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Comment The Bulletin has lost its way,,, (Score 1) 293

The Bulletin used to be good, and it used to be really meaningful and respectable back in the day of legends like Bethe, who were passionately interested in working towards a world free of nuclear weapons, but who tempered that passion with pragmatism and political realism, an understanding that nuclear power is not the same thing as nuclear weapons, and a thorough technical literacy in nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

Today, though, it has gone disappointingly downhill, and every other thing it publishes seems to be a weak, rhetoric-packed attack on civil nuclear power written by an author who usually has something like a background in political science without experience in nuclear science or engineering.

Comment foo (Score 1, Interesting) 108

Bloom Energy's fuel cells run on methane (natural gas) drilled and/or hydrofractured out of the ground, and they react this methane with atmospheric oxygen to yield carbon dioxide which they vent to the atmosphere. The system's thermodynamic efficiency is scarcely higher than a conventional Brayton-cycle gas turbine. As with the rest of the natural gas industry, they've been quite successful in greenwashing their fossil fuel industry. So, how is it exactly that this is "renewable energy"? Anyway, I wouldn't pay attention to any circus of Greenpeace activists outside Apple headquarters. They are science and engineering illiterate neo-luddites. "just days after Greenpeace protested at Apple headquarters over the firm’s use of coal and nuclear-powered electricity at the site." Apple's NC data centre is powered, at least in part, by nuclear energy? That's great news. Now you're really talking about sustainable, scalable, high-capacity-factor, fossil-fuel-replacing, environmentally friendly energy supply.

Comment Re: (Score 5, Informative) 97

Uranium release from the UO2 fuel? So what? Uranium is harmless, it's hardly radioactive at all, it's abundant throughout nature, and it's naturally present in seawater. Surely any such analysis of the radiochemistry consequences of adding seawater to the BWR's coolant should focus on the fission products and their radiochemical mobility and transport, not on harmless, insignificant, uranium.

Comment Nonsense (Score 1) 383

This reminds me of an interesting anecdote from Patrick Moore: "When I left Greenpeace it was in the midst of them adopting a campaign to ban chlorine worldwide. Like I said, ‘you guys, this is one of the elements in the periodic table, you know; I mean, I’m not sure if it’s in our jurisdiction to be banning a whole element."

There is no government in the world that could possibly introduce legislation that says "ban mercury" without details, caveats and exemptions. That would be like saying "ban dihydrogen monoxide".

Let's look at the RoHS legislation, for example. RoHS says that lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury, PBBs and PBDEs are restricted. But RoHS has - and it needs to have - a list of exemptions as long as your arm. For example, suppose you have a solar cell based on cadmium telluride or a light-dependent resistor based on cadmium sulfide or a piezoelectric transducer based on lead zirconate titanate. These technologies have no realistic lead-free or cadmium-free replacements, so they're exempted from RoHS.

They don't just say "these elements are banned, period"... that would not be realistic at all.

Look at the Montreal protocol, for example - it certainly does not just say "CFCs are banned, period."

If we said "Mercury is banned in manmade technology, period", that would mean banning mercury-vapor discharge ultraviolet lamps used to erase EPROMs, for tanning, and for sterilisation in medical facilities and microbiology laboratories. It would ban essentially all fluorescent lightbulbs.

It would ban all high-pressure sodium lamps and the like that contain mercury.

It would ban all coal-fired power generation, since this is responsible for by far the largest share of man-made mercury emission into the environment. And presumably it would ban tuna products, too.

It would ban the use of thiomersal as a bacteriostatic preservative in mascara, eyedrops, contact lens solution, antivenoms, immunoglobulins and other drugs, not just vaccines (most vaccines don't even contain thiomersal, anyway.)

It would ban the use of mercuric acetate and aluminium amalgam, etc, as catalysts and chemical reagents, both in industry and in the research laboratory.

It would ban the use of mercury standards for mercury analysis by analytical technologies such as atomic absorption spectroscopy. It would ban the use of mercury compounds for calibration of NMR spectrometers for Hg-199 NMR.

It would ban all use of HgCdTe and HgZnTe in infrared detectors for IR spectroscopy, IR astronomy, various types of sensors, FLIR imagers, night vision, military technologies and so forth.

Obviously it's nonsense.


