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Lightink ze vay.
March 26, 2013 6:55 AM   Subscribe

They had to be fully autonomous, because they were situated hundreds and hundreds miles aways from any populated areas. After reviewing different ideas on how to make them work for a years without service and any external power supply, Soviet engineers decided to implement atomic energy to power up those structures. So, special lightweight small atomic reactors were produced in limited series to be delivered to the Polar Circle lands and to be installed on the lighthouses.
posted by cthuljew (14 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
In May 2001, three radioisotope power sources were stolen from lighthouses of Russia’s Defence Ministry on an island in the White Sea, in the area of the Kandalaksha nature reserve in the Murmansk region. This reserve is one of Russia's known centres of ecological tourism. Two looters of non-ferrous metals received severe doses of radiation. The "hot" RTGs were recovered and sent to VNIITFA in June 2001.

Due to the inefficient practice of RTG accounting and control performed by the operators of these installations, certain RTGs may be 'lost' or 'abandoned.' In effect, the sites where RTGs are located can safely be regarded as temporary storage places for highly radioactive waste.
posted by public at 7:02 AM on March 26, 2013


Brilliant! What could possibly go wrong?
posted by ardgedee at 7:03 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure I went to that lighthouse at some point in Half-Life 2?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:06 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good Wikipedia article on RTGs.
posted by mrbill at 7:24 AM on March 26, 2013


> Brilliant! What could possibly go wrong?

AERIAL SHOT:

EXT. LIGHT HOUSE PERCHED ON A ROCKY PROMONTORY -- NIGHT

The lighthouse's beam sweeps in a circle

Slow zoom on a small boat approaching the lighthouse in rough seas

V.O. (you know the voice): In a world where the night lasts for 100 day a year, they brought light. But now... those lights are going out.

The lighthouse beam flickers and dies.

CUT TO:

INT. LIGHTHOUSE CONTROL ROOM -- ALSO NIGHT

HANDSOME EARNEST AMERICAN PROTAGONIST, BEAUTIFUL BUT COLD RUSSIAN LOVE INTEREST, and JEAN RENO are peering at a mass of ripped wires and cables with flashlights.

LOVE (in thick but approachable Russian accent): This is third nuclear wessel lost in month.

PROTAG: I earnestly want to get to the bottom of this.

LEON (lights cigarette): I drive the boat.

V.O.: But what they'll find, is nothing they could have expected...

CUT TO:

EXT. CLOSE SHOT OF FRESH SNOW -- STILL NIGHT

V.O.: Because some things prefer the dark...

A giant white paw crunches down into the snow

RAPID CUTS OF CHARACTERS RUNNING AND SHOUTING IN VARIOUS LOCATIONS, SHAKY CAM, END WITH A GIANT GREEN GLOWING MUTANT POLAR BEAR LUNGING DIRECTLY AT CAMERA

V.O.: This winter, will you turn on your NIGHT LIGHT?

CUT TO TITLE, BRRRAAAAAPPPPP NOISE
posted by Panjandrum at 7:40 AM on March 26, 2013 [24 favorites]


I think the radio-isotope generators come up here about every year or two. The science behind them is neat (they also power spacecraft), and the pull is usually how someone in a forest of Minsk found one and died from radiation exposure. At least no dirty-bomb-source-material scare in this article.
posted by k5.user at 7:45 AM on March 26, 2013


It's also worth noting that RTGs are not nuclear reactors. RTGs produce power from the decay of radioisotopes produced elsewhere.

(By analogy, if a nuclear reactor is like building a fire to heat a room, an RTG is like taking a stone warmed in that fire and using it to heat your bed/bath/soup/etc. Don't you want some strontium-90 in your soup?)
posted by hattifattener at 8:20 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


What kind of soup?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:17 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Primordial.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:22 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've seen this ER post before, and one thing that stuck me then and now is that the Fresnel lens for the light is still intact, when everything else has been trashed.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:36 AM on March 26, 2013


I'm mostly curious as to why the title of this post is in a German accent.

(I have no idea how you'd write it in a Russian accent. Any suggestions?)
posted by milkb0at at 3:34 PM on March 26, 2013


For one thing, no prepositions.
posted by dhartung at 4:57 PM on March 26, 2013


(I have no idea how you'd write it in a Russian accent. Any suggestions?)

Same way, but the vowels are different.
posted by cthuljew at 10:07 PM on March 26, 2013


de not ze. and no k.
posted by wilful at 4:19 AM on March 27, 2013


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