The Radiation Fumigation

Summer and the Radiation Moon

Not far from the Chicago Art Museum, angle across the park, head south and cross Lakeshore Drive to the triangle that contains the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History. I used to take Joseph there when he was younger.

At the time there was an exhibition room in the Field that featured the ENIAC*, an early computer. It was huge. Seeing the computer itself, I learned the origin of the term, bug. It meant, bug. As in, a bug crawled onto one of the vacuum tubes and died. Oh. You can see how that might cause trouble. Based on my experience, it’s a wonder there wasn’t a second category of computer problems, cat.

The ENIAC and its 17,468 vacuum tubes came to me today because my radiation treatment didn’t happen. Why? Yesterday afternoon, a patient sat in a chair in the reception area. He noticed a bug. Said he’d seen them before and knew what it was. A bed bug. A bed bug! Yep, as you know, they’re back. And, they’ve made it to the Rockies.

Fumigation of the radiation. That’s happening now. Things should be back to go tomorrow. Weird, eh?

*Housed within 40 9-foot-tall cabinets, the machine contained 17,468 vacuum tubes along with 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors, 1,500 relays, 6,000 manual switches, and 5 million soldered joints. Its dimensions covered 1,800 square feet (167 square meters) of floor space and weighed 30 tons, and running it consumed 160 kilowatts of electrical power. Two 20-horsepower blowers delivered cool air to keep the machine from overheating.

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