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Speaker to explore radioactive levels on central coast

Mustang News File Photo

To help illustrate how the device works during his presentation, Yoh Kawano plans on having one turned on during his drive from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo.

Laura Wilkinson
Special to Mustang News

Robert E. Kennedy Library’s Science Cafe series will host University of California, Los Angeles campus geographic information system coordinator Yoh Kawano on Feb. 14 to talk about his work at Niigata University’s radioisotope center in Japan measuring radiation levels.

“The research being done is definitely in response to the disaster at Fukushima,” Kawano said.

Through a partnership with UCLA’s Institute for Digital Research and Education, the Radioisotope Center’s team has built a vehicle-mounted radiation-monitoring system with a public web-based interface to inform people about radiation levels in their communities.

According to Kawano, close to 10 vehicle systems have been built and have been deployed in the communities most closely surrounding and affected by the power plant explosion.

“You all live next to a power plant yourselves, so (the situation) is not totally imaginary,” Kawano said.

To help illustrate how the device works during his presentation, Kawano plans on having one turned on during his drive from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, so when he arrives, he’ll be able to share his readings of current radiation levels along the California coast.

Kennedy Library communications and public programs coordinator Karen Lauritsen said she is excited about the collaboration between Kawano and Cal Poly’s own geographic information system program to create an interactive experience for the audience.

“If people bring their smart phones (and have access to) Twitter, they will have the chance to participate in a simulated crowd-sourced response to a nuclear disaster in our area,” Lauritsen said. “Like all Cal Poly Science Cafes, this is an opportunity for people to meet and learn from an expert in a hands-on, interactive and casual way.”

The talk is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. in the second floor cafe lounge of Kennedy Library, and it is free to attend.