“A Step Farther Out” 2022 Shows

ASFO airs weekly at 19z00. In this post you will find links to the shows from 2022, along with my attempts to describe each show.

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To understand what this show is about, and for the shows from 2021, go here.

  • 2022-01-01 This is not only the first show of the year, it’s the first day this year when we could have had a show! Honestly, that’s about the most interesting thing about this one. Mostly it’s maundering about the James Webb Space Telescope, some speculation on its possible role in planetary defence, and reflections on why that could be important in a world in which international tensions remain high. Also there’s a brief mention of the depressing situation in Germany.
  • 2022–01–08 In which I talk about Sex. Fair warning, if you hold any strong opinions on topics such as gender identity or feminism, you probably won’t feel that I have fairly described either your position or opposing ones. Just as a reminder, I have very little patience with anyone who claims to hold an “unpopular opinion”, and then comes up with what is probably the second or third most popular opinion on the topic. Be original!
  • 2022–01–15 Continuing on from last week, somehow, I manage to talk about Joan of Arc and Ray Kurzweil in the same show. Also news from Berlin ― the city, not the German government.
  • 2022–01–22 Wrapping up the theme of the past two weeks by talking about sexually transmitted infections? Well, that’s a rather grim pun.
  • 2022–01–29 In which I break my rule of mostly not talking about computers by discussion Bill Jolets of 386BSD fame ― but in the context of Federal support for mad science. Also, if a SpaceX Falcon booster smacks into Luna (on the far side where we can’t see the flash), and there are no seismographs around to hear it, does it make a crater?
  • 2022–02–05 In all honesty, this one is a trifle profane. Mostly I rant about the National Agency for Space Avoidance, and try to explain why the much–criticized rise of private space industry is good for those of us who understand that the Cosmos is the stage upon which the future of humanity will be acted. Jeff Bezos’ colossal new sailing yacht, which is causing consternation in Rotterdam, comes in as an example of what we can expect from a “renewable energy future”. Also a mention of the problems with decarbonization by taxation, although there is much more to be said about it.
  • 2022–02–19 After skipping a week because I was unfortunately busy about other things, I start off by discussing a beautiful photo calendar commemorating the Gundremmingen nuclear power station, created not by the plant owners, but by the local parish priest! This leads into more of my interminable bitter ranting about the German energy policy, and an attempt at analysis of an € 85 000 PV+hydrogen “home total energy solution” which is now being offered on the market. But also I try to explore a little why some of the arguments people give about energy are fallacious.
  • 2022–03–05 “The rent is too damn’ high!” But what does that have to do with the crisis in Ukraine? I have ideas about that. (Also, the people on this planet are insane, and I want a billion dollars so I can leave for elsewhere.)
  • 2022–03–12 Not my most edifying, informative, or entertaining show ever, by a long chalk. It’s thirty minutes of sheer, uninterrupted “something has gone horribly wrong with the humans on this planet and I need to vacate, soonest.”
  • 2022–03–19 Starting (somehow) from a British condiment known as clotted cream, I discuss various world problems which I would not advise trying to solve with nuclear energy or space travel, or for which I have no particular solution, including French pension funding and the supply of paper in India. Of course, I end up circling back to the topic of the current fuel stringency, the absurdity of measures being advocated to deal with it, and the possibilities of a global Messmer Plan.
  • 2022–03–26 Reverend Onan Canobite of the Church of the SubGenius says, “how about we stop funding problems here on Earth, and explore space instead, how about that?” I’m afraid that’s about as coherent as this week’s show gets, but hey, it’s a good message. I’ll try to be more coherent next week.
  • 2022–04–02 Two definitions of power, McJobs in the context of the social implications of energy policy, and the perennial question “what does the House of Thurn und Taxis have to do with the regulated utility model, and what can that teach us about alternatives to profit–maximizing capitalism?” Also why there are special coffee mugs for nuclear power plant refueling outages, and an update on the film–transfer situation.
  • 2022–04–09 What will the people do with the atomic power? asks my grandmother. It turns out that this is related to the vital question of what is going on in France. First time as tragedy, second time as farce : the lights are going out, all across Europe. Also a metaphor (or parable if you like) concerning a seed.
