MONITORING THE NORTH KOREANS….Did the North Koreans really detonate a nuclear device? The consensus seems to be “probably,” and we’ll know for sure in a few days thanks to sniffer spy planes looking for radiation signatures in the atmosphere near the test site. And what are those planes looking for? For the geeks out there, Jeffrey Park of Yale provides the answer:

In geologic conditions where containment is more effective, the “golden spikes” of radionuclide detection are isotopes of certain noble gasses, which diffuse out of the ground post-explosion. The CTBTO-IMS has radionuclide detectors in Japan and Okinawa, so the chance of getting a reliable reading is good.

Now you know. (BTW, that’s the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s International Monitoring System he’s talking about.)

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