Thursday, 31 January 2013

New Natural Resources critic for the Liberal Party

Ted Hsu (the MP with science background) becomes the Natural Resources critic for the Liberal Party: "I am honoured to be asked by interim Liberal leader Bob Rae to take on the role of Natural Resources critic for the Liberal Party until the new leader is chosen in April. Pipelines, oil and gas, and climate change will be some of the areas where I’ll help keep tabs on Mr. Harper’s government.
While I will be passing on the Science and Technology file, I intend to remain in contact with scientists and engineers as their connection to and advocate in Parliament. I will bring my science background to my work on the Natural Resources file. The Minister has said publicly that our regulatory system must be based on science and the facts and I intend to hold him to that."

U.S. used nuclear fuel: the elephant is a mouse, is the solution to America’s power generation problems by Steve Aplin

Another great read from Steve Aplin: U.S. used nuclear fuel: the elephant is a mouse, is the solution to America’s power generation problems: ..."Listening to American politicians talk about energy security and clean energy is sometimes like listening to Captain Queeg testifying at the court martial: at first it sounds congruous, coherent, and believable, but upon the easiest cross examination it rapidly collapses under its own contradiction and irrelevancies. This is especially true with those politicians who fancy themselves to be friendly to the environment. In one breath they thunder on about the evils of man-made CO2. In the next, they promote—depending on the audience of the day—CO2-intensive things like domestic oil drilling, “clean coal,” and “clean natural gas.”"..... "The truly amazing thing is, there is an energy solution, a proven one, that can—and does—provide huge amounts of reliable, real energy (as opposed to the made-up phantom energy produced in the fantasies of the advocates of renewables, biofuels, and conservation), using materials that America already possesses in relatively huge amounts. This is of course nuclear energy, and in particular the vast amounts of energy that reside in used nuclear fuel."

A Push for LEU Isotopes: What it Means for Imaging

A Push for LEU Isotopes: What it Means for Imaging: ...NRU uses HEU to produce medical isotopes (the reactor fuel is LEU), have not heard of any plans to change from HEU to LEU for medical isotopes at NRU, interesting that the expected date of 2016 for a full conversion to LEU for medical isorope production coincides with the Harper's decision that NRU will no longer produce isotopes beyond 2016: "This is why investments are being made to relicense the NRU to 2016. However, it is not the intention to have the NRU produce isotopes beyond 2016."

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Keeping Samples Cold, Very Cold

May not appreciate how much COLD temperatures are used in everyday life: Keeping Samples Cold, Very Cold:
And let's not forget vacuum technology's application in everyday life:

The giant oil company, Exxon, reclaims the title of world's largest company, as Apple slides

The giant oil company, Exxon, reclaims the title of world's largest company, as Apple slides... ..."Exxon shares have remained relatively steady over the past year, trading around $75 at the low and $90 at the high. The oil conglomerate is slated to report earnings before the start of trading Feb. 1. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect it to report per-share earnings of $2.02 on $117 billion of revenue."
Given how much profits oil corporations take in, shouldn't they spend much more money on alternative energy investments???

Assembly of Nuclear Fusion Generation Test Equipment Begins in Japan

Assembly of Nuclear Fusion Generation Test Equipment Begins in Japan: ..." The equipment will be assembled over six years at the agency's Naka Fusion Institute in Naka, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.
The experiment, scheduled to start in March 2019, will focus on transforming the fuel into a high-pressure plasma state, aiming to achieve electricity generation by recreating the nuclear fusion reactions inside the sun.
The equipment, called JT-60SA, will be built jointly by Japan and European countries.
Superconducting coil and vacuum vessels inside the equipment will use strong magnetic fields and electric current to contain the plasma."
" In nuclear fusion generation, one gram of fuel would produce energy equivalent to that generated from 8 tons of petroleum, through the atomic fusion of deuterium extracted from seawater and tritium.
The countries involved are hoping for the commercial launch of the new type of power generation, which leaves little nuclear waste, as early as the middle of the century." 

