Category: Science

Exploring Chernobyl: 6 Must-see Locations of the Exclusion Zone

Exploring Chernobyl: 6 Must-see Locations of the Exclusion Zone

Chernobyl, a town nearby Kyiv is known infamously for the accident in the nearby nuclear power plant on 26 April 1986. Nowadays Chernobyl is visited by 60,000 tourists annually. Radiation from the accident remains around the site, making access severely restricted. A visit to the exclusion zone is a unique experience however, and offers an insight into the scientific, technological and humanitarian aspects of the disaster.

1. Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear catastrophe in history. Now the deserted station is surrounded by Zone of Exclusion 30 kilometres radius.

The fourth reactor was working for only 3 years, when it suddenly exploded at April, 26 in 1986. The explosion threw 8 tons of radioactive fuel into the atmosphere. The amount of radioactive substances thrown into the atmosphere was 400 times greater than the ejection from the Hiroshima bombing. The disaster was classified by level 7 – the highest one of the nuclear accidents scale. And it is the only accident in history with such a grade.

When visiting the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant today, visitors get to see a giant some 100 m high arch called the New Safe Confinement building, often referred to as the NSC. Its construction was a joint international effort, finished late 2018. Guided tours still stop at a monument about 200 m from the NSC, dedicated to the workers who sacrificed their health in the construction of the old protective Sarcophagus in 1986. Much in contrast with 1986, the radiation levels around the power plant are very low nowadays, and thus very safe to visit.

2. Pripyat ghost town

Abandoned town Pripyat is has become world renown after a fatal accident. Pripyat was the youngest town in the USSR and nowadays it beggars belief that life was once boiling here. New sixteen-story buildings were being built, a modern hospital complex was working daily, a new amusement park was about to open, and smiling children ran along the school corridors. In one tragic day, the life of the inhabitants of Pripyat was divided on before and after the Chernobyl disaster.

Pripyat is located only two kilometers from Chernobyl and took the biggest impact. To save people they were literally taken from the streets away from the place of the catastrophe without money and documents, children were taken from the kindergartens and schools not by their parents, but by rescuers. In this whole mess, often it took several days to find their loved ones, and then for years to restore their documents. Now the abandoned city of Pripyat looks like a shot from a horror film.

3. Pripyat Amusement park

The fun fair in the Pripyat is the place where you realize the whole scale of the catastrophe. Looking at prepared for children carousels, cars and boats where children never skated, you involuntarily feel frightened by the tragedy that has ruined thousands of innocent lives. The Ferris wheel was one of the main attractions and became a cult symbol of both the Pripyat city and the Chernobyl accident. According to an unofficial version, the Ferris wheel worked the next day after the accident…

4. Duga Radar unit

The over-the-horizon radar Duga or Chernobyl-2 object is the largest, most secret and grandiose object of the whole USSR.

Its roar, the rumbling of the torn fastenings is heard to up to now in windy, rainy weather. A top-secret radar was built for the early detection of enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles. Surprisingly, but the station itself was discovered only after it began to work, because the enormous dimensions of the over-the-horizon radar (OTH-SW) allow us to see it literally from outer space.

The construction consists of two antennas – the height of the low-frequency is 150 meters (half of the Eiffel Tower), the high-frequency one – 100 meters (the height of three nine-storey buildings placed on top of each other), the width of the structure is 730 meters which is equal to the length of ten football fields.

This radar unit was dubbed “Russian Woodpecker” for the distinctive sound of rapping in the air. 600 to 700 million dollars was spent on construction – twice as much as for the construction of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The construction was ahead of its time, but it became another post-apocalyptic landscape.

5. Monument to the Chernobyl Liquidators

The Monument to the Chernobyl Liquidators is dedicated to firefighters who took part in the liquidation of the consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster. The inscription “To Those Who Saved the World” implies all heroes who consciously sacrificed their lives for the sake of saving others.

The firefighters who contained the blaze had no idea of the real cause of it, so they weren’t properly protected from radiation. Most of them died from acute radiation syndrome in next few weeks. They were buried in zink coffins and their graves were concreted to avoid the spread of radiation from their corpses.

The monument is located near the Chernobyl Fire Station. It is installed on the means of the firemen themselves and is made of concrete, which was used to build the Sarcophagus.

