Somehow, I missed that a couple of years ago the IAEA and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released a new symbol for ionizing radiation.

For a field that spends an inordinate amount of time trying to place the real risks from radiation in some sort of perspective, I am not sure this sends precisely the right message.

Unless, of course, that message is: RUN FOR YOU LIVES WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!!!!!!

Then, it’s totally great.

Late Update | 11:42 am 23 May 2011 Sometimes the most valuable posts are the ones where I come off looking like a jerk. In those cases, a reader writes in with a patient explanation that helps enlighten the community as a whole.  It’s a trifle embarrassing to discover that I am Simplicio in the dialogue, but at least it is for a good cause.

As Ayhan Evrensel points out, the sign is supplementary, intended for the casings CAT 1, 2, 3 sources. Had the symbol been in use, for example, in the 1980s, we might not have had the Goiânia incident, which killed 4 people and sickened many others.

I apologize for adding to the confusion, rather than reducing it.  And, again, I reminded what a wondeful resource my readers really are.