Today the last of the B53 nuclear bombs—a 10,000-pound "monster weapon" way, way more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, if you can imagine—will be dismantled in Texas (i.e. executed on bomb death row), joining its 340 or so brothers and sisters in Cold War-era weapon heaven. Though inaccurate and "dumb" by some accounts, the B53 was special in its own way. "We have nothing that comes close to it in the stockpile anymore, and neither does Russia," Hans Kristensen of the Federation of the American Scientists told Wired. "It's the end of an era."
Video of a mutant bunny born near Japan's quake-ravaged Fukushima power plant has gone viral. The bunny, which was born without ears, might be evidence of radioactive contamination, which may someday render the entire population of Japan microtic-anotic! Unless, of course, it's just a random birth defect. Every credible scientist in the world is leaning strongly toward the latter. Crazy people, however, are leaning toward the former, so the mutant bunny will probably be on the evening news tonight.
Don't worry, folks! The crisis at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant should be "over by the end of the year," according to a timeline from plant operator Tepco. "Over," in this case, means that the reactors will be cooled. (Radiation leaks will be "reduced" in three months.) Once "cold shutdown" is achieved, the reactors will be entombed in concrete and contaminated soil will be cleaned up; right now, Tepco is taking readings at the damaged plant through the use of remote-controlled robots. [BBC]
After an early-morning explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged one reactor's steel containment vessel and spurred the removal of emergency workers, officials expanded the evacuation zone and braced for "much larger emissions of radioactive materials." How bad are we talking? "It's way past Three Mile Island already," physicist Frank von Hippel tells The New York Times.
San Francisco alone consumes 850 continuous megawatts of electricity during the day. How much is that? The two supersized solar arrays planned for 2013 won't be enough to run SF — they'll produce 800 megawatts total. Gavin Newsom's pet project, the tidal power generator, will only piddle out 55 megawatts — one-fifteenth of the city's needs. Meanwhile, the Golden State's two operating nuclear sites each crank out more than 2,000 megawatts — day or night, high tide or low. What really drives the greenies crazy? They're safe.An FYI for everyone terrified of nuclear power: Chernobyl can't happen again. The RBMK model reactors — only used in Russia — were retrofitted for better control, containment and mitigation years ago. Three Mile Island, in hindsight, turns out to be a classic media scarefest. A post-action review at MIT found that "The melted nuclear core was contained and any radiation released was minimal. Thus, the plant design and safety protocols actually worked, despite numerous operator mistakes." Thirty years later, Westinghouse has designed a nuke that doesn't even need backup generators to stay cool if there's a power outage. We should be worried about nuclear waste disposal, not a China Syndrome-style meltdown. Nuclear waste processing has been engineered for the type of waste (LLW, MLW and HLW) that has been produced and effective strategies are working successfully right now. The real problem is that people gladly use the electricity cranked out by nukes, but freak out if there's a waste site within 2,000 miles of their backyards. Meanwhile, I wonder how many greenies know that fossil fuel releases radioactive material when burned? Uranium ore and other radioactive material are stored naturally in coal ore, from which America still gets about half of its electricity. Compared to the old choke factory at Hunter's Point, Diablo Canyon sure is pretty.