Proponents of nuclear power argue that nuclear energy is economical, safe, and good for the environment. Critics maintain that fission reactors are neither safe nor clean, and cite the Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl power plant disasters, among others, along with problems that are associated with the disposal of nuclear waste. Some also argue that nuclear power plants that reprocess spent fuel may contribute to the proliferation of fissile material for use in weaponry ("dirty bombs") and that nuclear power plants are a public health risk, at least to people living in the vicinity of nuclear power plants and waste repositories.
In this talk, we will take a brief look at the physics of nuclear energy and then examine elements of the pro and con debate. If there is time and interest, we also will take a brief look at some next-generation nuclear energy technology such as the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project at the Idaho National Laboratory and/or the ITER experimental fusion reactor.
Norris 102, 2:15 - 3:20 p.m.