Radiation hot spots pop up in Tokyo.

Hiroko Tabuchi in the New York Times.

There have been isolated cases of big numbers appearing in measurements—including one from a house that has had radium stored in it for 50 years. (Back in the day, some paints contained radium.)

Still not enough to panic about, but it goes to this idea of “slow Chernobyl” and undermining trust in the government. Many of the people quoted in the articles discussing the problem are parents worried about their kids. You can feed all sorts of science to people, but, in the end, radiation is more about feelings. How does cesium or strontium radiation make you feel? Even if people get a bigger dose by taking a long haul flight.

When I first suggested this in the Spring, I got poo-pooed by that Japan-side expat gang who were all little Junior Scientists, with their wonky blog posts and YouTube clips going, “see, I’m not glowing!”

But what I was talking about was this sort of thing–the idea that the radioactive particles are something that could be everywhere, and that no one has a grip on. It’s not a matter of numbers, it’s a matter of people’s sense of well being, which is clearly not as solid–and rightly so–as others may think it should be . . .