Monday, 28 January 2013

ICNS 2013 (International Conference on Neutron Scattering)

Mark your calendars: ICNS 2013 (International Conference on Neutron Scattering) will take place in Edinburgh from 8 - 12 July 2013. Participants will be from a wide range of disciplines including physics, chemistry, earth science, engineering, materials science and biology:

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Compact Neutron Source Takes First Picture

This is so cool! Compact Neutron Source Takes First Picture: ..."Energetic neutrons provide an important tool for studying the properties of materials. The most intense neutron sources are fission reactors and particle accelerators, but they are costly to build and research groups compete intensely for access. A cheaper and more portable alternative is to generate neutrons from the interaction of high-energy laser pulses with a solid target. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have now recorded the first radiograph with a laser-neutron source, a proof of principle marking the sources’ readiness for university labs."
Also see:
The writeup in Physics World: 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Nuclear medicine in Northern Ontario: another spinoff benefit from the CANDU program

Another great read by Steve Aplin: Nuclear medicine in Northern Ontario: another spinoff benefit from the CANDU program: ..."Bruce Power, by far Canada’s single largest electricity generating plant, is also the biggest clean energy centre in the western hemisphere. The plant’s eight CANDU nuclear generating units are capable of cranking out 50 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. If generators running on allegedly clean natural gas were to provide 50 billion kWh, they would dump more than 27 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air in a single year. As I mentioned last week, a big portion of those 27 million tons of CO2 would wind up in the world’s already-stressed oceans, making their water more acidic. We cannot afford to let this happen. Thank heavens for Bruce, and all other nuclear plants—they produce power without CO2.
The Bruce plant is also a major world producer of cobalt-60, arguably the most widespread and important medical isotope. Co-60 is made in CANDUs and other reactors (primarily the NRU at Chalk River) by bombarding cobalt-59, the naturally occurring isotope of the element cobalt, with neutrons. It is an extremely useful material, because of its strong gamma radiation. In some circumstances, gamma rays kill cancer. In fact Co-60 gammas have treated millions of cancer patients world wide."

Things worse than nuclear power: everyday explosions

Things worse than nuclear power: everyday explosions: ..."Yesterday, two people were nearly killed by a natural gas explosion in Utah, which did not even make the news. They are reportedly still hospitalized.
Updated tonight, a WSJ article shows that almost 30 homes will have to be demolished, 7 were injured, and two killed from what was likely a natural gas explosion in Indianapolis a couple weeks ago. If it is the case, more people were killed from natural gas in that one incident than have been killed in over 50 years of U.S. commercial nuclear power due to radiation (zero). It is also far more people than killed in the Fukushima nuclear "disaster" (also zero- see "Earthquakes and Tsunamis")."

Europe’s unlikeliest wildlife sanctuary

Europe’s unlikeliest wildlife sanctuary: ..."Chernobyl’s abundant and surprisingly normal-looking wildlife has shaken up how biologists think about the environmental effects of radioactivity. The idea that the world’s biggest radioactive wasteland could become Europe’s largest wildlife sanctuary is completely counterintuitive for anyone raised on nuclear dystopias.
The news isn’t good for all animals. Many species that like human company—swallows, white storks, pigeons—mostly left the region along with the people. Also, small creatures seem to be more vulnerable to the effects of radiation than large ones. That may be why Chernobyl rodents studied in the 1990s had shorter life spans and smaller litters than their counterparts outside the zone. Stag beetles had uneven horns. But it didn’t affect their population numbers.
And because the health of wild animal species is usually judged by their numbers rather than the conditions of individuals, Chernobyl wildlife is considered healthy. According to all the population counts performed by Ukraine and Belarus over the past 27 years, there is enormous animal diversity and abundance. The prevailing scientific view of the exclusion zone has become that it is an unintentional wildlife sanctuary. This conclusion rests on the premise that radiation is less harmful to wildlife populations than we are."

Spent Fuel Pool

From What-If folks: What if I took a swim in a typical spent nuclear fuel pool? ...."Assuming you’re a reasonably good swimmer, you could probably survive treading water anywhere from 10 to 40 hours. At that point, you would black out from fatigue and drown. This is also true for a pool without nuclear fuel in the bottom."

