• Sat, Oct 29 2016

    How the Atomic Age was Imagined in the Soviet Union

    1956 concept of a Soviet nuclear generating station. First of all, a very big apology for being away from this blog and neglecting it for so very long. My primary duties as a sports and outdoors journalist have required a great deal of travel and doing the scope and quality of research I ideally hope to provide for this blog has not been very pragmatic while on the road, much less so when rock climbing and such. But...
    • Thu, Feb 18 2016

    Ruins: Why Nuclear is the Only Option.

    Drawing of the Red Hook grain elevator ruins. Pen and marker sketch by the author. Well. I've not posted in this blog for quite some time. It has not been intentional, but I've been aware of my absence and it's been with some valid reason. I have for one been occupied with other journalistic work but also when I began this blog, as its name suggests, its primary purpose was to educate those within the...
    • Sat, Jun 6 2015

    Our Dangerous National Shortage of Plutonium

    A very brief history lesson: During the Cold War, with the emphasis on nuclear weapons the USA and USSR both felt to be necessary to secure their nations, the USA constructed a vast network of national labs for the manufacture of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons components and the research required to produce those components. Those labs make up the backbone of the national labs of the US Department of Energy. At the...
    • Wed, Feb 25 2015

    Building a New Reactor: Part II—More on Cintichem

    To build a reactor facility of nearly any size, you'll need to move some dirt. Drawing of a digger-crawler by the author; pen-and-ink and marker. First off, I apologize that it has taken me so very long to get back to this blog. It's been a very busy time for me as a journalist the past few months, to say nothing of the holidays, as well. This multi-part series of entries on building new reactors, new nuclear...
    • Wed, Dec 17 2014

    Under Construction: Thoughts on New Nuclear Plant Design and Construction, Part I

    It takes heavy equipment to build something as large, vast, and complex as a new nuclear power station. Drawing by the author, in ink and markers. Given that I am a journalist with a background in architecture, and given my work on nuclear power, one of the most-fascinating things for me is learning how new nuclear plants are designed and built. This focus is also crucial to understanding nuclear power in the United...
    • Wed, Dec 3 2014

    More Reason for the Balkan States to Consider Nuclear

    Downtown Belgrade, Serbia. Ink and marker drawing by the author. � If you follow energy politics in Eastern Europe, which I do since my main job is as a journalist covering this region and at that, this specific topic, you'll have great cause for concern right now. For quite some time, Serbia and other nations (but especially Serbia) had placed their bets on the South Stream Pipeline, a massive natural gas transfer...
    • Thu, Oct 16 2014

    Lockheed's Compact Fusion Reactor and the Future

    If you follow the nuclear industry, you've probably already seen the news: Lockheed-Martin's fabled Skunk Works division—yes, the same folks who under Kelly Johnson brought us the U-2 and SR-71 spy-planes and much, much more over the decades—has announced a consummate design for a compact fusion reactor. They have made various press releases about this novel technology throughout 2013 but the most...
    • Fri, Aug 22 2014

    Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4 Construction

    Pencil and marker sketch of the extant, operational, Plant Vogtle Units 1 & 2 by the author. On February 2, 2010, President Obama announced $8.3 billion in federal loans via the Department of Energy to the Southern Company and its daughter corporation, Georgia Power, for the construction of two new nuclear power reactors and their associated facilities at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia. This was the first...
    • Thu, Aug 7 2014

    Why Today's Nuclear Era Must Become Bolder

    Peaceful applications of nuclear technologies have evolved over the course of the twentieth century in a manner that no other industry in the history of mankind has, with a trajectory that started with the atomic bombs used to end World War Two and the latent background that nuclear was a novel, unique, and fully modern area of technology able to literally change our lives in profound ways. It was a field of technology...
    • Tue, Jun 24 2014

    Research Reactors: A Resource Disappearing from America

    When I began writing this blog I had three core goals in mind: 1) To educate our industry about its history with an especial focus on the unique and varied developments in nuclear technologies for power-generation, military, and medical applications. 2) To educate our industry about the sociocultural position of nuclear power and technology in society and what needs to be done to win more people over to the merits...
    • Fri, Jun 20 2014

    Book review: Command and Control—Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety

    Command and Control—Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser New York City: The Penguin Press, 2013 For a rather long work of non-fiction I tore through this book pretty quickly, mostly because it reads like a thriller and leaves the reader turning pages as promptly as if in the thick of an engrossing novel. That's a great credit to the author, a savvy and...
    • Wed, Jun 4 2014

    Slate's Incomplete Story of the SRS MOX Facility and How an Article Becomes an Editorial

    Sketch for a seaside nuclear power plant in Wales. I didn't have time to draw the MOX facility for this article, alas, so this will have to do, though as everyone reading probably realizes it's a very different creature altogether. � Slate , a very-popular and well-regarded daily news site ran an article today by journalist Josh Voorhees regarding the DOE MOX facility under construction at the Savannah River...
    • Thu, May 8 2014

