Friday, October 13, 2006

115 - with Links!

Lasik Again

1. Lasik Again
Studies show that having lasik surgery is actually safer than wearing contact lenses. So, if you are too vain to wear glasses, maybe you should consider taking the plunge.

Weird Scott

2. Weird Scott
I love mid-eighties homemade lip-synch videos, especially when they were made by people that I know.

Thorium

3.Thorium
Norwegian nuclear physicists have come up with a way to run reactors using the element thorium. The science is over my head, but it is reported to be a cleaner, safer, more efficient method than traditional nuclear energy production.

Lost City

4. Lost City
The remains of a recently discovered city underwater off the coast of India have been carbon dated to around 9000 BC, about 5000 years older than any know civilization. Of course much more research need to be done, but this discovery could totally screw up our ideas about human history.

The Nietzsche Family Circus

5. The Nietzsche Family Circus
"The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception."

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3 comments:

James Aach said...

Regarding the proposed thorium reactor - it is decades away at best. If you'd like an entertaining lay persons overview of the current nuclear power industry, see RadDecision.blogspot.com

More Thorium info:

The thorium reactor described is an interesting concept proposed by reputable scientists (the physicists at the CERN accelerator). Some of these folks are working on fusion. The proposed "Energy Amplifier" uses a proton beam to extract energy from the fuel. It is very different than the current nuclear technology - it is not just a matter of replacing uranium fuel with thorium fuel. It may have some safety and non-proliferation advantages - and it is interesting that proponents note its waste will be less radioactively nasty than common coal ashes after 500 years. (Yep, coal has radionuclides in it naturally - most stays in the ashes but some goes into the air as tiny particulates.) One interesting feature is that the fluid used with the fuel is not water as in today's reactors, or air as in the proposed Pebble Bed Reactor - but liquid lead. And this illustrates some of the problems with this approach. Dealing with liquid metals on a large scale as part of a heat exchanger mechanism present their own special engineering problems which will have to be solved. The proponents note that more R&D is needed in the area of material corrosion and material endurance. (BTW: Liquid sodium was tried in early reactors, and there were a lot of problems.)

In short - the Thorium Energy Amplifier nuclear reactor is a decent idea to look into but it's going to take a lot of work to get the practical engineering aspects solved and plants which work consistently well. Decades, most likely - if it proves feasible at all.

In the meantime, the electricity we use (and we should use less) has to come from somewhere. Few really understand how electricity is produced on a mass scale today - - which isn't so good if we're to make the right decisions for our energy future.. If you would like an entertaining profile of U.S. electric generation, and nuclear energy in particular, see my novel "Rad Decision". It is available free to readers at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com - and they seem to like it judging from their homepage comments. It's also been endorsed by Stewart Brand, founder of "The Whole Earth Catalog", internet pioneer and noted futurist. I've spent over twenty years working in nuclear power plants, and in my novel I profile the people, the politics and the technology. Incuded are overviews of Chernobyl, TMI and a detailed look at a fictional accident.

Anonymous said...

i dub this the raddest comment in the history of top5 (118 days)!
this guy is awesome.
i hope he sticks around for the non-nuclear power posts.
jd

arch stanton said...

i used the thalium article AND mr. aach's response in my 8th grade science class today!