The complexity

Reactors bristle with subatomic complexity. Especially in the early days, devilishly complex reactor physics calculations had to be undertaken because the underlying physical phenomena are so difficult to model. As a former actuary, I knew something about mathematics, but I struggled, and still struggle, with nuclear physics. Witness this page from a wonderful, but tough, basic text, E. E. Lewis’s “Nuclear Reactor Physics.” I can’t pretend that I mastered this or many other pages, but, in my defense, where a physics or engineering principle is crucial for understanding how a reactor works, I found I can muddle along though the physics until I grasp the essence.