6. Abandoned cargo port

The cargo port was built to provide all necessary supplements for the construction of new power units (5th and 6th reactors) and a modern city of nuclear power engineers. But because of the tragedy it could not fulfill its mission, as well as an amusement park.

Now these metal giants are abandoned and forgotten, and the floating crane slowly disappears under the water and soon only piles of scrap will remind of their existence.

Kyiv Is Among the Greenest European Cities

Kyiv Is Among the Greenest European Cities

Living in a capital or a big city is cool in many aspects: you get access to employment, better schooling, healthcare and cultural events. But there are many disadvantages, too — such as increased stress and noise, and lesser access to fresh air and nature. That is why urban centers with enough green spaces are so appreciated. And that is why it’s so good to know that the capital of Ukraine is among the greenest cities of Europe.

This was identified by Phillipp Gärtner, the urban and forestry researcher who used a method of processing satellite images and measuring their pixels to detect which cities are better for living from the ecological point of view. Gärtner has generated the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for 43 of Europe’s capitals. The NDVI analyses remote sensing measurements to determine whether a target area contains live vegetation or not. For consistency, the area analyzed is a 5-mile radius circle around each city’s official city center.

The results tend to be weighted towards the smaller capitals as they generally have less metropolitan area. Coastal cities feature on the low end of the scale due to the non-plantable area so Gärtner has compiled a list of both cities with a population of above two million and the greenest seaside capital.

Here are the rankings from most green to least green:

Sarajevo – 0.6778
Vaduz – 0.6738
Ljubljana – 0.6114
Andorra La Vella – 0.6074
Bern – 0.5996
Luxembourg – 0.5801
Vilnius – 0.5137
Tallin – 0.459
Monaco – 0.4395
Oslo – 0.4356
Riga – 0.4238
Zagreb – 0.4121
Bratislava – 0.4043
Chisinau – 0.3926
Kyiv – 0.3887
Stockholm – 0.3777
Helsinki – 0.3769
Prague – 0.3692
Warsaw – 0.3653
Pristina – 0.3535
Sofia – 0.3379
Skopje – 0.3105
Belgrade – 0.295
Dublin – 0.291
Tirana – 0.2793
Minsk – 0.2718
Copenhagen – 0.2637
Reykjavik – 0.2637
Berlin – 0.2519
Bucharest – 0.2519
Podgorica – 0.2363
Amsterdam – 0.2285
Brussels – 0.1973
Vienna – 0.1738
Rome – 0.1699
Madrid – 0.1543
Moscow – 0.1426
London – 0.1348
Lisbon – 0.127
Paris – 0.1191
Valetta – 0.0957
Athens – 0.0879

The full analysis can be found here.

Kyiv boasts a number of parks and gardens that are perfect for rest with friends, family, or just alone. Those who like exotic plants are welcome to visit the Central Botanical Garden. Children as well as adults get positive emotions visiting Kyiv Zoo and getting acquainted with funny and cute animals. And if one wants just to have fun, he will, probably, never find a better place than the Hydropark.

How Ukrainian Flag Got into Space

How Ukrainian Flag Got into Space

The pictures of the Ukrainian flag on the Space Station recently circled the media, while the flag itself circled the Earth literally. Why the US astronaut Randolph Bresnik cared to take the blue-and-yellow canvas to the orbit? The story is quite interesting…

Mr. Bresnik told it during a teleconference with Kyiv, which took place last month. It turns out that he got the flag last year in the city of Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) where he was spending leisure time with his family. The point is that it is the home city of Mr. Bresnik’s adopted son. “And that’s why we went back there with the whole family, spent several days in Novomoskovsk, and then a few days in Kyiv. That’s where I got the flag. And that is why I took it with me,” said the astronaut. He also added that planned to bring the flag of Ukraine back from space to earth.

What is intriguing, this is not the first appearance of Ukrainian flag in the orbit. It’s already been there exactly 20 years ago — brought there by Leonid Kadenyuk. He went through the Soviet program of training cosmonauts, but flew into space as a representative of independent Ukraine, and on the American Shuttle. Back then, in 1997, the appearance of its own astronaut was another confirmation of the high international status of the country.

Hear and see more from the Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA telling about his work aboard of the International Space Station, Expedition 53 as told to Ukrainian students gathered at the America House in Kyiv, Ukraine on October, 25, 2017. The moderator of the meeting was Ambassador of the United States of America to Ukraine Mila Jovanovic.

Read about 15 Ukrainian inventions that changed the world.

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