    Concerns over Ukraine's Nuclear Power Plants

    A few blog entries ago, I wrote about reasons why Ukraine—in light of the current political turmoil there—might consider investing further in nuclear power. Russia, once Ukraine's greatest partner in natural gas and oil trade, now has become nothing short of its enemy as Crimea (formerly a part of Ukraine) has been annexed into Russia as a territory of the Russian Federation. Ukraine's winters can...
    • Wed, Apr 30 2014

    Sublime Architecture Put to Good Use: Kesselring's Giant Sphere

    The French neoclassical architect Étienne-Louis Boullée is known today as much for his unbuilt projects as those he actually saw built and completed. Boullée worked at a time when science and engineering were quickly changing how mankind saw the world and when architecture was looking not only to traditional, classical, influences but towards outward expressions of math and science as part of its...
    • Mon, Apr 14 2014

    China and Nuclear Power

    China street scene; pencil and marker drawing by the author. The People's Republic of China currently has twenty power reactors in operation at a total of six nuclear power plant locations, which only contributes to the national power grids around a meager 2% of all normal power output. That is a small amount in contrast to leading nuclear nations, but one that is only going to grow—and at that, grow greatly...
    • Fri, Apr 11 2014

    A Nuclear Ukraine?

    Most everyone knows about Russia's recent annexation of Crimea back into Russian territory from Ukraine and the related strife in much of eastern Ukraine now where Russian-leaning citizens have advocated for these regions to also be annexed into Russia, though such probably will not happen. Europe and the United States wait nervously to see if Russia will use the military forces it has assembled in Crimea to in any...
    • Mon, Mar 10 2014

    Admiral Hyman Rickover: a vintage television interview and some thoughts

    (Please visit the site to view this video) Interview from 1984 by Diane Sawyer with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, from 60 Minutes . Admiral Rickover probably did more for both the American nuclear industry and the American military establishment in terms of the promotion of key, innovative, nuclear technologies in the early Cold War years than any other single person in history. Certainly, his legacy is vast—as...
    • Mon, Feb 17 2014

    Thank you, NRC.

    Just a quick but very honest "thank you" to the NRC for having its documents organized so well, making ADAM work as a database of its nature ought to work, and in general making it easy for me to find historical information I'm seeking—even stuff going back to the AEC's early days. I know many people in the industry have their complaints about the NRC, but look: I've dealt with several other...
    • Mon, Feb 10 2014

    Growing Power for a Growing World

    Chinatown, San Francisco. Painting in gouache and airbrush by the author. I began my college career in San Francisco, California and marveled not only at the cultural diversity of this city and its very American, very pioneering history, but also at its quite compact geographical size. I lived right on the western cusp of Chinatown, yet I could easily get on the Muni or BART trains and be anywhere from Berkeley...
    • Wed, Jan 22 2014

    Nuclear: The most promising option for mid-range manned space flight.

    The space shuttle awaiting launch: the shuttle depended on conventional rocket technologies, but future manner spacecraft may rely on nuclear-enabled rockets for their extra-atmospheric portions of their journey. Drawing by the author. I don't know if the rest of you have been following the exciting work related to the Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage project down at Marshall Space Flight Center or not, but NASA...
    • Fri, Jan 17 2014

    My article on nuclear power as a viable option for Croatia

    The entire article is only available in the print edition, but my article on nuclear power as an option for sustainable energy in Croatia is the lead article in the new issue of SEE: A Fortnight in Review , one of Eastern Europe's leading business/finance trade journals: http://see-magazine.eu/teasers/the-nuclear-option-why-nuclear-is-making-a-big-come-back-why-it-may-yet-in-croatia/ I'm very glad they ran...
    • Tue, Jan 7 2014

    Chicago, a Nuclear City if ever there was one

    My drawing of Chicago based on the sketches of architect Bertrand Goldberg and containing some of his architecture. What city can claim the most nuclear-related history in all of the USA? There are ample contenders, but the award if there were one I feel would have to go to Chicago. Consider the following: —The Dresden Generating Station , the first fully private, long-term, nuclear generating plant in...
    • Fri, Jan 3 2014

    Historic Film on the Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory

    The Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory , also known as AFP No. 67 , operated from 1958 to 1971 and was a crucial facility for research germane to the Air Force's efforts to develop a nuclear-powered bomber. Most of the work done at this lab was materials engineering-related and included irradiating various materials to better understand shielding requirements for the reactors that could power the proposed nuclear...
    • Thu, Dec 19 2013

    Russia marches forward with nuclear

    Moscow, pencil and marker drawing by Mike Walker. I plan soon to write more on this issue but I cannot stress enough how Russia is currently growing in its capacity as not only a strong domestic nuclear power industry but as an export industry, also. This article from Russia Beyond the Headlines is a good place to start on this issue: http://rbth.ru/science_and_tech/2013/12/17/growing_nuclear_industry_becomes_a_global_power_32661...
    • Mon, Dec 9 2013

    Russia cites progress in talks with the UK to build nuclear plants for UK customers

    The headline necessary for a story like this one is always tough to write: you could say "Russia set to build nuclear plants in the UK" but that's not really correct. I guess that could grab the reader's attention fastest but it's not truthful in the details, and we all know the devil (and much else) is in the details. What is going on is this: England is waking up to the fact that it will need...