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It is, you know.   (Someone put it there.)  Curium, named for the great nuclear chemist Marie Curie, was discovered by Glenn Seaborg.

Tomorrow Darleane Hoffman, the great nuclear chemist - now in her 80's but still lecturing - will give the opening lecture at the ACS meeting in Philadelphia, in a symposium celebrating the 100th anniversary of Glenn Seaborg's birth.

I wrote about Dr. Hoffman in this space some time ago, when she lectured on the subject of Marie Curie:  Women in Nuclear Science: Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Marie Curie's Nobel.

Here is the abstract of the talk that Dr. Hoffman will give about Dr. Seaborg, who she personally knew very well:

1 - Glenn T. Seaborg's global impact on science

Darleane C Hoffman,, Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, United States

In celebration of the Centennial Year of Glenn T. Seaborg's birth on April 19, 1912, I will attempt to place some of his major accomplishments and interests in perspective from a more 'global' point of view. Although considering himself a 'nuclear chemist', his impact was felt throughout science, internationally and nationally. Over his long, productive life (1912-1999), Seaborg became well known to politicians, statesmen, students of all ages, environmentalists, and sports enthusiasts. He was a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1951 and co-discoverer of ten transuranium elements, including plutonium (1941). Element 106 was named 'seaborgium' in his honor. He was Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley (1958-61), chaired the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission (1961-1971, returned to Berkeley (1971-99), supervising the Ph.D.s of 65 students! Seaborg served as advisor to 10 U. S. presidents, traveling world-wide as a proponent of nuclear power and the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.


I don't know what Democratic Party you belong to, but the one that I belong to is the one where a incredibly great scientist like Glenn Seaborg - who oversaw, as head of the AEC, the construction of more than 70 of the 100+ nuclear reactors that were built in the United States - could be comfortable.


The Mars Curiosity Mission, which may be the swan song of the vastly productive US space program, famously is powered by plutonium-238, which was, by the way, the exact isotope that Glenn Seaborg first made when he discovered plutonium in 1941.

The United States has launched 100 kg quantities of this isotope into space to power RTG, on the Apollo missions to the moon - one of these RTG's crashed into the planet on the failed Apollo 13 mission, wiping out life on earth (just kidding, life on earth ended after Three Mile Island, no wait, Chernobyl, no wait, Fukushima...) - the Pioneer Missions, the Voyager missions, the Galileo mission, the Cassini mission and several others...


The planet is fresh out of plutonium-238.

It is also running out of space in its favorite waste dump, the planetary atmosphere, to dump dangerous fossil fuel waste, in particular carbon dioxide, and probably, as a result, may run out of food (maybe within the coming decade) for a prominent dominant species on the planet, precisely the one that used to make plutonium-238 to view distant planets.

Food crops for the prominent dominant Earth bound species failed within the last decade, on every continent where food is grown, most recently in North America.

A coincidence I'm sure...maybe...

I hope that Apollo 13 plutonium doesn't kill everyone on earth.

Anyway, not feeling very comfortable about the role of scientists in the party of Glenn Seaborg or the other party, those nut guys, concerned (silly me) that the atmosphere may be collapsing in more dramatic ways than even I conceived, and also feeling bad about some personal issues, I decided to distract myself by checking out the instrument package on the Curiosity mission.

Here's the webpage for one of instruments in the instrument package on the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity:  Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer

Here's what it says about the instrument:

The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer will measure the abundance of chemical elements in rocks and soils. Funded by the Canadian Space Agency, the APXS will be placed in contact with rock and soil samples on Mars and will expose the material to alpha particles and X-rays emitted during the radioactive decay of the element curium. X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, like light and microwaves.

Alpha particles are helium nuclei, consisting of 2 protons and 2 neutrons. When X-rays and alpha particles interact with atoms in the surface material, they knock electrons out of their orbits, producing an energy release by emitting X-rays that can be measured with detectors. The X-ray energies enable scientists to identify all important rock-forming elements, from sodium to heavier elements.

So two of Dr. Seaborg's ten new elements are now on Mars.

Interestingly, this spectrometer works by using Auger electrons, which were  studied by another great woman nuclear chemist, Lise Meitner.

