Tom Steinfort, 60 Minutes reporter, dominated the October 21 show with a segment titled “Going Nuclear: The Champion.” He visits Fukushima and dons protectives to go in as far as the spent fuel pool, full of accident rubble, of the melted-down Number 3 reactor. He visits the Darlington power station in Canada. He tells an Adelaide householder with large power bills (she clearly. . .
Exploring future reactors . . . David Schumacher’s The New Fire . . . get it and watch it
Filmmaker David Schumacher just released a doco on all the work being done on new reactor design, focused, I gather, on the young people involved. This is an enormously important topic for me and one that carries echoes all the way back to the 1940s. The purpose of this post is not to comment on the movie itself – I won’t do that because I’ll address it in the book and I. . .
The reckless days?
The New Yorker, one of my favorite magazines, has published several long articles on my subject over the last three quarters of a century. Mostly I’ve found them readable, as ever, but of not much practical use to me. Such is the case with Daniel Lang’s 1959 article “A most valuable accident” (which I had trouble sourcing and is hard to read in my files). That said, it. . .
In 1974, around the time the Atomic Energy Commission was disbanded, to be replaced by other bureaucracies, two of its longest standing managers, wrote a quirky summary of their organization. I didn’t find it terribly useful but it has a few pithy lines such as this marvellous one pointing out that corrosion is just a fancy word for rusting: Believe it or not, we’ve had a lot easier time. . .
Water behaving like an acid?
When you think of water, do you picture it sizzling through metals. I didn’t. One of my most valuable reference finds, a retrospective by a key nuclear engineer, enlightened me: Strange as it may seem, pure water under high temperature and pressure is a most corrosive liquid, as corrosive as some acids. We set up an extensive program to develop the alloys needed for the components –. . .
Safer costs more?
The International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy held in Geneva in 1955 had a profound effect on technology history. America’s nuclear trade journal Nucleonics reported just after the event. An oddity on its editorial summary of a huge program is this: The U.S. AEC spends about $100/yr/man on radiation protection. This is about 1% of the total operating expenses. To. . .
Concorde: Part of the same tale?
The 2017 BBC documentary “Concorde: Designing the Dream” at last reaches Australia, screening on SBS. The only reason I’m drawn to it is that I caught a Concorde flight in the early 90s, but as soon as I begin watching, I realize aspects of it fit into my book. The British push the button for a supersonic commercial plane in 1956, around the time they take the lead in. . .