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Tell me more about nuclear power as source of electricity. Answered

Hi !

Fishes can't see the water they are in !
That's why I need your personal and external opinions and view.

The first source of electricity in my country (France) is nuclear.
In a previous forum, I've noticed that a lot of Citizen of USA consider Nuclear energy is too much polluting and too much expensive (democrats candidates for US election reject the idea of more nuclear plants), and that it's not seen as a serious solution to reduce pollution and CO2 emission, etc ... In few words : you seems to dislike it. So, I would like to know why exactly, and that you tell me more about what you think about it.

Here it's quite different. Nuclear energy is seen as a mean to be energetically independent. It's a mean to pollute less. And it's almost a local speciality, like are crepes, baguettes and croissants.

The main producer is EDF (which stands for Electricite De France (electricity of France)).
Until 1999, EDF had the monopoly (and that was better and safer IMHO). Since then, because of EU regulation, we've been forced to open the market ...

Here are some data :

EDF is one of the world's largest producers of electricity. In 2003, it produced 22% of the European Union's electricity, primarily from nuclear power:

  • nuclear: 74.5%
  • hydro-electric: 16.2%
  • thermal: 9.2%
  • wind power and other renewable sources: 0.1%

Its 58 active nuclear reactors (in 2004) are spread out over 20 sites (nuclear power plants). They comprise 34 reactors of 900MW, 20 reactors of 1300 MW, and 4 reactors of 1450MW, all PWRs.

In 2006 :

- nuclear : 85.7%
- hydro-electric : 5.0%
- thermal : 8.1% ( coal : 3.3%, gas : 3.2%, petrol : 1.6% )
- others renewable : 0.9% (wind, sun and co)
- others : 0.3%


I like the concept of nuclear power. The Limerick nuclear power plant is near my house and you can see the steam cloud for miles around, but it just looks like a cloud. I agree that there is a disposal problem, but why not launch it into space?

What happens if it doesn't make it all the way? And Earth escape orbits are EXPENSIVE to achieve-both in reaction mass and cash!

In addition to what if it doesn't make it what if it explodes mid flight?

If it doesn't make it all of the way, that means that the engineers that designed ti messed up (but if it didn't make it, it would be very very bad and probabley spread radiation all around the world, depending on the altitude when it blew up) and space travel is becoming cheaper as more private enterprises are starting up.

So everything is the engineer's job: not the labor for assembly, or the lowest bid contractor for parts, or the meteorologist, or the pilot... There IS no private orbital insertion that I've heard of, so how could it be cheaper?

Not everything, I was just using an example.

Not yet but there is several start up companies.

This linkhas a list of space related companies.

Unfortunately, none are viable yet, so the price HASN'T gone down.

Ya, but hopefully they will become viable soon so we can launch lots of stuff into space at a lower price.

Near earth orbits are already crowded with junk. Next thing you know, any idiot with enough money is going to be adding their own, personalized message in a bottle and golf ball to the new wilderness... Humans, can't shoot enough of 'em : )

Yeah, guess we'll just have to send them out farther, space is rather big you know.

Orbital mechanics don't work that way-it's not just up, but speed that makes an orbit.

It doesn't have to be an orbit, but if you can escape sun's gravity( or just send it straight into the sun) it will go for a long time before it hits anything or gets sucked into another objects gravity.

Um, yes, it does have to be an orbit or it will fall back to earth (like Space Ship One). Gravity doesn't 'turn off' at some point, it's forever.

After a point though, it gets to be insignificant.

No, it doesn't when you talk about orbital mechanics. I tell you what, you start taking physics classes and come back after you understand them even just a little. Until then, you just look foolish.

So, you're saying that gravity's force on an object X does not lessen with distance from all other objects?

No. I said that it remains significant, specifically when boosting a payload that you don't want to return to earth. Does the force become smaller? Yes-but the rocket runs out of fuel, and the tiny force continues until, well, you end up where you started.

"...the rocket runs out of fuel, and the tiny force continues until, well, you end up where you started."

