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36 Comments

  1. It’s great to see a maker space taking an interest in nuclear power. Maybe they should take a look into betavoltaics? There are some cool, safe projects to try. I have been thinking into extending this particular idea into a small nuclear-powered robot for a while, but I’m out of time, plus the wife freaks out at the merest suggestion of bringing anything remotely radioactive home – I guess I could use a maker space myself…

      1. I was thinking of a variation of the optoelectric project I linked – only with a larger (possible multiple) tritium vial(s) and a battery to collect the solar cell output. Admittedly I don’t know if I could get enough charge out of it to power a robot, even the simplest designs, but I do want to give it a try some day.

        1. Try calculating your conversion efficiency from beta emissions to PV output and see how much decay power you’d need to power a robot, and how much waste heat you’d have to get rid of.  That will give you an idea if you can accomplish anything practical or not.

          IMO you are probably better off converting the betas directly to electricity by shooting them up a potential gradient.  A nanoamp at 1 kV is a microwatt, which is sufficient for some low-power applications.

  2. Rod – thanks for alerting us to the event, to National Nuclear Science week, and to your participation. You forgot to mention that some of the events will be streamed, at http://www.nuclearscienceweek.org/thebigevent/1482-2/ . As I write this, the Livestream placeholder is in place. We can all watch for Rod’s part, and should also be able to play it at our convenience.

    I’m especially impressed that Knoxville’s Mayor is delivering a Welcoming message, that there’s a Boy and Girl Scout Badges program on Saturday, and that K – 12 teachers taking the Saturday workshop will each receive a refurbished radiation detector and activity booklet to take back to their classrooms. Brilliant!

  3. Rod – can those not attending the conference, make online orders. I’d like one of those buttons, just to wear to suitable events I might attend. 🙂

  4. The logo looks communist. That it mirrors that of a union is par for the course. Atomic power in the hands of today’s licentious and hedonistic people addicted to reality TV and Facebook? I think not. It takes professionals with years of training and experience who will follow the regulations as they are written to work in the field. Liberal progressives who blab all the time as self appointed guru blogmeisters are not qualified.

    1. I agree it looks communistic, but those, “professionals with years of training and experience…”, also happen to be the ones right now with zero ability in marketing and self-promotion and we can see where that has gotten. Maybe nuclear power needs sime help from the guru blogmeisters.

    2. The logo looks communist.

      The Soviets were masters of iconography and propaganda.

      Atomic power in the hands of today’s licentious and hedonistic people addicted to reality TV and Facebook?

      You should know enough about history to understand that Communism and all of those “power to the people” slogans were never about giving real power to the vast majority of the people. They were just ideas, driven into the consciousness of the masses, to fool people and keep an elite few in charge.

      If they could have governed one-tenth as well as they could come up with slogans and icons, the USSR would still be here today.

      1. Its very old and id add it has strong feminist (Feminist theory moving to Identity Politics) overtones. It is the raised fist ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raised_fist ).

        But remember your perspective and the intended audience. No one is trying to sell nuclear power to most of you. I think its a great logo. Id even add a bit from the identity politics arsenal to it probably.

        But personally, I am kind of over that too. I find myself craving transparency, apolitical truth, real complexity and spatial realism in visual expression. Id go for a tonal logo in a few colors and transparencies, overlapping diagrams and pattern related to uranium perhaps, orthorhombic crystal patterns and x ray diffractions and energy process, with some kind of point symmetric element to tie it together. Id really like that, especially if I could get it technically right, but I think it would be terrible for selling nuclear power to a negatively biased, left leaning audience. Dont you?

    3. You’re taking the logo too literally. Power to the people doesn’t mean that untrained people are building and operating nuclear facilities, but rather, that the power generated by nuclear plants is provided TO the people via the grid.

      I mean, I can sort of see the ties to communist propaganda of the past, but keep in mind that for people who are about 40 years and younger, associations to communism were never that strong (especially for those 30 years and younger – the “Millennials” as they are called, probably have essentially zero recollection of communism. I have some memories from my childhood of communist Soviet Russia, the Berlin wall, and the Eastern Bloc.

      But, I also understand that a raised hand is also associated with other popular movements – like Unions, which I, and many people my age and younger, don’t exactly view as “The Devil”. Unions, perhaps, have overreached at times, making the cost of business too high for some companies – we’ve seen that the auto companies and steel companies struggled or outright failed as businesses with Unions disrupting business too much.