Japan learns nuclear restart requirements

Japan learns nuclear restart requirements: ..."Tough new rules for Japanese nuclear power plants have been revealed in draft form. Among them are that power companies should be able to contain a severe accident situation for an entire week without outside help.
The draft proposals for accident prevention and mitigation came from Japan's newly established Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which has enough independence to do its work free from governmental control and undue industrial influence. It published the proposals today, announcing a period of discussion with power companies before the end of January when it wants to begin formulating final versions for publication in July.
Meeting the demands of these rules will be essential for power companies wanting to restart nuclear reactors that have laid idle for many months. The NRA has previously said that utilities will be able to apply for inspections and approval prior to July, although it would not give its final opinion until after the final requirements had been passed into law."

Market analysts see nuclear the right move for EU

Market analysts see nuclear the right move for EU: ..."New research from market analysis experts Frost and Sullivan has found that nuclear energy is the answer for the European Union (EU) if it wishes to meet its carbon emission reduction targets by 2020.
Whilst the study accepts that there are environmental risks for nuclear energy, reactors still hand EU member states the most practical way of weaning themselves off fossil fuels. The research concludes that globally the number of nuclear new builds is increasing, with Asia leading the way with the most new projects currently in operation, with the United States approving their first new nuclear plants since 1970 with its Vogtle 3 and 4 projects based in Georgia.
Despite countries such as Germany, Italy and Belgium pulling away from nuclear, the paper points to the UK, Sweden and countries across Central and Eastern Europe, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, swaying towards nuclear energy, leaving more plants being built than being decommissioned. "

Ottawa contributes operating funds for CLS

While still there is no news about the future of CRL, Ottawa contributes operating funds for CLS: ..."The federal government, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), is pumping up to $67 million into the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron over five years.
The money will go toward operating and maintenance costs of the CLS, located at the University of Saskatchewan.
“It is paying the salaries, it is helping us to operate the facility,” said CLS executive director Josef Hormes. “It means staying state-of-the-art, cutting-edge research is what we can offer our users.”
The federal funding, which would cover up to 40 per cent of the costs, is contingent on the CLS coming up with the remaining 60 per cent from other sources."

Monday, 21 January 2013

Fear Of Radiation -- It's All In The Noise

Another great read from James Conca: Fear Of Radiation -- It's All In The Noise: ..."The recent astounding decision by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (Radiation Not A Big Deal) can only be interpreted if one understands noise. UNSCEAR’s report confessed that low doses of radiation should not be used to predict cancers in future populations, contrary to what everyone’s been doing for the last 60 years.
The report, along with many new findings (No DNA Damage at 400x Background), supports the observation that radiation doses less than about 10 rem (0.1 Sv) have no observable effects on human health and the environment. Less than 10 rem (0.1 Sv) is the region that encompasses annual background levels around the world.
Another way of saying this is “below 10 rem/yr (0.1 Sv/yr), the effects of radiation disappear in the noise.”
It’s like trying to hear Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon from across the room while operating a buzz saw without hearing protection. And then trying to say it’s the music that caused some of your hearing loss."

Friday, 18 January 2013

Fukushima: Fallout of fear

A must read from Nature magazine: Fukushima: Fallout of fear: ..."After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan kept people safe from the physical effects of radiation — but not from the psychological impacts."
Also see:

Thursday, 17 January 2013

CNSC's presentation at a town-hall meeting with staff of Canada's Embassy in Tokyo

CNSC's presentation at a town-hall meeting with staff of Canada's Embassy in Tokyo in Dec 2012: here you will find the link to the full pdf file of the presentation: ..." from CNSC: "The purpose of the town-hall meeting was to provide an overview of the Fukushima nuclear accident, to describe the CNSC's response to the accident and the safety of Canadian nuclear facilities as well as to engage in an open dialogue in order to provide factual and scientific responses to any questions from Embassy staff or their respective families."

Waste encapsulation: nuclear sector keeps eye on Finland’s progress

Waste encapsulation: nuclear sector keeps eye on Finland’s progress: " A total of 9,000 tonnes of uranium fuel is planned to be disposed of from the four existing plant units that are operated by Posiva's owners TVO and Fortum, as well as Olkiluoto 3 currently under construction, and Olkiluoto 4 that is in the pipeline for the future.
The project has become a reality after 30 years of research, that has been in process ever since the commissioning of the existing nuclear plants, and the plans consist of a hybrid of two interconnected nuclear facilities, of an above-ground encapsulation plant and an underground final repository.
The repository will be built at a depth of between 400-500 metres that will consist of a tunnel network to be built in stages alongside all the related technical facilities.
Timo Seppala, communications manager for Posiva, explains: “The development of the final disposal unit has come after three decades of development, but the idea is not globally new and the model of this kind of final disposal unit has been based on what has happened in Sweden.” "

