It's not called Rad-X...yet.
Dystopian visions of irradiated futures are common in gaming and just about every other creative outlet where a vague understanding of physics and a desire to fabricate fictional worlds collide. Usually, these dystopias are the expression of a legitimate fear of how we as humans would survive in a microwaved world. Does it worry you? It worries me, too. But get this! A group of forward-thinking scientists have crafted a capsule which could have the capacity to make all irradiated water sources safe for people to drink, giving us all one less thing to worry about during any prospective nuclear winters.
The scientists in question, led by Dr. Allen Apblett of Oklahoma State University, set out to solve this problem after water sources near the Fukushima Daichii nuclear reactor in Japan were contaminated by radiation leaks during the reactor's almost-meltdown. Their solution is a real-life Rad-X capsule which neatly sucks all the nasty parts out of irradiated water, juice, or milk, and in doing so makes it safe to drink. The technique will be further discussed at the American Chemical Society's Spring conference next month.
The capsule is an adapted version of mining technology used by engineers to coax uranium particles out of especially stubborn pieces of rock. The technique revolves around introducing metal oxide nanoparticles which bond with a variety of chemicals (including all known radioactive actinides) into the irradiated liquid inside a capsule and giving them a little time to bond with the radioactive particles. After that, just remove the newly-irradiated capsule and you're good to go. Simple.
As smart as this sounds, the capsule is still in its infancy. Questions remain over how much radiation a single capsule could remove, and how many uses you could get from one capsule. Researchers will also be investigating challenges associated with upscaling the technique to de-radiate larger water sources, such as those used for agriculture or industry.
Taken as a concept, though, the capsule looks pretty solid. Can someone get on to Bethesda about this? While scientists are all over the real-world irradiated water issue, my Wanderer's still trapped in a bathroom somewhere trying to decide whether the six extra legs the water in that toilet will give her are worth living for or not. Her Rad-X has worn off and she's been trapped there since mid-2010, wracked with indecision; a little capsule like this could be the key to her salvation.