Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Popular Mechanics Weighs and Measures

Popular Mechanics has assembled a package of articles discussing the technical aspects of new nuclear technologies. The lead article is called The Next Atomic Age: Can Safe Nuclear Power Work for America? and is exceptionally well researched. Here's a taster to give you a sense of the contents:

Though the pebble-bed reactor is promising, other Gen IV designs have distinct advantages, too. Three of the six under consideration are fast neutron reactors; the term refers to the high speed of the neutrons ricocheting around the reactor core when there is no moderator to slow them down. When fast neutrons collide with fuel particles, they can actually generate more fuel than they burn. Such breeder reactors were developed in the late 1940s, but remained more expensive than other designs. These reactors have more appeal today because they also can burn up the longest-lived radioactive isotopes in their fuel, producing waste that stays dangerous for hundreds of years instead of hundreds of thousands.

Very Popular Mechanics - a cool, neutral style that help make complex technology understandable to a broad audience.

But there's a lot more.

Patrick Moore, Chair and Chief Scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. debates Anna Aurilio, Legislative Director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, with Moore, of course, taking the affirmative position. Aurilio's first comment:

Nuclear energy is too expensive, too dangerous and too polluting. And, despite claims from industry, it's not necessary either for our future electricity needs or to meet the very real challenge of global warming.

It just makes you want to holler - these particular tropes are tired, inaccurate and verging on the willfully ignorant. Moore should have little trouble here.

There is also a podcast on the topic you can listen to on the site or download for some nuclear iPod goodness.

By all means, take a look at the whole package. Even the reader comments are entertaining (and very pro-nuclear). Impressive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FYI, this month's issue of Discover magazine has an article on nuclear power by Gwyneth Cravens.