ASFO 2024–06–08

Nico–Clean? What in the world? Also, the engineered physical systems which make life in the modern world possible (often prosaically called infrastructure) and the obligation to keep them up ; the value of immigrants and refugees, and the stupidity (quite separate from any moral or human–rights arguments) of refusing them ; and a lesson, in the context of Internet social media, in cause and reasonably–foreseeable effect.

Supplementary Shows

  • 2024–06–11 Probably the last I will read from The Fast–Neutron Fission Breeder Reactor, Energy for 1000 Years by TN Marsham FRS, the succeeding general discussion, and concluding remarks by JG Collier.
  • 2024–06–14 From ATOM 134 (1967 December), a eulogy for nuclear pioneer Sir John Cockcroft, and Electricity from the Atom — Britain’s Second Decade by ES Booth.

A "Nico-Clean" card in its original packaging. Price 1000 yen.
If you want one of these things — or ten of them! — do let me know.

ASFO 2024–06–01

More on “blast” and further efforts with payphones ; aspersions on the US education system ; a US Government press release which may be good news for nuclear, but not for anyone hoping for scientific and engineering literacy among the policy–making class ; and a somewhat abstract and poetic thought about one of the intersections of politics with engineering, in which I use the phrase “touched by the finger of Vulcan”. (Start is just slightly late.)

Supplementary Shows

  • 2024–06–04 Again from The Fast–Neutron Fission Breeder Reactor, I go back to the beginning of Engineering and design of fast reactors by Köhler and read the whole thing, and then some “General Discussion”.
  • 2024–06–07 More from The Fast–Neutron Fission Breeder Reactor : Environmental aspects of the fast reactor fuel cycle by GM Jordan and LEJ Roberts FRS. This is a bit less accessible, and narrowly-focussed on radioactive discharges to the environment, but the basic conclusion that most of the environmental impacts of atomic power are associated with uranium mining, and thus reduced 100-fold by the regenerative fuel cycle, seems clear enough.

ASFO 2024–05–25

Can I solve all the problems of the Japanese economy? Absolutely not. But I might make a few suggestions as to how to reduce fuel use, to the benefit of the balance–of–payments and the value of the yen, and at the same time relieve the pressures that drive people from the rural areas to the cities. Also, US Customs and Border Protection leads me to talk about the problems of Internet social media, which is usually far off my path, and make comparisons with other forms of communication ; and a little bit of capitalism and its discontents. Also, a final version of blast №1 is now available (with extensive commentary).

A link about rail freight in Japan

Supplementary Show

2024–05–31 From The Fast–Neutron Fission Breeder Reactor, the Proceedings of a discussion meeting held 24 and 25 May 1989, reprinted from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (Series A) : Introductory remarks by RS Pease, FRS ; The science of fast reactors and why it has been studied, by G Vendryes (CEA) ; and just the first little bit of Engineering and design of fast reactors by M Köhler (Interatom). Unlike The Breeder Reactor, this is not intended for a general audience, but as it is meant for the non–specialist, at least parts of it should be reasonably accessible, and those are the parts I mean to read for you.

ASFO 2024–05–11

Did you see the Aurora Borealis last night? It was visible quite far south. (There was Aurora Australis too.) Economists (not for the first time) get the sharp edge of my tongue as I reflect on one of the world’s most baffling megaprojects, “Neom ‘The Line’”. Also, Mail Call!

ASFO 2024–05–04

Dragonfly, the probe–aircraft which NASA has decided will soon be sent on its way to Titan, the giant moon of Saturn, is in my thoughts today. In particular, I want to know where the plutonium–238 for its thermoelectric power source will come from. Otherwise, I mostly discuss my travel plans, both for returning to the USA and for this autumn ; Deutsches Museum, one of the greatest science and technology museums in the world ; and the curious railway station at Eisenstein, where the border between Germany and the Czech Republic is halfway along the platform.

ASFO 2024–04–20

Mostly progress reports, on blast and the Payphone Thing. I talk about the use of hypertext in conjunction with, or as a support for, printed text ; and the motivation for presenting information through an interface which may seem uniquely irrelevant in today’s world ; with a brief digression into one possible way I might use a substantially larger amount of financial support. I also spend a minute questioning what seem like senseless political choices, particularly when purported priorities conflict with actual policies, leading me back to the idea of “leaving room for Nature”.

Supplementary Show

2023–04–23 Starting a little late, I read from the notes to blast №1, and then a couple of supporting articles from Architectural Record magazine (reprinted 1955 in a volume entitled Architectural Engineering). I subsequently called in to OpenVoIP to finish the second piece.

ASFO 2024–04–13

Not the most focused show, but no prevaricating about the bush from me! The Conquest of Pestilence in New York City, LCOE (Levelized Cost of Electricity) versus LCOLC (Levelized Cost of Load Carriage), intercontinental air travel versus atomic train travel, caloric value of food, its insufficiencies and excesses and its sources, and the problem of expectations generally.

Supplementary Show

2024–04–16 From Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (1955), volume 16, I read Willard Libby’s evening lecture entitled Radiocarbon Dating. Unfortunately, the archiver was down and did not capture it. See Dr Libby talking about the technique on film here.

ASFO 2024–04–06

Owing to a mishap, the actual show starts about 20 minutes into the recording. It’s just long enough for me to mention progress with blast, and compare the Coire Glas pumped storage scheme in Scotland, which will be the largest in the world with 30 GWh of capacity, to the daily output of one EPR nuclear generating unit, of which two are being built at Hinkley Point C, 38·4 GWh. The UK grid is already one of the best–provided in the world with storage, with 24 GWh. Since average electrical consumption of the UK (over the course of a year) is 36 GW, the total after this addition will be 90 minutes of average system load. A far cry from the 10 days or more that wind– and solar–heavy energy supply projections call for!