Pandora’s Promise

A must-watch documentary coming up in the 2013 Sundance film festival: PANDORA’S PROMISE: ..."The atomic bomb, the specter of a global nuclear holocaust, and disasters like Fukushima have made nuclear energy synonymous with the darkest nightmares of the modern world. But what if everyone has nuclear power wrong? What if people knew that there are reactors that are self-sustaining and fully controllable and ones that require no waste disposal? What if nuclear power is the only energy source that has the ability to stop climate change?
Prolific documentarian Robert Stone and environmentalists, scientists, and energy experts share the reasons why they have changed their minds from being fiercely anti– to strongly pro–nuclear energy. The film directly attacks popularly held reasons to oppose nuclear energy, including fear of another disaster like Chernobyl, the problem of waste, and the weakness of clean alternatives like wind and solar energy. Whatever your stance, Stone’s compelling film opens Pandora’s box and promises to change the conversation for years to come. With the world’s unquenchable thirst for energy and its resulting threat to our environment, the stakes may be nothing less than the survival of the planet." ..."Beyond the convincing arguments and data put forth by former anti-nuclear activists, Stone himself is a celebrated filmmaker whose previous works have addressed the apparent dangers of nuclear power and explored other environmental themes, so the project reflects the views of individuals who have clearly given the topic careful consideration."
Also see:
Another review of the documentary: If You Care About the Environment, You Should Support Nuclear Power: "A good, politically charged documentary often seizes on what the audience already believes and throws fuel on the fire (see, e.g., the work of Michael Moore). A better such documentary tries to convince its audience that what it takes for granted is flat-out wrong." 
Also see: 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The birth of neutron diffraction

The birth of neutron diffraction!
The inelastic neutron scattering (triple axis spectroscopy) was invented by the Canadian Nobel Prize winner
Bertram N. Brockhouse: ...Brockhouse and Shull jointly won the 1994 Physics Nobel Prize each for their contribution to inelastic and diffraction neutron scattering, respectively...

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Ontario to close smog-producing coal-fired generating stations

Great news! Ontario to close smog-producing coal-fired generating stations:

The Pro-Nukes Environmental Movement

The Pro-Nukes Environmental Movement: "James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist, is one of the most impassioned and trusted voices on global warming. People listen closely to what he says about how drastically the climate is changing.
But when Hansen suggests what to do about it, many of those same people tune him out. Some even roll their eyes. What message is he peddling that few seemingly want to hear? It’s twofold: No. 1, solar and wind power cannot meet the world’s voracious demand for energy, especially given the projected needs of emerging economies like India and China, and No. 2, nuclear power is our best hope to get off of fossil fuels, which are primarily responsible for the heat-trapping gases cooking the planet.
Many in the environmental community say that renewable energy is a viable solution to the climate problem. So do numerous energy wonks, including two researchers who penned a 2009 cover story in Scientific American asserting that “wind, water, and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy” by 2030. Hansen calls claims like this the equivalent of “believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”
He’s not the only environmental luminary who is bullish on nuclear power. Last year, Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, echoed Hansen’s argument. A number of other champions of nuclear power have stepped forward in recent years, from Australian climate scientist Barry Brook to American writer Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy. A breakaway group in the traditionally no-nukes environmental movement has also begun advocating passionately for nuclear power. That story is the subject of a new documentary that is premiering this month at the Sundance Festival."

