From Bombs to Bambi – newest National Wildlife Refuge #wildlife #Colorado #nuclear

NWR sign at Rocky Flats West GateYears of work culminated this week in the opening of a new Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. This one is unusual because the site used to be a nuclear weapons plant. I know. I was a Cold War Warrior there (honestly, that’s what the USA Congress called us) and later an environmental engineer turning the plant over to wildlife.

worker at Rocky Flats

Yup, that’s me during the Cold War – don’t worry, picture was released for a public report (though never used)

One odd side-effect of the weapons complex has been protection of plants and animals. Rocky Flats is home to an endangered mouse, and the State of Colorado wanted to place state-endangered birds on the property. Grazing and development around the plant left Rocky Flats as the best habitat in the area.

There was always wildlife in the buffer zone around the plant’s industrial core. I remember once a white fawn was born and the guard force tracked it daily from their towers and vehicles and reported to interested employees.

Once, a railroad car overturned and the recovery efforts were brought to a standstill by an angry rattlesnake coiled under the car.

I no longer live close enough to enjoy the new trails, which is a shame. A dear friend and colleague of mine will also miss out – he died earlier this year. He would have loved it.

The Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge sits on more than 5,000 acres of trees, wetlands and pristine rolling prairie about 16 miles northwest of Denver. It hosts 239 migratory and resident species, from falcons and elk to the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

The actual site of the former buildings will remain fenced off forever. It’s the land that used to serve as a buffer around Rocky Flats that’s reopening this weekend.  NPR



Ho Hum, Cancer – With an Update! #science #medicine #health #cancer #research


This is the face of the man who may have inspired teams of scientists to cure cancer. Fair use.

Your phone reminds you – time for the annual cancer test. You buy a capsule of nanoparticles – graphene with tiny magnetic cores, biodegradable and harmless, available over-the-counter. If you’ve lost it since last year, you buy the corresponding wrist band.

Inside your body, the nanoparticles spread out. If they encounter cancerous cells, they bind to them. Some cancer cells mobilize into your blood stream, but traditional blood tests didn’t pick them up. Now, passing by the wrist band, they signal a positive result.

“Well, shoot,” you say. “I’ve got cancer. Better make an appointment – hmmm. I’m meeting friends for lunch on Tuesday. Let’s make it Wednesday.”

You don’t need to see a doctor. Technicians slide you into a radiofrequency unit, maybe after another nanoparticle dose. Radio waves kill every cancer cell in your body – solid tumor, metastasized, it doesn’t matter – without damage to healthy cells.

“Better repeat the diagnostic test in a month,” the technician warns.

Yeah, yeah… You tap the new date into your phone and go merrily on your way.

Science fiction? Distant future? Maybe not.

This May, [Dr. Steven A. Curley, oncologist] filed protocols with the Italian Ministry of Health to test the radio wave machine on humans diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer. Pending approval in the fall, human clinical trials will begin in the spring of next year in Naples, Italy.”

The initial studies are aimed at proving the treatment is safe for humans. Success will mean trials continue to find out how effective it is.

Where did this idea come from?

John Kanzius was a retired radio engineer, amateur radio operator, and dying of leukemia. Sick from chemotherapy, he:

  • Became a citizen scientist,
  • Studied cancer research,
  • Developed a radiofrequency-based concept to kill cancer cells without invasive surgery or chemotherapy,
  • Demonstrated the technique on hot dogs in his basement shop,
  • Dogged oncologists until he teamed up with Dr. Curley, and – well –
  • Read the story at
  • Note how different it is from inventors of perpetual motion machines or pills to turn water into gasoline, who claim persecution.

Professional researchers tackled Kanzius’ inspiration.

Kanzius succumbed to his cancer in 2009, but Curley and his team (Curley has 20 researchers with expertise in nanomaterials, radiofrequency, immune function and drug delivery functions working in his lab at the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas) have carried on and now – maybe science fiction will become science fact.

If you’ve ever read that “they” don’t want to cure your illness, “they” get rich off pushing dreadful medical treatments, or “they” won’t look at ideas from outside their own lab, here’s the happy counterproof – and not just one odd-ball researcher but many.

Perhaps in the foreseeable future, the cancer industry will disappear and a diagnosis of cancer will be more like an ingrown toenail than a death sentence.

In the meantime, I applaud citizen-scientists and open-minded professionals everywhere.

I am a cancer survivor and past employee of Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant (where cancer was cussed and discussed, as noted in the brief chapter on cancer in my dear friend’s excellent book An Insiders View of Rocky Flats.) So cancer news tends to catch my eye. And – no – I do not blame my time at Rocky Flats for my cancer – I blame childhood sunburns.

BTW – Keep the champagne corked for now: “Curley is hopeful, but cautious: ‘A whole bunch of us have been able to cure cancer in animals. You go to humans, and sometimes there are opposite results,’ he says. ‘You never know.’” And “I don’t tell patients they are cured until eight, nine, ten years down road.”

Here’s another twistKanzius Cancer Research, a registered, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, has completed its mission and ceased operations as of June 30, 2014. It granted its remaining assets to three, newly created funds to facilitate Phase II human clinical trials. No endless fundraising here!

I’m so hopeful about this technology I included it in my two science fiction novels Glory on Mars and Born on Mars. It’s just mentioned in passing, but since radiation exposure – and therefore cancer – will be a danger for people on Mars, I wanted to share the hope with my settlers.

UPDATE: I haven’t found the results of the Italian study yet, but this seems related:

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine created a magnetic wire that could, in theory, be inserted into a person’s vein, where it could snatch up tumor cells that had been magnetized by special nanoparticles.

#Trinity, the First #GroundZero – a #poem by Kate Rauner

Tourists at Trinity Ground Zero

Tourists at Trinity Ground Zero

Two pages away in my atlas
Was the first atomic blast.
Four hundred twenty five miles
And seventy years in the past.
Away from my home in the Gila,
Away from my life, safe and sound,
And sometimes open to tourists,
A place where history’s found.
A stub from the tower’s support leg
The nearby house where they staged
A patch of glassified sand
Preserved from an earlier age.
The trinitite’s been buried
And desert grasses have grown.
Shrubs and thistles have reclaimed
This patch of their ancestral home.

I’ll start my own superstition,
And share it now with my friends.
If I stand just once at ground zero
I’ll never have to again.

I found a few bits of trinitite at the site, but it's illegal to remove them. You may buy pieces collected earlier and now in the hands of collectors.

I found a few bits of trinitite at the site, but it’s illegal to remove them. You may buy pieces collected earlier that are now in the hands of collectors.

July 16th is the anniversary of the first atomic bomb blast, an above-ground test in the New Mexico desert code-named Trinity. Much to many people’s surprise, the site is cleaned up and open twice a year to tourists. It’s located on the White Sands Missile Range, an active military base, don’t just turn up unexpected. There’s not much to see, but you can safely visit the first Ground Zero.

I worked for many years in America’s nuclear weapons complex and I’ve held plutonium in my (gloved) hand. Now I’ve also held a bit of the sandy clay soil turned to glass by the explosion at Trinity.

The Bomb led us out of World War II and into the Cold War, which shaped so much of what America did in the world. We escaped further war-time use of The Bomb and I hope that fortune continues.

A friend of mine has written a book about the place we worked – Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, now demolished and turned into a wildlife habitat – and it’s highly political final days after the Cold War fizzled out. There’s so much bad information out there that I recommend the book to anyone who’s curious about Rocky Flats.