Nuclear Power: Disaster!

Jun 5th, 2008 | By | Category: Nukes

Let’s talk about Chernobyl. We enter our time machine, and roll ourselves back to the start of the cold war. We’re nuclear engineers in the Soviet Union charged with getting as many reactors operating as soon as possible. Every bit of enriched Uranium is going to bomb manufacturing, as is all the available heavy water. […]

Nuclear Power: Nuclear Waste

Jun 4th, 2008 | By | Category: Nukes

We’ve got our reactor up and humming. Our fuel is fissioning, splitting into smaller atoms and releasing neutrons. Our moderator is slowing down the neutrons, keeping them around long enough to fission the next fuel molecule. Our control rods are absorbing enough neutrons to keep the chain reaction in check. The coolant is transferring the […]

Nuclear Power: Radiation!

Jun 3rd, 2008 | By | Category: Nukes

It can’t all be good news. Yes, using a properly designed nuclear reactor, we can capture vast amounts of useful energy by helping atoms get closer to the ideal, iron. Now to the first big wrinkle, radiation. Unhappy atoms break up in a few different ways, all releasing energy. We can break it down into […]

Nuclear Power: The Reactor

Jun 2nd, 2008 | By | Category: Nukes

The goal? A controlled fissioning of large nuclei. You’ll need fuel, moderation, coolant, and some control. Coolant is the easiest to grasp. The fission chain reaction in the nuclear reactor will produce heat. It’s the goal! We need some way to transfer the heat away from the reactor and put it to use. Water is […]

Nuclear Power: The Physics

May 23rd, 2008 | By | Category: Nukes

As I’ve quipped before, everything in the Universe secretly desires to be Iron. Why? Meet the nucleus: Protons and neutrons in an uneasy alliance. Neutrons, conveniently enough, are neutral in electrical charge. No problem rubbing two of them together. Protons, however, are positively charged. Remember, like charged objects don’t like sitting next to one another, […]

Nuclear Power

May 22nd, 2008 | By | Category: Nukes

Nuclear power, long reviled as a dangerous source of energy, is on the verge of a comeback. That’s because a growing body of scientists, politicians and environmental activists see atomic energy as part of the solution for global warming and our ever-growing dependence on foreign oil, much of it from nations that, if not downright […]

Top Five Nuclear Weapons of All Time.

May 2nd, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Nukes

My week is ending poorly. Rather than go into a lengthy whine about crappily designed and maintained websites, the evil of both the SAX and DOM XML parsers in Python and “what, you can only do one miracle at a time” management, I’d rather present you with an appropriately glum bit of my knowledge. Thus, […]

Imagine Microwave Oven Accidents at your Office, but with Plutonium

Nov 19th, 2007 | By | Category: Nukes

Ever since high school, one of my guilty pleasures is to read the Nuclear Regulator Commission’s Operating Experience Summaries. Every workplace dealing with significant amounts of radioactive material must report any accidents that could result in injury. The best are compiled and archived. Something about the combination of ordinary foolishness, incredibly dangerous substances, absurdly convoluted […]