Saturday, July 10, 2004

Ow, My Brain

Am on the reference desk today, on this sunny Saturday, but there are too many people with too many questions!! Have been trying to bend my brain around this question: "How much radiation does the average person get in a routine medical X-ray? (He wants a measureable amount)" This seems straightforward, right? Have been poring over science encyclopediae and medical encyclopediae, and browsing our health database. There are, first of all, too many different uses for x-rays. And the explanations, I think, are not actually written in English. Or in a dialect that this squirrel understands, anyway.

Finally, have found a nice little number in the Merck Manual: average dose from diagnostic x-rays for average person, 0.39 millisieverts. MILLISIEVERTS?? Qu'est-ce que c'est 'millisieverts'?

Merck also says (love Merck!), "Radiation dose is measured in...the roentgen (R), the gray (Gy), and the sievert (Sv)." Great. What is a sievert?

Random House Dictionary: sievert: "The SI unit of dose equivalent when the absorbed dose is measured in gray." Oh, come on. Sheesh.

Shorter Oxford (OED): sievert: "An SI unit of dose equivalent of ionizing radiation, defined as that which delivers one joule of energy per kilogram of recipient mass, and equal to 100 rem." Ah, of course. *cough*

This hurts my brain, but have just called the patron, and he already knows what a sievert is!!! Smart, clever, lovely patron.

Was planning to write for Liz a history of my frothzen tongue, but the dethk wath too buthy. Mutht wait for later.


Blogger liz said...

I think if I were in your position I would be seriously tempted to simply Google each of those reference questions. (Or even tell the library patrons to do so!)

9:13 am  
Blogger Gwen said...

I do like Google a lot, but sometimes there is a concern about the quality of the source of info. If every answer I received through Google came from a quality resource like the Merck Manual, then I'd trust it a great deal. Sometimes, though, it's just Bill in his basement consulting the eight ball and then making lofty proclamations.

By the way, a kid down the street consulted the eight ball the other day and told me that I'd win a million dollars this week. I haven't seen one of those eight balls for years. Will have to buy my own when the cash comes through.

2:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gwen,

Laureen mentioned your blog and I'm finally having a look. The renos sound awesome (while, I'm sure, annoying for you), Happy B-day to Jim (mine was the 27th).
I just had to comment on this particular blog - it is the typical kind of mind itching IS question that simultaneously terrifies me and makes me think it's all worth while. You go grrl. - L.Salt

1:02 pm  
Blogger argotnaut said...

At least you don't make a mess with your research, like all of those people who spend so much time pouring over books . . .

10:46 am  

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