One of the greatest enigmas of modern science is the possibility of time travel. Einstein proved through the general theory of relativity time travel into the future. However, time travel into the past is much more complex to understand in modern physics.
Michio Kaku explains in this video a theoritical model where the fabric of space time can be manipulated to travel into the past. This model impossible to build today with our current technology might be a reality in the distant future, making possible time travel possible in a commercial scale.
“A cheaper reactor design that can burn waste and doesn’t run into fuel limitations would be a big thing” Bill Gates
Bill Gates after Microsoft has gone into all kinds of “philanthropic” endeavors that range from donating half of his wealth, to promoting universal vaccination and reduction of the world’s population through birth control programs. Today he has taken ambitious role in promoting new sources of energy, more specifically, 4th generation nuclear reactors. Recently he has personally funded a start-up called TerraPower LLC, where he serves as chairman. The company’s goal is to make nuclear reactors smaller, cheaper and safer than today’s nuclear energy sources. TerraPower has recently completed a basic design for a reactor that theoretically could run untouched for decades on spent nuclear fuel.
This Generation IV Design reactor is known as the traveling wave reactor (TWR) which will produce significantly smaller amounts of nuclear waste than conventional nuclear reactors. In other words this reactor’s “advantage” is that it can run on spent nuclear fuel from other reactors, which is stockpiled by the thousands of tons all around the world. And as TerraPower claims, “an established fleet of TWRs could operate without enrichment or reprocessing for millennia”, this is because the TWR directly converts depleted uranium to usable fuel as it operates.
“There are currently 700,000 metric tons of this low-level nuclear leftover product in the United States. Using a TWR, an 8-metric-ton canister of depleted uranium could generate 25 million megawatt-hours of electricity – enough to power 2.5 million U.S. households for one year.” TerraPower
Could this be a solution for Japan’s energy crisis? Gate’s has been actively promoting the TWR technology and has been approaching China and Japan. Knowing that this developed countries are in huge need of “cheap” energy the TWR seems like a viable solution. But is it safe? Japan’s stockpile of plutonium had reached 45 metric tons by the end of 2010, and has not increase after the nuclear disaster in March 11. This stockpile currently has no use, and is stored in spent fuel pools and waste treatment deposits all around Japan. The TWR if what TerraPower claims is true could be an answer to giving some usefulness to nuclear waste. However, TerraPower has only proven its nuclear reactors through computer simulation, and it will take about 10 years for them to built their first prototype and prove its effectiveness.
Video Interview with Bill Gates speaking about Nuclear Energy at the 2012 ECO:nomics conference
Japan hosted in the second week of January 2012 the largest Nuclear Power Free World conference held so far in Asia. It has been more than 9 months since the Fukushima and since then the civil counsciouness towards nuclear power has grown exponentially. Almost every month there are conferences, gatherings, and street manifestations expressing the concern and outrage towards the nuclear industry in Japan and the world. The Global Conference for Nuclear Power Free World 2012 held in Yokohama has been the first attempt to organize a formal event with speakers from all over the world. From nuclear industry experts to human rights journalists gathered in the Pacifico Conference Hall in Yokohama to discuss and expose the risks and challenges a Nuclear Power Free World faces for this century.
Below you can find some images from the event, from anti nuclear art to photography from reknowned Japanese photographers who opose nuclear energy.
After Fukushima a great deal of awareness on the dangers of nuclear energy has ignited a series of reactions in society, mainly a generalized rejection to nuclear energy and a call to develop cleaner and safer sources of energy.
When thinking about nuclear energy mainly 2 sources come to peoples minds, solar and wind power condemning any sort of nuclear power. Nuclear power has been associated with Weapons of Mass Destruction, radiation sickness and disease. However, this is not due to the nuclear power itself but due to the nuclear fuel used to generate this nuclear power.
In today’s world the main fuel for nuclear power is a naturally occurring radioactive mineral, Uranium. This mineral is one of the most dense metals in the periodic table which allows it to reach a chain reaction that can yield huge amounts of energy that can be exploited for an extended period of time. Unfortunately the nuclear fuel cycle of Uranium produced extremely dangerous byproducts, commonly known as nuclear waste. These are produced in liquid, solid and gaseous form in a wide variety of deadly substances, such as:
The above are just some of the most common byproducts, (better known as nuclear waste) of a nuclear fuel cycle, all of these substances are extremely poisonous, causing a variety of diseases, cancers and genetic mutations to the victim. The worst part is that most of them remain in the environment of decades or even thousands of years, so if accidentally released to the environment they become a problem that future generations have to deal with. Therefore, in nuclear energy the problem is in the fuel not in the engine.
Lets start with the Thorium Reactors. Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive chemical element, found in abundance throughout the world. It is estimated that every cubic meter of earth’s crust contains about 12 grams of this mineral, enough quantity to power 1 person’s electricity consumption for 12-25 years. Energy is produced from thorium in a process known as the Thorium Fuel Cycle, were a nuclear fuel cycle is derived from the natural abundant isotope of thorium.
Thorium can be used as fuel in a nuclear reactor, and it is a fertile material, which allows it to be used to produce nuclear fuel in a breeder reactor. These are some of the benefits of Thorium reactors compared to Uranium.
Weapons-grade fissionable material is harder to retrieve safely and clandestinely from a thorium reactor;
Thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste;
Thorium comes out of the ground as a 100% pure, usable isotope, which does not require enrichment, whereas natural uranium contains only 0.7% fissionable U-235;