HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Lasers could cut lifespan...

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 09:12 PM

Lasers could cut lifespan of nuclear waste from "a million years to 30 minutes"

Lasers could cut lifespan of nuclear waste from "a million years to 30 minutes," says Nobel laureate.

• “Gérard Mourou has already won a Nobel for his work with fast laser pulses.
• If he gets pulses 10,000 times faster, he says he can modify waste on an atomic level.
• If no solution is found, we're already stuck with some 22,000 cubic meters of long-lasting hazardous waste.

Whatever one thinks of nuclear energy, the process results in tons of radioactive, toxic waste no one quite knows what to do with. As a result, it's tucked away as safely as possible in underground storage areas where it's meant to remain a long, long time: The worst of it, uranium 235 and plutonium 239, have a half life of 24,000 years. That's the reason eyebrows were raised in Europe — where more countries depend on nuclear energy than anywhere else — when physicist Gérard Mourou mentioned in his wide-ranging Nobel acceptance speech that lasers could cut the lifespan of nuclear waste from "a million years to 30 minutes," as he put it in a followup interview with The Conversation.”

https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/laser-nuclear-waste

18 replies, 1543 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

Response to Me. (Original post)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 09:21 PM

1. Our ancestors will really like to have this tech.

We're leaving a lot of spent crap with a half life of hundreds and thousands of years for them to have to deal with.

I hope this is true.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Liberal In Texas (Reply #1)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 11:00 PM

11. Our ancestors

Might have liked this tech, but it will probably be more useful to our descendants.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to needledriver (Reply #11)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 11:09 PM

12. In the Revolutionary War

the Patriots might have employed this tech in the Battle of Baggage Claim.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to needledriver (Reply #11)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 11:45 PM

16. Indeed. :)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Me. (Original post)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 09:32 PM

2. Fantastic news!

What else can lasers do, apart from accelerate solids to near light speeds?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Me. (Original post)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 09:42 PM

3. Where's that snide nuclear applauder that always shows up?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NBachers (Reply #3)

Sat Oct 26, 2019, 12:27 AM

18. Ah, I know who you're talking about.

Not a lot of warm fuzzies from that fellow, for sure.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Me. (Original post)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 09:42 PM

4. half-life of U 235 is 700 million years. Pu 239 is 24,100 years.

The article has it wrong on U 235. And U 238 has a half life much much longer than U 235.

Lasers would have to work at the level of atomic nuclei, not just atomic. Lasers are electromagnetic
and would interact strongly perhaps with the electrons surrounding the nucleus. Not sure how this would affect the nuclear properties. My education is in astrophysics and applied mathematics and I worked in the nuclear
waste projects for nearly 40 years; in that time I never heard anything about this. Not saying it's not technically
feasible but I have my doubts.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to triron (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 09:50 PM

5. +1

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to triron (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 10:11 PM

7. I did find this which is interesting, but implementing it on a large scale seems problematic to me:

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Me. (Original post)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 10:07 PM

6. Winning a Nobel prize is a dangerous thing, it often leads people to act like experts in everything

when in fact they are not. This guy knows a lot about lasers. Bully for him. His contributions to science were a big fucking deal, in the end a bigger deal than it seemed in the moment (as is true for many Nobel Laureates).

But I'm not sure he knows enough about industrial nuclear waste to be making anything more than a provocative sensationalistic statement.

Kind of like Linus Pauling and Vitamin C.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RockRaven (Reply #6)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 10:13 PM

8. Except Pauling had life experience with high doses of C.

He's not the only one to report this either.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to triron (Reply #8)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 10:19 PM

9. And yet when one performs rigorously constructed clinical trials of this treatment, it fails.

The old "anecdote(s) versus data" problem. Which Linus Pauling totally blundered into also. Despite having a Nobel prize in Chemistry and otherwise making profoundly important contributions to science.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RockRaven (Reply #9)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 10:32 PM

10. Please cite some of these trials you refer too. I believe many are flawed or use insufficiently

large dose and/or of inadequate duration.
I have an acquaintance who is a cardiologist and a former olympic marathon qualifier
who recommended 2 grams of C daily for athletes.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to triron (Reply #10)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 11:11 PM

13. Check out the Cochrane review "Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold"

Hemila H, Chalker E. 2013. (while it is not a specific trial as per your request, citing a specific study is of limited usefulness when the issue [well, my issue anyway] is the preponderance of available evidence -- feel free to go deeper and read whichever of the studies they cite in their paper which most strikes your fancy or is most relevant to you)

Note their conclusion in light of Pauling's position -- he took 3 g of Vit C daily *to prevent colds* (as is noted on his wikipedia page, with citation).

"AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:
The failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population indicates that routine vitamin C supplementation is not justified, yet vitamin C may be useful for people exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise. Regular supplementation trials have shown that vitamin C reduces the duration of colds, but this was not replicated in the few therapeutic trials that have been carried out. Nevertheless, given the consistent effect of vitamin C on the duration and severity of colds in the regular supplementation studies, and the low cost and safety, it may be worthwhile for common cold patients to test on an individual basis whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial for them. Further therapeutic RCTs are warranted."

Pauling's affection for Vitamin C was not totally off the wall in an absolute sense as Vit C seems to have some marginal effects in specific circumstances, but he was way out over his skis to a degree which does not hold up. But he was very confident he was right -- an affliction which strikes everyone, repeatedly, in the course of their lives, but is more noteworthy when one is broadcasting these confident statements in public with the microphone which comes with being a Nobel Laureate.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RockRaven (Reply #13)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 11:54 PM

17. His arguments are flawed and not at all conclusive; from his report:

"This review is restricted to placebo-controlled trials testing 0.2 g/day or more of vitamin C. Regular ingestion of vitamin C had no effect on common cold incidence in the ordinary population, based on 29 trial comparisons involving 11,306 participants. However, regular supplementation had a modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms, which is based on 31 study comparisons with 9745 common cold episodes. In five trials with 598 participants exposed to short periods of extreme physical stress (including marathon runners and skiers) vitamin C halved the common cold risk. The published trials have not reported adverse effects of vitamin C.

Trials of high doses of vitamin C administered therapeutically, starting after the onset of symptoms, showed no consistent effect on the duration or severity of common cold symptoms. However, only a few therapeutic trials have been carried out and none have examined children, although the effect of prophylactic vitamin C has been greater in children. One large trial with adults reported benefit from an 8 g therapeutic dose at the onset of symptoms, and two therapeutic trials using five-day supplementation reported benefit. More trials are necessary to settle the possible role of therapeutic vitamin C, meaning administration immediately after the onset of symptoms."

1) 0.2 g/day is not even in the ballpark for a therapeutic dose (Pauling recommended up to 10g/day)
2) What is "regular ingestion of vitamin C"? No quantification whatsoever.
3) Also note the following statement "regular supplementation had a modest (and) consistent effect"
4) His last paragraph is just plain inconclusive.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Me. (Original post)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 11:26 PM

14. Yeah, what could go wrong with that? he asked rhetorically for a friend

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Me. (Original post)

Fri Oct 25, 2019, 11:36 PM

15. Might make a heck of a bomb too.





Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread