Potential Energy

Gia – not so much the A-list as the one-woman A-Team of the blogging world – has a new gig, in addition to her work on the recently-revamped Sunshine: she’s writing for a new blog from the Institute of Physics. The goal? To instigate, encourage, and inform a public conversation about the desirability of building new nuclear power stations.

Head over to Potential Energy to ponder power, regard radioisotopes, or fulminate on fission. Or just wonder what they were thinking of with the pale-rose-on-beige colour scheme.


  1. I really don’t understand how anyone can possibly imagine the UK public consenting to the reintroduction of nuclear power. I know I’m a sad old hippy who has an instinctive distrust of people who tell me “Trust me, I’m a scientist” but I’m truely gobsmacked by the blinkered approach that seems to being proposed.
    I went to Potential energy and left the following anecdote….
    A number of years ago i worked with a lecturer from the UK Atomic industry on a lecture called “Nuclear Power; what’s the problem” aand it became clear that he and his colleagues couldn’t understand what people could possibly object to about a technology that they had spent years working on.
    To demonstrate the safety of nuclear power they had deveoloped a demonstration of mjultiple fail safe techology by using an electrical kettle. A kettle has three safety features, a thermal switch that normally turns it off, a temperature based spring that physically ejected the power cable in the event of overheating and an electrical fuse in case of current overload. To show that the system was inheritantly safe they disabled the thermal switch and hoped to demonstrate that the kettle was still safe. During rehearsals they ran the demo… the cable ejector failed owing to having been damaged in transit and the electrical fuse never blew because the power load remained within limits.
    Overall result, the kettle melted a hole in the bench and they to droped the demo because it didn’t make the point that they hoped for.
    The conclusion that I drew from this experience was that the bigest problem with nuclear power is that its proponents can’t see the problems.
    Chernobyl COULDN’T happen here so why worry? Three mile island didn’t kill anyone so it didn’t really count as an accident!!

  2. Ah, Lord Marshall of Goring. I recall, when he revisit the RI to give the lecture again, you buggered off and left me in charge. I found out why.
    Now, I could criticise him for refusing to speak directly to me, and instead asking his lackey to pass on messages while I was in the room. But that would be personal.
    What was really worrying was that, as I understood it, he’d been giving this lecture for years, and he’s reported as being ‘a brilliant physicist’. Yet, he still didn’t know which end of a Geiger counter to point at the source, and plenty of the science content was distinctly dubious. This from the man who ran the CEGB and, later, the World Association of Nuclear Operators.
    Chatting to him (through his lackey), any confidence I had in the nuclear industry entirely evaporated. I’ve subsequently met a few people in that world who clearly do know what they’re doing, but still, it starts at the top. And so far as I could tell, the head honcho was clueless.

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