HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Environment & Energy » Environment & Energy (Group) » Zealots of the Atom: The ...

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:10 AM

Zealots of the Atom: The Nuclear Cult

Zealots of the Atom: The Nuclear Cult
by KARL GROSSMAN

Nuclear scientists and engineers embrace nuclear power like a religion. The term “nuclear priesthood” was coined by Dr. Alvin Weinberg, long director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the laboratory’s website proudly notes this. It’s not unusual for scientists at Oak Ridge and other U.S. national nuclear laboratories to refer to themselves as “nukies.” The Oak Ridge website describes Weinberg as a “prophet” of “nuclear energy.”

This religious, cultish element is integral to a report done for the U.S. Department of Energy in 1984 by Battelle Memorial Institute about how the location of nuclear waste sites can be communicated over the ages. An “atomic priesthood,” it recommends, could impart the locations in a “legend-and-ritual…retold year-by-year.” Titled “Communications Measures to Bridge Ten Millennia,” the taxpayer-funded report says: “Membership in this ‘priesthood’ would be self-selective over time.”

Currently, Allison Macfarlane, nominated to be the new head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, says she is an “agnostic” on nuclear power—as if support or opposition to atomic energy falls on a religious spectrum. Meanwhile, Gregory Jaczko, the outgoing NRC chairman, with a Ph.D. in physics, was politically crucified because he repeatedly raised safety concerns, thus not revering nuclear power enough.

....

But when it comes to nuclear power, it’s more than that—it’s a religious adherence. Why? Does it have to do with nuclear scientists and engineers being in such close proximity to power, literally? Is it about the process through which they are trained—in the U.S., many in the nuclear navy and/or in the insular culture of the government’s national nuclear laboratories? These laboratories, originally under the Atomic Energy Commission and now the Department of Energy and managed by corporations, universities and scientific entities including Battelle Memorial Institute, grew out of the World War II Manhattan Project crash program to build atomic bombs. After the war, the laboratories expanded to pursue the development of all things nuclear. And is it about nuclear physics programs at universities serving as echo chambers?

Whatever the causes, the outcome is nuclear worship....

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/06/18/the-nuclear-cult/

31 replies, 2939 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 31 replies Author Time Post
Reply Zealots of the Atom: The Nuclear Cult (Original post)
kristopher Jun 2012 OP
Kolesar Jun 2012 #1
FogerRox Jun 2012 #2
kristopher Jun 2012 #3
FBaggins Jun 2012 #4
FogerRox Jun 2012 #5
kristopher Jun 2012 #13
FogerRox Jun 2012 #16
PamW Jun 2012 #17
FogerRox Jun 2012 #18
FogerRox Jun 2012 #19
PamW Jun 2012 #21
FogerRox Jun 2012 #24
PamW Jun 2012 #25
FogerRox Jun 2012 #27
FogerRox Jun 2012 #31
joshcryer Jun 2012 #26
FogerRox Jun 2012 #28
joshcryer Jun 2012 #29
FogerRox Jun 2012 #20
PamW Jun 2012 #22
FogerRox Jun 2012 #23
NNadir Jun 2012 #6
kristopher Jun 2012 #7
FBaggins Jun 2012 #8
kristopher Jun 2012 #9
FBaggins Jun 2012 #10
kristopher Jun 2012 #11
FBaggins Jun 2012 #12
kristopher Jun 2012 #14
FBaggins Jun 2012 #15
PamW Jun 2012 #30

Response to kristopher (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 04:39 PM

1. It’s an elitist, war-mongering, closed society of inbred, inwardly-thinking, aggressively xenophobic

Russell Ace Hoffman, author of The Code Killers, Why DNA and Ionizing Radiation Are a Dangerous Mix, says: “It is a cult. It fits all the classic definitions of a cult. It’s an elitist, war-mongering, closed society of inbred, inwardly-thinking, aggressively xenophobic, arrogant pseudo-nerds stuck in ideas that are at least half a century out of date…Another cult-like behavior is they don’t care about the suffering of their victims. Not one bit.”
--
Get Karl to join here and I'll buy him some valentine hearts.
--
Dr. Barbara Rose Johnston, an anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Center for Political Ecology in Santa Cruz, recounts spending three days at a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored conference for people involved in the atmospheric monitoring program at the nuclear weapons test site in Nevada. “Many of the scientists and technicians in attendance were from southern Utah and St. Georges County area where the heaviest atomic fallout from the Nevada test site occurred…I did not find a single man who saw a connection between fallout and cancer rates, despite the fact that most had suffered. My initial reaction was that these folks truly ‘drank the Kool-Aid’—true believers through and through.”