Submission + - White Label Space want an Aussie flag on the moon

Dante_J writes: Reported In a recent news article, of the 22 Google Lunar X-Prize teams, 'White Label Space' are the only one with notable Australian contributions, and is dedicated to becoming a major player in the rapidly expanding sector of private space exploration. Mr Barton said he picked up Lunar Numbat because he was keen to "harness the latent enthusiasm and frustration of Australian people".

Comment Re:Donor Hardware = Casio XJ-A240 Projector. (Score 1) 463
About 24 of them per projector.
I really don't like the fact that this device exists at all. I'm a laser fan, but I think Wicked Lasers has crossed the line this time.
They continue to market these things like they're toys - it is even styled, deliberately, to look like a lightsaber. I think they're being reckless, and they have to start self-regulating.
If you used a 1 W Class IV laser in a lab, you would have it bolted to an optical bench with the beam plane fixed well below head height, automatically interlocked to the door of the laser room, with laser safety signs and an illuminated laser-in-use warning lamp posted outside the door, with a lockout keyswitch on the power supply, which only authorised trained persons are allowed access to the key for, with the beam path enclosed, with a proper beam dump to terminate the beam, with proper goggles mandatory for everyone in the room, and everyone trained properly.... and on and on and on to make sure that it's used safely.
But anyone can simply buy this laser pointer, which is an order of magnitude more dangerous and an order of magnitude cheaper than most other comparable laser pointers on the market, and wave it around freely with no engineered controls at all.

Comment Re:It probably makes less sense than you think (Score 1) 297

Dr. Helen Caldicott, (MD, not Ph.D, not that I don't respect the MD) is <b>not</b> a Nobel peace prize laureate.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, but it is no more valid to say that Dr. Caldicott won the Nobel prize than it is for the 200,000 other IPPNW members to say they won it. Everybody agrees that there aren't 200,000 Nobel laureates out there as a result of the prize being awarded to IPPNW.

Dr. Caldicott, and others like her, do a lot of very good, admirable work with regards to nuclear disarmament - and I've got a lot of respect for that. That's what IPPNW's Nobel Prize was for - these things are very admirable, but they've got absolutely nothing to do with nuclear power, which is a distinct issue.

For all their very admirable work with regards to nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war, my respect for people like Dr. Caldicott is completely offset by my complete lack of respect for the things that they claim and say with regards to nuclear power, and peaceful, civilian nuclear science and technology.

Anyway, back to the topic.

With regards to the cancer risk from the tritium - you may not have known, but I did quantify it for you in the above post - it's nothing.

The questions that you consider under "Engineering" - those are of course scientific questions. With regards to the net energy yield from nuclear power - that's a scientific question, too. And, yes, there's plenty of energy gain.

All these issues and questions have been asked, and answered, before.

The subsidies are not significant. They're comparable to the subsidies given to other sustainable energy systems. Nuclear electricity generation in the United States is an economically viable, successful commercial business. Yes, the energy companies are in it to make money, and nuclear power makes them money easily.

Yes, it's a for-profit commercial business - but all industry is overseen by the government to make sure that they don't endanger the environment or people.
Nuclear power is too, especially so.

Would it make you feel more comfortable if all nuclear power related industry was government owned, like in France, so that no corporations are making money off it? I don't see why that can't be done, if it makes nuclear energy more acceptable because of people's distrust of the big scary corporations - it works fine in France.

A nuclear power reactor is absolutely nothing at all like a "stationary nuclear bomb", that's just emotional rhetoric with no basis in real world physical facts. They're sufficiently secure, and not targets that terrorists could attack to cause widespread devastation. What exactly might the terrorists actually do?

Fossil fuel facilities and chemical facilities are much easier targets for terrorists, and would be much more likely to be the basis for real destruction.

The reason that nuclear power is so closely associated with terrorism is that terrorism can be accomplished without actually hurting or killing anybody - it's really all in the heads of the victims where terrorism occurs, and enough people let themselves be terrorized by nuclear power, and especially by those that use fear, emotion and rhetoric to campaign against it, that nuclear power is associated with terrorism - because people are scared of it, even though it's the safest form of electricity generation known, and one of the safest commercial industries in existence. Nuclear power has never hurt or killed a single person in the United States.

Social and political systems aren't required to perpetuate the integrity of long-term disposal or storage of radioactive wastes in a deep geological repository - the longevity of that isolation is perpetuated by hundreds of meters of rock, mineral and metal, and by science and engineering today. Once the geological repository is sealed, that's it - it's a solved problem and requires no interference or maintainence by future generations - that's how those deep geological repositories are designed.

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