      However, we are also aware of the history that, before unions, big business was downright cruel and exploitative of labor. Unsafe working conditions, long hours, low pay, little compensation if one got injured, no healthcare or other benefits, no weekends (except, usually, Sunday, at least, workers might have gotten off, but not Saturday), etc, etc. So, no, to mean, unions aren’t the devil – they are human, and have erred at times, but also fought necessary battles to improve life for workers.

      1. Unions are the enemy of the same people that think its ethical to pay a minimum wage that imprisons people in poverty.

        1. True. And unfortunately they’re also the enemy of those whom want to pay more to high performers and encourage a more varied and richer work experience. But what of it? There are positives and negatives regardless of the emotive limbic expressions. Heaven forbid there might be Unions in Israel. Boy, that would be sokin’ fusing.

          1. Unions in Israel? Don’t be silly. Then what would they do with all those ethiopian laborers they like to spit on and sterilize?

          2. poa – You shouldn’t open that can of worms.

            The Arabs don’t have the most spectacular record when it comes to the treatment of (non-Arab) Africans and Indians, particularly those employed for domestic services.

          3. What, you think I condone the abuse of labor because an arab is doing the abusing?

            Interesting that the worst offenders are undoubtedly the Saudis.

            You know, those arabs our leaders cow-tow to, and Israel allies with?

            Regardless, whats your point? That Israeli prejudices and abuses are ok because the arabs do it? Yeah? Thats kinda like “it doesn’t matter what the definition of apartheid is”.

            But anyway, no reason to discuss this on this thread.

            Personally, I like the simple depiction of the atom as a logo. It reminds one of better times for the atom, when Disney was working his magic polishing the image of the almighty atom. This logo that Rod is pushing is far too militant with its imagery. It is trite in a manner that may shake loose some collective memories of past social confrontations. Judging from the comments, that should be obvious.

          4. This logo that Rod is pushing is far too militant with its imagery.

            It is rather similar to the Earth First logo, isn’t it? This is a group that is very anti-nuclear, in addition to being anti- … well … just about everything except violence and (organic, non-GMO-produced) granola.

            I agree that it might not be the image that one would want to put forward.

          5. @ POA

            “ethiopian laborers they like to spit on and sterilize?”

            Although anecdotal, my tour guide in Israel, when I put the question to him, said the Ethiopians had worked out well for Israel. It was the Russian Jews that he claimed were so much trouble for the country. This was 1994…perhaps things are different now.

          6. “Although anecdotal, my tour guide in Israel, when I put the question to him, said the Ethiopians had worked out well for Israel”

            Yes, but “worked out well for Israel” means what? That they managed to import genetic “inferiors” for domestic work, (thanks EP), and alleviated the worry of them reproducing like rodents by giving them birth control shots without their knowledge or consent?

            Don’t take my word for it. Inform yourself.After you’ve done so, I’m curious how you will defend the policy.

    4. ” It takes professionals with years of training and experience who will follow the regulations as they are written to work in the field.”

      Still looks like IBEW electricians, NFPA 70 as per the authority having jurisdiction.

    5. @ Ioannes

      “The logo looks communist.”

      It can’t be, look at that cross at the base of the hand! Bernie Sanders (communist light) and the PC police would never allow such a cross unless it was immersed in a jar of urine and paid for with tax dollars.

      Although liberals in nuclear power are somewhat rare, they aren’t unicorns either.

    1. I thought about mentioning the black panthers/black power, but decided that might just take the conversation too much off track. That was one of the “other popular movements” I was thinking of in my post above.

      1. You can avoid that by hitting on Feminism and Social Identity Theory as the power movements fall under these two, and Marxist Theory, but I lump that as a Feminist movement. (which may be incorrect, or the other way around, and Marxist feminism is also a thing). I used to not to like using the academic definitions from the social sciences but now I see the wisdom of it in allowing more sterile criticisms. Once you step into the postmodern swamp of identity politics, you probably wont be able to ever get out.

        Without a academic approach, its about like always trying to describe the outside of your car from the inside and then never noticing the forest through the trees. For you science types its probably analogous to evaluating a area by a gridded approach, as opposed to a single point based radial system. Although inserting yourself at the center may be easiest, it obviously gets very messy the further out from your own political identity that you go.

        1. Overall I think it is best to ditch the negative politics and associations stuff here. No matter what, even if it goes against what you believe. This tech requires a good deal of social agreement to move forward. Here is one of my favorite safety emblems, that I scanned from a chainsaw manual, I think also applies to many situations including this one: ( https://scontent-atl3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xap1/t31.0-8/q87/s960x960/12138460_887353664694795_2327885115860925030_o.jpg )

          1. I hate to admit it, but I only now took a look at your link to the chainsaw safety tip. I want to thank you for posting it, because I now know what I’ve been doing wrong all this time. I wish you woulda posted it before I broke my right arm and collar bone. Fortunately, the second time I did it I didn’t break anything, but only because I was smart enough to put a mattress under the iimb.

