Saturday, March 19, 2011

Silent Armageddon

There a many lessons to learn from the nuclear catastrophe in Japan: Everything breaks; people are only human; heroes exist; radiation is analogous to poop; and reactors need active attention to stay safe. I think we knew the last one, but it is worth some further reflection.

How long will our technically-competent society last? Maybe thousands of years? If our technical society fails in the next, oh, ten thousand years, hundreds (thousands?) of nuclear power plants can turn into Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi. Without a constant flow of cooling water, even the spent fuel rods can explode and spread their radiation into the surrounding regions.

I believe that this society needs nuclear power. But we also need to come up with a solution for storing nuclear waste in a way that does not require active systems to maintain its quiesence

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