Chapter 8 in the Shoreham documentary provides some revealing information about a small segment of the tribe of people who are aligned in opposition to the expanded use of nuclear energy. It should raise a series of questions in the minds of critical thinkers who strongly believe that nuclear energy is an amazing gift to humanity that must be developed with due haste in order to break our fossil fuel addiction. If this little coffee shop gathering to hear Harvey Wasserman speak is any indication of the kind of people who fight nuclear energy, why are they winning? Why have we allowed them to dictate our energy policy? Why haven’t we managed to overcome their opposition to design, license and build any new nuclear power plants in the past 35 years?
During this chapter, Ray, the filmmaker, asks Wasserman a revealing question. He does it in a non-confrontational way because he has a plan for a more in-depth interview after the talk and he did not want to spoil that opportunity. Sometimes journalists have to toss out softball questions if they want the opportunity for follow-up questions. However, viewers can learn something from the response if they listen carefully and watch the body language.
By the way, I happen to agree on one level with Wasserman’s response. An advanced degree and even a Nobel Prize in physics does not make anyone an expert in energy production systems. There are many areas of investigation in physics that have nothing to do with producing electricity by converting fission heat into motion using the principles of thermodynamics. However, a scientific Nobel Prize does provide evidence of a very significant professional accomplishment and respect from scientific peers. It indicates something about the person, his intelligence, his tenacity and his ability to achieve goals.
I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Steven Chu, even though he is still enamored with unreliable, uncontrollable energy production systems.
Aside: I have a different respect level for a different holder of an advanced degree in physics awarded for building computer models of the low energy behavior of mesons and baryons. He never bothered to pursue science after earning that degree; instead, he took his degree and used it to become a partisan politician. Instead of achieving greatness in research, he aligned himself with two scientifically illiterate elected representatives who both adhere to dangerous energy policy positions. He needs to be encouraged to leave his current appointed position before he does any more damage. End Aside.