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What is J.J. Abrams' 500 Rads?

JJAbrams.jpgNow I shan't over-hype this by shouting about J.J. Abrams' latest secret project, but what I will do is a little research into what exactly 500 Rads is, and there are two interesting things that pop up, one which is very interesting indeed and makes me think of the machine in Watchmen that creates Dr. Manhattan.

Let's start at the beginning. A story has appeared that J.J. Abrams and his production house are "secretly" developing a project called 500 Rads, which probably isn't secret at all and definitely isn't secret since the entire film Internet world is talking about it already, and it's going to be a lower budget film which may well be in the style of Cloverfield or 28 Days Later, i.e. handheld, digital and shaky.

What is interesting though is if you search for 500 Rads on the Internet, and add in the phrase "-Abrams" otherwise you'll end up with pages of the same story. It comes back with a load of research papers about what 500 Rads of radiation, as Rads stands for absorbed radiation dose, and for me there were a couple of interesting reveals.

500 Rads is a common does used in very localised cancer treatments, there have been experiments in various countries talking about what affect it has on animals, the effects of radiation absorption on astronauts, but there were two that specifically caught my eye.

One is about an American lab called the 500 Rads test cell. Here's a quotation from the document I uncovered:

"The 500 Rads test cell in building 500 at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) contains a continuous x-ray source capable of producing lethal radiation levels within 15 seconds. Eight-foot thick walls of concrete are necessary but not sufficient to safeguard personnel. Operating procedures and engineered interlocks are required to ensure safety. This report documents the engineered interlock systems designed for safe operation. These solutions include emergency cutoff switches, warning lights, audible claxons, timing circuits, door interlocks and control circuitry. The electrical schematics, wiring diagrams and operational procedures are described."

It describes a safety system for this cell where 500 Rads can be fired at objects. A further, more detailed document on the room shows on page 41 just how much like the room in Watchmen, where Dr Manhattan was created, it is. Klaxons and warning beacons, time controls and all sorts fire off when the machine is in use.

However I'm not sure that is the story that the film would be looking at, especially considering the European filming. The other thing that caught my eye were the mentions of Russia and Chernobyl, and the effects on people and animals of radiation poisoning from the infamous reactor meltdown.

Now that sounds like a possibility. After all they are filming in Europe. Perhaps it's a thriller or action film about something around Chernobyl, or connected with it?

Mind you, as Pajiba through Cinema Blend say, it could just be a zombie film, but personally I don't buy that, not from J.J. Abrams, there would be a hell of a lot more to it than straight zombies wouldn't there, and I'm not convinced that's something Abrams would want to tackle.

More simply, it could be about the black market of ex-Russian nuclear material. What do you think it could be?





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