(I wrote about Dr. Meitner here:   The Deformed Nucleus: Neptunium and the Rain)


Bittersweet, I guess.

Ignorance...never doesn't matter anyway.

Have a great weekend.

Originally posted to NNadir on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and Kossacks on Mars.



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Comment Preferences

  •  The irresponsible decision to send a dangerous... (4+ / 0-) ship with curium and plutonium to Mars, the irresponsible decision to send the dangerous Spacecraft Pioneers to Jupiter and Saturn, the irresponsible decision to send Voyager spacecraft to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and the Kuiper belt, the irresponsible New Horizons mission to the Pluto/Charon system, the irresponsible Glenn Seaborg making all those new elements, the irresponsible decision to do science in this country or any country, hidden plans to sneak transuranium elements into space, other solar and wind powered hide rates, and pure Auger electron powered troll rates all go here.

  •  At last!The final ingredient for my Illudium Q-36 (10+ / 0-)

    Explosive Space Modulator!

    (romney)/RYAN 2012 - You WILL bow down before me! First you, and then one day, your HEIRS!!

    by Fordmandalay on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:22:25 AM PDT

  •  Still no discussion of waste disposal (6+ / 0-)

    from the nuclear power industrial complex.

    I knew that tales of Curiosity's little plutonium heart would pull you out from under your bridge, eventually.

    In fact, what took you so long?

    "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

    by ozsea1 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:50:15 AM PDT

    •  For a comprehensive look at a possible (8+ / 0-)

      future waste disposal scheme, I invite you to look at this book by a couple of my former bosses. I thought I knew a lot about the program I worked for for almost 20 years but the book brought a lot more to my attention from the years before I got there.

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:05:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Been hearing about all those 'better' systems (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice, Joieau, ozsea1

        since the 60's.

        Don't see any countries who actually invest in nuclear going with this system. Surely their scientists would go with such an amazing, sure thing, fabulous, solve-all-our-problems system? Or are they Luddites, too?

        And if this turns out to solve the problem, hey, hooray! But I don't see other nuclear industry folks jumping on the bandwagon.

        Life is a school, love is the lesson.

        by means are the ends on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 12:34:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A couple of entrepreneurs have gotten interested: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1, Mcrab, alain2112

          Bill Gates in a related technology called Travelling Wave and is said to be in discussions with China promoting it.

          And now Richard Branson has begun efforts to promote the IFR itself according to this, which also mentions Chinese efforts along similar lines, more details of which are given here. The endpoint of their development plans would be the CCFBR, which would essentially be an IFR as it uses the same U-Pu-Zr metal fuel and recycles it the same way the prototype IFR system did.

          Moderation in most things.

          by billmosby on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 01:21:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very interesting. Time will tell. nt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm not seeing where the waste issue is dealt with, specifically. That's the real dealbreaker.

            Life is a school, love is the lesson.

            by means are the ends on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:23:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's what the IFR does, if you build its fuel (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mcrab, means are the ends, Creosote

              cycle as intended.

              Eats today's spent fuel, or depleted uranium, or fresh uranium, plutonium, higher actinides, and what have you, and turns it into stuff that has to be isolated from the environment for about 300 years, at which point its radioactivity is about the same as the original uranium ore. And then its radioactivity decreases by half about every 30 years after that instead of every billion years, give or take, which is what U does. Which is about the best we have thought of to do with the stuff up to now.

              Moderation in most things.

              by billmosby on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:41:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If true, that doesn't sound too bad. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                300 years is a stretch of time manageable in human terms.

                I truly am not able to evaluate the specifics in detail. It is not my area of expertise. And again, if the science itself is valid, time will tell.

                Very interesting.

                Life is a school, love is the lesson.

                by means are the ends on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:43:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And we still have a total crap system to deal with (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  billmosby, Creosote

                  right now.

                  The problem of nuclear waste has not been solved in the duration of my long lifetime, and appears to be getting worse, rather than better.