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 01:57 AM

2. I cross my fingers for the day people stop using the word nuclear in that manner

Its nuclear fission I have an issue with.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #2)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 09:54 AM

3. Stop using the word "nuclear" in what manner?

Last edited Wed Jun 20, 2012, 11:23 AM - Edit history (1)

I'm interested in your thoughts, not what others think you are thinking.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kristopher (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 10:04 AM

4. I think he means using "nuclear" to refer uniquely to one or two parts of "nuclear".

Presumably he would love to see nuclear fusion (still "nuclear power") and sees lots of benefit in nuclear medicine (etc)...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kristopher (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 01:37 PM

5. Its nuclear fission I have an issue with.

Nuclear fusion, not the same issue, depending on the fuel,,, fusion can potentially be a god send. Specifically aneutronic fusion, using fuels like Helium or the proton boron11 combo, have huge potential, the fusion reaction itself creates no neutrons.

Polywell fusion specifically has made large advances over the last 4 years, EMC2 has actually built a reactor that has made 500 test shots with Dueturium fuel, and is now being fitted with new E-guns, this reactor is slated to run P-b11 fuel in the next 2 years.

Polywell is small compact and the waste is He. Direct conversion to DC. Theory: 1000Mw plant in a 35ft sq footprint. We shall see.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 02:19 PM

13. Do you really think the OP lends itself to confusion...

...between fission and fusion?

The idea that nuclear is a word that causes an irrational response is off-target in my opinion. People don't react negatively to "nuclear medicine", for example; nor do they have an aversion for "nuclear families".

I think the issue the OP looks at - the belief system of many proponents of nuclear power (as it now exists if you insist) - is rooted in the nature of nuclear power itself and the very real danger that is part of that technology. If fusion is eventually realized as a viable proposition and it turns out to be as safe as it is hoped (not all danger is "radioactive") then I think the technology will not long suffer a stigma from the word nuclear.

But here's the rub, when fission we being rolled out it was spoken of much like you are speaking of fusion - it was deemed completely safe and "the" hope for the future. But until we see the final product and know the full range of risks involved in the forces being harnessed it is (IMO) premature to bill fusion as anything more than a technology with great potential.

Now, what is your opinion about the meat of the OP?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kristopher (Reply #13)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 08:53 PM

16. Not the OP by itself, that why I phrased my comment that way, leaving the OP not mentioned

The meat of the OP, I liked it, “atomic priesthood,” indeed.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 11:51 PM

17. More than one fusion reaction

There's no such thing as THE fusion reaction that creates no neutrons.

There's not just one fusion reaction; there's a whole family of reactions, and some of the MUST create neutrons.

It's like saying THE chemical reaction doesn't create CO2. There's not just a single chemical reaction; there are lots of chemical reactions - it's a family. The oxidation of carbon is one such reaction and it MUST create CO2.

Likewise, there's a substantial fraction of fusion reactions that MUST create neutrons. Even aneutronic fusion is no panacea; because many of the reaction products from aneutronic fusion also give you radioactive product species.

Some think, for example, that just because you get a proton instead of a neutron as a product that does away with all radioactivity problems.

PamW

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to PamW (Reply #17)

Fri Jun 22, 2012, 01:26 AM

18. Quoting myself "the fusion reaction itself creates no neutrons. " in reference to P-B11 fusion

Correct me if I'm wrong.....

Fusing a proton and Boron11 releases a Helium and a Carbon 12. No neutron has been released up to this time.

Yes the C-12 is not stable and splits, He and Be are the result of this fission. The Be is also unstable and splits, more He. A total of 3 alphas are released for 8.68Mev. http://www.ibiblio.org/lunar/school/InterStellar/Explorer_Class/Bussard_Fusion_systems.HTML

Fusing Deuterium and Tritium releases a neutron and an Alpha @3.5 Mev.

Fusing Deuterium and Deuterium releases a proton and a neutron.

Fusing Deuterium and Helium releases about 2% neutrons, though also release lots of alphas 18.3 Mev.

P-B11 fusion "the fusion reaction itself creates no neutrons". Therein lies the difference between P-B11 fusion and most other fusion reactions..... P-B11 has 2 more stages of reactions......


