Taryn Simon

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Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility, Cherenkov Radiation
Hanford Site, U.S. Department of Energy
Southeastern Washington State

Submerged in a pool of water at Hanford Site are 1,936 stainless steel nuclear waste capsules containing cesium and strontium. Combined, they contain over 120 million curies of radioactivity. It is estimated to be the most curies under one roof in the United States. The blue glow is created by the Cherenkov Effect or Cherenkov radiation. The Cherenkov Effect describes the electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle, giving off energy, moves faster than light through a transparent medium. The temperatures of the capsules are as high as 330 degrees Fahrenheit. The pool of water serves as a shield against radiation; a human standing one foot from an unshielded capsule would receive a lethal dose of radiation in less than 10 seconds.

Taryn Simon’s An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar opened today at the Whitney. A very exciting show indeed. I walked through the exhibition in astonishment. Many of the images I had seen online but still felt surprised when viewing the prints. If you make it to the show check out the book found next to the exhibition entry. A few recent articles on Taryn can be found here and here.

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