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Nuclear

Science

TWI reveals handheld 5 kW laser torch

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

Science

What shall we do with a neutron microscope?

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

Military Feature

Nukes, kids and the Cold War: In conversation with the creator of Nukemap3D

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

Robotics

High-Access Survey Robot begins work at TEPCO nuclear plant

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

Space

Russian meteor blast heard around the world

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

Science

NASA's basement nuclear reactor

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

Space

NASA team pushing towards thermal nuclear propulsion systems

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

Environment

Graphene oxide causes radioactive material to "clump" out of water

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

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