Atomic Awesome

User Input: Polarizing Energy

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In the United States this week, the Smithsonian Institute is sponsoring Nuclear Science Week, a program to educate students — and the general public at large — about the whole picture surrounding nuclear energy. It’s an admirable program, because it’s not shying away from discussing the negatives, while taking a […]

User Input

User Input: Peculiar Knowledge

I was on a road trip last week with a co-worker, and through a long, circuitous route from diesel engines to hydrogen fuel cells, we got onto the topic of electricity generation. At some point, he opined that the only viable solution was solar power, and he couldn’t understand why the government wasn’t […]

Atomic Awesome

Nuclear Rails

Nuclear power has been looked at for planes and automobiles, but what about the third mode of transportation — trains? Unsurprisingly, it was considered both in the US and the Soviet Union.

Continue reading Nuclear Rails


Kosmos 954: Raining Nuclear Waste On Imperialist Scum

The imperial cowards of the west must be monitored, comrades! We will launch satellites that will use active radar to watch their ships and submarines as they try to subvert the people’s desires for their corrupt means! They will not be able to hide!

We will use a liquid sodium-potassium thermionic converter driven […]

User Input

User Input: Mr. Fusion

The 1958 Ford Nucleon concept car

In the 1950’s, America — and the rest of the world, to a lesser extent — was positively agog over the potential represented by the nuclear era. This new, compact, clean energy source was surely destined to be the saviour of mankind’s energy needs. Research was proceeding […]


Not-so Great Moments in History – Chernobyl

Chernobyl 1986

Today marks the somber 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, that on 26 April 1986 turned the small sleepy Ukrainian town of Pripyat into one of the most infamous and feared locations on earth.

The disaster sent a plume of radioactive contamination over much of Europe and Eastern Russia, crippled the economy of the former superpower USSR, and remains the single worst nuclear disaster the world has had to face.

While the current Fukushima disaster resulting from last month’s 9.0 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan ranks a similarly classified Level Seven on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), it is considered much less serious than the event in Chernobyl due to factors including containment, deaths and contamination.

In the early days of the 1986 accident, the seriousness of the unfolding disaster wasn’t fully understood even by officials within the USSR who were alerted to high radiation levels by neighboring countries. And it wasn’t until recent years that the full extent of the danger has been fully revealed. Continue reading Not-so Great Moments in History – Chernobyl


Shutdown: Physics 101 – Nukes: “What the hell is going on?”



What’s true? What is pure hyperbole? How much of CNN is exaggeration? And how much of NHK is gross understatement?

There are a lot of “experts” out there on TV, Intertubes and talk radio at the moment, and more than a few seem to be more interested in milking the limelight than providing factual and useful information. A lot people know people, who worked with someone, who once knew a nuclear engineer that wrote a blog-post on how safe, or indeed how evil nuclear power is.

One minute things are OK, the next it is time to stock up on bacon and trail mix. The sheer amount of misinformation makes it hard to figure out what is really going on without getting caught up in either side of the argument.

We are not going to get into the debate here on whether or not the Apocalypse is neigh. But before taping up your windows and chimney with tin-foil however, it is prudent to have some real working knowledge on the issue without needing a doctorate in nuclear physics. Continue reading Shutdown: Physics 101 – Nukes: “What the hell is going on?”


Startup: Nuclear Reactions Are Pretty!

It's so soothing!

This is what the inside of a nuclear reactor looks like. Yes, really.

Specifically, this photo comes from the inside of the PULSTAR reactor in North Carolina. This is primarily a research reactor, with an output of only 1MW. Relative to other pool-type reactors using similar technology, it is an […]

Military-Grade Awesome, Technostalgia

Khrushchev’s Nuclear-Powered Tupolev – Commie Radiation from Above!

Did the mysterious exploding atomic toaster in space give you the willies (and make you look cross-wise at your nearest lemur)? Well grab your lead vest and a dosimeter – the damn Commies put a nuclear reactor into a Tupolev bomber back in the swinging ’60s! Turn out the lights and put a flashlight under your monitor’s chin and read on for this chilling tale of Cold War insanity.

Continue reading Khrushchev’s Nuclear-Powered Tupolev – Commie Radiation from Above!