IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses workshop attendees. (Photo: IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency convened a workshop last week to explore how nuclear techniques backed by the IAEA’s Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative could be used to avoid outbreaks of monkeypox and Lassa fever. The meeting, held in Vienna, Austria, on the sidelines of the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, was organized to assist countries in using nuclear and related techniques to detect, mitigate, and understand the behavior of the viruses.
“It is important that we are reacting quickly, as things happen. I am happy that concrete work is being carried out on something before it becomes a very difficult problem,” said IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi as he opened the one-day summit.
Schools distributed information about the pilot trial in their communities, and schoolchildren participated in the biweekly release of sterilized male mosquitoes. (Photo: Manuel Fernández, Cuban Agency of Nuclear Energy)
Cuba’s plan to use the sterile insect technique to tackle the spread of dengue—a viral, mosquito-borne disease—relies on expertise and technology from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The technique is not new, having been used to control different insect-vector diseases in diverse regions of the world.
In 2021, the Fusarium wilt disease continued to spread in banana plantations across South America. (Photo: M.Dita/Biodiversity International, Colombia)
A lethal banana disease, known as the Fusarium wilt or Panama wilt, is spreading rapidly in South America and threatening global supplies of the Cavendish banana, the world’s most popular export variety. Working with experts in the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are using irradiation and nuclear-derived techniques to combat, manage, and prevent the spread of the disease. The IAEA describes the work in a December 24 news article.
(CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE) The researchers’ experimental layout is depicted here. In (b), the neutron chopper is depicted without the mesh guard shown in (d), a photograph of the experimental layout that includes the Cf-252 source tank at left. (Composite image: Joyce, et al., “Wireless information transfer with fast neutrons,” doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2021.165946)
Swapping conventional electromagnetic radiation for fast neutrons, a team of research engineers at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, working with the Jozef Stefan Institute of Slovenia, report that they have successfully transmitted digital information wirelessly using nuclear radiation. The researchers’ attempts to transmit words and numbers using standard ASCII code “were 100 percent successful,” according to a November 10 press release from Lancaster University. Their research will be published in an upcoming issue of Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research and is now available online.
Illustration of a normal human heart showing ventricles and valves. (Image: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator; C. Carl Jaffe, M.D., cardiologist)
Therapeutic radiation is typically reserved for cancer treatment, but scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have applied radiation therapy to treat ventricular tachycardia, a life-threatening heart arrhythmia. A news release issued by the university says that the results of the study show that radiation therapy can “reprogram” heart muscle cells to “a younger and perhaps healthier state.” The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on September 24.
During the week-long mission, the IAEA team is carrying out practical NDT training with specialized equipment. (Photo: Abel Domato/BAC)
In the aftermath of a devastating explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, in August 2020, an International Atomic Energy Agency team visited the country at the government’s request and found no evidence of artificial radionuclides and no increase in radiation levels. The powerful blast, which was caused by an explosion of improperly stored ammonium nitrate, killed more than 200 people and leveled numerous buildings while leaving other buildings standing with possible structural damage. The IAEA recently announced that a different team of experts has traveled to Lebanon with a new mission: to assist the nation in the use of non-destructive testing (NDT) to check the structural soundness of buildings that were impacted by the explosion.
Plastic waste on a Galapagos beach. Sunlight, wind, and waves break down large plastic debris into smaller and smaller pieces to become microplastics. (Photo: F. Oberhaensli/IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency has created a new program, NUclear TEChnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastics), to address the global environmental impact of plastic pollution in oceans. It uses nuclear technology to monitor pollution and also to decrease the volume of plastic waste by using irradiation to complement traditional plastic recycling methods.