I cant seem to find the data for lithium 6/lithium 6 fusion..... maybe you could help me?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #18)

Fri Jun 22, 2012, 03:06 PM

19. More fun, one of the fuel combo results I stated above is inaccurate.....

Which one is inaccurate and why?

D+D?
D+T?
D+He?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #19)

Sat Jun 23, 2012, 08:31 PM

21. At first glance...

At first glance you made an error on the D-He reaction.

How do you release "lots of alphas" when only one alpha (He) went in.
You can't conserve both mass and charge. You only have 3 protons and a couple alphas needs 4.

D + He-3 --> He-4 + p

There's 2 D-D fusion reactions:

D + D --> T + p
D + D --> He-3 + n

Here's the proper equation for the D-T reaction; you left off the neutron energy, which is most of
the energy from the reaction.

D + T --> He-4 + n + 17.6 MeV ( 14.1 for n / 3.5 for He-4 )

PamW

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to PamW (Reply #21)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 12:02 AM

24. Correct on the DD, 50% of reactions creates a neutron. Excellent.

D+He .... 18.3 Mev is energetic.. no?

And now about the Lithium 6?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #24)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 03:51 PM

25. The problem is ....

The problem with D + He-3 fusion; is where do you get the He-3?

If we could ship He-3 back from the Moon; then yes we may have a feedstock.

The D + He-3 reaction has a Coulomb barrier twice as high as either D + D or D + T; and we haven't gotten over that barrier yet. So let's set our sights of D + He-3 after we get something simpler to work.

As for Lithium; the Coulomb barrier is trebled compared with hydrogen fusion. So Lithium fusion is even further down the road than Helium.

In fact, lithium fusion only occurs in relatively heavy stars; the lighter mass stars can't generate the necessary temperatures to obtain lithium fusion.

Why all the elementary questions? Did you think you were going to stump someone with a PhD in Nuclear Physics from MIT?

How about some more interesting questions concerning angular momentum coupling between spin and orbitals in fusing nuclei. Would you like some of these more interesting questions?

PamW

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to PamW (Reply #25)

Mon Jun 25, 2012, 01:19 AM

27. HE reactors on the Moon

Kulsinski @ U of Wisconsin has a IEC program, Harrison Schmidt (Apollo) is a guest speaker there. They've spent some time on the issue of Earth being He poor and the moon isnt. One should build an He reactor on the Moon. SO much easier. Robert Bussard liked L6 for interplanetary travel, he had a proposal: Eagle Class ship.

Stump you, I dont even have a single college credit, hope you dont mind me feeling you out. I try not to throw names or insults at someone cause I disagree with them. I noticed you don't refrain yourself, at all. at times. I find myself embarrassed.

The average person will not find in an internet search that DD fusion creates a neutron half the time, they'll likely find truncated version that says you get n+p. SO I knew you had chops.

Whats needed for L6 fusion? P-B11 has a sort of "resonance spike" around IIRC 550 kev, in a potential well its 55kev. Which the current polywell is designed to reach.


Does Todd Riders work on wire gridded Inertial electrostatic confinement fusion devices also apply to a virtual cathode Polywell?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to PamW (Reply #25)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 01:53 AM

31. Does Todd Riders work on wire gridded cathode Inertial electrostatic confinement

fusion devices also apply to a Polywell device with a virtual cathode?

P-B11 fuel

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #18)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 11:34 PM

26. B11 + alpha = 14N

While the prospects for alpha removal are there (ie, direct electrical conversion) it is non-trivial and not going to be something that comes easy. pB11 is going to create neutrons. A non trivial amount of neutrons at a high enough power level.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to joshcryer (Reply #26)

Mon Jun 25, 2012, 01:23 AM

28. The neutrons come from the C12 and the Be8, when they split.

A little bit different than some other reactions.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #28)

Mon Jun 25, 2012, 01:30 AM

29. The alpha neutrons far outweigh the C12 neutrons, though.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aneutronic_fusion#Residual_radiation_from_a_p.E2.80.9311B_reactor

The alphas are generally dismissed by the idea of direct electrical conversion, which I am not dismissing, I just think it will be difficult and won't ever be perfect.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to PamW (Reply #17)

Sat Jun 23, 2012, 07:28 PM

20. You've had nearly 2 days to figure it out....

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FogerRox (Reply #20)

Sat Jun 23, 2012, 08:32 PM

22. I have better things to do

I have better things to do with my time.

