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In closing

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, in an appendix to the report on the loss of the space shuttle Challenger.   The first post in this series was put up a little more than two years ago and I’ve written […]

The post In closing appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

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Nuclear Winter (2)

Editor’s Note: Please refer to previous post for a correction as noted in the Editor’s Note.  Last week’s post reviewed the basic science of nuclear winter – the short version is that the explosions themselves will put many tons of dust into the atmosphere, and the fires that are started by the nuclear explosions will […]

The post Nuclear Winter (2) appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

glacier

Nuclear Winter (1)

  Editor’s Note: It has come to our attention that the study on nuclear autumn referenced below was not from a peer reviewed scientific journal; it was published in Foreign Affairs in 1986. In addition, we have learned that there are not two opposing camps on this issue as described in this post and we […]

The post Nuclear Winter (1) appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

Emerson

A foolish consistency

Consistency is good – there’s a sense of security in knowing that some things will generally remain constant over time. We can always count on gravity, for example, to hold us firmly to the ground; politicians are typically pandering and self-serving; I can count on radioactivity to consistently decay away; and so forth. Of course, […]

The post A foolish consistency appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

Source and truck

The Mexican radiation accident (Part I)

Most news stories involving radiation are, to be blunt, overblown. Radiation can be dangerous, but the risk it actually poses is usually far lower than what the media stories would have us believe. So my first inclination when I hear about another story involving “deadly radiation” is to be skeptical. And then every now and […]

The post The Mexican radiation accident (Part I) appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

Don-Quixote

Once more into the breach

I’d been planning on waiting a little longer before returning to the topics of Fukushima and radiation health effects, but a particularly egregiously bad New York Times op-ed piece deserves some attention. So once more into the breach. Writing in the October 30 New York Times, pediatrician and anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott used the nuclear […]

The post Once more into the breach appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

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The dose makes the poison

One of the most potent arguments against all things nuclear is the idea that even a vanishingly small amount of radiation exposure has the chance to cause cancer. Even if that risk is incredibly low there’s still a risk, and if a huge number of people are exposed to even a small risk then there […]

The post The dose makes the poison appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

new_horizons

Where does the plutonium come from?

Last week I wrote about how the shortage of Pu-238 might impact the exploration of the outer Solar System, but I didn’t much get into where the plutonium comes from. After all, while there are trace amounts of natural plutonium, there certainly isn’t nearly enough to fuel a space probe. So this week it seemed […]

The post Where does the plutonium come from? appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

Pu-238 glowing with the heat of alpha radiation decay

Houston – we need some plutonium

The outer Solar System is a dark and lonely place – solar energy drops off with the inverse square of distance to the Sun so a spaceship in orbit around Jupiter (5.5 times as far from the Sun as the Earth) receives only about 3% as much solar energy as one orbiting Earth. Solar panels […]

The post Houston – we need some plutonium appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

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The rocks of Yucca Mountain

As I noted in last week’s posting, nuclear reactors produce high-level radioactive waste during their normal operation. This waste is not voluminous, but it can be dangerous and it needs to be sequestered in an out-of-the-way location for several millennia – in the 70 years since the first nuclear reactor was built there have been […]

The post The rocks of Yucca Mountain appears on ScienceWonk, FAS’s blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.