When the US Department of Energy halted Plutonium 238 production as far back as 1988, things looked grim for the future of space exploration. On Monday, March 18th, NASA's planetary science division head Jim Green announced that production has been restarted, and is currently in the test phases leading up to a restart at full scale.
Around midnight local time (UTC +9) on 12 February the Democratic People's Republic of Korea detonated a 6-10 kiloton nuclear device at the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility. [more inside]
Overthinking It!: The Nuclear Option: Batman, Iron Man, and Attitudes Toward Power [more inside]
To the tinkly piano tune of "We are the world", a video released last weekend from Uriminzokkiri, North Korea's official website, shows a dream sequence involving various rockets, Korean unification, a sparkle-powered North Korean Space Shuttle, and the apparent missile-based destruction of Manhattan. [more inside]
"Most films of nuclear explosions are dubbed. If they do contain an actual recording of the test blast itself.........it's almost always shifted in time so that the explosion and the sound of the blast wave are simultaneous. This is, of course, quite false: the speed of light is much faster than the speed of sound....." Unearthed recently from some Russian archive, this document of a nuclear detonation is one of the few films of its kind that includes a recording of the audio. The sound is not what you might expect.
Bertrand Russell in Bollywood: The Old Philosopher’s Improbable Appearance in a Hindi Film, 1967 [SLYT] "The year was 1967. Russell was by then a very frail 95-year-old man. Besides finishing work on his three-volume autobiography, Russell was devoting much of his remaining time to the struggle for peace and nuclear disarmament. To that end, he sometimes made himself available to people he thought could help the cause. (See our March 2012 post, “How Bertrand Russell Turned the Beatles Against the Vietnam War.”) So when he was asked to appear in a movie called Aman, about a young Indian man who has just received his medical degree in London and wants to go to Japan to help victims of the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Russell said yes." [via: openculture.com]
What's life like aboard a nuclear submarine? For starters, here's over eight hours of C-SPAN 2, as they took their cameras aboard the USS Wyoming SSBN back in 2000, co-hosted by Rear Admiral Malcolm Fages and writer Robert Holzer. [more inside]
I love a sun-powered country, A land of deepening mines, of ragged nuclear plants, of biomass and hydropower
While developed countries are pondering whether they should sign up to The Kyoto 2 Protocol and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by 2020, based on 2000 levels which may be of questionable impact, the tiny Pacific territory of Tokelau has ditched its primary source of electricity generation, costly diesel imports, in favour of 100% renewable solar power, becoming the first nation in the world to do so, at a time when the global energy systems of the 21C are struggling towards decarbonisation. [more inside]
Ever wonder what happened to Fukushima Storage Unit #4? You remember, the one filled with 1,500 wet stored and combustible fuel rods that threaten a total of ~134 million curies of radioactive cesium137 and, at least as of last April, seemed to be in maybe not such great shape? (PREVIOUSLY) This August, TEPCO released a comprehensive and easily understandable report on the condition of the structure as well as measures being done to both reinforce it against likely earthquakes and ultimately remove the fuel rods, which are still hot enough to require wet storage elsewhere (PDF). On the other hand, Kohei Murata, the former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland who had the attention of the world during the crisis, remains both unimpressed and eschatological.
Based on Robert Kennedy's book Thirteen Days, with a stunning cast and a riveting screenplay, broadcast a scant 12 years after the event... The Missiles of October. [more inside]
Having dealt with the pressing problem of what to do with all the bodies following a nuclear attack and looked into whether the bureaucracy would survive, Restricted Data moves on to the big question: Can Beer Survive A Nuclear Apocalypse?.
Martin Fleischmann, who with Stanley Pons claimed in a press conference to have observed sustained nuclear fusion in a room-temperature experiment, died on August third at age 85. [more inside]
"This study is important and overwhelming in its implications for both the human and biological communities living in Fukushima." . . . "These observations of mutations and morphological abnormalities can only be explained as having resulted from exposure to radioactive contaminants." Severe abnormalities found in Fukushima butterflies. Full report here.
Richard Silverstein, an American journalist and blogger on Israeli affairs, says he has been given a leaked document which outlines a plan for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. (BBC).
Yesterday, July 29, 2012, saw a massive antinuclear protest, attended by young and old alike, in Tokyo. This video, and this one, too, (both well-edited and featuring English subtitles) bring you right into the center of the action, to get a feel for the energy that the movement is steadily gaining.
NPR show us and tells the story of five men who agreed to stand directly below and observe a nuclear explosion.
On July 19, 1957, five Air Force officers and one photographer stood together on a patch of ground about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. They'd marked the spot 'Ground Zero. Population 5' on a hand-lettered sign hammered into the soft ground right next to them.