  • 2022–04–16 Whale Oil! It’s the energy policy equivalent of snake oil, and wow is there plenty of it circulating right now. (No whales were harmed in the making of this broadcast.) Also, the Wall Street Journal continues to baffle, disgust, and enrage me by turns ; and I consider the implications of collective electricity and water supplies in terms of personal liberty ― getting in some digs at the government of Santiago, Chile, and an endorsement of passenger rail along the way. More to come on that topic, undoubtedly.
  • 2022–04–23 An exceptionally rambly show without proper planning or any kind of theme. Mostly I talked about my latest film transfer, and the great work of Bazalgette in creating the London sewer system. Could you really get away, today, with naming a sewage pump after a member of the Royal family?
  • 2022–05–07 Who pays for your power? What have we learned from Chernobyl, and what does that have to do with airlines? How do we make the human the focus of a machine civilization? Where and when can you watch my newly–transferred films? And why do I keep buying light bulbs? All this and more in a sizzling new episode with an experimental audio setup!
  • 2022–05–14 TANSTAAFL! But that doesn’t preclude reduced–price lunches… Also, why Starlink is exactly the wrong way to do satellite broadband ; the latest film transfers (here and here) inspire the question of what deserves to be called democracy ; a nifty DVD ; “activist investors” ; and high–end overcoats. All of this while exiled from my house by a Power Outrage.
  • 2022–05–21 Doomsayers and death–cultists receive a stinging rebuke, as I explain why ― even if you are chary of trusting me with a billion dollars ― you ought at least to vouchsafe me a hundred million to rehabilitate the NS Savannah. Also, what is my beef with solar power, anyway?
  • 2022–05–28 Speech! It is at the heart of what we do and how we experience the world, as humans, and yet it is inherently limited by distance and ephemerality. That is, it was limited until the second half of the 19th century, when the telephone and the phonograph utterly changed that key aspect of human existence. Was this the “real” Singularity? What kinds of technologies might come in the future which could have any such effect on the human condition?
  • 2022–06–04 Western converts to Buddhism are somehow in my line of ire? Honestly, it’s more about writers who begin statements consisting of bare assertion with the phrase “we know that…” This show is notable for long quotations from people I whose positions I feel the need to assail. As Levar Burton always said on Reading Rainbow, “don’t take my word for it!” Also I use backyard swimming pools as an extended metaphor, or something.
  • 2022–06–11 Rant, glorious rant! Mostly I roundly curse every politician since 1973 who has not seen it as imperative to diminish the use of fossil fuels, which inspires me to mention the long–planned but never–implemented use of heat from Pickering to replace oil and gas heating fuel in central Toronto. I also mention the abortive attempt of some of the major oil companies to get into nuclear energy (and, by implication, out of fossil fuels) in the 1970s and early ’80s. And in the last minute or so I explain that Elon Musk, no matter what else you can say about him (and there’s plenty to be said), is not enriching himself at the expense of NASA.
  • 2022–06–18 Have we built a society which is not oriented toward our needs as humans? This is a key question of our times, and I do little more than ask it, although in the process I get nauseated by a Starbucks corporate communication. Also “Back to Atomic Power!” in Germany ; antinuclearism on the rise in France despite all facts, logic, and common sense ; idiocy from Elon Musk and the Biden Administration ; the new Federal holiday ; and how LambdaAI is like the Impossible Burger, even though Bill Gates is probably not killing cows in Kansas.
  • 2022–06–25 Westercon 74, here I come! Also, as you have come to expect from me, I state a Moral Imperative. I have some commentary on current events, but it essentially dovetails with things I was planning to talk about anyway.
  • 2022–07–02 Live broadcast from Westercon 74. Not an especially tight show, for that reason, and also because of the Klondike Bar I was eating part of the time ― another blessing of the high energy society! The theme, such as it is, appears to be “our true enemies are habits of thought”.
  • 2022–07–09 Report from the Westercon, and what I’m planning for the Worldcon (Chicago, 1―5 September), including stickers, badges, and the Man and Atom Briefing Book. (This is the button machine that was recommended to me.) Also, the situation in France ― when will the Europeans learn that Germany is a source of bad ideas? You’d think the lesson would have sunk in by now! And I try to remind myself to be for rather than against, despite the excessively negative tone of last week’s show.
  • 2022–07–16 Why do people listen to Alex Jones, and not to me? how come, when you give people what they say they want, they don’t like it? and some musings on the surprising ineffectiveness of trying to make democracy work by picking the right people to participate in it. Also, two new films : one in French from France, and one in Russian from the USSR. Up soon will be one in Italian from Germany! (Live transmission started a minute or two late, unfortunately, but I think I made the best of the remaining time.)