  5. I’m glad the image inspired a reaction from several readers, even when the reaction was negative. In my opinion, improving the market position of nuclear energy requires a action on multiple fronts in a variety of languages.

    Some readers were turned off by the echoes and allusions stimulated by the raised fist, but the image is designed to attract the attention of a demographic that is different from the one that already overwhelmingly supports nuclear energy.

    You cannot gain followers by only talking to people who are already on your side.

  6. So, some folks don’t like the logo I put together. Some folks associate it with the Soviet Union, or social or political movements they’re not comfortable with.

    That’s fine by me.

    Very, very rarely do I agree with Nikolai Lenin about anything, but when it comes to the surpassing importance of connecting everybody to the electric power grid, I’m not ashamed to admit that we’re on the same page.

    I’ve also been known to say things like “You keep talking about Black Power, but where are the Black Power Plants?” After all, a degree of control over the basic factors of production gains one a voice one didn’t have before.

    I believe that electrification transforms society & liberates human beings. That goes for all sources of energy that don’t involve converting chemical energy to mechanical work by way of human muscles, but electricity (at the operative end) & fission (at the source end) surpass them all, for fairly obvious reasons. I am certain that it’s no coincidence that the global movement for the suppression of the slave trade began in the shadow of the Boulton & Watt steam-engine works in Birmingham, England.

    If you don’t like the message, or the way it’s presented, so be it — I have no need to quarrel with you. But I firmly believe that the pro-nuclear message must go places it hasn’t gone, certainly not in a long time, and to go those places it needs appropriate livery.

    When it comes to politics especially (to quote Fangorn the Ent), “I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side” ; but I am reliably on the side of more human happiness, freedom, & prosperity, & for that reason I am reliably on the side of more atomic power.

    1. @publius

      Well said.

      By the way, I received numerous compliments on the button while wearing it at both National Nuclear Science Week events and at the Appalachian Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. That second event was a mission to take positive, optimistic, accurate nuclear information to places where it hasn’t gone often enough.

    2. I am not real sure that digging in your heels on this issue makes sense, publius. How does the general uninformed public view NE and radiation? Its no secret that an association with the bomb, and NE, is a widely held association. It is also no secret that nuclear weapons proliferation is being used to propagandize Iran’s pursuit of legal NE capability.

      Please look at your logo, and ask yourself if it would invoke a peaceful or “green” sentiment in the minds of those associating NE with nuclear weaponry or dangerous radiation releases. The logo is confrontational, militant. Is that really how you convince fence sitters or a mis-informed populace that has had years of FUD as a foundation for their opinions about NE?

      Getting compliments about these badges, from those who already advocate for NE, is hardly a measure of successful PR. I might not know much about nuclear energy, but I do know design, and how to win customers through sound and wise design. Artistically, your logo is exciting, provocative. From a PR standpoint, its a disaster.

      1. “Confrontational” & “militant” are exactly what I want to be, because I have concluded that this is a question implicating the future of our civilization on the most basic level, and avoiding confrontation is the best way to leave people with the impression that it isn’t of any great importance.

        You know what’s a PR disaster?
        Constantly returning to the safety of nuclear energy rather than what it can do for people.
        30 000 American men, women, & children are killed every year in automobile mishaps, which is 30 000 more than die from any cause associated with nuclear energy, and we tolerate that because we care more for convenient personal transportation than we do for our very lives.

        In over a year of wearing a button with this logo as I go about my daily business, I haven’t noticed people giving me the evil eye, but I have had people approach me, ask me about it, listen with interest to my explanation, & respond to my “I have another here if you’d like one” with “yes, please”. No doubt there are some people, and not all of them John Birch Society members, who respond negatively ; and if my little efforts were the only way atomic energy were being promoted, anywhere, by anybody, I’d be concerned about that. But I have chosen to live by the maxim “be hot, or be cold, but everything that is lukewarm shall be vomited forth from the mouth of God” — responses are better than apathy, even when some of them are negative.

        “If I am not for myself, then who is for me?” If the pro-nuclear camp is cautious and circumspect, while the anti-nuclear camp is (and it is!) confrontational and militant, and not only that, but willing to tell outright lies to win people over, whose viewpoint will prevail? I for one am neither ashamed nor afraid to meet confrontation with confrontation, militancy with militancy, and falsehoods with facts.

        And if you don’t think that makes any sense, please, instead of worrying about the harm I might do, go out & do good in your own way.