Debunking the Denial: “16 Years of No Global Warming”

Debunking the Denial: “16 Years of No Global Warming” ..."And instead of doing something about it, we have to tie up all our time fighting denialist propaganda. It’s shameful.
So let this be clear: There is no scientific controversy over this. Climate change denial is purely, 100 percent made-up political and corporate-sponsored crap. When the loudest voices are fossil-fuel funded think tanks, when they don’t publish in science journals but instead write error-laden op-eds in partisan venues, when they have to manipulate the data to support their point, then what they’re doing isn’t science."
2012 was in top 10 warmest on record:

New start for US nuclear disposal

New start for US nuclear disposal: "America will begin again this year on a program to store its used reactor fuel and military wastes. This time the siting process will be based on attaining the consent of a host community.
A new waste disposal strategy was announced on 10 January by Stephen Chu, head of the Department of Energy (DoE). He underlined the importance of nuclear energy to the US power system which counts 104 operating nuclear reactors. Safe management and disposal of highly radioactive used reactor fuel as well as similar military wastes "must remain a national priority" in order to "ensure that nuclear power remains part of our diversified clean-energy portfolio," he said.
America's new strategy would see a 'pilot interim store' being operation in 2021, with a focus on taking used nuclear fuel from current shut down power plant sites. By 2025 a larger 'full-scale interim store' would open, and by 2048 an underground disposal facility should be in place to permanently store and dispose of the material. The facilities could be co-located in any combination or sited separately - all depending on the expressed will of American people. There could even be more than one underground disposal site."

What is an isotope?

great read: What is an isotope?

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Wind farm turbines wear sooner than expected, says study

Environmentally friendly, not so fast: Wind farm turbines wear sooner than expected, says study: "Britain’s wind farms are wearing out far more rapidly than previously thought, making them more expensive as a result, according to an authoritative new study. " and someone needs to clean up the mess afterward too!!!

Like We've Been Saying -- Radiation Is Not A Big Deal

A good read: Like We've Been Saying -- Radiation Is Not A Big Deal: ..."A very big report came out last month with very little fanfare. It concluded what we in nuclear science have been saying for decades – radiation doses less than about 10 rem (0.1 Sv) are no big deal. The linear no-threshold dose hypothesis (LNT) does not apply to doses less than 10 rem (0.1 Sv), which is the region encompassing background levels around the world, and is the region of most importance to nuclear energy, most medical procedures and most areas affected by accidents like Fukushima."
Also see:

EDF nuclear to power UK trains

What a great idea: EDF nuclear to power UK trains: ..."By electrifying more track and contracting nuclear power supplies from EDF Energy the UK rail network operator will reduce fossil fuel use over the next ten years.
A joint statement today described how Network Rail will purchase power exclusively from EDF Energy, with that supply matched to nuclear generation. With a requirement of 3.2 TWh per year, Network Rail is the UK's largest power customer. It owns all the railway infrastructure and purchases power centrally, recouping money from firms that operate trains across its network."

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tritium Fact Sheet by CNSC

Have any question about tritium, here is a great Tritium Fact Sheet by CNSC:"The CNSC has published a new fact sheet on tritium. This fact sheet presents in plain language the basic information about tritium — where it comes from, how it impacts health, and how it is regulated to ensure public safety." well done!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Crude Effects of Alberta's Oil sands

A program to listen to on January 12: The Crude Effects of Alberta's Oil sands on CBC's Quirks & Quarks: "Alberta's massive oilsands have produced an impressive amount of crude oil over the past two decades. But according to a new study from Queen's University and Environment Canada, they're producing an alarming amount of pollution as well. The study looked at 6 small lakes near the oilsands, and found surprisingly high levels of a toxic chemical that is a known carcinogen in the water. And by analyzing the sediment from the past 50 years, they showed that the chemical deposits have been steadily rising since large-scale oilsands production began in 1978. We'll speak to one author of the study who says this is "the smoking gun" that proves the contamination is not natural. It seems that the bitumen is biting back."

US invests to address shortage of rare earth metals

US invests to address shortage of rare earth metals: ... "CMI will leverage these existing research programs into a larger, coordinated effort designed to eliminate materials criticality as an impediment to the commercialization of clean energy technologies. The Hub will address challenges across the entire life cycle of these materials. This ranges from enabling new sources; improving the economics of existing sources; accelerating material development and deployment; more efficient use in manufacturing; recycling and reuse; and developing strategies to assess and address the life cycles of new materials. Cross-cutting research, including developing computational tools and supply chain and economic analyses, will also be necessary to support the basic science needs across all challenge areas."

