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The Hundredth Monkey
Commentary on the News
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Ed DeShields

In a 1952 research study on the island of Koshima, scientists were feeding monkeys sweet potatoes. Ken Keyes, the author of the study’s findings, confirmed that monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes but found them unpleasant when the potatoes became covered with sand.

Not long after the tests began an 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. 

She taught this trick to her mother.  Her playmates also learned this new way, and in turn, taught their mothers too.

This cultural innovation was gradually adopted by other monkeys. Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys joined in to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable.

Interestingly, only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, when about one hundred Koshima monkeys had adopted the practice, the entire tribe suddenly joined in.  The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created a tipping point!

But notice.

A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then unexplainably jumped over the sea.  Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama suddenly began washing their sweet potatoes.

Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness creates a tipping point.  Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people alone.

But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!

Now the translation. 

There is a growing awareness developing in Japan as an increasing number of Japanese are realizing that nuclear contamination is at their doorstep.

Despite a virtual blackout of news coverage, highly radioactive substances from the failed Fukushima nuclear plant have now reached Tokyo.  Incredibly, the radiation levels are much hotter than at the plant site itself.    

The 170,000 becquerel readings are so hot, and so far beyond any personal safety limit, that most of those living in parts of Tokyo should seriously consider leaving the area immediately. 

Similarly, frighteningly high levels of radioactive cesium were found in the soils around Tokyo, in amounts that are higher than those TEPCO or the Japanese government have released for most of the Fukushima prefecture itself.

A prefecture just south of Tokyo also said it had detected higher-than-permissible amounts of radioactive material in tea leaves, in a reminder that Japan's radioactive-contamination problems are far from over.

Five women in Tokyo have detected radioactive contaminants in their breast milk confirming the contamination’s migration into the environment.    Also it should be noted that a private food firm in Japan tested its own rice fields 50 km from Fukushima and detected plutonium in far higher concentrations than any government tests had yet revealed.

One could reasonably ask how such a finding is possible this many miles away from Fukushima, given the prevailing wind patterns and the allegedly lower findings far closer to the plant itself. 

Perhaps it’s because reactors #1, #2, and #3 are leaking contamination to the outside world. Pouring water on them only creates more radioactive water that will find its way into the groundwater and the ocean.

The ultimate fear is that the molten cores are still cooking along, slowly working their way out of first the primary containment vessels and might slowly eat their way out of the secondary containment vessels, too.  If this happens, there will be a very real chance of extremely large-scale release of radioactive contamination -- possibly severe - should some sort of re-criticality be established when the molted cores encounter ground water.

If the principle of the Hundredth Monkey takes in Japan, it could spark a mass exodus of Tokyo, and with it the world’s number two economy.

About Ed DeShields

Last week: From the Inside Looking Out

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