  • 2022–07–23 There’s a shortage of fresh water in the East Cape region of South Africa, and I (to employ a little contemporary argot) get salty about it. Also, the gas crisis continues, and the Europeans continue to avoid facing facts ; and I find myself working on something I call the Man and Atom Briefing Book.
  • 2022–07–30 Financialization, the scourge of the modern world ; a distinction between directed and undirected growth ; “lifestyle environmentalists” ; why the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” is unlikely to do anything useful ; a brief animadversion on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ; and a mention of the situation in France (will have to get back to that next week).
  • 2022–08–06 A minute of silence for Hiroshima. Then, my plans for the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, revealed! Also, two new films ; worries about the inexplicable Russian assault on the Zaporizhian Nuclear Power Plant, and the effect on world public opinion if something goes badly wrong there ; and a tiny bit of good news about the food supply.
  • 2022–08–13 Does electrification lead to moral laxity? Pinball machines are electric–powered, after all! I give my account of a California public hearing on the possible life extension of Diablo Canyon, and muse on what seems to me the similarity between the anti–nuclear movement and cults or thought–reform movements. Also, mail call! And an acknowledgement of gifts of support.
  • 2022–08–20 More about my plans for the Worldcon, and other preventable catastrophes. Gifts of Support are Acknowledged. Also, in the last minute of the show, I start talking about something far more interesting, and make a complete and total hash of it by saying “ninety” instead of “twenty”.
  • 2022–09–10 Back from a couple of weeks on the road, very busy and often without a stable Internet connexion. Yes, I have a report to give on the convention (photos here), as well as opinions to express about people who think refrigeration is wasteful, and a campaign in the Netherlands to conserve gas by getting people to bathe less. But first : poetry!
  • 2022–09–17 More poetry! “If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined” ― but we live in the era of bioengineering, so maybe it can be grown. Buying a ticket to Mars with frequent–flyer miles proves impossible, and I have doubts about the ability of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do anything even slightly outside their established competency. And a letter to the editor of the Coffey County (Kansas) Republican.
  • 2022–09–24 In which I step outside my usual track and talk about Computers and “AI” for a bit. This is, if anything, a propos of the misguided efforts to tame inflation by depressing wages, when labour productivity has grown much more rapidly than wages since the 1970s, with the result that direct labour costs are a less proportion of the cost of providing goods and services than they ever have been. Also something about a video game and what it implies for our efforts towards space settlement. Maybe next week we’ll have a Double Asteroid Redirect Test or SLS launch to talk about.
  • 2022–10–01 Cheers for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test and the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University! Also, I test the Watermelon Hypothesis (“Green on the outside, Red on the inside”) and find it wanting. In particular, personal experience leads me to believe that life in a solar–powered city would be far more socially unequal, and far less pleasant, than in a nuclear–powered one.
  • 2022–10–08 You too can receive propaganda by mail! Whatever else I originally meant to talk about, I got distracted by Green hypocrisy and disingenuousness, in Ireland (where ten people were killed in the accidental explosion of a petrol station), in British Columbia (where the government recently announced ambitious “climate targets”, in conjunction with the Pacific Coast states of the USA, despite its continued pursuit of an immense and economically questionable gas scheme), and elsewhere. Also I mention how my uncompromising committment to whatever–this–is attracted the attention of some very serious law enforcement types. And in the last couple of minutes I start talking about emigration to space settlements, which may be the theme of next week’s show.
  • 2022–10–15 What do Leopold and Loeb have to do with space settlement? Perhaps more than I am at all comfortable with. Most of this show has to do with immigration and emigration, and the concept of space settlements as Petri dishes for testing new ideas in human societies. I also take the opportunity to remind everyone that coal kills, and firms investing in fossil–fuel infrastructure are counting on “renewables” to not interfere with their business. But at least I have a new office chair.
  • 2022–10–22 You may never have heard someone called a “dirtsucker” in anger before, but the news of the death of Jim McDivitt leads me to do just that. (Unfortunately, the archiver didn’t capture the whole show, so it’s less coherent than the actual broadcast was ― an alternative complete recording is here.) Also I spend a little more time talking about immigration, emigration, social policies, and the concept of “vampire states” ; and I make an impassioned plea for curiosity and play, specifically in the natural sciences.
  • 2022–10–29 My upcoming trip to Germany causes me to reflect on the dangers which arise when politicians ignore expert advice about what effects policies will have, and consistently lie to the public. Social pressure (such as arises when people are losing their livelihoods or seeing their heat and light bills exceed their rent) tends to drive people toward radical political movements, and that tendency is only reinforced when the political main stream has been insisting there is no problem. Also I talk for a while about the badge press which I have acquired with the gratefully–acknowledged assistance of Generation Atomic, and in general my efforts to disseminate pro–nuclear propaganda. And I explain some important facts about the latest saber–rattling from Russia.
  • 2022–11–05 Remember, remember, the fifth of November, unmute your dang microphone, guy! Well, once I got over that little bobble, this show from Munich, capitol of the Free State of Bavaria in Southern Europe, mostly wound up being a response to a question from the audience (in SDF’s com chat) : “what is the safest type of civil nuclear power reactor?” It’s an inherently difficult question to answer, because only one type, the RBMK–1000, has ever killed anybody. But I give it a fair shot.
  • 2022–11–12 Wednesday saw me in Berlin, demonstrating in front of the Bundestag with the fine folks from Nuklearia eV over the “Stuttgarter Erklärung”, a petition for the continued use of atomic power in Germany. I discuss this experience, as well as the ghastly architecture of the Federal Government complex, before getting into the substantive part of the broadcast. And what, you might ask, is all that about? Well, in response to some comments a week or two ago, I talk about world population. It’s nothing I haven’t said before, but hopefully it’s put into a clearer form here. Simply put, no, I don’t think there are “too many people” ― but there certainly are too many people who deserve a better world than the world they have. But we have the tools we need, and we know how to apply them.
  • 2022–11–19 Normally I strive to avoid a–rantin’ and a–ravin’ and a–frothin’ at the mouth. I won’t say I consistently succeed, but this at least isn’t meant to be that kind of a show! So what has me all worked up this time? Just a little booklet sent around by the Statdwerke München, or city utility company, which reads like a brain aneurysm. Also the USA sends a rocket to the Moon (you can see me talking about it thirteen years ago), climate negotiators in Egypt continue to piddle, twiddle, and resolve, and I muse about constructive responses to the present world situation.
  • 2022–11–26 Two quotations form the theme of this episode, which starts a little late, because I had to duck out of a Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, I set a timer, but when it went off there was still food on my plate! The meat of the episode is a consideration of the confluence of social and material conditions which define our modern world. Also I muse about aspects of immigration to space settlements, the generic problems of assimilation and diversity, and the great question of escape from the patron–client model of society, which could reasonably be cast as the central social problem of our time. And at the very end I mention a technological idea I had, which I might explain some more next week.
  • 2022–12–03 Belgium, or more particularly a Belgian engineer named van Mele, provides me with the material for an extended meditation on global energy use, and especially the topic of energy efficiency, which many people look to for large gains. Having teased it last time, I remember to explain the practical application for Compressed Air Energy Storage which occurred to me. This in turn proves to be another chance to insist on considering the character of the demand for energy when discussing how to meet it. (A comment directed me to an interesting article peripherally related to the subject of district heating, which I often raise.) And I spend a moment talking about the upcoming Apollo 17 anniversary, of which more anon.
parcel of pro-nuclear stickers as photographed by the recipient
You too can get a parcel like this. Just send a self-addressed envelope (I’ll even cover the postage) to “Man and Atom”, Box 1035, Fort Worth, TX 76101 USA

Supplementary Shows

  • 2022–01–14 A reading from The Uses of Atomic Energy for the Social and Economic Development in the German Democratic Republic, National Report of the GDR to the UN Conference on the Promotion of International Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (undated but circa 1986, issued in both English and German editions)
  • 2022–01–18 Panel discussions and abstracts of papers from Volume 11, “Health Physics and Radiation Protection / Radioactive Waste Management / The Environment and Public Acceptance”, of the Proceedings of the Fourth Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (the “Atoms for Development” conference), 1971
  • 2022–01–28 Most of the expert panel discussion on Ecological Aspects and Public Acceptance from the 1971 Geneva proceedings.
  • 2022–02–01 The remainder of the expert panel discussion, plus abstracts and discussion of papers presented on the topic of Ecological Aspects and Public Acceptance.
  • 2022–02–04 Preface, Chapter I (Introduction and Outline), and Chapter XVIII (Concluding Reflections) of The Coal Question, An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of The Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal-Mines (Second Edition, Revised, 1866) by W Stanley Jevons, Cobden Professor of Political Economy, Owens College, Manchester.
  • 2022–02–15 Miscellany : an editorial, and a brief explanation of fast-neutron breeder reactors, from Nuclear Power magazine (1957) ; a couple of introductions by Alvin Weinberg to essays of his contained in the book Continuing the Nuclear Dialogue ; and part of a paper on Importance of Isotopes in Technology and Industry from the 1955 Geneva conference proceedings.
  • 2022–02–18 From Continuing the Nuclear Dialogue : front matter, Peacetime Uses of Nuclear Power (1946), and the first part of Energy as an Ultimate Raw Material, or, Problems of Burning the Seas and Burning the Rocks (1959)
  • 2022–02–22 I started late (weep! wail!) but managed to get through Problems of Burning the Seas and Burning the Rocks, and started on Nuclear Energy ― A Prelude to HG Wells’ Dream (1971)
  • 2022–03–01 I finish Prelude to Wells’ Dream and begin Is Nuclear Energy Acceptable? (1977)
  • 2022–03–04 The news from Energodar has me asking whether I am insane, or the people on this planet, and renewing my appeal for a billion dollars to allow me to depart for Luna. Continuing with the Alvin Weinberg essays, I read a section from Nuclear Safety and Public Acceptance which is directly relevant to current events, before returning to and finishing Is Nuclear Energy Acceptable? After this, I read some book reviews : Challenge and Response, 1972 (The Closing Circle by Barry Commoner and Earthkeeping by Gordon Harrison), Energy : A Crisis in Power (a “Sierra Club Battlebook”, 1971) by John Holdren and Philip Herrera, and the first part of Non–Nuclear Futures : The Case for an Ethical Energy Strategy (1975) by Amory Lovins and John Price.
  • 2022–03–08 Conclusion of Weinberg’s review of Non–Nuclear Futures ; his review of Soft Energy Paths : Toward a Durable Peace (1978) by Lovins ; Response to Amory Lovins (1980), or more specifically a response in The Sciences (magazine of the New York Academy of Sciences) to Lovins’ own review in that publication of Economic and Environmental Implications of a US Nuclear Moratorium, 1985―2010, a study published by the Institute for Energy Analysis at Oak Ridge, with which Weinberg was intimately connected ; The Lilienthal Plan (1980), review of Atomic Energy : A New Start by David Lilienthal, first Chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission ; and all but the last paragraph (I have to quit doing that!) of Weinberg’s review of Entropy : A New World View (1980) by Jeremy Rifkin and Ted Howard.
  • 2022–03–11 Conclusion of the review of Entropy : A New World View ; Fast Breeders : All Cons, No Pros? (1980), review of The Fast Breeder Reactor : Need? Cost? Risk? ; The Manichaean Conception of Technological Risk (1982), review of Risk and Culture : An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmental Dangers by Douglas and Wildavsky ; Safety Is as Safety Is Seen (1982), review of The Cult of the Atom : The Secret Papers of the Atomic Energy Commission by Ford. Also most of a Pennsylvania Power and Light company leaflet entitled Nuclear Power Makes a Good Neighbor, from October 1965 if I am not mistaken.
  • 2022–03–18 My transcription Century of the Atom, a double LP given away by the US government at the 1971.
  • 2022–03–25 Selections (including “Answers to Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions”, by Dr Seaborg) from a large, glossy booklet entitled Infinite Energy produced in 1967 by Westinghouse for distribution by electric utilities to their customers. Also I mention my pressing need for a flatbed scanner bigger than letter/A4, and faster than “really slow”, in order to process my accumulation of nuclear energy ephemera. (You can see some of it here.)
  • 2022–04–05 Energy and the Need for Nuclear Power (1987), by Professor Peter (PMS) Jones, Chief Economic Adviser to the UK Atomic Energy Authority. My scan of the booklet for those who would like to see the figures.
  • 2022–04–08 Selections from Uranium Supply and Demand 1978 (proceedings of the Uranium Institute symposium), primarily “The View from Washington” by Llewellen King ; and nearly all (why do I keep doing that?) of “Nuclear Power and the Groupe de Bellerive”, a book review of sorts by LG Brookes, Economics Advisor, UKAEA, from ATOM №276 (1979 October) ― my scan of the magazine is here.
  • 2022–04–12 In honour of the anniversary, a reading from Spacecraft Designer (1976) by A Romanov, a kind of biography of Sergei Korolev, and specifically the section dealing with the flight of Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1.
  • 2022–05–03 I dig into some late 1950s and early ’60s Astounding (Analog) magazines, reading a science article about Mars from RS Richardson, part of an article on radioactivity and geology from Isaac Asimov, some extracts from P Schuyler Miller’s famous book review column The Reference Library, and one of John W Campbell’s famous editorials.
  • 2022–05–06 Hell’s Own Problem by Harry Porter, from Analog, 1961 July : all about “calorobic” (heat–resisting) materials, particularly for rocket nozzles, from someone directly involved in the work.
  • 2022–05–10 The Bugs that Live at -423 °F : The Problem of the Centaur Development by Joseph Green and Fuller C Jones, Analog, 1968 January (not complete, it’s a long article)
  • 2022–05–13 Conclusion of The Bugs that Live at -423 °F, which (astonishingly enough) I actually finish, with about a minute to spare.
  • 2022–05–17 Some Preliminary Notes on FASEG (Fairy Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Godmothers), Lawrence M Janifer and Frederick W Kantor, Analog, 1965 November. Also, from the same issue, the first part of Onward and Upward with Space Power, a piece on the use of steam in space, by one J Frank Coneybear.
  • 2022–05–20 Conclusion of the Coneybear piece (incorporating a quote from Slide Rule by Nevil Shute, a favorite of mine) ; an editorial from the Fort Worth Star–Telegram, 2022–05–11, entitled “As record gas prices hurt drivers, let’s drill for more oil”, by Ryan Rusak, Opinion Editor, because I responded to it with a letter (read on ASFO); and A Matter of Perspective, science fact article by Gordon R Dickson and Kelly Freas, from Analog, 1971 December, literally about trying to see the Apollo programme, from the perspective of a press correspondent and an illustrator.
  • 2022–05–24 Being in a strop, or a lather, or something, over predictions of the imminent collapse of the Texas power grid, I read the editorial from the 1966 April Analog, about the Northeastern blackout of November 1965, entitled The Best Made Plants…
  • 2022–05–31 The first part of an Analog article (1971 April) entitled Real Science for Real Problems, by John R Price of Bell Labs, discussing some of the results from psychological research, especially as they apply to the problems of instruction and learning in a large industrial organization. Also I somewhat angrily read a letter addressed to a current–affairs radio news program, provoked by a report entitled Europe reconsiders nuclear energy following Ukraine war, which I felt was very badly slanted ; and I mention two new film transfers, a French commerce–promotion film from circa 1964, and a Soviet school film, probably circa 1980.
  • 2022–06–07 The conclusion of Real Science for Real Problems, by John R Price. After that I played tracks from a three–LP set called Let’s Talk About Energy, released by the US Atomic Energy Commission in the early 1970s. This was a series of 10–minute talks produced by Argonne National Laboratory, to be aired by radio stations as part of their public–affairs programming. The general format of this collection, as of three previous collections which went under the title Let’s Talk About the Atom, was that announcer Ed Ronne would introduce some researcher employed by the USAEC, who would then discuss his specialty. I intend to use these talks extensively as filler material.
  • 2022–07–22 I made a belated attempt to celebrate both the Glorious 20th of July, and the lesser known anniversary on the 18th, but I think I want to try that again sometime.
  • 2022–07–26 Some preliminary text (I keep referring to it as flavor text) from the Briefing Book. Comments are very much appreciated.
  • 2022–07–29 From Nuclear Energy and Alternatives, the proceedings of the International Scientific Forum on an Acceptable Nuclear Energy Future of the World, 7–11 November 1977 : Foreword by Eugene Wigner, Preface, White Paper, Introduction, Prophets of the Finite, or, “They’ve gone about as fur as they c’n go!” by Henry King Stanford (U Miami)
  • 2022–08–02 More from Nuclear Energy and Alternatives : Perturbation of Normal Economic Developmen by Disturbance of Energy Supply, Höcker and Rühle ; and The Necessity of Nuclear Power, one of two papers in this collection contributed by Hans Bethe.
  • 2022–08–05 From the same source, The Plutonium Fuel Cycle : Some Practical Considerations by Joseph Dietrich of Combustion Engineering, and most of Plutonium Fuel Cycle : Technical and Economic Constraints by RLR Nicholson, UKAEA. Plutonium is not a dirty word!
  • 2022–08–09 Continuing with Nuclear Energy and Alternatives : the conclusion of the Nicholson piece from last time ; Views on Plutonium Breeder Development and Deployment, by John E Gray (International Energy Associates Limited), a rather tedious item with lots of numbered lists ; and the beginning of Plutonium–fueled Fast Reactors as Secure Fuel Cycles, by Bernard I Spinrad, Oregon State University. I am doubtful a reactor can itself be a “fuel cycle”, but aside from that, he seems to have some good things to say.
  • 2020–08–12 Somehow I convinced myself to start the Spinrad piece over from the beginning. And in the process, I managed yet again to almost finish it, running out of time before the final paragraph.
  • 2022–08–16 From Nuclear Energy and Alternatives, the conclusion of the Spinrad piece from last week ; Observations on Alternatives to the Breeders by Edward Teller and Relative Merits of Alternative Fuel Cycles by Hans Bethe.
  • 2022–09–13 After a little glitch at the start, I read two leaflets (“Monroe Faces Tomorrow” and “Atomic Power for Peace and Prosperity”) about the Enrico Fermi breeder reactor plant at Lagoona Beach near Monroe, Michigan ; and then I start on a coffee–table book entitled The Nuclear Age by Jacques Leclercq of Electricité de France. I get through the front and back jacket matter, and the preface by Marcel Boiteux of EdF. The recording cuts off just as I get to the end of the preface, but none of the text is omitted.
  • 2022–09–16 Foreword to The Nuclear Age by Lord Marshall of Goring (Dr Sir Walter Marshall, sometime head of the Central Electricity Generating Board and of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority), followed by reading the section headings and attempts to describe the accompanying paintings. According to the artist’s Web site, the paintings can now be viewed in the City Hall of the French town of Gravelines.
  • 2022–09–30 Readings (with my copious commentary) from a slim volume entitled The Breeder Reactor, published by the Scottish Academic Press, reporting a meeting at the University of Strathclyde, 25 March 1977. Foreword by JS Forrest FRS (editor), Setting the Scene by Sir Samuel Curran FRS (Principal and Vice–chancellor of the University), and the first part of The Birth of the Breeder by Lord (Sir Christopher) Hinton of Bankside, OM, KBE, FRS ― in which he admits to having essentially stolen enriched uranium from the weapons program.
  • 2022–10–04 Continuing with The Breeder Reactor, we have the conclusion of Lord Hinton’s piece ; The Energy Gap and the Fast Reactor, by Sir John Hill of the UKAEA ; and The Scottish Viewpoint by KJW Alexander of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, along with summaries of some of the other contributions.
  • 2022–10–07 Before concluding The Breeder Reactor with The Breeder Reactor in Electricity Supply by DR Berridge and KR Vernon (representing the two Scottish electricity boards), the Summing–Up by EL Tombs of the Electricity Council, and a part of the Discussion, I read the common Foreword to a group of electronic monographs published circa 2009 by the French Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique, from Bernard Bigot, High Commissioner for Atomic Energy.
  • 2022–10–14 Some selections from the 1967 Winter number (“Vol 3 No 25”) of Canute, house magazine of “The Nuclear Power Group Limited”, from Knutsford, England. Tidal Power in Tomorrow’s World by TL Shaw, Lecturer in Civil Engineering, University of Bristol, discusses the possible development of the Severn Estuary for power and transportation. Then Doing the Easy Bit… in which an architect identified only as “EJB” discusses the troubles of his job ; and a description of the Hunterston B power station, for which the contract was placed on Friday, October the 13th of that year ― which is to say, 55 years before the date of reading, almost exactly to the day. Hunterston B, a two reactor–station of the AGR type, went into operation in 1976 and was shut down at the beginning of 2022, after a lifetime generation of 287 terawatt–hours. Although it was the third AGR station to be ordered, it entered commercial operation years before the first (Dungeness B) and some months before the second (Hinkley Point B, also built by TNPG).
  • 2022–10–18 The central place of biodynamic research in space activities is explored, with an extract from a 1961 paperback entitled Man Into Space, penned by journalist, novelist, and aviator Martin Caidin. In addition to attempting to explain weightlessness and orbital mechanics in simplified terms for the interested layman, our author gives us extended quotations from John Paul Stapp and Joseph Kittinger, two pioneers in the field, who put their own lives at risk for the sake of science.
  • 2022–10–21 I read from another ephemeral journalistic book about space travel, Flight Into Space (1953) by JN Leonard, science editor of Time magazine. There is a vivid description of a rocket launch at White Sands, framed as some kind of sacrificial ritual conducted by witch–doctors or barbaric priests masquerading as scientists and technicians, and a chapter in which Milton Rosen of the Naval Research Laboratory (head of the closest thing America had at the time to a civilian space program, Project Viking, which became Project Vanguard) explains how any attempt to realize proposals of the sort put forward by Wernher von Braun would lead, not only to inevitable failure, but also to the collapse of the US economy, and Soviet victory in the Cold War. Unfortunately, the archive bot glitched, and only recorded parts of it, which you can get here and here.
  • 2022–10–25 As a counterpoint to the description from the Leonard book, last week, I read about a rocket launch at White Sands from the perspective of that eminent rocketeer, G Harry Stine : chapter 7, “Missile Away!”, from his 1957 book Rocket Power and Space Flight. Then, to round out the time, I read chapter 11, Space Travel and Our Lives.
  • 2022–10–28 From Analog magazine, 1992 April, a resounding plea for the science fiction illustrator from Frank Kelly Freas (whom we have heard from before, also from Stine and Freas here), entitled The Story Between the Words, and an Alternate View column from G Harry Stine about “Intermittents”. Then, from the 1990 November number, the first part of Forging Planet–Stuff, an article about nucleosynthesis and its implications for planetary formation (and thus the kinds of stories one can credibly write), by Stephen L Gillett, PhD. He mentions another article, from 1983, which we may also want to read here.
  • 2022–11–04 Testing the audio setup in Munich. I read a letter I have been draughting to the head of Ontario Power Generation, relating to the planned life extension of the Pickering nuclear station near Toronto, and then The Outlook for Nuclear Power in Puerto Rico by Alvin Mayne and Philip Mullenbach, from Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (the proceedings of the 1955 Geneva Conference), volume 1. Puerto Rico is definitely a place that could use atomic power, relying as it does on fuel oil for its electricity, but the only power reactor that has ever been built there was the experimental (and largely unsuccessful) BONUS superheating BWR.
  • 2022–11–08 Further readings from Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, vol 1, are interspersed with my editorial commentary. Somehow I manage to get through Estimate of Energy Requirements by P Ailleret of Electricité de France. And I do math live on the air!
  • 2022–11–11 I tarried too long at the grocery, so this show actually started about 15 minutes late. Everything up to that point in the archive is a repeat. As you have perhaps come to expect from me, I began by commemorating the date with Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen. Then I started reading American foreign policy and the peaceful uses of atomic energy by Klaus Knorr, out of the volume Atoms for Power : United States Policy in Atomic Energy Development, the report of the Twelfth American Assembly, 17―20 October 1957. I have quite a bit to say in response to Knorr’s analysis.
  • 2022–11–15 Continuing with the Knorr paper from last time. I continue to have some strong words to say about certain parts of it.
  • 2022–11–18 I finish the Knorr piece, and read the introductory sections of A Target for Euratom (1957 May, also known as “The Report of the Three Wise Men”)
  • 2022–11–22 Addresses to the Twelfth American Assembly (17―20 October 1957) : Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom by Sir John Cockcroft FRS ; and (almost all of) Europe and Atoms for Power by Max Kohnstamm.
  • 2022–11–25 Completion of the Kohnstamm piece, and the Final Report of the Twelfth American Assembly.
  • 2022–11–29 I begin reading a biography of Count Rumford, that eminent patron of the sciences and useful arts. This came to me in the form of a little pamphlet reprinted from The Contemporary Review, volume XLIV, which appears to date it to 1883, over the name of J Tyndall. This appears to denote John Tyndall FRS, who was at the time Professor of Physics in the Royal Institution, founded by Rumford. Tyndall was very much interested (as Rumford had been) in the subjects of light and heat, and made a lecture tour of America in 1872, which corresponds to a reference at the beginning of the article.
  • 2022–12–02 To mark the 80th anniversary of the initial criticality of Chicago Pile 1, the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction (and the first self–sustaining chain reaction initiated by humans), I played a record made for the 25th anniversary by the public–affairs section at Argonne National Laboratory.

Author: publius

Fools! I will destroy you all!!