I don't come here every day. Today is the first time in 3 days or so that I have come here.

One glance at your post, and I saw the error.

PamW

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to PamW (Reply #22)


Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Jun 20, 2012, 03:53 PM

6. In general, cults like to call other more reputable groups...

...(as in Nobel Laureate quality people) "cults."

Dr. Alvin Weinberg wrote the first Nuclear Engineering text with Eugene Wigner in 1956, at the dawn of the First Nuclear Era.

He was head of the Oak Ridge Laboratory and counted among his friends and associates, the Nobel Laureate Glenn Seaborg.

There is a famous photograph of Dr. Weinberg with the President of the United States during his tenure, Jack and Jackie Kennedy in the control room of the research reactor at Oak Ridge, accompanied by a guy named Al Gore, father to the 2000 Democratic nominee.

Mr. Gore, Mr. Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy and Dr. Weinberg

Unremarked by the anti-nuke cult, is the fact that Eugene Wigner won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

It's unsurprising to hear the anti-nuke cults talking about alleged "nuclear cults."

This reminds me of my fundementalist sister in law, who says that Catholicism is a cult.

She believes the world was created in six days...

Well then...

As for the "nuclear priesthood," it's rather unnecessary. Nuclear energy is a mature technology and it utilized broadly around the world. It's strengths are well known, and despite much caviling by hysterics, it was recently shown that it was safer to be in a damaged nuclear powerplant - where no one died - than in any other kind of structure - where more than ten thousand people died - in a 9.0 earthquake and 15 meter tsunami.

All the name calling - and other chanting - by all the mindless anti-nukes as the rail against the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy will not change the common sense of the people of the world who are building 60 nuclear reactors.

World Reactors Under Construction

There's no mysticism involved in this construction, just hard engineering.

The new reactors are like adding another nuclear France. The reactors now being constructed will produce about 1.8 exajoules of pure electricity, and about 5 exajoules of primary energy.

Meanwhile they still talking in the so called "renewable cults" about getting that first exajoule, out of 520 exajoules used each year by humanity, in their expensive and wasteful solar toys. This talk's been going on for 50 years, with no important result.

So what, in fact, is "faith based" here?

In the last ten years, the concentration of dangerous fossil fuel waste - waste that kills 3.3 million people per year according to the World Health Organization - has risen from 373 ppm to 397 ppm, while the whole time the sun power and wind power cults in this space have railed against the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy.

Mauna Loa CO2 data, May 2012

Heckuva job, anti-nukes. You must be very proud.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NNadir (Reply #6)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 09:36 AM

7. In the time it takes to build one (1) nuclear plant

We can be installing renewables and producing power. For example, using fewer resources than the (1) nuclear plant we could build a factory producing 2.5GW of wind turbines each year. Installing those turbines as they come off the assembly line over ten years would result in more than 54 reactor years worth of electricity having been produced before that nuclear plant ever comes on line. The same scenario plays out with solar.

...Whether out of indoctrination, misguided belief, an obsession to "control nature," the lure of the cult, closeness to power, job security, or their seeking to perpetuate a vested interest, the "nuclearists" have a religious allegiance to their technology. On a moral level, they have indeed sinned -- and continue to do so. On a political level, they have corrupted and distorted energy policy in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. On an economic level, they are wasting a gargantuan portion of our tax dollars.

Choices of energy technology should be based on the technology being safe, clean, economic and in harmony with life. Instead, we are up against nuclear scientists and engineers pushing their deadly technology in the manner of religious zealots.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kristopher (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 09:54 AM

8. So what?

You continually make that point... and never explain why anyone should care.

Electricity generation is almost always part of infrastructure planning many years in advance. Power companies regularly buy land decades in advance. We're currently debating what the nation's power mix should be in 2030 or 2050... who cares whether we need to plan to start a project a couple years earlier if that project is currently 20 years down the road?

All that matters is the overall cost of meeting the power needs of the commnity over that lifetime of generation (including fuel/cleanup/etc) and what the impact on the environment is. By both standards nuclear power has a clear role to play.

For example, using fewer resources than the (1) nuclear plant we could build a factory producing 2.5GW of wind turbines each year.

