Easy-to-Understand Explanation of Japan

News about the earthquake- and tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has been dire. High radiation levels have severely hindered attempts—ranging from helicopters to water canons—to douse spent cooling rods with water. As the situation continues to unfold, all kinds of questions have surfaced: What happens inside a nuclear reactor? Why is cooling required if the reactor is shut down? What caused the explosions? What are the long-term effects of using seawater to cool the reactors? What happens if the radioactivity spreads through the environment?

Using simple terms and props, in less than nine minutes, Martyn Poliakoff, chemistry professor at the U.K.'s University of Nottingham, addresses all of these questions and more in this video. With his Einstein-esque hairdo and easy delivery, Poliakoff makes for an engaging instructor and his lesson flies by. Watch and learn, and pass this on to your friends and family.

Thanks to the folks at C&EN for calling this video to our attention.

“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”