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"Nuclear Boy" Explains Japan's Crisis to Kids

Posted by Josh Rothman  March 23, 2011 08:07 AM

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When faced with an off-the-charts crisis, one of the first things we do is try to understand it -- that's why Japan's nuclear crisis has made a lot of us into instant experts on fuel rods, containment vessels, and cooling systems. For kids who can't master the details, though, Japanese animators have created "Nuclear Boy," which explains the problem by -- wait for it -- substituting poop for nuclear material.

The Nuclear Boy character was created by a Japanese artist, Hachiya Kazuhiko; in a New York Times interview, he explains that after he posted about Nuclear Boy on Twitter, one reader turned it into a comic strip. Then an anonymous professional animator turned the story into an animated short. (According to the website The Daily What, it's been shown on Japanese national TV. I can't confirm that, but it has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube.)

The cartoon is actually a pretty good explanation of what's going on with the reactors; the video even compares Nuclear Boy to Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Personifying the reactors as "Nuclear Boy" does lend the whole presentation a surreal feeling, though. "I will pray for people in Fukushima that peace will come to them soon," the video concludes. "That's the least we can do for receiving Nuclear Boy's energy for so many years."

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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