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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

Artist's rendition of the Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (NCPS), a nuclear engine inte...

Nuclear-powered rocket engines are not new. In the 1960s, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed and tested thermal nuclear rockets fitted with flight-worthy components. However, Project Rover and NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Nuclear Rocket Application) programs were defunded in the early 1970s just before test flights were to start. Now, as part of the Advanced Exploration Systems program at NASA, the Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage team is tackling a three-year project to demonstrate the viability of and to evaluate materials for thermal nuclear propulsion systems for use in future deep space missions.  Read More

Scientists have discovered that graphene oxide flakes are very effective at removing radio...

Removing radioactive material from contaminated water, such as that in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plants, could be getting a little easier. Scientists from Houston’s Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University have discovered that when flakes of graphene oxide are added to such water, it causes the radionuclides to condense into clumps. Those clumps can then be separated and disposed of.  Read More

Hitachi's ASTACO-SoRa robot will remove rubble from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in...

Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the Japanese robotics industry was criticized for developing expensive walking humanoids rather than more practical robots. It seems the country won't have to rely on foreign robots to do the dirty work much longer, as Hitachi has announced a compact, dual-armed heavy duty robot that will begin removing rubble at the plant next year.  Read More

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' MHI-MEISTeR can hold a pipe while it cuts it with a tool (Pho...

Over the past few weeks, Japan has unveiled robotic exoskeletons and quadrupeds designed to work in radioactive areas, and today Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has revealed its own inspection and maintenance robot. The MHI-MEISTeR (Maintenance Equipment Integrated System of Telecontrol Robot) has two arms which can be equipped with various tools to remove obstacles and collect samples in areas where people cannot go.  Read More

Artists concept of spacecraft using the Los Alamos reactor

Exploring the regions of deep space beyond Mars means sending probes where solar power isn’t practical. Since the 1960s, NASA has equipped its Apollo missions and unmanned explorers with Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs). These have worked very well, but they run on plutonium 238, which is currently in short supply. Therefore, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is developing a new small nuclear reactor for spacecraft that uses uranium instead of plutonium to power Stirling engines and generate electricity.  Read More

Toshiba's quadrupedal robot climbs stairs in a press demonstration (Photo: NHK)

Toshiba has unveiled a four-legged inspection robot, which will carry out work at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where people cannot go. The newly developed robot – simply called a Quadruped walking robot – comes equipped with a smaller wheeled robot that can be deployed to navigate hard-to-reach areas. The legged robot can negotiate stairs, uneven terrain, and is able to avoid low-lying obstacles.  Read More

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