And yet another example of your ridiculous spin. Why on earth would that matter? Why do you continue to pretend that the factory that makes a thing is a significant percentage of the long-term cost of that thing? Why, in the face of continued evidence of your error, do you continue to pretend that if you build a plant that can produce ten widgets a day... that it means there will be 3,650 widgets in use at the end of a year?

The same scenario plays out with solar.

And how many solar panels have been produced and installed at the plants that have shut down over the last few years?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FBaggins (Reply #8)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 01:22 PM

9. The claim that urgency to address climate change justifies building nuclear is false.

Poor little Baggins; is the heat getting to you?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kristopher (Reply #9)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 01:29 PM

10. Wrong as usual.

"Urgency" in climate change terms is a multi-decade process.

Don't worry... I didn't really expect you to answer any of the questions... because we both already know the answers.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FBaggins (Reply #10)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 01:40 PM

11. There is no way the nuclear plant can make up that 54 reactor year deficit.

Remember, not only is there a deficit equal to 54 reactor years worth of power before the reactor comes online, but the disparity continues to grow even after the nuclear plant comes online. The amount installed renewables at the ten year point would be nearly an order of magnitude larger than the nuclear plant and it continues to increase.

You persist in acting as if the point of this visualization exercise is limited to a single factory - it isn't - the use of a single factory is just a convenience to simplify the description of the issue. Hundreds of factories around the world are right now busy carrying out this scenario as we speak.

But hey, you keep praying to the atom. I'm sure it will save us all.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kristopher (Reply #11)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 02:12 PM

12. It doesn't need to because the "deficit" doesn't exist.

It's an entirely fictional construct of your imagination.

As has been pointed out to you half a dozen times or more (and you've dodged an equal number of times), the cost of the plant to build turbines is a tiny portion of the cost of providing electrical services to a population... whereas the cost of a reactor is a very high percentage of same.

You persist in acting as if the point of this visualization exercise is limited to a single factory - it isn't -


Again... so what?

Nuclear power isn't limited to a single reactor. Just look at the number that China is building simultaneously and then look at their expectation of ramping that rate up wards in the future. And even that is still irrelevant because you're comparing apples to aardvarks. They're getting ready to propose at least two factories for building SMRs. Are you ok with just looking at the tiny cost for that factory ad then comparing the number of reactors it can turn out per year the way you're playing games with a turbine factory?

Of course not. It would be ridiculous to try... but that hasn't stopped you.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FBaggins (Reply #12)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 02:23 PM

14. It is a comparison of the opportunity costs of time, Baggins.

But you knew that. 54 reactor years worth of electricity already produced before the nuclear plant comes online and the disparity keeps growing.

You can't overcome that with spin.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to kristopher (Reply #14)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 02:36 PM

15. No... it really isn't.

Because you aren't comparing comparable costs. You're comparing the cost of a custom-built Nascar vehicle to the cost of buying a paint shot for the assembly line of the Yugo. Sure... it can paint lots of Yugos... but that was never relevant and tells you next to nothing about how many Yugos there will be ten years from now.

54 reactor years worth of electricity already produced before the nuclear plant comes online

Nope. All you have is a factory. If you're going to compare costs, you have to include the planing and permitting and financing and site work for where the turbines will end up... and the materials/labor costs of the turbine itself (and profit for the company), then all of the costs of the parts of the wind farm that are not constructed at that factory (substantial)... then some accounting for the fact that the wind farm isn't going to last anywhere near the 60-80 years that a new reactor will last. Then of course there's the cost of the parts of the system necessary if you actually want to provide reliable power to your customers.

You can't win a real comparison... so you play games. The real question is whether you think that any rational reader falls for it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FBaggins (Reply #15)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 12:31 AM

30. You need to learn "kristopher speak"

You need to learn "kristopher speak" and what he means by an "opportunity cost".

Consider the automobile market. Anytime someone buys a Ford instead of a GM product; that's an "opportunity cost" to a GM partisan. GM lost a potential sale because someone bought a Ford instead. They decided based on their own economic and use priorities that the Ford was the better product.

However, to a GM partisan, and one who is an unthinking GM zealot; such an event is just plain bad and evil.

So it has to be portrayed, not as a parochial loss for GM; but as some loss for the entire market.

It's the flip side of "What's good for General Motors, is good for the USA"; or
"What's bad for General Motors, is bad for the USA"

It just means a person can't distinguish between their own interests and those of the public as a whole.

PamW

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread