Celebrating atomic beauty

Decor_logo Unlikely stories don't come much more unlikely than this. I was fascinated to read on The Great Beyond (the blog of the Nature news journalists and editors) about an unusual kind of beauty contest – one for the Russian nuclear industry. From the post, which is by Alison Abbott:

"Russia’s sixth such contest is now ongoing. Any female between 18 and 35 who works for the industry in the former Soviet republics may enter Miss Atom 2009, reports the German news magazine Der Spiegel. And nearly three hundred have done so. Their pictures are displayed in an online gallery with text supporting their candidature – and, of course, their vital statistics. Some of the more serious beauty contestants say they hope for world peace. More career-orientated contestants say things like “I don’t need a modelling course – I am, after all, an employee of the company ‘Atomtrudesurcy’ ”. "

The online gallery of entrants is at the "nuclear.ru" website. I did not spot any men, though I confess to not looking too hard – there are more than 12 pages of entries, with 30 pictures per page. Apparently, visitors to the gallery can vote, and the three winners (to be announced on 5 March) will be rewarded with holidays to Cuba, Morocco and the Adriatic (I was thinking perhaps Cumbria, Pennsylvania and, er, the Ukraine might be more appropriate).

Ilya Platonow, organiser of the contest, told Der Spiegel that with its promotion of all that is healthy and beautiful in the controversial energy sector, the contest should finally torpedo ‘the cliché of dangerous and threatening nuclear energy’.

6 thoughts on “Celebrating atomic beauty

  1. I was involved with a charity that brought children from Belarus to England for a months holiday in the summer. Chatting with the teachers who brought them over was interesting. One said the Mayor of their town had shortly after Chernobyl made a speech in which he said there was no risk to local people and shortly after that he disappeared probably to Cuba or Pennsylvania.
    I don’t think the health and safety standards will ever be similar to ours in countries like the Ukraine, Belarus or Russia.
    After I retired I was supposed to go to Belarus to see my surgery equipment reassembled there, but reading about the Belarus dictatorship I was having some second thoughts. I should not have worried as the equipment was “lost” somewhere on the Polish-Belarus border and I never saw it again.
    Those poor children had none of the luxuries or clothes that our children take for granted, and were kitted out on their arrival in England by the charity at M&S. They had received dental treatment usually without local anaesthetics and if they did have a LA injection “boiled” rather than disposable needles had been used! This was 6 years plus ago so maybe things are better there now. Sorry to fill up your comments but the “threatening nuclear energy” brought it all back to me.

  2. Norman, yes it was awful for the people after Chernobyl, I remember our reports on it at Nature. And that brave pilot who dropped slabs of concrete (was it?) into the crater to seal it off, and who subsequently died of radiation poisoning. Interestingly, though, the accident originated by an unofficial experiment, not through anything wrong with the technology itself. (Unlike Three Mile Island and Windscale, alluded to in my post). Personally, I believe that nuclear power is essential for the planet’s future, but obviously, needs zealous regulation and safety processes, and, pretty urgently, something done about safe disposal of the waste (another shocking saga).

  3. Curious they call it literally “Miss” – in English, rather than using the Russian word. Perhaps it’s the universal honorific for beauty pageants. But in that case, it’s easy to see why not too many men would enter themselves into the contest :o)

  4. Here in the US nuclear industry, pageants are not talked about but pretty girl calendars are, and I think a number of years ago at least one site did a calendar. Just about impossible to do that now for all sorts of social/political reasons. Given a lot of Russian nuclear folks live rather unappealing lives (including not being paid for periods of time), it’s not surprising they’ll take a shot at any chance for adventure. We do send advisors over there from time to time and they come over here as well.
    My novel “Rad Decision”, based on my years in the industry and currently free online, looks at how the US nuclear industry is run and then takes a side trip to watch the Chernobyl fiasco first-hand. Lots of differences in approach. The Chernobyl section is marked on the homepage listing of episodes, if readers would just care to delve into that. Reader reviews are in the homepage comments. http://RadDecision.blogspot.com

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