In the year and a half since the earthquake and tsunami caused an industry-wide Japanese nuclear shutdown , Japanese consumers and businesses have been urged to conserve energy whenever possible. Although a few reactors are being brought back online temporarily, the Japanese government has pledged to move away from nuclear power sources. Yesterday the Japanese government announced what may be the world's highest solar photovolatic feed-in tariff at 53 cents per kWh generated. [more inside]
Matt Stroud, Wrote an amazing article on The Verge: Wasteland: the 50-year battle to entomb our toxic nuclear remains
"A day after the 44th nuclear test explosion in the U.S. rent the still Nevada air, observers cautiously inspected department store mannequins which were poised disheveled but still haughty on the sand in the homes of Yucca Flat."
The nuclear-disarmament group Global Zero just released a report proposing a ten-year plan for the United States and Russia to reduce their arsenals below 900 warheads each, well below the New START treaty limits of 1,550 deployed warheads each by 2018. Implementation is unlikely in an election year. [more inside]
Finland has always looked both west and east, notably the Loviisa nuclear power plant used Westinghouse instrumentation married to a Soviet design, earning the nickname 'Eastinghouse'. They hedged their bets on rather less safety-critical issues as well. Having little success in the Eurovision Song Contest (until they changed tack relatively recently), they also entered (and won) its Soviet counterpart: Intervision. [more inside]
A month ago, the Japanese TV show "Morning Bird" discussed the current state of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and specifically Unit 4, which is in terrible condition. During an interview with Dr. Hiroaki Koide, Research Associate at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University, who explains the immense difficulty in moving the radioactive fuel rods - a process that will not even start until 2013 - the presenter asks what would happen if even a moderate earthquake struck near the plant before the fuel rods can be moved. Koide replies:
That will be the end.
Back in the 50s, the US planned to create a network of tunnels underneath the Greenland ice sheet to fire nuclear missiles from. (via Slashdot)
Swimming on the Hot Side: An elite team of nuclear divers are risking their lives to help save a troubled industry. The Life of a Nuclear Diver
On the one year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, the Economist magazine now considers Nuclear energy to be "the dream that failed", in an issue with articles covering the history, safety issues, handling of nuclear waste, and costs (with emphasis on China) of nuclear power. [more inside]
AIRBOYD.tv has three Youtube channels: The eponymous AIRBOYD features 2000+ videos for "aviation and aerospace enthusiasts. Then there's the Nuclear Vault: Vintage Military, War and News Videos, with 1200+ full-length documentaries, news reels and other assorted footage, including 200 episodes of "The Big Picture (Army Signal Corps)" and a variety of Atomic and Nuclear energy films. Last but not least is US Auto Industry, an archive of over 450 vintage automobile films, including commercials from Buick, Pontiac, Chevy and Ford. [more inside]
Los Alamos National Laboratory has posted 10 minutes of newly discovered color home movie footage of the scientists of the Manhattan Project, at work and at play, shot by physicist Hugh Bradner. Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrets Blog notes some highlights and adds context.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran has tripled its production of >20% enriched uranium in the past three months, while adding 2,600 new uranium centrifuges to its main enrichment facility in Natanz. The agency has not received a "satisfactory explanation" of how 20kg of uranium metal went missing from an Iranian research laboratory. Iran has been blocking IAEA inspections, and the agency "is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities". In recent years, Russia and China have chosen to limit UN sanctions against Iran, whose government denies it aims to make atomic weapons.
After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left, the United States will choose to intervene after all, but here, from the Israeli perspective, there is not much hope for that. Instead there is that peculiar Israeli mixture of fear — rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive — and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.
Fukushima: Inside the Reactor 2 Containment Vessel, 1/19/2012. Here are Mainichi Daily News and Japan Times reports.
The year was 1945. Two earthshaking events took place: the successful test at Alamogordo and the building of the first electronic computer. Their combined impact was to modify qualitatively the nature of global interactions between Russia and the West. No less perturbative were the changes wrought in all of academic research and in applied science. On a less grand scale these events brought about a [renaissance] of a mathematical technique known to the old guard as statistical sampling; in its new surroundings and owing to its nature, there was no denying its new name of the Monte Carlo method (PDF). -N. MetropolisConceptually talked about on MeFi previously, some basic Monte Carlo methods include the Inverse Transform Method (PDF) mentioned in the quoted paper, Acceptance-Rejection Sampling (PDFs 1,2), and integration with and without importance sampling (PDF).
MotherBoard TV: The Thorium Dream If, like many of the world's leaders, you are eager for a dependable and cheap energy source that doesn't spew toxins and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere -- and that doesn't result in terrible, billion dollar accidents -- you can end your search now. At least, that's the news from a tight-knit collective of energy blogs, dedicated to a common but relatively unknown metal called thorium. In the right kind of nuclear reactor, they say, thorium could power the world forever -- and without the problems that come with the nuclear energy we use today, from Fukushima-like meltdowns to the difficult by-products of plutonium that leave behind radioactive waste and weapons material. The idea certainly sounds like the stuff of fringe internet conspiracists, but it was actually born in the U.S. government's major atomic lab in the 1960s under the auspices of one of the country's most respected nuclear scientists, and the inventor of today's most common kind of nuclear technology, the light water reactor. - Thorium: World's Greatest Energy Breakthrough? [more inside]
The IAEA report on Iran has been leaked to the public. But are the new allegations "a game changer"... or, even new, for that matter?
