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Radon Gas Testing

What if I told you that there is a gas that seeps out of the ground that has carcinogenic effects? Would you believe me? What if, in addition, I said that this gas is found in all of our homes where, for those of us that don’t smoke, it serves as the main contributor in the development of lung cancer? Would you be skeptical? Well, radon is such a gas. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently estimates that as many as 8,000,000 houses in the United States have elevated levels of radon. While many of you have likely heard of this health threat by now, there is a great deal of complexity and confusion concerning this mysterious gas. Recognizing this confusion, I have prepared a two-part essay on this important subject. In this essay I will focus on basic information about radon including its physical properties, its geographic distribution and origin, its health impacts and social costs, as well as directions for taking radon measurements.

Where does radon come from? Radon gas forms when radium-226 (the number refers to the atomic mass of this particular form of radium) in soil and rocks decays radioactively. When an element, such as radium, decays it changes form, i.e., becomes a new atom, and releases energy in the form of light or fast moving particles which can be harmful to life. In the case of the decay of radium-226, the released alpha particles consist of large subatomic fragments consisting of 2 protons and 2 neutrons. Yet since this radium decay occurs underground, the resulting radiation is shielded by the surrounding rock and thus isn’t a threat to humans. The interesting and significant aspect of the decay of radium-226 is that it is a solid (at temperatures and pressures generally found in th…

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…conducting the test over three to five days, and mailing your testing equipment to the appropriate analyzers. (For Knox County, the number for the Health Department is 344-2224.) The entire test, which can be conducted at little cost (usually below $10), is simple and requires very little of your time–perhaps 15 minutes which largely involves filling out the paperwork on the test kit. Once test kits are sent in, mailed results are sent within a week or two. Additionally, if you drink well water regularly, you can call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 to find out more about testing it for radon contamination as well.

Works Cited

Frumkin, H.

Imagination and Realism in Hamlet

Imagination and Realism in Hamlet

Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet is a composite of poetic and realistic elements. Which predominates? This paper analyzes the presence of both realism and imagination.

Richard A. Lanham in “Superposed Plays” discusses the poetic or imaginative side of Hamlet:

The real doubt comes when we ask, “What poetic do we bring to the Hamlet play?” As several of its students have pointed out, it is a wordy play. Eloquence haunts it. Horatio starts the wordiness by supplying a footnote from ancient Rome in the first scene, by improving the occasion with informative reflections. Everybody laughs at Polonius for his moralizing glosses but Hamlet is just as bad. Worse. Gertrude asks him, in the second scene, why he grieves to excess and he gives us a disquisition on seeming and reality in grief. The King follows with h is bravura piece on grief. Everybody moralizes the pageant. The Hamlet play abounds with triggers for straight revenge-tragedy response. The whole “mystery” of Hamlet’s hesitant revenge boils down to wondering why he doesn’t go ahead and play his traditional part, complete with the elegant rants we know he can deliver. (89)

The real battle in the play between imagination and realism is forcefully presented by another literary critic. Harold Goddard’s essay, “Hamlet: His Own Falstaff,” highlights this battle in the play:

Hamlet, the conclusion is, is a failure because the materials Shakespeare inherited were too tough and intractable. Too tough and intractable for what? That they were too tough and intractable for a credible historical picture may be readily granted. But what of it? And since when was poetry supposed to defer to history? Two world wars in three decades ought to have taught us that our history has not gone deep enough. But poetry has. The greatest poetry has always depicted the world as a little citadel of nobility threatened by an immense barbarism, a flickering candle surrounded by infinite night. The “historical” impossibility of Hamlet is its poetical truth, and the paradox of its central figure is the universal psychology of man. (14)

The play opens on the ramparts of Elsinore castle – a very realistic setting. But very soon the imaginative element of a ghost, the likeness of dead King Hamlet, makes its appearance before Barnardo, Marcellus and Horatio. Mysteriously, it says nothing, prompting Horatio and Marcellus to leave in search of Hamlet, the prince and their friend, who might be able to interpret this spectral figure.

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