                  Life is a school, love is the lesson.

                  by means are the ends on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:47:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I agree with that last sentiment. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Creosote, means are the ends

                    I think the way this will probably play out, if the IFR or something like it is going to be used to solve the problem, is that we will export spent fuel to that country or those countries who go ahead and build the things. Unless they'd rather use fresh U. But from reading my links to the current Chinese thinking, they will be looking for all the fuel they can get.

                    The only question I can think of at the moment is whether they will be paying us for it or making us pay them to take it off our hands. Either way, at 63 I don't think I'll live to see how it turns out.

                    The Chinese timetable has them fielding a useful number of IFR type reactors around 2050 and it will take quite a while to run through the DU and spent fuel already in existence in the world. Hundreds or thousands of years, actually, depending on how many reactors are built.

                    I should mention that Branson's letter was co-signed both by the current head of the American Nuclear Society and James Hansen, the NASA scientist who has done so much work in the area of climate change.

                    Moderation in most things.

                    by billmosby on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:06:57 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  What waste would that be? (5+ / 0-)

      The waste that kills 3.3 million people per year, half of whom are under the age of five?

      I suspect not.

      It's pretty telling that our anti-nukes always are directly engaged in the unrestricted dumping of the waste that 3.3 million people per year, half of whom are under the age of five, when asking me about a subject that they know - knowing zero science whatsoever - nothing and what they define as "waste," specifically spent nuclear fuel.

      Even though there is not one among said set who can identify even one person who has died from the storage of spent nuclear fuel, they burn coal, oil and gas to demand an answer from me.

      Right now, while we're pleasantly burning coal, oil and gas to have an insipid and meaningless conversation on a subject about which I know a great deal, and you know so little that it would be impossible to explain even the barest facts involved to you, there are millions of acres of failed crop on this continent.

      The waste you have no interest in - that would be carbon dioxide - has lead to crop failures on this continent and in Europe in this year, as it lead to crop failures in Argentina (2009) Europe (2003, 2012) Russia (2010) and Australia (2003-2006.)

      You know why I don't whine and complain to you as you do to me (all the fucking time) about how you are going to contain the 33 billion tons of dangerous fossil fuel waste that was dumped into the atmosphere in 2011?

      Could it be possibly that I couldn't give a rat's ass what you think?

      Nuclear power has been operating in this country for more than 5 decades.    Have you, or any of the other anti-nukes identified even one person killed by the storage of spent nuclear fuel?

      No?   But you come here unequipped to show you give a fuck about the waste that kills 3.3 million people per year, half of whom are under the age of five, and demand I reassure you?

      What do I owe you?   I'm not your fucking science teacher, and if I were, I would be extremely frustrated to have such poor material to work with, a person who cannot differentiate between waste that kills (not counting climate change)  3.3 million people per year, half of whom are under the age of five and something that you define as waste even though it kills no one.

      Got it?


      I couldn't fucking care less.

      You and the rest of the anti-nukes have won the argument.    Humanity lost, future generations lost, but you fucking won.   Congratulations.   Nuclear power will not do a fucking thing in the next decade to prevent the inevitable outcome that has now commenced.

      Maybe you're convinced that a few wind powered whirlygigs and expensive solar crap on McMansions will be able to prevent famines from breaking out in the next few years, but don't worry, be happy.    Most of the dead will be poor people, and they're certainly not as important as the smug scientifically illiterate bourgeois types who demand answers that they care clearly not equipped to comprehend.

      Congratulations.   You won.    

      Ignorance, fear, and superstition have won the day.

      Heckuva job.  

      You must be very proud.   Congratulations again.

      Have a nice fucking evening.

      •  Whoa. A lot of misplaced anger there. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, Odysseus, Just Bob, ozsea1

        It's just not true that nuclear power development has been hampered by hippie prejudice.  In this as in other things, FOLLOW THE MONEY.

        You and I are in agreement that fossil fuel consumption is killing the planet.  But it's doing that because those who profit from it have persuaded most Americans that change is impossible.  Belittling investment in alternative energy won't win you any sympathy for nuclear.

        •  Let's see if I can make something clear to you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:


          This diary is written about a lecture - which as it happens I attended this morning - on one of the most important American scientists who ever lived.


          That is the scientist, Nobel Laureate, science adviser to 10 Presidents, chief negotiator of the nuclear test ban treaty, discoverer of 10 elements in the periodic table, one of the few scientists to be honored with the naming of an element in his honor (others include Fermi, Einstein, Meitner and Neils Bohr), Chancellor of the University of California when it was great, the author of hundreds of books and scientific papers.


          Oh, yeah...working closely with two Democratic Presidents, he oversaw the licensing of more than 70 nuclear reactors, reactors which saved millions of lives by not releasing the air pollution that all our anti-nukes couldn't give a rat's ass about.

          That was Glenn Seaborg.

          To repeat, yet again, in case you didn't get in in other posts:

          Every damn year 3.3 million people per year people die from air pollution..   Half of them are CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE.

          Do you understand that?

          I mean outside of glib platitudes about how "you agree..."

          I don't think you agree with me in any way.

          If you look through the body of my diaries in this space, you will find a rather large set of references to the primary scientific literature.

          If you think that going through this body of literature is about some glib feel good exercise in which we can issue platitudes about electric cars and wind mills and toxic semiconductors arrayed on bourgeois McMansion roofs, you may be unfamiliar with what my passion is about.

          I understand climate change very, very, very, very, very well, on a deeper level than I often find discussed on this goofy website.   They may sound arrogant on my part, but nonetheless is true.

          I also understand energy very well.  

          Now maybe you think my anger is "misplaced."

          Of course, an alternate explanation would be to examine the lack of anger on the part of those who sit around and whine to me that I should "be nice."

          To whom?  

          Fuck being nice.    The atmosphere is collapsing.   Food crops are regularly dying worldwide year after year.   Millions of people are unnecessarily dying each year from air pollution while our anti-nukes run around in circles trying to find someone, anyone, who will finally die from Fukushima so they can burn tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of tons of coal to scream all over the planet about it.

          "Be nice..."

          And I notice that one of the members of the cheering section for this proposition you've offered that I owe people an explanation for my profound and overwhelming anger is the mindless clown from "nuclear free DKos" who cannot, when listing the half-lives of 23 radioisotopes cannot even get ONE of the 23 right.


          Do you know what that list represents?   Do you?

          It's ignorance.   Let me spell it out:  I-G-N-O-R-A-N-C-E.

          I have never made any pretensions about how I feel about ignorance.    

          Those feelings have been clear in my signature line for years.

          Let me explain something to you so that you can understand.

          The question of what technology might have saved humanity, or at least ameliorated this diaster - had we not lived in a culture where dumbbells were not taken seriously - does not involve some vague platitude about "money."

          If it did, someone might give a fuck about the trillion dollar fossil fuel industry, but they (and you) don't.

          I'm not interested in the bourgeois bullshit whining about materialism and money; particularly in a conversation that involves chatting using electrons running through fairly toxic and expensive semiconductors.

          And that not about chanting over and over and over and over and over and over and over about some grand expensive so called "renewable energy" fantasy.   Spain, to name one country, threw tens of billions of Euros from its banks and government at the renewable fantasy, with the end result that it can't fund its schools, provide for its poor, etc, etc.

          Around the world hundreds of billions of euros, dollars, yen, yuan and other currencies have been thrown down this rabbit hole and NOT ONE of the bullshit fantasies can produce even two of the 520 exajoules of energy now used each year by humanity, and that with about half of humanity living in dire poverty.

          I have to face my children every morning aware that ignorance, fear, and superstition is turning over to them a dying planet.

          And you want me to be "nice?"


          In any case, ignorance won.   Future generations have very, very, very, very, very, very, little hope.

          I'm sure that our bourgeois, unenlightened anti-nukes don't have the faintest sense of responsibility for what they have done, but I don't care what they think, because at the end of the day they don't.   They are clearly and unambiguously proud of having never been equipped to think.

          Now from where I sit, their mindless sloganeering is simply murder.    Many of the thirty million people who died in the last decade might have been saved had nuclear power plants replaced coal plants.

          That didn't happen.

          The great painter Max Beckmann was asked to explain his triptych "Departure" (which now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York) to the person who purchased it.

          He replied that if the person needed an explanation, they should simply return it and ask for their money back.

          You think my anger is "misplaced?"

          I would recommend that maybe you shouldn't read my diaries.  

          Have a nice day tomorrow.

          •  I don't want you to be nice, or not to be nice. (0+ / 0-)

            It's your life to live as you will.

            If ignorance won, it's because arrogance is not as persuasive as those who display it seem to think.  I am old enough to remember a time when nuclear power was held by the majority of thinking people as the salvation of humanity, just as you say.  I dare say that the attitude of "don't worry little guy, we -- who know so much more than you -- have it all under control" had its part in changing that perception -- in the face of TMI, Chernobyl and what not.

            I would recommend that maybe you shouldn't read my diaries.

            That is easily arranged. I may still peek every now and then at the technical articles, which as I said I find quite interesting.  But I won't make the mistake of commenting again.

            Silvio Levy

            •  The point is that notwithstanding those accidents, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the situation really is still under control, relative to the everyday mayhem created by fossil fuels. If I may be so bold as to try to explain what NNadir meant.

              For myself, I should mention that though I do try to present factual information on nuclear energy topics, I no longer advocate for the technology solely because we live in what we like to think of as a democratic nation. The people have spoken and I choose not to go against that. However, I will always seek out opportunities to share my knowledge with people.

              Moderation in most things.

              by billmosby on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:54:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Give my greetings (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob, ozsea1, AoT

        to Mr. LaRouche.

        Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

        by ActivistGuy on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 01:15:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Rage on (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it still doesn't address the nuclear waste-disposal issue.

        Have a great evening, nadir!!!

        "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

        by ozsea1 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 03:12:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is a good beginning (0+ / 0-)

        Open your mind to the possibilities...

        We all know well about CO2  - and what will happen when the methane stored in permafrost and as ocean-bottom ices outgassess - will do to the planet.

        The current nuclear power state-of-the-art won't resolve this.

        You know it. Hence, the rage.

        "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

        by ozsea1 on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 03:17:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A nuclear chemist who was briefly my boss (5+ / 0-)

    used to set up an x-ray fluorescence measurement system during open house days at Argonne-West. The danger from these measurements primarily resulted from people's propensity to have their wedding rings analyzed and once in a while discovering that the composition of those precious items included rather more than a seemly proportion of base metals, lol. We don't know what happened when those folks got back home.....

    I know, I know, open house in a radiochemistry laboratory. Shocking, simply shocking!

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:56:21 AM PDT

    •  Well... just as long as you don't let the baby (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby, jim in IA

      chew on your wedding ring!

      Reminds me of the radon scare... it was THE NEW SCOURGE, it was EVERYWHERE, until people compared the relative  exposure...  

      Now, ask anybody about radon, and they'll think you're talking about a police speed trap.

  •  I'm not sure exactly what you mean (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob, S F Hippie, Joieau, adrianrf

    by this:

    I don't know what Democratic Party you belong to, but the one that I belong to is the one where a incredibly great scientist like Glenn Seaborg - who oversaw, as head of the AEC, the construction of more than 70 of the 100+ nuclear reactors that were built in the United States - could be comfortable.
    But I assume it's a backhanded slap at those who are against building more nuclear power plants. If being in a party with people who have different opinions than you do makes you uncomfortable you're free to go start another party where everyone agrees.

    There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

    by AoT on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:00:30 AM PDT

    •  I'm pretty sure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, ActivistGuy

      Lyndon's got room in his enclave for NNadir.

    •  It's not backhanded at all. It's direct and... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby, alain2112


      There aren't all that many Republican scientists that I personally know, but I'm sure that there are some Republican scientists, probably guys who love Republican tax policy and who like to have testosterone based wars.

      And, I would imagine, there are a large percentage of said Republican scientists who are embarrassed by the ignorant creationist wing of their party but remain Republicans nonetheless.

      I am embarrassed by the anti-intellectual, anti-environmentalist, anti-nuke wing of my party.   There are zero anti-nukes who I have encountered who as far as I can tell know any science whatsoever.

      In fact, I consider that they hate science in general, be it genetic science or nuclear science.

      Probably the undeniable fact that both parties contain large groups who despise science is a function of the fact that the United States is now in a massive intellectual decline.

      It doesn't matter, though.   The anti-science shit is hitting the fan.

      To tell you the truth, I'm not interested in your take on the Democratic party; but I am merely noting that political parties are ill equipped to do a fucking thing.

      On every major continent in the last ten years there have been massive crop failures.    

      Maybe you have confused me with a stupid twit who thinks that political parties occupied by either creationists or anti-nukes will matter a hill of beans.

      That's not my problem; it's yours.

      I will vote for the President, but I am under no illusions that he can do things like command it to rain, for one example.

      Climate change is a done deal.   Nuclear energy will not be able to do a damn thing about it, although in a rational and educated world it might have done something to prevent what is now inevitable.

      Heckuva job.   You and the rest of the anti-nukes must be very proud.

      Oh, and do let me know when you form a new political party to show that you give a fuck about the 3.3 million people per year who will die this year from air pollution, half of whom will be under the age of five.


      You couldn't give a fuck about those dead people?

      You'd rather talk about your dire hope that someone, anyone, will die so you can justify your (for instance) Fukushima fetish?

      Why am I not surprised?

      Have a nice day.

      •  Wow, you're a real piece of work. (0+ / 0-)
        and do let me know when you form a new political party to show that you give a fuck about the 3.3 million people per year who will die this year from air pollution, half of whom will be under the age of five.
        I'd certainly like a party that does that.  I don't see the Dems doing anything substantial to stop it so I must assume you're voting for someone else.

        I'll remember not to respond to your pathetic little rants again.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 01:53:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wow, you're a real example of someone who (0+ / 0-)

          does not fucking work at all.

          I very much doubt that you have suffered with an original thought in your life, but I certainly have no interest in finding out any more about you, so I would certainly appreciate it if you don't litter my works with your whiny barely literate platitudes.

          Stick to hanging out with your fellow scientifically illiterate flakes.   They speak your language.

          Have a nice life.

  •  Oh Great. Are we any closer to James Cameron's.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Btw, you may want to define your acronyms. It is not clear what the RTG is, and there are other organizations besides the American Chemical Society that use the letters 'ACS'

    Anyway, I believe a scientist of Glen Seaborg's caliber - or Darleane Hoffman's, for that matter - can still feel comfortable in today's Democratic party. It is that other party that seems to have become the party of Neanderthals and nitwits - or maybe I am slandering ancient Neanderthals - that scientists feel distinctly unwelcome in.


    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:07:10 AM PDT

    •  RTG = Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (7+ / 0-) lists 308 other meanings for ACS, LOL. It also lists 93 meanings for LOL, if you were wondering...

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:17:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In fact, Seaborg was a life long Democrat (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      codairem, Joieau

      and free speech advocate while chancellor at University of California, Berkeley. Of course, that was before the DLC.

      Seaborg served as chancellor at University of California, Berkeley from 1958 to 1961. His term as Chancellor came at a time of considerable controversy during the time of the free speech movement[citation needed]. In October 1958, he announced that the University had relaxed its prior prohibitions on political activity on a test basis.
      Great man that he was, he did have his flaws.
      Seaborg was ardent supporter of large scale massive nuclear plants for electricity generation despite concerns by industry insiders that such large plants were vulnerable in that their nuclear cores could not be properly contained in the event of an accident or operating emergency. Seaborg received a letter dated August 16, 1966 from industry engineers expressing these concerns at the time of the licensing of New York's Indian Point reactor. This letter advised Seaborg and other AEC senior members of these containment concerns which would later become known as the "China Syndrome" resulting from uncontained core meltdowns. Seaborg directed this letter not be released to the public as he feared it would be misunderstood and therefore damage the nuclear industry in the public's view even though the law required such letters be released for public disclosure. This disclosure first came to light for public view in the BBC documentary series, "Pandora's Box, A Is For Atom" dealing with the early history of commercial nuclear development.
      However, in America it was being discovered that safety systems that had to work to avoid meltdown could not be guaranteed to work reliably in the complex circumstances in a nuclear reactor. Tests run on the emergency core cooling systems to deal with pipe breaks, performed on AECs test models in Idaho in 1971, repeatedly failed; often the water was forced out of the core under pressure. It was discovered that the theoretical calculations had no correspondence with reality. Nevertheless, they had not necessarily proved that they wouldn't work on a real reactor, so they decided to carry on with mandated safety systems, that the best evidence suggested, may well not function in the event of an accident.
      If memory serves, the reactor testbed at INL was designed to incrementally test failures leading up to full bore destructive testing with a double guillotine break. They halted testing saying the testbed was too valuable to destroy in that manner, but claiming their models proved that steam cooling would be sufficient to prevent a meltdown. Nonetheless, we now have the answer to that question thanks to TMI and Fukushima Daiichi.

      Seaborg's advocacy for nuclear power so distorted the mission of the AEC that the NRC was formed to regulate the industry.

      For any who may be interested, here's Pandoras Box - Ep 6 - A is For Atom:

      Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

      by Just Bob on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:03:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I did some of the seismic analysis (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob, Joieau

        for parts of the LOFT reactor system some years before I left that contractor and went to Argonne-West. I remember one observation that somebody made about the strength of some instrumentation supports- the accelerations on them from the projected large LOCA were greater than the seismic accelerations that the system was being retrofitted to withstand.

        They had come up with a rube goldberg way to measure the extremely low flow rates in some of the coolant piping during some of the lesser tests. They used 4 neutron generators to activate a slug of water and then measure the activity in the water downstream to see how much time it took for the activated water to reach that location and then just calculate the velocity as distance divided by time.

        The neutron generators needed tons of lead shielding to keep the accompanying gamma-rays from interfering with the gamma measurement of the activation products. The shielding was right above the control rod drives (which were on top of the LOFT reactor vessel), so it was kind of important to avoid dropping the shielding, lol.

        The LOFT program suffered a lot of changes of direction during its lifetime, causing a lot of delays, inefficiency, and rushed and poor design work. However in the end it proved to be a useful system for calibrating and correcting the RELAP code used for modeling the performance of water and vapor mixtures in reactor systems.

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:43:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It still weirds me ou a bit that the movie (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob, Joieau

        was released 12 days before the accident at the Three Mile Island plant.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 12:18:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Being curious about where the Apollo-13 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jim in IA, Joieau

    rtg with its Pu-238 ended up, I found this. Perhaps some will be interested in reading it.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:09:40 AM PDT

  •  I have to admit I wasn't very curious about Mars (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jim in IA

    ... until Curiosity landed there. (pun intended)

    So two of Dr. Seaborg's ten new elements are now on Mars.
    (God must have been looking out for the Martians, when he gave them the higher elements...)

    I wonder if they will find any meteors on Mars.  Do you know?  Any meteor craters known?

    Do you know if there are any instruments on board that will  test for amino acids?

    What a lovely and informative diary. Thank you.  

    •  Mars is filled with craters, and Curiosity, in... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby, alain2112, LilithGardener

      ...fact, landed in one.

      There is a mass spectrometer on the rover, and it will be able (easily) to detect any amino acids present.   However their presence is widely known throughout the universe.

      Mass spectrometers are very sensitive instruments, and modern ones are excellent at identifying fairly complex molecules of a wide variety of types.

      The mass spectrometer will not however, be able to detect the property of "handedness" - what we call chirality - which is sometimes used to distinguish between amino acids associated with life and those that are synthesized in non-living things.

      I discussed amino acids in space in a diary here:  The History of Water and Thus, Life, In the Cosmos.

      In it I discussed the "Murchinson meteorite" which is now understood to contain chiral amino acids of the type that life involves.   It may be that life arose from similar meteorites, and not the other way around, i.e. that the amino acids on the meteorite arose from life.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  •  I usually like your diaries, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    prfb, UnionMade

    but I can't recommend this one.  I can't figure out what you're saying, and what part of it is snark - at least not without looking up a lot of stuff.

    And I have a master's in chemistry.  I imagine the layman might take some of your snark at face value.

    In a science-related diary, it would be better to stick to facts.

  •  What an awful poll. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    billmosby, alain2112, AoT

    There was no King Kong entry, so I had to go with lutefisk.

    shakes tiny fist of fury

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:15:42 PM PDT

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