After Hours

Geek Trivia: The Quibble of the Week for February 19

This week's quibble comes from the January 22 edition of Geek Trivia, "Overdose of tragedy." Several TechRepublic members, including <strong>bjbarbrow</strong>, <strong>Bizzo</strong>, <strong>RealGem</strong>, and <strong>bt582</strong>, all felt I left someone off the list of notable radiation accident victims.

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, "Quite a tail to tell," just post it in the discussion area. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from the assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from the January 22 edition of Geek Trivia, "Overdose of tragedy." Several TechRepublic members, including bjbarbrow, Bizzo, RealGem, and bt582, all felt I left someone off the list of notable radiation accident victims. Member bt582 summed it up.

"Although I don't know if it ever said how many rems he got, I think it's safe to say Dr. Robert Bruce Banner got quite the dosage of gamma radiation. And you don't want to make him mad."

Well, I hadn't planned on including fictional characters in the list, but since so many people insisted, here we go. The only instance I could find where an exact figure is provided for the amount of radiation Dr. Banner receives is in the original pilot for the Incredible Hulk television series, wherein Banner's equipment gives him 2 million unspecified units of gamma radiation (rather than the 300,000 he was expecting). So, what exactly was that unit of dosage?

My best guess would be the millisievert (mSv), which is the SI unit most often employed to measure the dosage equivalent of natural background or medically rendered radiation on humans. (Remember, the TV Banner was trying to medically simulate the effect of natural sunspot gamma rays.)

The average background radiation dose each human absorbs yearly is about 2.4 mSv. Thus, Dr. Banner got about 833,333 years' worth of gamma rays in one dose — no wonder he was angry. Thanks for the quibbles, and keep 'em coming.

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About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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