Atoms From Nuclear Explosions Are Embedded in Your Brain, But You’re Fine


Nuclear bombs are the most destructive weapons
humanity has ever devised, but they have an unexpected upside. Thanks to their development and testing, they’ve
contributed to some surprising advances in other scientific fields like neuroscience
and climatology. You may wonder what neuroscience has to do
with nuclear weapons, and to understand the connection, you need to know about carbon-14. Usually carbon has an atomic mass of 12; 6
protons and 6 neutrons. But on occasion, neutrons energized by cosmic
rays from our sun will collide with nitrogen atoms in our atmosphere, knocking a proton
off the atom and converting nitrogen into carbon with two extra neutrons, AKA Carbon-14
Unlike its 6 neutron cousin, carbon-14 is radioactive, with a half-life of about 5,700
years. To organisms though it doesn’t make much
difference. Plants use carbon-14 like any other carbon
atom during photosynthesis, and that carbon-14 works its way through the food chain. That’s right. All of us have this radioactive isotope spread
throughout our entire bodies. Since carbon-14 is constantly decaying and
is replenished by natural cycles, the amount of it in our atmosphere remains pretty constant. At least it should, so long as nobody’s,
oh I don’t know, setting off massive explosions that release a lot of high energy neutrons
into our nitrogen-rich atmosphere. Remember when we did that? Atomic bombs create an artificial spike in
atmospheric carbon-14, and we can associate that spike to an exact moment in time. Since we know how much carbon-14 WAS in the
air for any given year, and we know how carbon works its way into our bodies… We can use these spikes to measure how much
carbon-14 is in a cell’s DNA and determine what year that cell was formed. Clever scientists realized this gave them
a rare opportunity to answer a vexing question about the human brain. The prevailing wisdom had long been that humans
don’t grow new brain cells after early childhood, but research on rodents and monkeys showed
that wasn’t the case for them. These animals would grow new neurons in the
hippocampus and olfactory bulb, the areas associated with memory and smell. But the method used to track neuron growth
in monkeys couldn’t be used on humans because it relied on a banned chemical. So instead, in a small study, researchers
realized if they looked at samples of brain tissue and checked how much carbon-14 was
present, they could determine when the neurons formed during that person’s lifetime. At first, they couldn’t test the hippocampus
because it contained so few neurons, making carbon-14 too difficult to detect. But, their initial tests on the larger olfactory
bulb showed that we humans do NOT generate new olfactory neurons like our smellier monkey
cousins. But, soon after, advances in DNA sampling
made it possible to scan the hippocampus of 110 brain slices for carbon-14, and VOILA. They found the average neuron in that region
of the brain was only 20 to 30 years old, even when the brain was more than 90. It would seem we do generate new neurons in
the hippocampus after all, about 700 a day by the researcher’s estimate. So case closed, right? We’re done here? Hahaha, of course not. A study published in early March went looking
for those new and forming neurons in 59 brains. While they were abundant in the brains of
children, nary an immature brain cell was found in adults, challenging the results of
the experiments that relied on Carbon-14. Maybe there’s another explanation for the
Carbon-14 levels but if we’re going to find it we better hurry. The window to test something like this is
closing. Open air atomic testing was banned in 1963,
and carbon-14 levels are fast approaching their old pre-atomic levels. By 2050 researchers believe this sort of carbon-14
testing probably won’t be possible anymore. You may remember that carbon-14 has a half
life of almost 5,700 years and wondering why the levels are dropping so fast. It turns out much of the excess carbon-14
is being absorbed by oceans and organisms, which has helped scientists understand how
atmospheric CO2 flows. So in an unexpected way, nuclear weapons have
helped us learn about our planet and our own brains. I guess even mushroom clouds have silver linings. Before we knew about C14, we could track cell
growth with bromodeoxyuridine, but it was banned because it can harm the fetus in pregnant
women, causing scientists to question the results. Thanks for watching Seeker.

100 thoughts on “Atoms From Nuclear Explosions Are Embedded in Your Brain, But You’re Fine

  1. What about asian countries like India , China and Pakistan that joined nuclear family years after 1963 ban? Did their tests contributed to this data?

  2. I notice why early human bang rock they all have different bang sound some are soft some are loud soft rock that generate sparks is cause thru static of anti matter and physical matter to create fire i guess this is why you need to collide atoms to capture dark matter wow. All start with rock slamming sound and frequency learn from nature. Silica material and structure formation all can be created to make memory:D

  3. Jesus said "So it will be at the end of the age,the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire, in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 13:49-50. Jesus also said "You are my friends if you do what I command you." John 15:14. Jesus taught that the only way to be saved is to choose him as your Lord and Master, repent and believe that he died for the sins of his people on the cross see John 14:6.

  4. You just said it's mostly absorbed by oceans and organism's, we are organisms. The world has detonated a ridiculous 4,000+ nuclear bombs, and just because they are not open air doesn't
    mean they don't leave behind a measurable effect on this planet and all of its inhabitants so don't be trying to sell us this crap as harmless.

  5. The math that lead us there is what is amazing, The bombs themselves should not be set off outside of a well controlled environment.

    Imagine the kind of energy you could obtain if you knew how to control that like we do gasoline, or the alternating current.

  6. So the idea that nuclear chemicals can help us evolve faster is real. Science fiction is slowly becoming real. Maybe we should start looking at science fiction as science yet to be understood. And maybe these creative geniuses who thought up these comics, TV shows, movies, etc, should have their brain looked at. Maybe science fiction writers are actually tapping into the universe.

  7. All these stupid ass comments made by grown ass men, acting like 12 year olds. I know why youtube is dying, its because manbabies make it unusable.

  8. that explains the dreams about nuclear explosions its clear the church of atom was right … praise the atom!

  9. NEVER FEAR IRRATIONAL LEADERS ARE HERE! I'm not going to be surprised if someone detonates a nuke in the next 50 years, it's actually really hard to imagine that not happening. I'm only half convinced it'll be a country that does it, a stateless actor might be the more likely culprit. Either way, scientist will have more subjects to study, the research will continue and in time humanity will forget the lessons it learned and start the cycle all over again. So don't worry, be happy! Because your life could 100% be so much worse than it is.

  10. Please, when you talk about C-14, don't forget to say that it's produced about 10kg per year on whole atmosphere. We can't detect that much and that's why you look like stupid idiot talking about it.

  11. dinosaur bones Carbon-14 dated
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvWdWbLcJvQ
    So did Dinosaur's Die 30,000 years ago or 65 Million?

  12. Yah, sure, tests , bla bla bla, you coulda just asked me. Yah didn't need to destructive the bloody atmosphere. I mean come on

  13. Not too worry. My father was only 20 miles from 2 tests including the first hydrogen bomb. He ran a Marathon at 58 and lived just 3 months short of 90, and enjoyed good health until his death.

  14. Closing eh…. time for ww3…. because doing intentional irradiation on a few subjects is much more immoral then killing millions … god I love humanity 🙂 .

  15. 1:27 they made the graph themselves, it is incorrect and they didnt even mention the source, it does not include dozens of nuclear tests conduted and bombs exploded apart from the world war decades

  16. I see when you describe the c 14 spiking due to nukes, that you say it reaches higher peaks and then drops off again, does that mean certain year of generations brains could have been effected? Please elaborate because you're noclear

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