Originally Posted by Kylepdalton
Originally Posted by phill1978
I don't need to understand the mechanics of fusion to know that I can see all the people that have died / dying from Chernobyl and atomic weapons
Sorry, everything below is a TL;DR.I admit, I didn't read the whole thing... (Click to show)
This is; for me at least, the issue with "boomers" and views on nuclear/atomic energy. I don't blame them for it though. They grew up in a society that taught them to immediately associate nuclear/atomic with war/bomb/weapons. The reality is much different though. Nuclear power is no more dangerous and arguably even less dangerous than other power sources we rely on now.
Lets look at facts. Fukushima is directly responsible for 0 deaths. Yes, 0 deaths. The highest projected death toll from increased cancer cases will likely be less than 1000 and even then it is doubtful that Fukushima could be to blame. Lets ignore the fact that the tsunami and earthquake killed more 20,000 people and focus on the radiation from the nuclear power plant. The general scientific body will tell you there will be no detectable deaths related directly to Fukushima.
This leak that the media has jumped on is laughable really. To be clear so people understand what is happening. The damaged reactors are still "hot" and need to be cooled. They pump water through the reactor area and collect it on the other side. That water is then put in holding tanks till it can be purified before they pump it through again. Two of the holding tanks sprang a leak (they contained 1st stage purified water) and most of that was caught by a holding dam. Two small puddles did escape through a rain valve.
Now the amazing part of it is that isn't being shown because people don't actually understand what they are talking about it the radiation levels of that water. It is very radioactive, no doubt about it. Something like 100 milliSieverts per hour which is well beyond the recommend 50 per year, but that is beta radiation. Beta radiation can barely penetrate skin and doesn't travel far through the air. Gamma radiation, the dangerous one, was only around 1.5 milliSieverts per hour. Dangerous, well yes of course, but nothing for anyone to freak out about.
Now Chernobyl on the other hand had around 60 direct deaths and between 4000 and 20000 related deaths and even I'll admit that number is higher and we are still seeing the consequences from it. The issue was how it was handled after the incident though and not the incident itself. Again a terrible and worrisome tragedy, but in the scheme of things there are far greater problems. Fukushima does show something though. We learned from Chernobyl how to react and prepare, hence why Fukushima is largely a non-issue.
Nuclear power has gained an unfair stigma for two reasons. The first, with good reason, is the association with bombs, weapons, and wars and the second reason comes from general lack of understanding. Ask a random person how a coal plant, wind turbine, or hydro-electric power plant works and they will be able to give a decent explanation. Ask them how a nuclear plant works and they probably won't even begin to understand. Most will try and tell me that the "smoke" coming out of the the towers is bad for the environment and it is dangerous the whole place could blow up at any time.
End of the day. You are much more likely to die in a car accident than from any nuclear accident. I'd love for green energy to be more prevalent and I believe nuclear energy is part of the solution. I'd rather switch to nuclear now and begin earnest work on other methods and phase it out than continue down the fossil fuel road while hoping to figure something out that is greener and force a massive switch.
Disclaimer: None of the above is to say Fukushima isn't a horrible event with consequences. The media plays on actual facts and fears for readership. Fukushima is bad and will continue to be an issue. There is potential for it to all go horribly wrong and become something worse. There is also potential for me to step outside my door and get struck by lightning but that will not prevent me from doing it.
My soapbox stand on science:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Boomers are somewhat detrimental to science because of skepticism and lack of understanding. They value their experiences over new understanding and discovery. They are not even close to the larger problem. The biggest problem comes from a mix of the older and very young generations. The ones who read news stories and a few articles about a topic and then form an opinion about a topic. They have immediately become an expert because they read something on the internet. Open access has made everyone in their own eyes a scientist. Discussion with those idiots is very similar to speaking to a brick wall. At least the boomers can be swayed from time to time as they admit they don't understand something. I'm not saying everyone needs Ph.D. I am also not saying people should blindly follow those who do, as the world would become a large experiment. I just get tired of arguing with people who refuse to believe they don't fully understand a topic.
