December 17, 2016 by Samantha Lienhard - 5 Comments
The game Lifeline for iOS and Android (Big Fish Games) puts you in contact with Taylor, an astronaut stranded on an alien moon. With Taylor’s survival in your hands, you must communicate and provide the correct answers to help him survive.
(Note: Taylor’s gender is ambiguous, but we’ve decided to refer to the character as a he.)
One of the most common questions in Lifeline comes about when Taylor has to decide whether to sleep in the cold or by the reactor. The reactor is radioactive, and he’ll get 150 rads if he sleeps by it. This leads to many players worry about one simple thing: will 150 rads kill you?
The short answer is no. Taylor will freeze to death if you pick the other option, so you need to let him sleep by the reactor.
In real life, however, the answer is a bit more complicated. Even there, 150 rads should not be enough radiation to kill someone, at least not immediately. However, the person would likely begin to suffer side effects, such as nausea. Some people exposed to this amount of radiation would die later on, while others would recover.
Keep in mind, even though it’s not necessarily lethal, 150 rads is well above the threshold generally considered safe for humans.
Duration also plays an important role. 150 rads overnight for one night might not kill you, but if you continued to be exposed to 150 rads night after night, then you’d be in serious danger.
Finally, there’s one more thing you need to take into account. What kind of radiation is it? While it’s tempting (especially in the context of video games and other works of fiction) to toss “radiation” out there as a single concept that covers all possibilities, not all radiation is equal.
For example, alpha radiation is not an external threat. It must actually get inside your body for you to suffer ill effects. Beta radiation is more dangerous, and gamma radiation is worse still: difficult to protect yourself against and capable of causing widespread damage to your body.
Of course, Lifeline is just a game, and all of these things don’t need to be taken into account as they would in real life. So, to recap…
In Lifeline, 150 rads overnight will not kill you. Let Taylor sleep by the reactor.
In real life, it’s more complicated and dangerous, and you should steer clear of radioactive materials.