The B53 wasn’t just any old megabomb. It was the first bunker buster. U.S. nuclear doctrine called for it to be delivered over suspected underground Soviet command-and-control facilities. The dumb bomb wouldn’t destroy them so much as it would destroy everything remotely near it, leaving — literally — a smoldering crater. That was the U.S. plan for “victory” in a nuclear war right up until the implosion of the Soviet Empire. (related) [more inside]
Fukushima Robot Operator Writes Tell-All Blog. "An anonymous worker at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has written dozens of blog posts describing his experience as a lead robot operator at the crippled facility." [Via]
The Cold War resulted in a rather large number of interesting military research programs. One of these with which I'm familiar is the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, which ran from 1946 to 1961. The basic idea? Modify a bomber (such as a B-36 bomber), creating an aircraft that could theoretically remain aloft for weeks at a time without refueling, much like ballistic submarines? The challenge? Shielding. Shielding the reactor alone would make the aircraft prohibitively heavy, so the idea was to primarily shield the crew compartment instead of the reactor. However, to study the concept, and evaluate various lightweight shielding concepts, two very novel and unique nuclear reactors were built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: the Bulk Shielding Reactor, a novel "swimming pool reactor", and the Tower Shielding Reactor, an unshielded reactor that was hung 200' in the air dangling between 310' steel towers. While the program successfully demonstrated several of the concepts (including a nuclear-powered gas turbine engine running in Idaho, and a modified B-36 that carried a nuclear reactor but wasn't propelled by it (mentioned above), the program was canceled in 1961 due to feasibility and budget concerns.
The Radioactive Orchestra consists of 3175 radioactive isotopes. You can listen and make music with most of them.
On July 9, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK aired a documentary on the earliest days of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis. There appears to be precisely one place on the internet where it can currently be viewed: here.
Energy: the new thirty years' war; we are heading for a global succeed-or-perish contest among the energy big hitters – but who will be the winners and losers? Michael Klare; (via )
Tepco, the Japanese nuclear power company, is still battling multiple core meltdowns including one complete "melt-through" (breach of containment). The news gets worse, except for one hopeful story of two dogs. [more inside]
Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists presents Fifty Years of Space Nuclear Power "A plutonium fueled RTG that was deployed in 1965 by the CIA not in space but on a mountaintop in the Himalayas (to help monitor Chinese nuclear tests) continues to generate anxiety, not electricity, more than four decades after it was lost in place. See, most recently, "River Deep Mountain High" by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan magazine, December 1, 2010." (MeFi previously)
In an effort to preserve the rich story behind this landmark film, CONELRAD has spent the last two years thoroughly researching DUCK AND COVER's production history as well as its initial public reception in 1952. Interviews were conducted with living participants involved in the making of the film as well as surviving family members of those key players who had passed away. In the course of our research, CONELRAD also uncovered a wealth of archival material that leaves no doubt that a tremendous amount of thought went into the making of this nine minute motion picture that has been the subject of so much dismissive ridicule over the years. (More CONELRAD goodness previously)
On June 7th the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska briefly lost the ability to cool spent fuel rods after a fire at the site. The FAA issued a directive prohibiting aircraft from entering airspace in a two mile radius of the plant. Since last week the plant has been under a "notice of unusual event" because of the Missouri River flooding. Local news reports that the "facility is an island right now". The flight ban remains in effect. [more inside]
Italy's PM: can I privatize water supply, guarantee private investors a minimum 7% ROI on investments in water supply infrastructure, avoid showing up at scheduled court hearings and build a few nuclear plants, please? NO, you can't, answered nearly 30 million italians (95% of the voters, 57% of the people that held the right to vote) in the latest italian national referendum, whose final results are just about to be published (italian). [more inside]
«The events in Japan have shown us that even things that seem all but impossible scientifically can in fact happen» Merkel said at a Berlin news conference. Germany to be non-nuclear by 2022.
While not being an outright example of a clash of civilizations in the Huntingtonian sense, elements of cultural misunderstanding and fears about the system-challenging tendencies of Iran do aﬀect Western perceptions and inﬂuence Western behavior toward Iran. Furthermore, these kinds of reciprocal identity-based fears and projections of the other side’s presumed malevolent intentions tend to be mutually reinforcing. The risk is that they eventually become self-fulﬁlling prophecies.Iran and the West - Regional Interests and Global Controversies [PDF]. [more inside]