On 04/04/2011 08:42 AM, Patrick Shirkey wrote:
no. and to see how hard it actually is: there were news of a botched
nuclear test in north korea a while ago, where international observers
found evidence of an explosion (by satellite or seismic measurements)
that was vastly less than what was anticipated. such a situation is
called a "fizzle", and what happens is that you bring the two halves of
sub-critical material together too slowly or in the wrong way, and the
chain reaction then heats it up and tears the material apart again
before the entire mass has started to react.
when you pile up too much plutonium or uranium, criticality accidents
can occur, but there is no possibility of an explosion even remotely
comparable to a fission bomb. which is not necessarily a good thing:
iiuc, a good clean atomic bomb test can be more "environmentally
friendly" than a botched one, because a fizzle explosion distributes the
material over a large area and could even lead to greater contamination
than the fallout of a full explosion.
all this information can be found all over the web, in wikipedia, and
various physics textbooks. for instance, there's a very interesting
anecdote where richard feynman claims he had to show the uranium
processing guys at oak ridge labs how to avoid criticalities (during the
manhattan project) - they had been kept in the dark about this problem
because some nuthead top-brass figured they had no "need to know". turns
out they were keeping large cauldrons of enriched material lined up
against a dry wall, and guess what a second team was doing on the other
side of this wall? yup.
btw, there have been reports cropping up every now and then that
re-criticality incidents have indeed happened in fukushima after the
cold shutdown, either due to overcrowded spent fuel pools or the melting
of one or more core. this was substantiated by traces of very
short-lived decay products that should not have been detectable anymore
if no more chain reactions had occured after the cold shutdown.
this is of course reason to worry, because criticality would pose a
great danger to the crew who has to mop up the mess, due to extremely
high and uncalculable radiation peaks.
but it also shows that criticality != fission explosion.
i'm as pissed as you at the nuclear industry and current energy politics
(and in fact, it looks like that at least in germany, the political
climate will now finally allow us to retire nuclear energy for good and
fully replace it with renewables).
but spreading vague fear and misinformation is really not helpful at all.
there is a very clear danger, but it's important to get the facts
straight, otherwise it's too easy for proponents of nuclear energy to
re-spin the current outcry into irrational fearmongering - which is
going on alright, but the fact remains that fukushima is a huge
environmental fuckup and the source of much human tragedy.
and if you continue to go on record with perpetuum mobile schemes and
other easily refutable statements, you will not only be wasting your and
other people's time, but also ultimately discredit your vote and work
against your own political ends. (meta-conspiracy theory anyone?)
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