Effective government involvement essential for many innovations

The Breakthrough Institute has published a thought-provoking piece titled Reinventing Libertarianism: Jim Manzi and the New Conservative Case for Innovation It is highly recommended reading.

Here is a comment that I left on the piece, focusing on my particular interest area of clean nuclear energy development.

Interesting observations. I agree with just about everything other than the following statement:

“Nuclear energy came out of the Manhattan Project. No private company could ever have taken a weapon and made it an energy source.”

My deep research into the history of nuclear energy reveals that the order should be differently phrased.

Nuclear energy is a natural part of our physical world. God – or nature, if you prefer – put densely packed energy into the atomic nucleus and gave human discoverers the key for unlocking that energy.

Fission itself occurred in natural rock formations in a place called Oklo in Gabon, Africa. No private company could have turned this gift into a weapon capable of mass destruction, but an enormous, government-funded, world war-inspired effort against a nation led by a madman could.

Nuclear energy could have been easily harnessed for good by a small group of scientists and engineers. Without the Manhattan project and its resulting installation of deep nuclear and radiation fears, peaceful nuclear energy development could have progressed along the same lines as the taming of fire.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights

Of course, it is impossible to reverse time and to start all over again. Since governments around the world have already seized strong control over nuclear energy innovation, actions to free the atom and allow it to better serve human masters must involve effective government decision-making.

Though most governments have not been terribly successful in their approach to atomic energy — with a few notable exceptions — it is time for citizens to put pressure on their representatives to learn more about the incredible gift of massive stores of energy-dense, emission-free fuels like uranium and thorium provide to humanity.

NS Savannah tours May 18, 2014

Press Release Historic Ship N.S. Savannah Open for Tours May 18, 2014 in Observance of Maritime Day N.S. Savannah Association, Inc. 4/17/2014 The unique, nuclear powered ship N.S. Savannah will be opened for tours at her pier in Baltimore, Md. on Sunday, May 18, 2014 as a part of the annual commemoration of Maritime Day. […]

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Some lessons were learned from TMI. Others were not.

Three Mile Island from the air

On March 28, 1979, a little more than thirty-five years ago, a nuclear reactor located on an island in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, suffered a partial core melt. On some levels, the accident that became known as TMI (Three Mile Island) was a wake-up call and an expensive learning opportunity for both the […]

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Nuclear Energy: Past, Present, and Future

Peter Bradford and Rod Adams

On Friday, March 28, 2014, I had the privilege of attending a symposium at Dartmouth College titled Three Mile Island 35th Anniversary Symposium: The Past, Present, and Future of Nuclear Energy. If you are curious and have a free nine hours, you can watch an archived copy of the main event on YouTube. The thing […]

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Atomic Show #214 – Age of Radiance Author Craig Nelson

The Age of Radiance is good read that adds personality and details to a story I know pretty well – the history of the Atomic Age from the discovery of radiation, to the discovery of fission, to the Manhattan Project to apply the newfound power to the task of creating a war-ending super weapon, and […]

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Alvin Weinberg’s liquid fuel reactors

Figure 6. Senators John Kennedy and Al Gore Sr flank Alvin Weinberg on a visit to ORNL

A nuclear pioneer’s work on safer, cheaper, inexhaustible nuclear power is still inspiring nuclear environmentalists. by Robert Hargraves Physicist Alvin Weinberg worked on the Manhattan Project and later co-invented the pressurized water nuclear reactor. As Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory he led development of liquid fuel reactors, including walk-away-safe liquid fluoride thorium reactors with […]

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Muller influenced the BEAR to adopt the Linear No Threshold (LNT) assumption in 1956

Hermann Muller, the 1946 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology and Medicine, insisted that there was no threshold of risk from ionizing radiation. His opinion has had a long lasting influence on standards for radiation dose. He was wrong. History is complicated. Influential people often impose their will with long-lasting results. The stories can be difficult […]

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60 Years Ago, Ike, the Most Visionary President of the 20th Century, Gave Atoms for Peace Speech

On December 8, 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his forward-leaning Atoms for Peace speech at a gathering of the United Nations General Assembly in Bermuda. His vision for the world has not yet been realized, but remembering some of his thoughts might inspire some thinkers to take action. There are many reasons why many decision […]

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Root cause of Naval Reactors policy of strict secrecy about nuclear propulsion plant design

As a Navy nuke, I was carefully taught to believe that everything we learned about atomic energy had to be strictly protected from release to anyone who was not “cleared”, especially anyone who was not a US citizen. I started to question that policy after I completed my tour as the Engineer Officer on the […]

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The first Critmass, December 2, 1942

Seventy one years ago — on December 2, 1942, at 3:25 pm — Enrico Fermi and his team achieved the first controlled, man-made, self sustaining chain reaction in a simple reactor. In recognition of that historical event, several of my nuclear colleagues refer to December 2 as “Critmass” (short for critical mass). The first nuclear […]

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Atomic Show #210 – Leadership by Navy nukes

This show was inspired by a post on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Healthiness titled Why I’m Not Afraid of Fukushima. That post was written by a guest blogger named Jeremiah Scott; he is an electrical engineering student who is attending college in the Pacific Northwest with the help of the GI bill. He […]

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