Harperdog writes: "Princeton's Frank von Hippel explains the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) subcritical experiments with plutonium in an underground tunnel 300 meters below the Nevada National Security Site, which the NNSA announced it had conducted earlier this month."
Harperdog writes: "This week the Associated Press reported that unnamed officials "from a country critical of Iran's nuclear program" leaked an illustration to demonstrate that "Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima." The problem is, the diagram is proof of no such thing; a major error and the fact that similar diagrams are found in physics textbooks point to an unauthentic image."
Harperdog writes: "Excellent roundtable kicks off with three articles exploring the legal and investigative standards the IAEA uses to determine whether Iran is complying with agreements, and whether those standards are appropriate and legal. This roundtable will be updated regularly over the next few weeks."
Harperdog writes: "Kennette Benedict at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists proposes an intriguing (and hugely expensive) idea: buying up the $27 trillion in coal/oil/gas reserves so all that carbon isn't released into the atmosphere. Benedict points out that these reserves represent "five times as much coal, gas, and oil...as climate scientists think is safe to burn." Benedicts jumping-off point is the excellent piece in Rolling Stone by Bill McKibbon: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719 These are both excellent reads and worth debating."
Harperdog writes: "Learning to relive with wildfire seems to be our best bet in a warming climate. Moritz examines the science here behind the increase of wildfire, and comes up with a more nuanced approach than 'warmer equals more fire""
Harperdog writes: "Laura Kahn: "Was the H5N1 research, for example, ethical and did its benefits outweigh its risks? The answer depends on whom you ask. Scientists insist that the benefits outweigh the risks, while security experts believe that the risks outweigh the benefits. But it's difficult to judge how strong a case the security experts have, because right now all the decision-making power about the value of an experiment rests mainly with the scientists.""
Harperdog writes: "Lynn C. Klotz and Edward J. Sylvester discuss the risks of a man-made pandemic by illustrating what research is happening in the lab: SARS seems to offer the most potential for a catastrophe, either accidental or through bioterrorism: "A quick search of PubMed, the National Library of Medicine database of medical research, identifies 30 labs that are working with live SARS virus and at least 10 using live 1918 flu virus.""
Harperdog writes: "An interview at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and an article by Matt Wald at the NY Times give insight into the thoughts of newly confirmed NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane, who is the first geologist to hold the post. NYT: http://nyti.ms/SiDz2g"
Harperdog writes: "Kirk Bansak has a great article outlining a coming revolution in non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and bio-weapons, courtesy of smart phones and social media. Early theory on arms control foresaw "inspection by the people" as a promising method for preventing evasion of arms control and disarmament obligations and serves as a starting point for understanding "social verification." As Rose Gottemoeller recently stated: "[Cell phone-based] sensors would allow citizens to contribute to detecting potential treaty violations, and could build a bridge to a stronger private-public partnership in the realm of treaty verification." Exciting stuff for techies and activists."
Harperdog writes: "Scott Kemp has a disturbing look at SILEX, a new technology that "happens to be well suited for making nuclear weapons." There are many disturbing aspects the this article, not least that the NRC, which is required to consider the critical question of proliferation, has so far punted when it comes to examining that question. "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has refused to consider the proliferation risk in its decision to issue a license for the first commercial SILEX facility, despite a statutory obligation to do so. Only a few weeks remain for Congress to intervene.""
Harperdog writes: "A new roundtable at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists explores the question of whether nuclear energy is the answer to climate change, particularly in developing countries where energy needs are so great. This roundtable, like the ones before it, will be translated into Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish within a week of each article's publication. Here's a summary: "From desertification in China to glacier melt in Nepal to water scarcity in South Africa, climate change is beginning to make itself felt in the developing world. As developing countries search for ways to contain carbon emissions while also maximizing economic potential, a natural focus of attention is nuclear power. But nuclear energy presents its own dangers. Below, Wang Haibin of China, Anthony Turton of South Africa, and Hira Bahadur Thapa of Nepal answer this question: "Given nuclear energy's potential to slow global warming, do its benefits outweigh its risks, or do its risks outweigh its benefits for developing countries?""
Harperdog writes: "Paul N. Edwards has a great paper about the links between nuclear weapons testing and climate science. From the abstract: "Tracing radioactive carbon as it cycles through the atmosphere, the oceans, and the biosphere has been crucial to understanding anthropogenic climate change. The earliest global climate models relied on numerical methods very similar to those developed by nuclear weapons designers for solving the fluid dynamics equations needed to analyze shock waves produced in nuclear explosions. The climatic consequences of nuclear war also represent a major historical intersection between climate science and nuclear affairs. Without the work done by nuclear weapons designers and testers, scientists would know much less than they now do about the atmosphere. In particular, this research has contributed enormously to knowledge about both carbon dioxide, which raises Earth’s temperature, and aerosols, which lower it." Great free paper at the Bulletin."
Harperdog writes: "Should dual-use research be censored? How? Michael J. Imperiale is a big deal in the field of biohazards/biosecurity, and his very thoughtful piece here is on controlling dangerous research, and whether it's even possible."