March 19, 2011

Kawasaki has 450 Kilowatt superconducting motor and development project for 3 megawatt superconducting motors

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced in Nov, 2010 that its prototype superconducting motor has broken a new record. The motor achieved Japan’s highest power output of 450 kW in a test conducted at Kawasaki’s Akashi Technical Institute in Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture. This achievement marks yet another breakthrough in Kawasaki’s research and development into space and energy-saving superconducting motors for large vessel propulsion systems as well as large-scale industrial drive systems.

US and British forces launch more than 110 cruise missiles into Libya

The U.S. and Britain launched more than 110 Tomahawk missiles at more than 20 targets. The strikes targeted specifically surface-to-air missile sites and radar detectors that are part of the Libyan military's air defense infrastructure, said Vice Admiral William E. Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

More than 262 aftershocks over magnitude 5, over 49 over 6 and three larger than 7 in Japan

A record 262 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater were registered in the seven days following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake off northeastern Japan on March 11, Kyodo News quoted the Japan Meteorological Agency as saying Friday.

There were three aftershocks of magnitude 7 or greater, including one magnitude 7.5 that occurred shortly afterwards, and 49 aftershocks of magnitude 6 or more, according to Kyodo.

Three senators offer bill to build small reactors

From Idaho Samizdat - Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation to direct the Department of Energy to develop innovative, low-cost nuclear reactors. The new bill is also co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo, (R-Idaho) and Sen. Mary Landrieu, (D-Louisiana).

The Nuclear Power 2021 Act (S. 512) proposes a program to design and certify small modular reactors (< 300 megawatts) which can be built and operated in combination with similar reactors at a single site. This is the so-called "six pack" option.

Unmanned vehicles start to be used at Fukushima reactor

It took a while but there are finally some unmanned vehicles being used to help fight the problems at the Fukushima reactor

Preparations were being made to spray water into the used fuel pool at reactor 4, and an unmanned vehicle sprayed more than 1,500 gallons of water over seven hours into the used fuel pool at reactor 3, Edano said.

Fukushima-Daiichi Status of spent fuel pools and reactors

Status report from Nucnet, which summarizes Japan Atomic Industrial forum and other sources

The immediate threat at Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant remains the possibility of damage to spent fuel in the spent fuel pools at all six reactor units, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) said.

(06:00 central European time) on 19 March using police high-pressure water cannon and Japanese Self-Defence Force fire engines. US Army fire engines were also used, according to JAIF.

These efforts had been continuing for seven hours at the time of the last update issued by JAIF. Workers were preparing to fill the spent fuel pool at unit 4, JAIF said.

Efforts are under way to restore an external power supply to the plant. JAIF said the supply was scheduled be connected to units 1 and 2 today (19 March Japan time). Units 3 to 6 are scheduled to be connected on 20 March.

The IAEA said it was not known if the water pumps have been damaged and if they will work when power is restored.

Fuel Integrity in Spent Fuel Pools

Unit 1: Water injection is being considered.

Unit 2: No information.

Unit 3: Water level low, water injection continues.

Unit 4: Water level low, preparing water injection.

Unit 5: Pool temperature high, but decreasing.

Unit 6: Pool temperature increasing.

Over one ton of coal is burned for every person every year and several ounces of particulates pass through your lungs each year because of it

The US census has projected that the world population will be 7 billion later in 2011

Hard coal production in 2009 was 5990 million tons and brown coal was 913 million tons. Total coal usage was 6.9 billion tons in 2009. China coal usage in 2010 increased by about 8% and they are trying to limit the growth of coal usage to about 3.5% per year from 2011 to 2015. China used 3.2 billion tons of coal in 2009. China probably pushed coal used in 2010 over 7.1 billion tons.

Uranium usage is below 70,000 tons per year. This is 100,000 times less.

So for every person on earth over 1 ton of coal is burned each year and less than 10 grams of uranium is used. 28.3 grams in an ounce. So 0.35 ounces of uranium per person.

In major cities there is between 20-150 micrograms of particulates (PM10 10 micron) per cubic meter of air.

Each day you take over 20,000 breaths and breathe about 35 pounds of air. At sea level and at 20 °C, dry air has a density of approximately 1.2 kg per cubic meter. So every day you are breathing 13.2 cubic meters of air. So 0.2-1.5 grams of particulates each day pass through your lungs every day unless you live some of the particularly clean air areas.

In one year 73-547 grams of particulates pass through your lungs. So in Beijing over 1 pound of particulates through someones lungs each year. 2.6-5 ounces of particulates every year for people living in many major US cities. So every 4-6 years, one pound of particulates through the lungs even for cities in the USA.

New Purchasing Power GDP analysis, China number 1 in 2012 and India became number 3 in 2010

University of Pennsylvania purchasing power parity tables are available (Penn World Tables 7.0)

China's PPP was adjusted upwards by 20% and India's by 15%.

PPP estimates for 2009 for the largest countries

China is estimated at 11.3 to 11.68 trillion.
India is estimated at 4.15 trillion.
China has grown by about 20% from 2009 and will be 13.5 to 14 trillion at the end of 2011. China will become number one in 2012 with about 15 trillion.
India has grown by about 16% from 2009 and will be nearly 5 trillion at the end of 2011. So India moved ahead of Japan on purchasing power parity in 2010 according to the new Penn World Tables 7.0 data.

Japan was estimated at 4.17 trillion GDP PPP in 2009. (was 3rd largest, but falls to 4th behind India in 2010)
The USA was estimated at 14.0 trillion GDP PPP in 2009. (still ranked number one but falls behind China in 2012)
Germany was 2.96 trillion in 2009 (5th largest)
UK was 2.29 trillion in 2009 (6th largest)
France was 2.21 trillion in 2009 (7th largest)
Russia was 2.199 trillion in 2009 (8th largest)

Russia has faster gdp growth (3.9% in 2010) and would be passing France and the UK in 2010.

Brazil was $1.83 trillion in 2009 and is growing at about 5% per year. They should pass France and UK before 2015.

The Penn World Tables are indicating that the trend will be for China's currency to head to an exchange rate of 3.0 yuan to one US dollar from the current level of 6.55 yuan to one US dollar.

India's GDP growth for 2010 was about 8.5%

Carnival of Space 189

Comparing estimated causes of death from the Japan earthquake and tsunami

Causes of Death From Japanese Catastophe (as of what is known and estimated today)
1) Earthquake motion from initial Magnitude 9 Quake= 2,000 (estimated of total 10,000)
2) Earthquake aftershocks in one week duration= 50 deaths (from debris movement)
3) Tsunami wave drowning and impact= 8,000 (of estimated 10,000 deaths)
4) Nuclear Power Plant Failures = 1 death from crane failure, 0 reported radiation deaths
5) Earthquake, Tsunami cleanup Mortality= estimated 20 deaths from material motions during rescue and cleanup.

More than 7,500 dead, 11,700 missing in the officially reported counts

The unprecedented multiple crisis will cost the world's third largest economy nearly $200 billion in Japan's biggest reconstruction push since post-World War II.

French military jet opens fire in Libya

BBC News -
1748: French aircraft have destroyed four Libyan tanks in air strikes to the south-west of Benghazi, Al-Jazeera television has reported.

* the first shots have been fired in Libya by French military jets enforcing the no-fly zone voted for by the UN
* French aircraft are preventing forces loyal to Libyan leader Col Gaddafi from attacking the rebel-held city of Benghazi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy says after a meeting of world leaders in Paris
* French aircraft also flew over "all Libyan territory" on reconnaissance missions, according to French military sources
* Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tells journalists he believed British, French and Canadian aircraft would launch the first airstrikes, a BBC correspondent reports
* Earlier, Pro-Gaddafi forces launched an assault on Benghazi, a BBC journalist witnessed. A jet appears to have been shot down over the city

UCSB Professor Benjamin Monreal on Understanding the Radioactivity at Fukushima

Assistant Professor Benjamin Monreal, UCSB Department of Physics, will give an overview of radioactivity and reactors, radiation health and safety, and the ultimate fate of the materials coming out of the stricken reactors in Fukushima. There are 32 slides online and in a pdf.

Why is it worse than Three Mile Island? Why is it (probably) not as bad as Chernobyl? How worried are scientists? How worried should you be?

The spent fuel rods have less than 100X the radioactivity of the Chernobyl fuel (which was in an operating reactor at the time of the Chernobyl accident).

Gadhafi forces enter Rebel city of Benghazi and were shooting artillery and using tanks

Moammar Gadhafi's military forces pushed into the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Saturday, as international leaders pondered military options against a Libyan government intent on destroying the fledgling opposition movement.

Incoming artillery rounds landed inside the city, and pro-Gadhafi tanks rolled into the town firing rounds, witnesses said. Plumes of smoke rose in Benghazi as civilians said buildings came under small arms fire and fled their homes in fear of a full-blown assault there.

French president Sarkhozy announced in a televised speech that they are intervening

Fukushima AC cables connected to reactor buildings 1 and 2 - power systems may turn on tomorrow after safety checks

Brave New Climate has an update and analysis of the Fukushima situation

Kyodo News report on earthquake and tsunami relief efforts (including the nuclear situation at the end as other relief efforts are more important)-

TEPCO has now connected AC cables to the unit 1 and 2 reactor buildings, with hopes that powered systems can be restored to these building by as early as tomorrow (including, it is hoped, the AC core cooling systems), once various safety and equipment condition checks are made.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the No. 2 reactor is expected to receive power on Sunday. Restoring a stable source of electricity is considered a key step to prevent further deterioration of the situation, but it remains unclear whether power supplies will help to restore the functions for cooling down the reactor cores or water in the spent fuel tanks at the plant.

March 18, 2011

Evidence of Superconductivity Near 20 Celsius from Joe Eck - Room Temperature Superconductivity

Superconductors.ORG reports the observation of superconductivity near 20 C.

In eight magnetization tests a small amount of the compound (Tl5Pb2)Ba2MgCu10O17+ consistently produced sharp diamagnetic transitions (the Meissner effect) near 20 Celsius (see above graphic), and resistive transitions that appeared near 18.5C (see below right). These temperatures are believed accurate +/- 2 degrees.

This would be HUGE if replicated and confirmed. Plus there has be purification as the part of material has the superconducting effect at the temperature.

I have been following Joe Ecks work for a number of years. Yes he is an independent researcher. Some of his earlier work did get written up in peer reviewed journals after replication by some smaller journals and the Sharif University of Technology, Iran and University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran.

THE EUROPEAN PHYSICAL JOURNAL B: How Tc can go above 100 K in the YBCO family and

Physica C article
Physica C article are peer review of Joe's earlier work on raising the critical temperature of YCBO

Stem cells reverse damage in enlarged hearts in small human trial, will take up to five years for Food and Drug Administration approval

Writing in the journal Circulation Research: Journal of the American Heart Association, scientists show in a small study that stem cell therapy can reverse heart damage in patients with enlarged hearts due to heart attacks. In addition, the benefits from the stem cell injections appear to be three times better than that offered by current medical treatments, according to a release. Scar tissue decreased and heart function improved, the scientists from the University of Miami said.

Over 5 million Americans are burdened now with an enlarged heart due to prior heart attack

The team said the stem cell treatment was well-tolerated with no serious side effects. Hare estimated that the procedure and the cells would cost approximately $10,000 to $15, 000, "not including a hospital fee if one was needed."

The current trial is only a small, run-up phase of extensive testing that will take up to five years and involve dozens of hospitals and hundreds of patients before winning U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for routine use.

researchers found:

* Heart size decreased an average of 15 percent to 20 percent, which is about three times what is possible with current medical therapies.
* Scar tissue decreased by an average of 18.3 percent.
* And there was dramatic improvement in the function, or contraction, of specific heart areas that were damaged.

Life Expectancy Rising in UK and Europe Despite Obesity Epidemic

Life expectancy in Europe keeps increasing despite the obesity epidemic, with people in Britain reaching an older age than those living in the US, according to an analysis of trends over the last 40 years

Despite spending more per capita on health care than any other country in the world, the US is at the same level as the lowest of any Western European country (Portugal for males and Denmark for females), while the rate for women is increasing at a much slower pace than Western Europe.

In 2007, life expectancy in the US was 78 years compared to 80 in the UK.

Full 7 page report

No-fly zone could be canceled if Libya pulls back forces

CNN - Even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the ultimate goal for the U.S. was to see Libya's president cede power, a senior administration official says the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone and military action to support it would not necessarily last until Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi steps down. The purpose of the no-fly zone, the administration official said, is to prevent Gadhafi from attacking his own people.

After faltering in its response to uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, France emerged as a surprisingly robust diplomatic force in dealing with the Libya crisis – even if President Nicolas Sarkozy’s approach has left some people scratching their heads.

Barry Brook of Brave New Climate on the future of Nuclear Energy

Barry Brooks give his thoughts on the future of nuclear power, and why he considers it fundamental to eliminating fossil fuels. He is interviewed on The Climate Show. Barry Brook is interviewed from 29 — 56 min in the 1 hour 20 min show, if you want to skip straight to it.

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant reported in stable condition


Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are in stable condition, with workers continuing to provide seawater cooling into the reactors. Containment integrity is believed to be intact on reactors 1, 2 and 3, and containment building pressures are elevated but are within design limits.

Site radiation doses have been decreasing since March 16. Radiation dose rates are fluctuating based on some of the relief operations, such as adding cooling water to the used fuel pools. Recent readings at the plant boundary are about 2 millirem per hour. Radiation dose rates at reactor 3 range between 2,500 and 5,000 millirem per hour.

Kiev opened Chernobyl as Tourist Hot Spot in February 2011

Wikitravel guide to Chernobyl.

Visitors to the Chernobyl exclusion zone normally come as part of a tour group. One-day packages which include transportation and food cost around $150-$200, or up to $300 if there's only one of you.

Things to see:

Chernobyl reactor 4: You'll not be able to get too close, but the nearest observation point is 200m from the reactor sarcophagus. The only way to get into the reactor is if you are a scientist or a film maker that has had months of preparation in advance. Although radiation levels here will be much higher than elsewhere in the region, you will not be able to pick up a significant dose during your stay. Typical dose at the site seems to be about 0.5 - 0.9 mR/h (milliroentgens per hour) (winter), slightly higher in the summer. However, measurements done from the observation point in October 2008 only showed a value of 14 microroentgens per hour (0.014 mR/h).

Tsunami and after effects and earthquake after shocks are bigger threat than nuclear power plants

BBC News - Even under this worst case, though, the direct health consequences of the nuclear accident would be very small compared with the thousands already killed by the earthquake and tsunami, let alone the continued suffering of the survivors (by David Spiegelhalter Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, Cambridge University.

The Daily Mail science editor, Michael Hanlon, has already boldly claimed that "what has happened in Japan should in fact be seen as a massive endorsement of nuclear power", given the success of most Japanese plants at withstanding a disaster they were never designed for, but others will use exactly the same information to reach the directly opposite conclusion.

Coal company stocks up about 10% since the start of the Fukushima nuclear crisis

Wiley Gaddafi Declares Ceasefire rather than face France and the UK in war

The Libyan government declared a cease-fire Friday in its battle against rebels seeking to oust longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi, saying it was acting to protect civilians in the wake of a U.N. Security Council resolution that opened the door to military action.

“We decided on an immediate cease-fire and on an immediate stop to all military operations,” Libyan foreign Minister Musa Kusa told reporters in the capital. He said Libya “takes great interest in protecting all civilians and protecting human rights,” adding that the government would also protect foreigners and foreign assets in the country.

Libya “accepts that it is obliged to accept the U.N. resolution,” Kusa said in explaining the decision to declare a cease-fire.

Western allies pressed on with plans for military action against Libya after Muammar Qaddafi’s regime declared an immediate cease-fire and said it was willing to talk to rebels.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who was preparing a set of demands with President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said he would judge Qaddafi by his actions and not his words.

The Libyan bid “is game-playing and it would be folly for the West to fall for it,” Barak Seener, Middle East research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said in a telephone interview. “It’s a stalling tactic and he’s attempting to create fissures within the international community

Qaddafi is still trying to create facts on the ground, by shelling the city of Misrata even after the cease-fire announcement.

New Penn World Tables 7.0 for purchasing power parity are available

University of Pennsylvania purchasing power parity tables are available (Penn World Tables 7.0)

Because of China’s population and a degree of uncertainty about the rate of growth of China’s GDP as well as its actual economic size, PWT 7.0 provides two versions, an official and non-official. The former uses the ICP 2005 base estimate of China’s GDP and the national growth rates; version 2 modifies both.

The most important adjustment of China’s PPP for consumption will be of interest to a small group of users and is treated in Part C of the Detailed Documentation. In the end, the PPPs of the basic headings of consumption for household consumption were adjusted upward by 20%.

March 17, 2011

Per Capita GDP prediction method with 97% accuracy using economic freedom, average IQ, trading block membership and oil usage

Economic Freedom and average citizenry IQ -- plus slight tweaks from trading block membership and oil predicted GDP per capita for every country with a high .97 correlation (r) with actual GDP per capita. This is not scientific but uses a few factors that can be adjusted to correlate to per capita GDP both historically and possibly into the future.

Summarized Methodology

Google 20% employee time going to help Japan quake victims and creating new web tools for disaster mitigation

On Friday the first day of the quake, Google’s offices in Tokyo’s Roppongi district contacted, their employer’s philanthropic arm, to suggest it should get involved in the emergency response, as it had after recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and New Zealand.

Within an hour, and with aftershocks still rocking Tokyo, the Japan Person Finder was online and being promoted worldwide via the firm’s normally minimalist search page, the web’s most visited address. And within 36 hours, its pages had been viewed 30 million times. Usage remains steady almost a week later, Google said, and shows no sign of slowing.

The site allows anyone to upload information on individuals caught up in the disaster. It now contains records on around 250,000 individuals caught up in the quake which is - perhaps unsurprisingly given Japan’s large population and technologically advanced economy – more than the combined total of the similar Person Finder sites Google launched after the Haiti, Chile and New Zealand earthquakes.

Fukushima Daiichi - possible crack in wall of the No. 4 reactor pool and progress on restoring power

NEI - Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano said in a recent conference that plans are in place to use 30 water cannon trucks and fire engines to spray water into the reactor 3 spent fuel pool, and TEPCO is discussing whether to do the same for the reactor 1 spent fuel pool. The spraying work is to be done in the next few hours, after the cable work is completed.

LA Times - U.S. government nuclear experts believe a spent fuel pool at Japan's crippled Fukushima reactor complex has a breach in the wall or floor, a situation that creates a major obstacle to refilling the pool with cooling water and keeping dangerous levels of radiation from escaping.

That assessment by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials is based on the sequence of events since the earthquake and information provided by key American contractors who were in the plant at the time, said government officials familiar with the evaluation. It was compelling evidence, they said, that the wall of the No. 4 reactor pool has a significant hole or crack.

War between France and the UK against Qaddafi's Libya Forces within hours

Residents of Libya's de facto rebel capital of Benghazi joined in a massive street party after the United Nations Security Council approved 'all necessary measures' to protect Libyans from Col. Muammar Qaddafi's forces.

UPDATE: Qaddafi's Libya backs down and declares ceasefire rather than face France and UK in a war The serious threat of serious force appears to have worked.

The action came as the Libyan leader was poised to make a final push against rebels holding out in Bengazhi, Libya's second largest city.

The vote in the 15-member council was 10-0 with five abstentions, including Russia and China.

The United States, France and Britain had pushed for speedy approval.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said if the resolution was approved, France would support military action against Gadhafi within hours. The U.S. said it was preparing for action. Several Arab nations were expected to provide backup.

Public health and nutrition determines a lot of per capita IQ which determines a lot of per capita GDP

Two studies bring together the following correlations:

Public health (disease reduction during childhood and teenage development and nutrition) determines about 70% of average IQ and average IQ (and the IQ of the top 5%) determines a lot of per capita GDP.

A study published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers analyzed test scores from 90 countries and found that the intelligence of the people, particularly the smartest 5 percent, made a big contribution to the strength of their economies.

The researchers collected information on 90 countries, including far-off lands from the U.S. to New Zealand and Colombia to Kazakhstan. They also collected data on the country’s excellence in science and technology—the number of patents granted per person and how many Nobel Prizes the country’s people had won in science, for example.

They found that intelligence made a difference in gross domestic product. For each one-point increase in a country’s average IQ, the per capita GDP was $229 higher. It made an even bigger difference if the smartest 5 percent of the population got smarter; for every additional IQ point in that group, a country’s per capita GDP was $468 higher.

Obama says it is unlikely that radiation will harm anyone in USA and update on Fukushima from NEI and BraveNewClimate

It is unlikely that radiation released from the nuclear reactors in Japan will harm anyone in the United States, President Obama said in a press briefing this afternoon.

In Japan, engineers have laid a power line that can connect reactor 2 of the Daiichi facility to the off-site power grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported. Workers are working to reconnect the power to reactor 2 after they complete spraying water into the reactor 3 complex to provide additional cooling to the used fuel pool. Reconnecting to the power grid is expected to enhance efforts to prevent further damage at the plant.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency reported on Thursday that the backup diesel generator for reactor 6 is working and supplying electricity to reactors 5 and 6. TEPCO is preparing to add water to the storage pools that house used nuclear fuel rods at those two reactors.


Radiation readings at the Fukushima Daiichi site boundary were measured today at a lower level, between 2 and 3 millirem per hour.

Electrical Power cable progress at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 and one diesel units is working again

IAEA - Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that engineers were able to lay an external grid power line cable to unit 2. The operation was completed at 08:30 UTC. It is now 6:30 PM UTC (14:30 UTC)

They plan to reconnect power to unit 2 once the spraying of water on the unit 3 reactor building is completed.

The spraying of water on the unit 3 reactor building was temporarily stopped at 11:09 UTC (20:09 local time) of 17 March.

World Nuclear News - The power cable was to be connected when radiation levels had died down after a planned venting operation at unit 2.

In addition, one of the emergency diesel units can now be operated and will be used to supply unit 5 and 6 alternately to inject water to their used fuel pools. Later, the power will be used to top up water in the reactor vessels.

Guenther Oettinger EU Energy Chief Making Claims about Fukushima

Catastrophic events in Japan cannot be excluded in the next hours because the situation at a nuclear plant there is out of control, the European Union's energy chief said Wednesday.

"The site is effectively out of control," Guenther Oettinger, commissioner for energy, told a European Parliament committee. "In the coming hours there could be further catastrophic events which could pose a threat to the lives of people on the island."

His remarks caused interest rates US treasuries to go up yesterday.

We will see how right or wrong he is. If he is wrong then he will have caused extra financial disturbance unnecessarily.

Radiation dose rates and sources on radiation measurements from all over Japan

Neutron Economy has found a reporting site for radiation levels all over the nation of Japan, it's called the System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI).

We have no readings for Tokyo, but we do have some in Kanagawa Prefecture (thank you GNF - Global Nuclear Fuel), which is right next to it. You can also get 7-day graphs of dose. But each monitoring station is different and there are 12 of them in Kanagawa Prefecture, and it turns out that matters a great deal to both the background dose and the profile of the elevated radiation levels. I apologize for the quality, but here is my mashup.

The levels of radiation are the area underneath the fluctuating line. It is not the height of the line but the area underneath that is the dose. The overall dose is what would effect health.

Aerial Pictures and Video of the Fukushima plant

Fukushima worst case scenario from an ex-Sandia Engineer - Other experts disagree about worst case from this point

Dr Michael Allen describes how a Fukushima worst case scenario could develop. He is an ex-Sandia Engineer. Other experts disagree about worst case from this point. Also, these scenarios are avoided with fresh water in the reactors and on the spent fuel ponds.

Dr. Michael Allen, vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies at Middle Tennessee State University, spent much of his early career at Sandia National Labs studying nuclear reactor accidents of the worst kind and performing simulations to better understand how bad things happen -- including core meltdowns.

Allen wouldn't say if he thinks the crisis in Japan will become the worst nuclear accident in history or whether he believes a full-scale meltdown is inevitable, although he described how it could happen. The situation, he said, is far from over.

"I'm concerned about Japan because I think this is a really bad accident and concerned about their people, their infrastructure," Allen said today in a telephone interview. "I don't think this is an accident that is going to go away anytime soon."

Status of Fukushima power plant

Status of Japanese Fukushima Daiichi power plant

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) Washington DC Office

As of 10:15AM (EST), March 17, 2011

Radiation Levels
o At 9:20AM (JST) on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 1,000ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 4,130 micro sievert.
o At 9:20AM on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 300ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 87,700 micro sievert.
o At 11:10AM on March 17, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 646.2 micro sievert.
o At 7:50PM on March 17, radiation level outside main office building (approximately 1,640 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 3,599 micro sievert.
o For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro sievert per year from natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. One chest CT scan generates 6,900 micro sievert per scan.

March 16, 2011

Gaddafi forces about to attack last Rebel city of Bengazi

Radiation Dose Rate Mitigation

Procedures that the Fukushima nuclear plant workers would be following to deal with high R=radiation dose rates (like the high readings of 40 REM/hr) - move to an area with a lower dose rate. Radiation dose rates obey physical laws - if you double your distance from the source, you reduce the rate by a factor of four. If you reduce your time in the area with a high dose rate, you reduce your total dose proportionally.

If you put some shielding between you and the source of radiation, you can drop your dose even more quickly - 2 inches of lead, or 4 inches of steel or 24 inches of water will drop it by a factor of 10.

US deploying unmanned high-altitude reconnaissance to check status of spent-fuel pool in Fukushima 4

Video of the water drops on Fukushima spent fuel pools

Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters drop water on Reactor 3 and Reactor 4 of Fukushima nuclear plant, March 17 2011. CH-47 Chinook helicopter is capable of dropping 7.5 tonnes of water. Four loads were tried from 0948 AM in order to minimize the crews' exposure to radiation.

Seawater dropped from military helicopters onto Fukushima reactors and power line could restore electric powered pumps soon

Crews began aerial water spraying operations from helicopters to cool reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi shortly before 9 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 16. The operation was planned for the previous day, but was postponed because of high radiation levels at the plant. News sources said temperatures at reactor 3 were rising. Each helicopter is capable of releasing 7.5 tons of water.

Spokesmen for TEPCO and Japan's regulatory agency, Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency, on March 17 Japan time refuted reports that there was a complete loss of cooling water in the used fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4.

TEPCO also continues efforts to restore offsite power to the plant, with up to 40 workers seeking to restore electricity to essential plant systems by Thursday morning, March 17.

Bloomberg - Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are transporting water pumps to the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture and plan to spray water from the ground, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said.

The pumps will be provided by the U.S. military for use by the Tokyo Electric Power Co., Kitazawa said, without giving further details. Eleven fire engines will pour water from the ground after helicopters dropped water on the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant’s No. 3 reactor a total of four times today.

Authorities had hoped to drop water from the air yesterday, then abandoned the plan because radiation levels were too high, he said. The operation was conducted today after those levels dropped, he said.

Police forces will also assist in spraying water onto the reactors from the ground.

US Death Rate Falls for 10th Straight Year and US Life expectency over 78 years

US Life expectancy at birth increased to 78.2 years in 2009, up slightly from 78.0 years in 2008. Life expectancy was up two-tenths of a year for males (75.7 years) and up one-tenth of a year for females (80.6 years). Life expectancy for the U.S. white population increased by two-tenths of a year. Life expectancy for black males (70.9 years) and females (77.4 years) was unchanged in 2009. The gap in life expectancy between the white and black populations was 4.3 years in 2009, two-tenths of a year increase from the gap in 2008 of 4.1 years.

Full report no life expectancy in the USA. (69 pages) National Vital Statistics Reports - Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2009 (from the Center for Disease Control)

Radiation level falls at Japan Fukushima plant: agency

The level of radiation detected at the Tokyo Electric Power Co Fukushima plant has fallen steadily over the past 12 hours, an official at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Thursday.

A level of 752 microsieverts per hour was recorded at the plant's main gate at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Wednesday, said the official, Tetsuo Ohmura. The monitoring point was then changed to the plant's west gate and readings were taken every 30 minutes, he said. At 5 a.m. the reading was 338 microsieverts per hour.

3D printing method advances electrically small antenna design

Optical image of an antenna during the printing process.

While most electronic components benefit from decreased size, antennas—whether in a cell phone or on an aircraft—suffer limitations in gain, efficiency, system range, and bandwidth when their size is reduced below a quarter-wavelength. New 3D antennas are electrically small relative to a wavelength (typically a twelfth of a wavelength or less) and exhibit performance metrics that are an order of magnitude better than those realized by monopole antenna designs. This is the first demonstration of 3D printed antennas on curvilinear surfaces.

Advanced Materials - Conformal Printing of Electrically Small Antennas on Three-Dimensional Surfaces

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Jaczko says plant's spent fuel rods dry; Japan says no they are not dry

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in Washington on Wednesday that all the water was gone from the spent fuel pools at Unit 4 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, but Japanese officials denied it. Hajime Motojuku, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the "condition is stable" at Unit 4.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko told members of Congress today that there is no water remaining in the fuel pool at reactor 4 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Jaczko told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that “we believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool…radiation levels are extremely high, which could impact the ability to take corrective measures.”

If Jaczko is correct, it would mean there's nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shells of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area.

However, if Jaczko of the NRC is wrong, then what would happen to a someone in his position giving out wrong (and not first hand) information ?

Either that or some of the Japanese are lieing. the water level is lower but not dry.

There is also the possibility that the quakes and aftershocks have sloshed out a lot of the water and the answer is in between. Water levels are lower but not dry.

UPDATE: It appears that water levels have been low, as they are now using fire engines and military helicopters to drop water onto the cooling ponds.

IAEA report from March 15, 22:00 UTC- Temperature of Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

The IAEA can confirm the following information regarding the temperatures of the spent nuclear fuel pools at Units 4, 5 and 6 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant:

Unit 4
14 March, 10:08 UTC: 84 ˚C
15 March, 10:00 UTC: 84 ˚C
16 March, 05:00 UTC: no data

Unit 5
14 March, 10:08 UTC: 59.7 ˚C
15 March, 10:00 UTC: 60.4 ˚C
16 March, 05:00 UTC: 62.7 ˚C

Unit 6
14 March, 10:08 UTC: 58.0 ˚C
15 March, 10:00 UTC: 58.5 ˚C
16 March, 05:00 UTC: 60.0 ˚C

Localized delivery of an anti-cancer drug by remote-controlled microcarriers

Known for being the world's first researcher to have guided a magnetic sphere through a living artery, Professor Martel,Director of the Nanorobotics Laboratory at Polytechnique Montréal, is announcing a spectacular new breakthrough in the field of nanomedicine. Using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system, his team successfully guided microcarriers loaded with a dose of anti-cancer drug through the bloodstream of a living rabbit, right up to a targeted area in the liver, where the drug was successfully administered. This is a medical first that will help improve chemoembolization, a current treatment for liver cancer.

Biomaterials journal - Co-encapsulation of magnetic nanoparticles and doxorubicin into biodegradable microcarriers for deep tissue targeting by vascular MRI navigation

anorobotics Laboratory at Polytechnique Montréal Publications

Tabatabaei N., Lapointe J. and Martel S., "Shrinkable Hydrogel-based Magnetic Microrobots for Interventions in the Vascular Network", International Journal of Advanced Robotics, Vol. 25 No. 8, Special Issue on Cordless Technology for Milli/Micro/Nano Robots, to be published in May 2011

Lowering Deaths per Terawatt Hour for Civilization

This site had previously analyzed the deaths per terawatt hour by energy source.

Energy Source              Death Rate (deaths per TWh)

Coal – world average               161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal – China                       278
Coal – USA                         15
Oil                                36  (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas                         4  (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass                    12
Peat                               12
Solar (rooftop)                     0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind                                0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro                               0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao)    1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear                             0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

Air pollution from fossil fuel (coal plants and oil used in cars and trucks) and developing countries burning wood or coal inside their homes are one of the biggest causes of all kinds of death and illness.

Jerry Pournelle discusses the Japanese reactors and the worst case

Jerry Pournelle is a famous science fiction author but also has Master of Science degrees in both experimental statistics and systems engineering. In response to Physicist Russell Seitz who was claiming scary numbers for the radiation.

The radiation plume of 400 milliseiverts is from a small area of certainly no more than 100 square meters. If we assume that the Fukushima Daiichi reactors collectively manage a plume the size of a square kilometer, then to get comparable numbers we need to multiply the 400/hour by (24 x 365) to get a year's worth. Assume uniform distribution and divide by 500 million (global distribution). That comes out to .007 milliseiverts / year. I know of no scenario in which the Japanese reactors could sustain an emission rate of 400 milliseiverts per hour for a week, much less for a year, nor how there could they generate radioactive fallout uniformly over a square kilometer.

I am told that I am off in my calculations above, but off in the correct direction, which is to say the levels are too large. That's unfortunate in that I don't like to be wrong, but it also emphasizes my point, which is that the absolute worst case has no more global effect than did an event that many weren't even aware of, and which didn't have any great global effect.

The important lesson from Japan is that we took obsolete reactors with old designs and safety features, and subjected them to a 9.0 quake and a very large tsunami, and the damage to the planet is an unfortunate but hardly decisive event.

China suspends all new nuclear plants, orders safety review

In a dramatic reversal, China’s State Council, or cabinet, announced Wednesday that it was suspending approval for all new nuclear power plants until the government could issue revised safety rules, in light of the unfolding crisis at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan.

I will bet that China will not cancel nuclear reactors. Also note that construction work hasn't been suspended. It is a pause in licensing and ordering new reactors. Taking some time to perform a review and have some new safety rules need not slow the shift from dangerous coal plants to safer nuclear plants. Any design or safety adjustments that actually improve safety can and should be implemented.

This goes for all buildings, energy infrastructure and processes.

There were towns that were washed away. More lives could be saved by avoiding building and even moving people from towns in dangerous areas.

There were four trains that were washed away. Is there going to be a review to make trains more Tsunami resistant ? More lives were lost.

March 15, 2011

Japan nuclear workers temporarily moved but are back onsite by 11:30AM Wed local time

Wall Street Journal - On Wednesday morning those workers were temporarily moved to safer locations when radiation levels began rising sharply. But by 11:30 a.m. the workers were back on the job, the government's nuclear safety agency said.

Meanwhile, Japan's nuclear safety agency said two workers were missing at the stricken plant's No. 4 reactor, where a fire broke out Wednesday.

Guardian UK - The workers were ordered to leave the facility after the level of radiation at the plant soared to 10 millisievert per hour - above the level considered harmful to human health – possibly as a result of radioactive substances being emitted from the No. 2 reactor.

Officials from the nuclear and industrial safety agency said that 70% of fuel rods at the No. 1 reactor had been significantly damaged, as well as 33% of rods at the No. 2 reactor. The cores of both reactors are believed to have partially melted, Kyodo news agency said.

The Second Unit 4 fire - The nuclear safety agency reported that flames and smoke were no longer visible half an hour later, but were unable to confirm that the fire had been extinguished.

Used Fuel Pool Key Factsheet from Nuclear Energy Institute

Fact Sheet: Used Nuclear Fuel Storage at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

 Used nuclear fuel at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is stored in seven pools (one at each of the six reactors, plus a shared pool) and in a dry container storage facility (containing nine casks).
 Sixty percent of the used fuel on site is stored in the shared pool, in a building separated from the reactor buildings; 34 percent of the used fuel is distributed between the six reactor fuel storage pools, and the remaining six percent is stored in the nine dry storage containers. There are no safety concerns regarding the used fuel in dry storage at Fukushima Daiichi.

* Used fuel pools are robust concrete and steel structures designed to protect the fuel from even the most severe events. Pools are designed with systems to maintain the temperature and water levels sufficient to provide cooling and radiation shielding.

* The water level in a used fuel pool typically is 16 feet or more above the top of the fuel assemblies.

* The used fuel pools at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors are located at the top of the reactor buildings for ease of handling during refueling operations.

* The used fuel pools are designed so that the water in the pool cannot drain down as a result of damage to the piping or cooling systems. The pools do not have drains in the sides or the floor of the pool structure. The only way to rapidly drain down the pool is if there is structural damage to the walls or the floor.

Brave New Climate Update on Fukushima - at least another 5 days of cooling to get to stability

The situation is clearly (but slowly) stabilising. As each day passes, the amount of thermal heat (caused by radioactive decay of the fission products) that remains in the reactor fuel assemblies decreases exponentially.

On March 11, the reactors went sub-critical, their power levels dropped by about 95 % of peak output (the nuclear fission process was no longer self-sustaining). Over the past 5 days, the energy in the fuel rods dropped by another ~97 %, such that the heat dissipation situation is getting more and more manageable. But we’re not out of the woods yet, and the reactor cores will need significant cooling for at least another 5 days before stability can be ensured.

Fukushima 50

Officials wearing clothing to protect against radiation work in a center to scan residents who have been within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant damaged by Friday's earthquake Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Japa

50 workers are staying at the Fukushima nuclear palnt, risking their lives, to try to save the lives of countless people they don't even know.

A Japanese official who made contact with one of the 50 inside the control center. The official said that his friend, one of the Fukushima 50, told him that he was not afraid to die, that that was his job.

The 50 are working amid decreasing but still dangerously high levels of radiation.

"The longer they stay the more dangerous it becomes for them," said expert Margaret Harding. "I think it is a testament to their guts for them to say, 'We'll stay and if that means we go, we go.'"

Graphene Cloak Protects Bacteria, Leading to Better Images

Vikas Berry, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Kansas State University, and his research team are wrapping bacteria with graphene to address current challenges with imaging bacteria under electron microscopes. Berry's method creates a carbon cloak that protects the bacteria, allowing them to be imaged at their natural size and increasing the image's resolution.

Nanoletters - Impermeable Graphenic Encasement of Bacteria

International nuclear and radiological event scale

Alzheimer's in U.S. claims $202 billion in unpaid care

Nearly 15 million people in the United States take care of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, amounting to 17 billion hours or more than $202 billion in unpaid care

Alzheimer's affects more than 26 million people globally and can stretch on for years, slowly robbing patients of their mind and memories.

A new fire at Fukushima Number 4 reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Hajimi Motujuku says the blaze erupted early Wednesday in the outer housing of the reactor's containment vessel. Fire fighters are trying to put out the flames. Japan's nuclear safety agency also confirmed the fire, whose cause was not immediately known.

Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations, Director of Global Communications at Prime Minister's Office of Japan twitter feed

At 5:45 am a fire broke out at No. 4 reactor of Fukushima No. 1 power plant--TEPCO

Platts - The No. 4 reactor was not operating when the earthquake struck on Friday, but the reactor held spent fuel rods in a storage pool next to the containment vessel and the plant's cooling systems were damaged. The temperature in the pool was recorded at 84 degrees Celsius on Monday morning, more than double the normal level, NHK reported.

Wave Disk Engines could be 3.5 times More Fuel Efficient and should have 25 KW prototype by yearend

Michigan State University is developing a novel generator for use in hybrid automobile engines. Nearly 85 percent of automobile fuel is wasted. Only 15 percent of fuel is actually used for propulsion. The new generator will make better use of automobile fuel. It is projected that the generator will use 60 percent of fuel for propulsion, thus significantly reducing the percentage of fuel that is wasted. The generator is compact in size (about the size of a cooking pot), yet it will replace nearly 1,000 lbs. of engine, transmission, cooling system, emissions, and fluids. As a result, automobile companies will be able to produce lighter, more fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. If successful, this project will significantly increase fuel consumption efficiency, reduce automobile emissions by up to 90 percent

Follow up on a 2009 article on Wave disc engines

New Scientist - Müller says the engine can be adapted to run on a variety of fuels, including hydrogen. Having built a small prototype, he hopes to have a 25-kilowatt version ready by the end of this year.

The ARPA-E 2 page fact sheet is where the 3.5 times fuel efficiency claim is made. $2,540,631 of funding from ARPA-E (US Department of Energy). Some have commenters have claimed about the credibility of this site for repeating this government claim. This site did not fund it. It was the US taxpayer via vetting from this agency for a University of Michigan (leading engine research institute - right by Detroit with a lot of history with cars and engines). If you have a problem with it take it up with the team managing ARPA-E. There are research risk but the theory does not pose problems.

Why ARPA-E Funding and Not Private Capital
• This is cutting-edge research with a research risk that private capital won’t accept.
• Mathematically difficult transient combustion technology is well situated for university researchers.
• Requires developing new low-cost, high rpm generators, which currently do not exist in automotive markets.
• Breakthrough automotive research is difficult to fund without committed large customers.

Germany may again decide to shut nuclear reactors but neighboring countries will build

Germany has suspended operations for three months at seven reactors and they are reconsidering whether to extend the operation of nuclear reactors. In Europe Poland, Belarus are countries that are near Germany that will be pressing on to build reactors. Those countries are beside Germany and could sell electricity to Germany.

Russia is to build a nuclear power station for Belarus and provide the $9.4 billion required as a loan to its smaller neighbor. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin oversaw the signing of a deal in Minsk on Tuesday that foresees a two-block facility coming fully online by 2018.

If Germany does use less domestic nuclear power they will build more domestic coal plants and import power from other countries.

Solar power systems could lighten the load for British solar soldiers

There is a two year solar soldier project in the UK

The system’s innovative combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells*, thermoelectric devices** and leading-edge energy storage technology will provide a reliable power supply round-the-clock, just like a normal battery pack. The team is also investigating ways of managing, storing and utilising heat produced by the system. The aim is to make the batteries and the PV-thermoelectric to have fifty per cent lighter than conventional chemical battery packs used by British infantry.

World Nuclear Electricity in 2010

IEA electricity report for the OECD for 2010

OECD had 2187.0 TWH of nuclear electricity in 2010 (2.5% more than in 2009, 53 TWH more)

Japan had 284 TWH of nuclear in 2010 (6.4% more than in 2009)
Clearly in 2011 there will be a reduction in nuclear power in Japan with about 7 fewer reactors.

Germany had 133 TWH of nuclear in 2010 (4.0% more than in 2009). Germany will probably have less generation in 2011 as they have shutdown 7 reactors for 3 months.

France had 408 TWH of nuclear electricity in 2010 (4.6% more than in 2009)

Using Light to Build Nanoparticles into Superstructures

Gold-carbon nanoparticle interactions. (a) TEM image of the tip of a gold-carbon filament; (b) TEM image of encapsulated gold nanoparticles within the tip; (c) Initial gold-carbon nanoparticle configuration for a molecular dynamics simulation; and (d) molecular dynamics result after 10 ns showing wetting of a gold nanoparticle by carbon atoms in the 450K range. These results indicate the possibility of encapsulation of gold nanoparticles by carbon.

Scientists in the Center for Nanoscale Materials and Argonne's Biosciences Division have demonstrated a remarkably simple, elegant, and cost-effective way of assembling nanoparticles into larger structures of any desired shape and form at will via a process called “optically directed assembly.

Optically directed assembly (ODA) involves suspensions of gold and carbon nanoparticles in water. A small droplet of the suspension is placed on a glass slide, and a low-power laser is focused onto a small region within the droplet near its surface. Through a complex process involving optical trapping, heating, evaporation, convective fluid flow, and chemical interactions, the nanoparticles fuse near the laser focus and as the experimenter moves the laser focus around in the droplet, a continuous filament of the fused material follows. These remarkable structures remain completely intact even after the fluid is drained off. In this manner “handcrafted” filaments of up to millimeter lengths and 10-60 times wider than the original nanoparticles can be formed with arbitrary shape and design. The resulting hierarchical architectures may be useful for a variety of applications, including biological sensing, electronics, optics, and emerging energy technologies. As a first demonstration, the researchers handcrafted a microscopic glyph — the Chinese symbol for “king.”

South Korea, China, India, Russia are undeterred in their push for nuclear power

Bloomberg -South Korea announced that they will continue building nuclear plants".

In China, the People's Congress voted to continue without interruption progress for more nuclear power. "Japan quake no threat to China's environment, nuclear power plants"

As of June 2010, official installed nuclear capacity projections were 70-80 GWe by 2020, 200 GWe by 2030 and 400-500 GWe by 2050.

Global Picture via Computer graphic of the Killer Tsunami

This graphic shows how waves generated by Japan's Honshu earthquake propagated across the Pacific Ocean, based on computer models. The different colors indicate different wave heights, as indicated by the key at lower right.

A picture of the killer tsunami that was caused by the Japan earthquake.

Miniature Quantum Dot Lasers Could Help Launch New Age of the Internet

The miniature laser diode emits more intense light than those currently used.

A new laser device created at the University of Central Florida could make high-speed computing faster and more reliable, opening the door to a new age of the Internet.

Professor Dennis Deppe’s miniature laser diode emits more intense light than those currently used. The light emits at a single wavelength, making it ideal for use in compact disc players, laser pointers and optical mice for computers, in addition to high-speed data transmission.

Record performance levels in quantum dot lasers with applications to 1.3 and 1.55 µm wavelengths

Finding of long-sought drug target structure may expedite drug discovery

Examples of the electron density maps

Researchers have solved the three-dimensional structure of a key biological receptor. The finding has the potential to speed drug discovery in many areas, from arthritis to respiratory disorders to wound healing, because it enables chemists to better examine and design molecules for use in experimental drugs.

The researchers are from the National Institutes of Health, collaborating with labs at The Scripps Research Institute and the University of California, San Diego. The finding is published in the March 10 edition of Science Express.

“Structure of an agonist-bound human A2A adenosine receptor” was published online Thursday, March 10, 2011, in Science Express

Improved performance of ferroelectric materials could lead to better computer memory

Engineering researchers at the University of Michigan have found a way to improve the performance of ferroelectric materials, which have the potential to make memory devices with more storage capacity than magnetic hard drives and faster write speed and longer lifetimes than flash memory.

Nanoletters - Spontaneous Vortex Nanodomain Arrays at Ferroelectric Heterointerfaces

Silicon Spin Transistors Progressing to Room Temperature Spintronics

a dozen three-contact nickel-iron transistors sit on a silicon chip coated with an ultrathin film of magnesium oxide. Right, a six-transistor chip attached to electrical contacts for experiments showing that the magnetic "spins" of electrons can be aligned as they travel through silicon at room temperature -- a step toward "spintronic" computers and other devices that are faster and more energy efficient than their electronic counterparts. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jiajia Tan, University of Utah

University of Utah researchers built "spintronic" transistors and used them to align the magnetic "spins" of electrons for a record period of time in silicon chips at room temperature. The study is a step toward computers, phones and other spintronic devices that are faster and use less energy than their electronic counterparts.

"Electronic devices mostly use the charge of the electrons - a negative charge that is moving," says Ashutosh Tiwari, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Utah. "Spintronic devices will use both the charge and the spin of the electrons. With spintronics, we want smaller, faster and more power-efficient computers and other devices."

Tiwari and Ph.D. student Nathan Gray report their creation of room-temperature, spintronic transistors on a silicon semiconductor this month in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Japan Reactor Status from 9:00 AM EST

Updated Radiation Chart

This is an updated radiation chart courtesy of reader Goatguy

Note: the cancer risk probably starts after 100 milliSieverts.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Update from IAEA and World Nuclear Association

At 00:00 UTC on 15 March a dose rate of 11.9 millisieverts (mSv) per hour was observed. Six hours later, at 06:00 UTC on 15 March a dose rate of 0.6 millisieverts (mSv) per hour was observed.

These observations indicate that the level of radioactivity has been decreasing at the site.

As reported earlier, a 400 millisieverts (mSv) per hour radiation dose observed at Fukushima Daiichi occurred between units 3 and 4. This is a high dose-level value, but it is a local value at a single location and at a certain point in time.

World Nuclear News - A close watch is being kept on the radiation levels to ascertain the status of containment. As a precaution Tokyo Electric Power Company has evacuated all non-essential personnel from the unit. Fifty of the company's engineers remain to pump seawater into the reactor pressure vessel in an effort to cool it.

A message recieved from Tepco at about 5pm said the primary containment vessel around the reactor and secondary containment provided by the reactor building "show no significant change."

The International Atomic Energy Agency did confirm that the fire had taken place in the used fuel storage pool. The Japan Atomic Industry Forum's status report said the water was being supplied to make up for low levels.

Similar to the need to cool fuel in the reactor core, used fuel assemblies in cooling ponds require a covering of water to remove decay heat. The main differences being the amount of decay heat to be removed decreases exponentially with time and that fuel ponds are much less of an enclosed space than a reactor vessel. At the same time, ponds may contain several years of fuel.

JAIF reported that temperatures in the cooling ponds at units 5 and 6 are increasing, but the reason for this is not yet available.

Remaining heat in Unit 2 and 50 operators at control bunker

Heiko Timmers, a physicist with the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said it would be difficult to control the nuclear reactors damaged by Japan’s worst earthquake on record.

The situation may become more difficult if the containment chambers of the reactors are breached, he said in a telephone interview from Canberra with Bloomberg Television’s Susan Li.

March 14, 2011

Radiation Chart

IAEA report-

Japanese authorities also today informed the IAEA at 04:50 CET that the spent fuel storage pond at the Unit 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is on fire and radioactivity is being released directly into the atmosphere.

Dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour have been reported at the site. The Japanese authorities are saying that there is a possibility that the fire was caused by a hydrogen explosion.

UPDATE: At 00:00 UTC on 15 March a dose rate of 11.9 millisieverts (mSv) per hour was observed. Six hours later, at 06:00 UTC on 15 March a dose rate of 0.6 millisieverts (mSv) per hour was observed. These observations indicate that the level of radioactivity has been decreasing at the site.

As reported earlier, a 400 millisieverts (mSv) per hour radiation dose observed at Fukushima Daiichi occurred between units 3 and 4. This is a high dose-level value, but it is a local value at a single location and at a certain point in time.

Saudis Send 1000 soldiers and UAE sends 500 into Bahrain, Bahraini opposition calls intervention a declaration of war

Saudi military forces in tanks and armored personnel carriers crossed the 16-mile causeway into the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain to defend the Sunni monarchy against a Shiite revolt, raising the specter of sectarian clashes and heightened conflict with Iran.

Saudi Arabia said 1,000 of its soldiers took part and the United Arab Emirates said 500 of its police officers had arrived at Bahrain's request.

Tehran Times - Bahraini opposition groups, including the largest Shia Muslim party Wefaq, said on Monday that any intervention by foreign Arab forces on the Persian Gulf island is a declaration of war and occupation.

Bahrain is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran

George Friedman points out at Stratfor -
Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition force into Bahrain to help the government calm the unrest there. This move puts Iran in a difficult position, as Tehran had hoped to use the uprising in Bahrain to promote instability in the Persian Gulf region. Iran could refrain from acting and lose an opportunity to destabilize the region, or it could choose from several other options that do not seem particularly effective

The Bahrain uprising consists of two parts, as all revolutions do. The first is genuine grievances by the majority Shiite population — the local issues and divisions. The second is the interests of foreign powers in Bahrain. It is not one or the other. It is both

Bravenewclimate covers Fukushima March 15 and the Lesson so Far

Bravenewclimate covers Fukushima March 15

Attention has centred on units #1, 2 and 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant (all Boiling Water Reactors built in the 1970s). Current concern is focused on unit #2 (more below). Units 4, 5 and 6 at the site were not in service at the time of the earthquake and their situation is stable.

At a nearby plant, Fukushima Daiini, the situation is now under control, and units are in, or approaching, cold shutdown

What is of most current concern?

Units 1 and 3: the situation now seems fairly stable. There is some concern that holding pools for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) may have been damaged by the hydrogen explosions, but nothing is confirmed. Provided the pool walls remain unbreached and the SNF is covered with water, the situation should not escalate. Note: Although still ‘hot’, the SNF decay heat is many orders of magnitude lower than the fuel assemblies within reactors 1 to 3.

Unit 4: A fire has started at the building of Unit #4. Note that the reactor of this unit is stable and was not operating at the time of the earthquake.

Unit 2: This is now of most concern, and the situation continues to change quickly

Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 explosion has made things significantly worse

Radiation levels on the edge of the plant compound briefly spiked at 8217 microsieverts per hour but later fell to about a third that. A normal year of radiation will be experienced in one day.

Confirmation of loud sounds at unit 2 this morning came from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). It noted that "the suppression chamber may be damaged." It is not clear that the sounds were explosions.

Spent Fuel Cooling Pools concern and problems real

Some news sources and internet sources(Christian Science Monitor) are trying to make an issue of spent fuel cooling pools now that the Japanese reactors are on the way to cold shutdown.

DOE source - Multiple tests have been run with spent fuel cooling turned off. Temperatures do not reach boiling, not even close. Evaporation rates go up, and that requires daily makeup of gallons of water, not thousands of gallons.

UPDATE: At Unit 4 on March 14 at approximately 8:38 p.m. EDT, a fire was reported in the reactor building. It is believed to have been from a lube oil leak in a system that drives recirculation water pumps. Fire fighting efforts extinguished the fire. The roof of the reactor building was damaged. [The fire does not seem to have been initiated by the spent fuel - at least not directly.]

World nuclear news - There was a fire at the unit 4's cooling pond and it was put out

Status of the Japanese reactors

Current Japan Earthquake damage costs up to $309 billion

Japan's earthquake damage costs are ranging from $35 billion to $171 billion

UPDATE: Bloomberg March 23, 2011 - Japan’s government estimated the damage from this month’s record earthquake and tsunami at as much as 25 trillion yen ($309 billion), an amount almost four times the hit imposed by Hurricane Katrina on the U.S.

The destruction will push down gross domestic product by as much as 2.75 trillion yen for the year starting April 1. The figure, about 0.5 percent of the 530 trillion yen economy, reflects a decline in production from supply disruptions and damage to corporate facilities without taking into account the effects of possible power outages.

estimates from different companies saying the losses could be about a $171 billion in total in the earthquake zone alone. That's not just for the clean up, but the economic losses too. Other people saying, probably much lower -- about $35 billion. But that would still make it one of the most expensive disasters ever. Second only, in fact, when you take inflation into account, to Hurricane Katrina.

Here are some more photos of the damage of the earthquake in Japan.

What happened at Fukushima and the Levels of Containment of a Boiler Water Reactor

Brave New Climate has a description of what happened at Fukushima

The earthquake that hit Japan was 7 times more powerful than the worst earthquake the nuclear power plant was built for (the Richter scale works logarithmically; the difference between the 8.2 that the plants were built for and the 8.9 that happened is 7 times, not 0.7). So the first hooray for Japanese engineering, everything held up.

When the earthquake hit with 8.9, the nuclear reactors all went into automatic shutdown. Within seconds after the earthquake started, the control rods had been inserted into the core and nuclear chain reaction of the uranium stopped. Now, the cooling system has to carry away the residual heat. The residual heat load is about 3% of the heat load under normal operating conditions.

The earthquake destroyed the external power supply of the nuclear reactor. That is one of the most serious accidents for a nuclear power plant, and accordingly, a “plant black out” receives a lot of attention when designing backup systems. The power is needed to keep the coolant pumps working. Since the power plant had been shut down, it cannot produce any electricity by itself any more.

Things were going well for an hour. One set of multiple sets of emergency Diesel power generators kicked in and provided the electricity that was needed. Then the Tsunami came, much bigger than people had expected when building the power plant (see above, factor 7). The tsunami took out all multiple sets of backup Diesel generators.

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