Articles to 2012-11-17

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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

Too much cleanliness is unhealthy, says Weinstock, and worms in your gut may well be good for you.

I’d like to quote one of the fathers of nuclear engineering, Alvin Weinberg (1972) on safety evaluation. A true engineer and his words are a far cry from the cavalier attitude of ideologues, like those trying to replace reliable stable power sources with unreliable and variable ones without proper storage or backup.

“Let me close on a somewhat different note. The issues I have discussed here—reactor safety, waste disposal, transport of radioactive materials—are complex matters about which little can be said with absolute certainty. When we say that the probability of a serious reactor incident is perhaps 10-8 or even 10-4 per reactor per year, or that the failure of all safety rods simultaneously is incredible, we are speaking of matters that simply do not admit of the same order of scientific certainty as when we say it is incredible for heat to flow against a temperature gradient or for a perpetuum mobile to be built. As I have said earlier, these matters have trans-scientific elements. We claim to be responsible technologists, and as responsible technologists we give as our judgment that these probabilities are extremely—almost vanishingly—small; but we can never represent these things as certainties. The society must then make the choice, and this is a choice that we nuclear people cannot dictate. We can only participate in making it. Is mankind prepared to exert the eternal vigilance needed to ensure proper and safe operation of its nuclear energy system? This admittedly is a significant commitment that we ask of society. What we offer in return, an all but infinite source of relatively cheap and clean energy, seems to me to be well worth the price.”

Cramer offers a quite convincing explanation for the cause of the end of the Bronze- and beginning of the Iron-Age.

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