us. 'So,' he says, 'I suppose I must be OK.'.In Moscow, Yuvchenko is still recovering from the single minute he spent holding open the door for his friends in the early hours of 26 April 1986. save hide report. '.Just after 1.25am, as flames leapt 600ft into the air around the reactor hall, the alarm sounded at Fire Station No 2 of the Chernobyl plant. By 29 April, the streets of Pripyat were littered with their radioactive corpses.The graphite in Reactor No 4 had been burning for almost 24 hours when the Chernobyl Commission decided the only way to extinguish the fire was to smother it. Pripyat was a model town, renowned as one of the finest places to live in the entire Soviet Union. Cherenkov had first noticed the effect in 1934, when,The speed of light in a vacuum in a constant (c), yet the speed at which light travels through a medium is less than c, so it's possible for particles to travel through the medium faster than light, yet still slower,As Cherenkov radiation passes through the water, the charged particles travel faster than light can through that medium. He speaks quickly, eager to impart as much of his story as he can; but when he stops and reaches for his tea, his hands tremble.Volodin began flying helicopters from the Soviet Air Force base in Kiev in 1976. His skin turned black and sloughed off; his left arm was in bandages for seven years. 'I have a strange illness,' he says. 'Find the nitrogen,' he was told, 'or you'll be shot. Chernobyl Cherenkov. In fact, the reactor had serious design faults: when run at low power it was dangerously unstable and difficult to control; additionally, for the first four seconds after being inserted, the control rods would do the opposite of what they were supposed to - instead of slowing reaction, they would cause a sudden power surge. This has a practical application, as it is used to produce high power microwaves.If relativistic charged particles strike the vitreous humor of the human eye, flashes of Cherenkov radiation may be seen. We'll be lucky if we're all still alive in the morning. 'If we'd followed regulations, we would never have gone near the reactor. '.As he begins to speak, rivulets of sweat run through his close-cropped hair; the blue handkerchief he kneads is soon soaking wet.Yuvchenko was in his office on Level 12.5, halfway between the third and fourth reactors, when the blast came. How does it work? Having established radiation readings for the map, the pilot then flew technicians from the plant around the reactor, to assess the damage; a photographer shot pictures of the destruction through the open window of the helicopter. 'The miners died for nothing,' says Prianichnikov. When he got back to his flat, he discovered that the phone had been cut off and his wife was out of town at their dacha, tending her flowers, directly in the path of the plume. '.During May and June 1986, the 600,000 liquidators were set to work: soldiers were sent to Kiev to cut the leaves from every bush and tree in the city and bury them; helicopter crews sprayed a special polymer film from the air to capture radioactive particles on the ground; the Pripyat was dammed to prevent irradiated water flowing into the Dnieper; 135,000 people were evacuated from the exclusion zone; 70 villages were so contaminated that they were flattened and buried in their entirety.To collect pieces of fuel and graphite from the roofs around Reactor No 4, three lightweight robots were bought in Germany for one million gold roubles. '.From the outset, Prianichnikov suspected the accident was catastrophic, but without a dosimeter he found it hard to convince his neighbours of such a heretical idea: 'People wouldn't believe me - and they could give you eight years in prison for going around saying things like that.' The station - with four reactors already online and a fifth and sixth under construction - was planned as the largest nuclear power plant in the world, and regarded as a prize posting for engineers. This year, his son Kirill will turn 23; he's currently in his sixth year of medical school in Moscow. '.It was an apocalyptic sight: flames shot into the sky; sparks showered from the severed 6,000-volt cables hanging from the smashed circulation pumps; burst water and nitrogen tanks dangled in the air above the red-hot wreckage of the reactor hall; and from the centre of the building, an unearthly, delicate, blue-white light shot upwards into the night - a shaft of ionising radiation from the exposed core. '.During the early hours of 26 April, 37 fire crews - 186 firemen and 81 engines - were summoned to Chernobyl from all over the Kiev region. It is his three-year- old son; Steinberg will be 59 in June. '.In the weeks following 26 April, hundreds of thousands of scientists, soldiers and civilian workers were sent by train to Chernobyl from every republic of the USSR. He speaks in a dry whisper, a result of throat cancer diagnosed in 1996; but he refuses to connect it with Chernobyl: 'It happened - but I smoked for 25 years. I don't understand anything about statistics. When they died two weeks later in Hospital No 6, Zakharov heard that the radiation had been so intense the colour of Vladimir Pravik's eyes had turned from brown to blue; Nikolai Titenok sustained such severe internal radiation burns there were blisters on his heart.

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