It is time for a career change. For the foreseeable future, I am going to write books and articles for a living. This career move has been a long time in the making.
During my first interview for a nuclear-related job, Admiral Rickover asked me, “English major? Why are you an English major?” I responded “Because I like to read and write, sir.” He followed up with “Write? Have you ever written any books? I have. Three of them. Have you read any of them?” My response was “Not yet, sir.” My entire interview with Admiral Rickover lasted less than 3 minutes.
At the time, I did not understand that I had answered his questions in exactly the right way. Rickover was a voracious reader and a writer who thought deeply about important, far reaching topics; I think my answers helped him to decide to accept me into his program. In the intervening years, I have learned a great deal about Hyman Godalia Rickover and many other fascinating people who have made impacts, both positive and negative, on the development of nuclear energy technology.
Aside: I found Rickover’s given middle name during a recent rereading of Francis Duncan’s Rickover: The Struggle for Excellence, Naval Institute Press, 2001 on page 11. When he filled out the form for his oath of office, Rickover decided to tell the Navy that his middle name was George. End Aside.
I’ve gathered an increasingly interesting collection of books, articles, papers, presentations, and notes that are crying out for an effort to weave them into narratives that provide a currently unavailable perspective on how the technology has developed — or not — how it can develop, and how its continued development will help to make the earth a richer, cleaner, and more comfortable place to live.
It was not easy to decide to leave my former colleagues at B&W mPower, Inc. It was rewarding to be a part of a growing team that is working diligently and creatively to develop technology that will be able to provide reliable, emission free electricity to millions of people. I realized, however, that there are plenty of people who can accomplish the tasks that I was assigned there, but there is no one else who can organize my collection of energy-related information into a valuable resource.
Part of my decision process was driven by a recognition that energy markets in the US are developing in a very risky way. Providing reliable power to people is not a sprint; it is not even a marathon. It is a task that will endure far longer than any of us, but decision makers seem to have been hypnotized into thinking that it is okay to build a supply infrastructure with a high level of dependence on natural gas. They forget its volatile nature, both in physical form and in market price behavior.
In the parable of the tortoise and hare, the slow, steady tortoise beats the jumpy, often distracted hare. The US — and Canada — seem intent on rewriting the parable. They (we) have allowed financially motivated spectators to influence the race results by actively stepping on the tortoise or erecting seemingly insurmountable barriers to his progress. Fortunately, nuclear fission’s energy density is a very tough shell that cannot be broken, even if it seems like the crowd has forced a temporary halt in progress.
This story begs to be more fully understood and exposed. One or two easily forgotten blog posts will not suffice; successful transmission requires repetition and access to a stronger microphone on a taller soapbox. I’ve decided to take on the challenge, but the effort will take more time than is available after subtracting a 40-50 hour work week.
Atomic Insights and the Atomic Show podcast will continue in their present forms as platforms for communications among a growing community of people that are intensely interested in energy-related topics. I continue to gain strength and stamina from our interactions; please continue to contribute.
Our Creator has endowed us with an incredible reservoir of creativity and also provided us with access to some amazing raw materials. Our capacity for growth is only limited if we collectively decide to limit ourselves. One of my self-assigned missions is to show how we can make a choice to pursue almost infinite development in spite of the long ago decision by bankers and oil interests to spend tons of our money promoting the notion that there are “Limits to Growth” as a way to slow nuclear energy development and maintain their current economic dominance.