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Nukes on

February 24, 2005

Over at Compfused… The Power of Nukes, showing some really clear footage of nukes going off and their ground-level effects.  Lots I’d never seen before.

But how geeky is this?  Onscreen there are superweapons going off and I keep thinking about how the movie cameras were built that could accurately record the expansion of a nuclear explosion when it’s the size of a house and moving at maybe 0.1c. If I remember correctly they used rotating prisms instead of mechanical shutters to achieve rates of 10,000 frames per second or so – just barely high enough.

On a related note, check out this exhaustive list of nuclear accidents from the 1940’s through today.  If it’s true that we learn from our mistakes, the nuclear industry should be just about perfect by now. ;-)   Of course, if you tote up the fatalities and areas rendered unfit for human habitation, the nuclear industry is hardly unique.  All industry has risks, like the rather nontrivial risk to our global climate from the carbon-fuels industry. 

The nuclear industry may have a solution to the carbon-fuels problem, though it’s kind of funny that this article in Wired magazine treats the Three Mile Island accident as if it were the only one that ever happened.  Thoughts, anyone?

Categories: Geeky, observations
  1. February 24, 2005 at 23:10 | #1

    I don’t really have any thoughts about nuclear energy.  It seems like it would be a necessary evil if we were to reduce carbon emissions, hydro-electric, geothermal, tidal, and wind energy just wouldn’t be sufficient to meet the needs of North America (unless we got a lot better at reducing the amount of electricity we expend).  However, watching the nuclear explosions makes me wonder why we still keep those things around.  When something has such destructive potential you would think that we would want to do our best to ensure that we would never have to deal with one of them going off.  Instead, it seems that there are those who like to live on the edge and continue to stockpile these things.  I mean, you can’t hug your children with nuclear arms.  I always wanted to say that….

  2. February 25, 2005 at 01:46 | #2

    I’m downwind of the Hanford Reservation in WA State … we can’t even get them to clean up the existing mess there.  How can we trust them with more reactors?

  3. February 25, 2005 at 08:07 | #3

    Hi Washingtonian!  I grew up in Ellensburg and loved it there.  It depends who you mean by “them,” and the answer is, we won’t trust them.  That’s why I am so rabid about free speech and a free press.  The mess at Hanford was created in absolute secrecy.

    The other problem is the curious notion that it is unpatriotic to criticize military weapons development or excess.  The Pentagon needs to be held to – well maybe not the same environmental standards as industry, maybe that should be a case-by-case basis – but to higher standards than “we’re the Pentagon, we don’t have to obey environmental laws.”

    As for commercial nuclear power generation, high standards, period.  And I don’t know if people understand (Bush certainly appears not to understand) that we’re facing a global climate disaster with carbon fuels.

    Here in our county in Illinois they just put up a giant wind farm.  I think those things are beautiful.  :-)

  4. February 25, 2005 at 23:04 | #4

    Nuclear activity is quite fearsome to me that in any given moment, I won’t approve any of them. We might as well burn in carbon-dioxide than face extinction by the spread of nuclear polltuion in our atmosphere. But i guess my views is highly impractical now knowing that next to oil, it is nuclear fusion that the first world is holding on as energy source. maybe we can change the world, maybe we can’t. But I sure hope the world shall be nuclear-free.

  5. Nomen Nescio
    February 25, 2005 at 23:24 | #5

    i’ve always liked nuclear power. i think we need more of it. i know for a certainty i would much rather live next to a nuke plant than a coal burner; there’s just no comparing them for day-to-day pollution and long-term risk.

    there’s no comparing the waste products, either. i know something about what’s in a fossil-burner’s ash and soot, and i don’t want that in my back yard. the spent nuke fuel is nasty, sure, but there’s comparatively very, very little of it – little enough that we can afford to deal with it sensibly. fossil burners create insane amounts of waste, and then pump most of it into the atmosphere whence we can’t call it back.

    personally, i’ve always wanted to see a plutonium economy develop. it wouldn’t give us infinite energy, but it would come closer to it than anything else that’s technologically feasible. won’t happen in my lifetime, though, if only for the obvious political reasons.

    but i’ll always think fast breeder reactors are one of the neatest, niftiest ideas us humans have ever come up with. they’ve just got that mathemathical beauty you almost never find in the real world; creating new fuel out of their own waste at a greater rate than they use it up… cool!

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