Researchers from Fukushima University in Japan are enlisting the help of some locals to monitor radiation near the damaged nuclear power facility in their prefecture. To get a better read on what kind of radiation levels exist in the forests around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, scientists plan to fit the area's native wild monkeys with collars containing radiation meters and GPS transponders.
The nuclear plant was notably damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and the ensuing (and ongoing) nuclear disaster that resulted is still largely undefined in terms of its extent and long-term impact. Right now, the forests around Fukushima are being monitored mostly by helicopter, but researchers want to get readings closer to the ground to see how the forest habitats might be impacted by the radiation leaking from the nuclear facility.
Enter the monkeys. There are as many as 14 groups of documented monkeys living in the mountainous forests around Minamisoma city, where the study will focus. These monkeys do a lot of moving around at a range of elevations, and that makes them ideal for gathering a wide spectrum of data for researchers. Presumably the wild monkeys will be tranquilized and fitted with collars, and then be released back into their habitats.
After roughly two months the experimental monitoring project will cease and the collars will be remotely detached. What happens to the technology after that is purely in the hands of the likely confused, probably angry, and definitely somewhat radioactive monkeys of Fukushima prefecture. It's like a sci-fi screenplay writer's dream come true.
A wonderful opportunity for PETA and the re-energized anti-nuclear groups to join forces.
Since the anti-nukes don't generally have very eye catching demonstrations, I would like to suggest that a joint demonstration be organized based on PETA's tried and true methods, perhaps painting nude young ladies with glow-in-the-dark paint and monkey tails.
But seriously, I would be interested in what kind of monitors they are using. Hopefully actual rate or activity meters and not cumulative dose meters (which would provide mostly useless information in this case).
How many times we seen the helicopter robotic drones on POPSCI. Seems these would be great to fly in with cameras and sensors. They could even work together to build some kind of monitoring device to be left close to the problem. It would be a great real life productive test platform for these helicopter robotic drones to do something useful.
You thought that Fukushima was bad, just wait till the radioactive super power mutant monkeys take over. :)
I guess it isn't a bad idea. Monkeys go where monkeys want. Much of that time is in areas where we cannot get to. I do hope this isn't the only way they will be searching for these hot spots. Let's see some flying drones equipped with that camera that uses augmented reality to visually show radiation.