This. So much this.
I can give you a rough explanation of how nuclear plants and radiation work:
Typically U-238 (uranium, not thorium is used because the latter can't be used to blow up communists) is concentrated into fuel rods and undergoes a fission reaction that releases lots of heat. Not fission like a bomb, since it's below critical mass, but enough to release more energy than radioactive decay itself. This heat is then used to heat water, which turns a turbine that converts kinetic into electrical energy. And the towers emit the same chemical found in chemtrails: hydroxic acid, the best coolant available in the industry. (H+ and OH- ions? Combine to form HOH? Get it?
There are three kinds of radiation to worry about: alpha, beta, and gamma. Alpha emitters, such as U-238, aren't very dangerous. They emit a helium-4 nucleus (two each protons and neutron), and those alpha particles can be stopped by a sheet of paper. Beta emitters spontaneously turn a neutron into a proton and electron, and the latter is emitted. You can stop one of those by hiding behind a desk, but they are a bit more dangerous than alpha particles. The ones that really need to be worried about are gamma rays, which are photons with an extremely short wavelength deep in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. These can cause damage, since they can pass through atoms and can potentially break bonds in things such as DNA, which can cause mutations. Stray electrons and helium nuclei can still cause damage though, but they're easily stopped. Gamma rays need a thick block of metal between the source and target.
Huh. That's not very scary at all. They're using radioactivity to heat water in one of the safest environments in the world. Name the last time there was a serious nuclear accident (March 2011). 'K, so now name the last time there was a serious fossil fuel accident (coal, petroleum, or other hydrocarbons: pick any) for me please (within the last month, and that's a conservative estimate).
As for the media, I hate everybody involved. Relying on the media for facts at all is a sure-fire way for disaster.
Warning: Possibly controversial rant! (Click to show)
I look at Gawker (not really a news source, but so narrow-minded it's funny) every couple of days, mostly for the comments, just to see how horrible it is that somebody is making $1 000 000 a year and not giving all of it to charity or that a Republican said something mean. A couple days ago the pope said the the Church should stop obsessing over gay marriage and abortion, and naturally the media picked up on it. Gawker said basically that it's great that the leader of the world's largest genocidal cult is finally a decent person and agrees with their agenda, or something to that extent. Today I checked Drudge, and the link to that same topic seemed to insinuate that the pope wants us to kill babies like Jesus suggested (it's in one of the Gnostic gospels somewhere, right?). Because obviously "not obsessing" means the same as "wholeheartedly supporting," right?
There is almost no way to get a decent, unbiased report on anything at all. Fukushima? It's something that both sides can agree to hate (it's killing the environment!/It's a testament to the safety of coal!) and that John Doe probably doesn't understand, making it perfect for fear-mongering. That, and Chernobyl mean nuclear = bad.
Chernobyl was handled badly afterwards, yes, but it was also handled badly beforehand. They were using outdated tech and thanks to State Secrets they couldn't even tell the employees everything they needed to do their jobs. Naturally, it broke spectacularly. And guess what? There are bacteria thriving in the reactor core
. Life will not end because of a little meltdown. It's too durable for that to happen.
Originally Posted by Minnetonka16
Isn't tritium a radioactive form of HELIUM?
edit: nope. I've been had.
The only two elements in the Universe that we haven't gotten to react are helium and neon (or whatever element 10 is if that isn't it). Even the heavier noble gases can react with fluorine in perfect conditions (netting a couple people Nobel prizes for doing so and changing their names from "inert" to "noble" gases), but helium seemingly can't, meaning it won't show up in organic molecules EVER and wreak havoc. An abundance of carbon-14, for example, could cause problems considering its role in life and that it turns into nitrogen-14 when it decays. Earth's gravity isn't even strong enough to keep the lighter gases (hydrogen and helium) from leeching off into space anyway.