Fandango’s One Word Challenge – Nucleus Versus Nuclear

What is the difference? I took advanced biology and I know (more or less) what a nucleus is, even though I slept through most of the class because I had a really lovely teacher, but she had a monotone voice which was like a double dose of sleeping pills for me. The double-period class began at 8:00. Not my best hour.

If I’d done better, I could have skipped college biology, but I just couldn’t stay awake long enough to learn much. The moment she started to talk, I passed out.

The best day of that entire class was the day a pigeon flew into the room and she suggested we catch and dissect it. It was the only laugh of the course.

But I did get “nucleus.” Late in my life, I spent a lot of time talking about and thinking about nuclear energy. I lived in Israel when Chernobyl melted down. The winds of the world blow that radiation everywhere, eventually. It was about two weeks after the meltdown that it arrived in Israel and presumably, the rest of the middle east. For weeks, we could not drink or eat anything that contained milk because the cattle were eating radiated grain and grass. And all my petunias turned black. When they grew back, they were all weirdly shaped and many had multiple flowers growing together.

We also had blood-red sunsets for months. I loved the sunsets, but I loved them more when I didn’t think about why I was seeing them.

So what is the difference?

Recently, I read a piece — and I don’t remember where I found it (Huffington?) — but it pointed out that the area around Chernobyl had restored itself very well and a lot sooner than expected. It turns out if there are no people to mess it up, the planet fixes itself. The animals were back, the trees were healthy. Flowers and all the creatures were doing fine.

A nuclear meltdown does less damage to the earth than people.

Why am I not surprised?

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

4 thoughts on “NUCLEAR VERSUS NUCLEUS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. The more complex the system involved, the more disruption a “small” nuclear change can make. A seemingly small mutation can mess the whole thing up. Can be corrected, and generation time has something to do with that as well. Plants that have a generation or two every year can change/adapt quickly. Bacteria, reproducing more than once an hour, even more so–hence all that drug resistance. And then there’s people, with a 20+ year generation time. Way slow, comparatively speaking.


    1. When my radiated petunias re-emerged, they had made some significant changes. It was actually pretty scary to look at. I tried to not think about the air I was breathing. I’m sure everyone was trying to take shallow breaths.


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