Skip to main content

Remembering Aleksey Vayner: Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

Image of Vanyer from Dealbreaker
I was sad to read of the death of Aleksey Vayner. He was a young Yale graduate who became a short lived and unintentional internet sensation in 2006 when his video job application to financial firm UBS emerged on YouTube and showed him as an unbelievably accomplished person. People who knew him at Yale recounted that his abilities ran even deeper than the resume showed. According to the New Yorker:
Acquaintances report hearing that he is one of four people licensed to handle nuclear waste in the state of Connecticut, that he must register his hands as lethal weapons at airports, and even that he has killed two dozen men in Tibetan gladiatorial contests.
One imagines him wearing his gladiator garb, marching into the containment chamber at Millstone and pulling out fuel rods with his teeth.

Here’s the thing, though: that a man who wanted to be seen as a virtual superman thought handling used nuclear fuel would help get him there. Frankly, registering your hands as deadly weapons would do the trick in my book. It’s not something just anyone would come up with, yet was among the stuff from which he built his odd dream persona. I found that an exceptionally strange detail back in 2006 and still do – even to a non-nuclear person, it’s not a particularly exotic detail – at least not at the level of lethal gladiator matches. Yet, he said it and waited for people to be impressed.

Let’s not romanticize this too much – there are troubling aspects to the story beyond the sheer audacity of it – see the Salon story linked above for more. We can appreciate the dream if not always the dreamer and in this case, the dream ended sadly. To paraphrase Shakespeare, life is rounded by a sleep. Let’s hope Aleksey Vayner’s sleep is as peaceful as his dream life was rich and strange.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …