Highlights from Interbike 2014

Nuclear

The MHI-Super Giraffe can handle 15 degree slopes and works for 5 hours on a rechargeable ...

While the world watches anxiously as the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) begins its most dangerous operation yet in the ongoing clean-up of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, large Japanese corporations continue to design and build robots to help go where people cannot. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has built a new remote-controlled robot called the MHI-Super Giraffe, which has an extendable arm capable of reaching up to 8 m (26 ft), and borrows battery technology from Mitsubishi Motor's electric vehicles.  Read More

Laser enrichment of isotopes has major potential to reduce the cost of nuclear power (Phot...

With the world’s first laser enrichment plant having received a construction and operating license from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2012, the stage has been set for a radical change in the industry. So how does laser enrichment work, and what commercial benefits, along with proliferation concerns, does this new process present compared to current methods?  Read More

The TWI 5 kw laser torch in operation (Photo: TWI)

To address the challenges encountered in decommissioning a nuclear facility, the UK-based firm TWI has since 2009 been developing laser tube-cutting methods for the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. It has now demonstrated a 5 kW fiber laser projector, configured rather like a rifle, that can be wielded by a single person.  Read More

View of MIT's new neutron microscope looking back along the beam path (Photo: MIT)

Neutrons have a set of unique properties that make them better suited than light, electrons, or x-rays for looking at the physics and chemistry going on inside an object. Scientists working out of MIT's Nuclear Reactor Laboratory have now invented and built a high-resolution neutron microscope, a feat that required developing new approaches to neutron optics.  Read More

A schematic drawing of the Q-Weak experiment, showing how the scattered electrons are anal...

Researchers at the Jefferson Accelerator Laboratory have measured the weak charge of the proton for the first time. Early results from the Q-Weak experiment find the weak charge of the proton and the neutron to be consistent with predictions of the Standard Model.  Read More

A nuclear submarine could replace Austrlia's aging diesel fleet, such as HMAS Collins (Ima...

A green paper published by University College London (UCL) argues that it is entirely feasible for Australia to replace its aging fleet of diesel submarines with nuclear-powered craft.  Read More

Nukemap3D produces virtual mushroom clouds

Feeling cheerful? Why not remedy that by going online and seeing what would happen if someone dropped an H-bomb on your hometown? The browser-based Nukemap3D uses a Google Earth plug in to produce a 3D graphic of the effects of a nuclear weapon on your city of choice. All you have to do is pick your target, select your favorite thermonuclear device, and you can see an animated mushroom cloud rising over ground zero. Gizmag caught up with the creator, Dr. Alex Wellerstein, to talk about Nukemap3D.  Read More

The arm's 11 joints allow it to snake in between pipes to get a better view of the damaged...

The Tokyo Electric Power Company's decommissioned Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is still under investigation. Progress has been slow due to lethal radiation preventing workers from accessing the site, and a lack of industrial robots ready to tackle the job. Now Honda and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have unveiled a High-Access Survey robot that began work inside the reactor building last week.  Read More

Arrays of infrasound station IS49, Tristan da Cunha, United Kingdom

When the Chelyabinsk meteor exploded high over Russia on February 15, it was a blast heard around the world. This isn't just a figure of speech. Though too low-frequency for human hearing, sound waves from the 500-kiloton detonation of the 17-meter (56-ft) rock were picked up in Antarctica – some 15,000 km (9,320 miles) away – by 17 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) infrasound stations dedicated to detecting nuclear explosions above or below ground.  Read More

NASA's research holds the promise of a home nuclear reactor (Image: NASA)

If Joseph Zawodny, a senior scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, is correct, the future of energy may lie in a nuclear reactor small enough and safe enough to be installed where the home water heater once sat. Using weak nuclear forces that turn nickel and hydrogen into a new source of atomic energy, the process offers a light, portable means of producing tremendous amounts of energy for the amount of fuel used. It could conceivably power homes, revolutionize transportation and even clean the environment.  Read More

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