Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tickling the Dragon's Tail

During the 1960s I was a nuclear physicist conducting research on nuclear reactor safety at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho. It was exciting cutting edge science. In November of 1962 I sat at the controls of a reactor, operated remotely from a half mile away, and ran a super-prompt critical power excursion of such magnitude that it blew up the reactor. It was goddamn fun! The Atomic Energy Commission eventually killed all nuclear safety research. Knowing what I do about the various aspects of reactor safety, I feel we should not build anymore nuclear power plants. Reinforcing that viewpoint are the accidents at SL-1, Fermi, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now Fukushima. Here's the video of my blowing up the reactor.

1 comment:

  1. Michael Desautels, B.Sc.April 8, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    Appreciate your comments and video on commercial nuclear - thank you!

    Before I graduated as a geologist I researched the nuclear industry, thinking to explore for uranium. The results of my investigations, which included "Project Ploughshare", saw me switch my major to oil and gas. With global warming now front and center, I wish I had researched that industry before going into it.

    There are men I respect, such as James Hansen at NASA, and James Lovelock, who think we should adopt nuclear to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

    I disagree.

    Fukushima, the secrecy and the media coverage, and lack of coverage by the media, business as usual in other words, are further proof that commercial nuclear is simply not the way to go for the foreseeable future.

    Our problems as I write are I am sure systemic, and I echo the thinking of Ervin Laszlo in this regard.

    Climate change, the financial meltdown in 2008, the continuing problems in the post-colonial world and in the present empire-building epoch, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, the continuuing use of depleted uranium for munitions and other seemingly innocuous uses, etc etc..., are all manifestations of a culture on the path of death, all the while promoting it as a culture of life, and probably actually believing the latter.

    There's the catch - the road to hell truly is paved with good intentions.

    Carl Sagan lamented the 'dumbing down' of the electorate, and Thomas Jefferson probably would have agreed with this assessment, but while it is indeed true that 'We the People' are almost scientifically illiterate in the majority, I tend to think that old Abe had it right:

    "Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people...?"

    Our large corporations are effectively psychopathic entities, and the military-industrial complex' spoken of by Dwight Eisenhauer is all too alive and very 'unwell', I am afraid.

    This leaves only us to act responsibly.

    I noted with great interest the comments published in the New York Times a week or so ago concerning Fukushima, by three Japanese living in Japan. Distilled down, they thought that post-war Japan had nearly destroyed all that was honorable in Japanese society, and they welcomed this disaster as an opportunity to reinvigorate Japanese culture, and to live as Japanese once again.

    In a fractal world, we might all try something similar as individuals - to become human once again, and stop working so hard on the path of death, and look for the road to life.

    Mike Desautels
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada