About Atomic Insights

Rod Adams May 2011Resume available here.

Publisher: Rod Adams – Pro-nuclear advocate with extensive small nuclear plant operating experience. Former Engineer Officer, USS Von Steuben. Founder, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast. You can subscribe to The Atomic Show RSS feed.
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Beginning in April 1995, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. (AAE) began publishing Atomic Energy Insights as a series of monthly paper newsletters with the intention of being an alternative source of information for what we hoped would be a newly rejuvenated nuclear power industry. Rod Adams, the founder of AAE, did most of the writing, but there was a small team that did the editing and publishing. It soon became apparent that we were a bit early out of the box.

Despite some encouraging early signs and our own best efforts, there was very little real news in the US related to nuclear energy. The plants that started construction in the 1960s and 1970s continued operating with incremental improvements, but the prospects for new construction disappeared in an era of rapidly changing electric production business models and ever cheaper fossil fuel.

By the end of 1995, with the help of Dr. Sama Bilboa y Leon, then a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, we began mirroring our paper publication on the World Wide Web. In mid 1996, In an attempt to remain relevant, we shifted our focus from news to history, producing articles on topics ranging from nuclear rocket engines, to pacemaker batteries and from to ship propulsion engines to the health effects of radiation.

In January of 1997, we essentially ran out of things to talk about. With generous help from friends, AAE was able to provide continuing access to our articles on the web. Interestingly enough, there was a steady stream of new readers looking for information on an important topic.

In November of 2000, Rod began writing occasional articles as the earliest stirrings of a nuclear revival began manifesting themselves. Some of those articles originally appeared in a series of columns titled “For the Rest of Us” and published on PowerOnLine.com, a webzine aimed at power industry professionals. The series is still available on PowerOnline.com as well as on Atomic Insights. Here is a link to the first one.

In March 2005, with an improving outlook for a Nuclear Renaissance, we started publishing commentary on a more frequent basis using a Blogger platform at the Atomic Insights Blog. We learned how simple it was to develop an discussion about nuclear energy by posting articles with strong points of view and enabling comments when you have the right kind of software platform.

In March 2006, we took the plunge into audio programming with creation of The Atomic Show, with Rod Adams and Shane Brown, hosted by The Podcast Network. As these things do, there have been some evolutionary changes, with Shane departing due to a job conflict and with The Podcast Network shutting down for good in June 2012.

The Atomic Show podcast provides geeky conversations about all aspects of atomic information including history, technology, politics and economics. It started off with a series of weekly shows, but the schedule is not very predictable any more. Some weeks there are more than one episode; there are also weeks or even months without any new content. Shows are generally scheduled when there is a willing group of interesting participants and something worth talking about.

In March of 2011, we took another plunge and upgraded the old Atomic Insights web site to use more modern software and enable comments. We combined that site with The Atomic Insights Blog, successfully porting over almost 1700 posts and 10,000 comments. In July 2012, we added the content from The Atomic Show to become an integral part of Atomic Insights under the category of “podcast” on the site. We are still having some issues getting iTunes to update the show, but you can subscribe to the RSS feed at the following link – Atomic Show RSS Feed.

Atomic Insights is a treasure trove of atomic history – mostly from one man’s point of view, but there are a number of important guest posts and certainly a lot of additional contributors on The Atomic Show. We have also made friends with dozens of like minded pro-nuclear activists that publish their own blogs and share their own thoughts on the technology and the growing industry. You can find our blog roll at the updated Links page.

The renewed interest in using nuclear energy in the United States and in dozens of other countries, including many who are not currently using nuclear energy, has validated the assertions we have made over the past 16 years. It is still taking way too long and costing far too much to build large, multi-unit nuclear power stations.

There is still a well-funded and vocal opposition to new construction projects, but polls in the US show that more than 60% of the population favors new nuclear power plants to contribute to the energy supply and to replace facilities that produce atmosphere polluting gases like SOx, NOx, and CO2.

The challenges associated with building very large facilities have encouraged the development of a slew of new ideas and system conceptual designs that will produce significantly less power per module using far less material, smaller sites, and an increased level of factory manufacturing instead of on-site construction.

There are not yet any of the new, smaller designs at the US NRC undergoing license review, but that situation should change by the end of 2013. Sometimes people who love the high tech industry cannot understand why it takes so long to make changes in the nuclear world, but “blue screens of death” would have a completely different meaning for us. The nuclear world’s careful approach to problem solving works, even though it can be a bit frustrating to watch.

There is still room for large power plants in many markets; more than 50 large nuclear power plants are currently under construction around the world. Five new reactors are officially under construction in the US – Watts Bar Unit 2, Vogtle units 3 and 4 and VC Summer units 2 and 3.

The Vogtle and Summer sites both received their COLs in early 2012, after a several month, unexplained delay imposed by the former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The good news is that his title is “former” and that the plants got their licenses issued with identical 4-1 votes.

Atomic Insights is now entering a new phase in its development. We are brimming with ideas, and will keep you informed as we make changes. Actually, we might forget to let people know – we will just make the changes and see what you think about them by collecting comments on the blog and the blog associated with The Atomic Show. Thank you for your interest in our efforts.

One thing that really makes our day is when long time readers make contact and tell us that one or more of our articles made an impact on their thinking about nuclear power. That is happening more and more these days, and it makes all of the effort seem worth while.

Another thing that makes my day is when one of the new employees at my day job stops by and tells me that they are an Atomic Insights fan. I do not consider myself to be prideful, but it does make me have a better day knowing that people are reading and liking what they see. (I slipped out of the “royal we” for a paragraph. The plural personal pronoun is appropriate for most of the above; there is more than one person working to make Atomic Insights what it is today. I still do most of the writing and pontificating, and I am the one with a day job that supports the Atomic Show as a hobby.)

One more thing that you need to know about Atomic Insights. We are huge supporters of the Nuclear Literacy Project (NLP). We highly recommend that nuclear professionals include this important 501(c)(3) educational organization in their annual giving plans. You might even find that you can designate the NLP in your Combined Federal Campaign or United Way donations at work.