CNSC's presentation to US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Neat! From CNSC: Today CNSC Executive VP, Ramzi Jammal, made a presentation to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US NRC) about Canada's regulatory approach and oversight for filtered venting for reactor containment. The US NRC is looking into the issue of containment venting systems for US-type nuclear power reactors that use boiling water reactors with Mark I and Mark II containment designs... Here is the link to get pdf file of the CNSC VP and other participants:

NOAA: 2012 hottest year on record in contiguous US

No matter what the climate change deniers refuse to accept the facts even though they have become so obvious especially the effects of burning fossil fuels! This is a good read: 2012 hottest year on record in contiguous U.S., NOAA says ... from page 2: "In 2004, Princeton University professors Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala wrote an influential paper outlining how the world could stabilize its greenhouse-gas emissions by mid-
century through a series of ­“wedges,” using current technology, such as sharply increasing nuclear power worldwide, eliminating deforestation and converting conventional plowing to no-tillage farming."

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Graphene oxide soaks up radioactive waste

Well graphene just keeps getting better and better! Graphene oxide soaks up radioactive waste: "A collaborative effort by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour and the Moscow lab of chemist Stepan Kalmykov determined that microscopic, atom-thick flakes of graphene oxide bind quickly to natural and human-made radionuclides and condense them into solids. The flakes are soluble in liquids and easily produced in bulk.
The experimental results were reported in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.
The discovery, Tour said, could be a boon in the cleanup of contaminated sites like the Fukushima nuclear plants damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It could also cut the cost of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas recovery and help reboot American mining of rare earth metals, he said.
Graphene oxide’s large surface area defines its capacity to adsorb toxins, Kalmykov said. “So the high retention properties are not surprising to us,” he said. “What is astonishing is the very fast kinetics of sorption, which is key.”
“In the probabilistic world of chemical reactions where scarce stuff (low concentrations) infrequently bumps into something with which it can react, there is a greater likelihood that the ‘magic’ will happen with graphene oxide than with a big old hunk of bentonite,” said Steven Winston, a former vice president of Lockheed Martin and Parsons Engineering and an expert in nuclear power and remediation who is working with the researchers. “In short, fast is good.”"

Isotopes for heat

A great read by Steve Aplin: Isotopes for heat:

Friday, 4 January 2013

2012 Year in Review

Happy New Year everyone… Another year is behind us! 2012 was another eventful year starting with the Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) for the future of Chalk River Labs and continuing with a stream of announcements related to research funding cuts. After the sale of the CANDU branch of AECL in 2011, the RFEI was meant to gauge any stakeholder (members of the public, universities, private industries) interest in participating in the future of AECL's Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories. With the RFEI process completed by March 2012, the hope was that the government would announce its decision for the future of the lab by the fall 2012. We are already into the New Year and there is still no news as to when the government will make an announcement. One thing that is clear, and has been clear for many years, is that a replacement for the aging NRU reactor either at Chalk River Laboratories or at University of Saskatchewan (wouldn’t it be great if both would get one!!!) will guarantee the future of neutron scattering, nuclear research and isotope production in Canada and their many benefits to the country for many years to come! Once again as Theodore Roosevelt said: “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”… Here is a look back at some highlights of the posts on the group wall (I have tested the links and they should all work) and let us hope 2013 brings more support and funding for basic research in Canada especially commitment to replace the aging NRU reactor. Here is the link to the document 2012 Year in Review:

Japan's cautious return to nuclear power

Japan's cautious return to nuclear power: "Japan appears to be heading toward a gradual revival of nuclear power generation under a new government supportive of retaining it, but the outlook for the industry in 2013 is unclear, with antinuclear sentiment still lingering among the public amid the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant.
The new government led by the Liberal Democratic Party has already signaled that it has no intention of following in the footsteps of the Democratic Party of Japan government, which was overthrown after the Dec. 16 election, when it comes to energy policy. The DPJ government aimed at phasing out nuclear power by the 2030s.
"We need to reconsider the previous government's policy of seeking zero operations of nuclear plants," Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a press conference shortly after assuming the ministerial post.
He also said that completely giving up Japan's spent-fuel recycling policy, which would lose its role if nuclear power generation ends, is "currently not an option," and that the government backs the resumption of reactors as long as they are deemed safe by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the new atomic watchdog.
The remarks are likely to encourage utilities, which have been desperate to restart idled reactors to boost their business. The minister's words also leave open the possibility of allowing utilities to install new reactors that have been planned but are not yet under construction."

The changing research climate in Canada by Béla Joós

More on the government's research cuts: The changing research climate in Canada by Béla Joós, Physics in Canada Editor-in-Chief: "The cancellation of NSERC’s Major Resources Support (MRS) program has broader implications, jeopardizing the future of many facilities, such as the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre at Chalk River and the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) [3,4]. Ironically, we were told by NSERC at the CAP Congress that the MRS program is the victim of its own popularity: too many applications led to a bureaucratic and financial burden on NSERC. This cancellation appears as an attempt to download financial responsibility to academic institutions with already strained resources. The impact of the elimination of the MRS program extends throughout the natural sciences. In biological- and environmental-related sciences, this decision coincided with significant cuts to federally-funded environmental research. Neglecting research that informs us about the state of our planet cannot lead to good policy decisions [6]. There is a widespread perception that, for our current federal government, ideology trumps evidence. This has led to the “Death of evidence” demonstration on Parliament Hill in June 2012 and an international call to the government to justify its decisions [6,7]." ... "Finally, the current preoccupation with technology transfer and innovation should not undermine the excellent fundamental curiosity-driven research that is present in Canada [1,2]. It is from that research that physical principles underlying new technologies will emerge. To maintain a diversified and thriving academic research environment, the DGP program should remain a priority and will need a healthy RTI program to support it."

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Deep River: Almost the Perfect Place to Live

An entertaining must-read for those of you interested in the history of Deep River: Almost the Perfect Place to Live: "This full-length article appeared in Maclean's Magazine, September 15, 1958, and was penned by up-and-coming journalist Peter C. Newman. Photographs by Sam Tata."

1984 in 2012 – The Assault on Reason by Allan R. Gregg

A must read by Allan R. Gregg, a well-known Canadian pundit and former Progressive Conservative pollster: "1984 in 2012 – The Assault on Reason": "Ok, so now the facts were beginning to tell a different story. This was no random act of downsizing, but a deliberate attempt to obliterate certain activities that were previously viewed as a legitimate part of government decision-making – namely, using research, science and evidence as the basis to make policy decisions. It also amounted to an attempt to eliminate anyone who might use science, facts and evidence to challenge government policies."

How U.S.-European cooperation can deliver cheaper, safer nuclear energy

How U.S.-European cooperation can deliver cheaper, safer nuclear energy by Barry Brook: "As the debate over climate policy picks up again in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and President Obama’s reelection, policymakers should prioritize efforts that will accelerate the adoption of zero-carbon technologies, especially the only proven baseload source available: next generation nuclear.
Whereas traditional nuclear reactors from the 1950s were designed in secret, advanced models are being researched, designed, and financed by innovative international collaborations. Take GE-Hitachi’s PRISM, a joint American-Japanese venture to construct a power plant in the United Kingdom capable of processing plutonium. Or the recent announcement that South Korea’s national electric utility, KEPCO, had been awarded a contract to build the first nuclear plant in the United Arab Emirates, using Australian-mined uranium for fuel.
An expanding international community recognizes the importance of developing advanced nuclear reactor designs to meet energy needs and address global warming. Thirteen countries have joined the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), for instance, a cooperative endeavor to encourage governments and industry to support advanced nuclear energy concepts. Member countries, which include the United States, Japan, Russia, and China, have agreed to expand R&D funding for advanced nuclear projects that meet stringent sustainability, economic, safety and nonproliferation goals.
Yet despite international agreement on the necessity of next generation nuclear systems, there is a dearth of support at the national level. In the US, annual federal RD&D spending for advanced fission reactors has not exceeded $200 million in the last 10 years, following much larger budgets through the 1970s to mid-1990s. The majority of research and investment in advanced nuclear systems today comes from Asia, and most new nuclear is constructed in developing nations. Yet many of the countries most interested in building more nuclear are largely stuck with old Generation II designs."

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy Birthday Harriet Brooks

Happy Birthday Harriet Brooks! she was born in 1876 in Exeter, Ontario. Brooks studied physics at McGill University and became the first woman to earn a master's degree in any field. She worked with Ernest Rutherford discovering radon and helping to establish that radioactive decay entails the transmutation of one element into another:,_Harriet@842580299.html
Canada’s first female nuclear physicist: