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Archive for the ‘climatology’ category

Jul 27, 2021

Laser pincers generate antimatter

Posted by in categories: climatology, cosmology, particle physics

Some of the greatest mysteries in cosmology revolve around antimatter, and it’s hard to study because it’s rare and hard to produce in the lab. Now a team of physicists has outlined a relatively simple new way to create antimatter, by firing two lasers at each other to reproduce the conditions near a neutron star, converting light into matter and antimatter.

In principle, antimatter sounds simple – it’s just like regular matter, except its particles have the opposite charge. That basic difference has some major implications though: if matter and antimatter should ever meet, they will annihilate each other in a burst of energy. In fact, that should have destroyed the universe billions of years ago, but obviously that didn’t happen. So how did matter come to dominate? What tipped the scales in its favor? Or, where did all the antimatter go?

Unfortunately, antimatter’s scarcity and instability make it difficult to study to help answer those questions. It’s naturally produced under extreme conditions, such as lightning strikes, or near black holes and neutron stars, and artificially in huge facilities like the Large Hadron Collider.

Jul 27, 2021

Nuclear power’s reliability is dropping as extreme weather increases

Posted by in category: climatology

With extreme weather causing power failures in California and Texas, it’s increasingly clear that the existing power infrastructure isn’t designed for these new conditions. Past research has shown that nuclear power plants are no exception, with rising temperatures creating cooling problems for them. Now, a comprehensive analysis looking at a broader range of climate events shows that it’s not just hot weather that puts these plants at risk—it’s the full range of climate disturbances.

Heat has been one of the most direct threats, as higher temperatures mean that the natural cooling sources (rivers, oceans, lakes) are becoming less efficient heat sinks. However, this new analysis shows that hurricanes and typhoons have become the leading causes of nuclear outages, at least in North America and South and East Asia. Precautionary shutdowns for storms are routine, and so this finding is perhaps not so surprising. But other factors—like the clogging of cooling intake pipes by unusually abundant jellyfish populations—are a bit less obvious.

Overall, this latest analysis calculates that the frequency of climate-related nuclear plant outages is almost eight times higher than it was in the 1990s. The analysis also estimates that the global nuclear fleet will lose up to 1.4 percent—about 36 TWh—of its energy production in the next 40 years and up to 2.4 percent, or 61 TWh, by 2081–2100.

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Jul 24, 2021

‘Advanced’ Nuclear Reactors? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Posted by in categories: climatology, government, nuclear energy, sustainability

According to the UCS report, however, sodium-cooled fast reactors such as Natrium would likely be less uranium-efficient and would not reduce the amount of waste that requires long-term isolation. They also could experience safety problems that are not an issue for light-water reactors. Sodium coolant, for example, can burn when exposed to air or water, and the Natrium’s design could experience uncontrollable power increases that result in rapid core melting.


Unlike light-water reactors, these non-light-water designs rely on materials other than water for cooling. Some developers contend that these reactors, still in the concept stage, will solve the problems that have plagued light-water reactors and be ready for prime time by the end of this decade.

The siren song of a cheap, safe and secure nuclear reactor on the horizon has attracted the attention of Biden administration officials and some key members of Congress, who are looking for any and all ways to curb carbon emissions. But will so-called advanced reactors provide a powerful tool to combat climate change? A Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis of non-light-water reactor concepts in development suggests that outcome may be as likely as Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss’ famous 1954 prediction that electricity generated by nuclear energy would ultimately become “too cheap to meter.” Written by UCS physicist Edwin Lyman, the 140-page report found that these designs are no better—and in some respects significantly worse—than the light-water reactors in operation today.

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Jul 23, 2021

If Tomatoes Could Talk, Here’s What They’d Say | SciShow News

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

We’d pictured the plant-fruit relationship as one-way, but new research reports that sometimes the fruit can talk back! And while cow burps are a widely cited contributor to climate change, it turns out that wild pigs might also be contributing with their eating habits.

Hosted by: Hank Green.

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Jul 23, 2021

Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io is emitting strange radio waves and NASA’s Juno probe is listening

Posted by in categories: climatology, space

NASA’s Juno spacecraft is “listening” in on radio emissions from Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, allowing researchers to discover what triggers the strange radio waves.

Of all the planets in our solar system, Jupiter has the largest and most powerful magnetic field, which extends so far that some of the planet’s moons orbit within it. Because Io is closest to the planet, the moon is “caught in a gravitational tug-of-war” between Jupiter and two other large moons, according to NASA. These opposing pulls cause massive internal heat, which has led to hundreds of volcanic eruptions across the moon’s surface.

Jul 19, 2021

Armed guards protect tons of nuclear waste that Maine can’t get rid of

Posted by in categories: climatology, government, nuclear energy, sustainability

The canisters can’t stay on the 11-acre storage site on Bailey Peninsula in Wiscasset forever. And the specter of climate change and ocean level rise adds urgency to the hunt for a solution.


That’s a problem because the waste — 1400 spent nuclear fuel rods housed in 60 cement and steel canisters, plus four canisters of irradiated steel removed from the nuclear reactor when it was taken down — is safe for now, but can’t stay in Wiscasset forever.

The situation in Wiscasset underscores a thorny issue facing more than 100 communities across the U.S.: close to a hundred thousand tons of nuclear waste that has no place to go.

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Jul 19, 2021

Chevron’s Carbon Capture Struggle Shows Big Oil’s Climate Hurdle

Posted by in categories: climatology, sustainability

“Gorgon’s failure poses a major problem for any oil and gas company betting on CCS to meet net zero,” said Ian Porter, the chairperson of Sustainable Energy Now, WA. “CCS simply does not work at the scale and at the price needed.”


(Bloomberg) — The world’s biggest project to capture and store carbon dioxide isn’t working like it should, highlighting the challenges oil companies face in tackling their greenhouse gas emissions. Chevron Corp.’s system at the $54 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas export plant in Australi…

Jul 14, 2021

“Nuclear Batteries” Offer a New Approach to Carbon-Free Energy

Posted by in categories: climatology, military, nuclear energy, robotics/AI, sustainability

Jacopo Buongiorno and others say factory-built microreactors trucked to usage sites could be a safe, efficient option for decarbonizing electricity systems.

We may be on the brink of a new paradigm for nuclear power, a group of nuclear specialists suggested recently in The Bridge, the journal of the National Academy of Engineering. Much as large, expensive, and centralized computers gave way to the widely distributed PCs of today, a new generation of relatively tiny and inexpensive factory-built reactors, designed for autonomous plug-and-play operation similar to plugging in an oversized battery, is on the horizon, they say.

These proposed systems could provide heat for industrial processes or electricity for a military base or a neighborhood, run unattended for five to 10 years, and then be trucked back to the factory for refurbishment. The authors — Jacopo Buongiorno, MIT’s TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering; Robert Frida, a founder of GenH; Steven Aumeier of the Idaho National Laboratory; and Kevin Chilton, retired commander of the U.S. Strategic Command — have dubbed these small power plants “nuclear batteries.” Because of their simplicity of operation, they could play a significant role in decarbonizing the world’s electricity systems to avert catastrophic climate change, the researchers say. MIT News asked Buongiorno to describe his group’s proposal.

Jul 12, 2021

5 Sustainable Eating Tips for People Serious About Life Extension

Posted by in categories: climatology, ethics, life extension, sustainability

A serving of mushrooms is just 0.08 kg of CO2 emissions—only lentils have a lower per serving CO2 emission level.


One common question J.P. and I get over and over again is about the problem of overpopulation—if human life extension is a humanitarian goal worth pursuing, won’t there be an inevitable environmental crisis? One worse than what we’re already facing?

When we covered the ethics of life extension we partially answered this question based on what we know about population and consumption trends now (tl;dr: we’re more likely to face a crisis of under population than overpopulation). That said, it’s practically impossible to be able to fully forecast environmental trends 50200, and further years into the future. We noted, “Spanners actually need to address it because we will have to continue living through the consequences of climate change if we don’t.”

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Jul 12, 2021

A ‘wobble’ in the moon’s orbit could result in record flooding in the 2030s, new study finds

Posted by in categories: climatology, space, sustainability

The entire US coastline is in for a one-two punch from the lunar cycle and climate change.

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