Um, inertia!

Ferrite is correct, once you leave earth's gravity, you continue in a straight line until acted on by an outside force-I'm sure I don't have to tell you this-and thus will NOT return to earth. It isn't that hard to escape earth's gravity. Rather, it's quite hard to actually return to earth's surface without getting burned up once you leave-just ask NASA.

His idea is much too complicated and expensive right now, and I don't agree we should junk up space with our trash, but he has the physics right.

"Once you leave earth's gravity"-when is that? How much (cost and weight) is that going to take? CAN YOU RISK BEING WRONG? Think of the payload-several tons of stuff that can kill you with a particle the size of a grain of salt (hmmm, just about the size of a micro-meteorite...). Just ask NASA about how much to panic about chunks of stuff hitting the earth-how many pieces of Chalanger made it to the ground or how many pieces of Space Lab hit the ground then tell me where you want to stand when a cargo load of nuclear waste 'burns up'. This was only some about physics-it was about what we can do now about putting nuclear waste into space. A Saturn V (no longer produced and can't be for 10+ years according to NASA) could get maybe 50,000 tons into lunar orbit. That means that it would take 160 launches for the waste US has on hand, right now, not including anyone else or what gets created tomorrow (or the weight of the container to hold it to get it there). The Space Shuttle is running 119 successes in 121 attempts-NOT a good record for something that would wipe out a third of the country on an oops.

from your link:

Newton's description of gravity is sufficiently accurate for many practical purposes and is therefore widely used. Deviations from it are small when the dimensionless quantities Q/c2 and (v/c)2 are both much less than one, where Q is the gravitational potential, v is the velocity of the objects being studied, and c is the speed of light.

Thats interesting, I didn't know that.

A book that explores this much deeper is called "Einstein's Greatest Blunder" speaking of his Cosmological Constant by Donald Goldsmith . ;-)

Here is a taste of it: Einstein's Greatest Blunder - The cosmological Constant

And some more: The Big Bang: A Big Bust? The cosmos seems to be in crisis, and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see it. How, for instance, can the universe be full of stars far older than itself? How could space have once expanded faster than the speed of light? How can most of the matter in the universe be "missing"? And what kind of truly weird matter could possibly account for ninety percent of the universe's total mass? This brief and witty book, by the award-winning science writer Donald Goldsmith, takes on these and other key questions about the origin and evolution of the cosmos. By clearly laying out what we currently know about the universe as a whole, Goldsmith lets us see firsthand, and judge for ourselves, whether modern cosmology is in a state of crisis. "Einstein's Greatest Blunder?" puts the biggest subject of all--the story of the universe as scientists understand it--within the grasp of English-speaking earthlings. When Albert Einstein confronted a cosmological contradiction, in 1917, his solution was to introduce a new term, the "cosmological constant." For a time, this mathematical invention solved discrepancies between his model and the best observations available, but years later Einstein called it the "greatest blunder" of his career. And yet the cosmological constant is still alive today--it is one of the "fudge factors" employed by cosmologists to make their calculations fit the observational data. Theoretical cosmologists, shows Goldsmith, continually reshape their models in an honest (if sometimes futile) effort to explain apparent chaos as cosmic harmony--whether their specific concern is the age and expansion rate of the cosmos, hot versus cold "darkmatter," the inflationary theory of the big bang, the explanation of large-scale structure, or the density and future of the universe. Engagingly written and richly illustrated with photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, "Einstein's Greatest Blunder?" is a feast for the eye and mind.

That was a pretty big mistake for someone as smart as Einstein. My grandfather is a docent at Kitt Peak National Observatory and he met the woman who discovered dark matter, Vera Rubin, when he was giving a tour. (She wasn't on the tour, she had time at one of the telescopes for more research, I think on dark matter)

The Big Bang theory may not be right, but the universe is expanding. Intresting article though.

the universe is expanding. Intresting article though.

I know the feeling. I have to stay away from the Smorgasbords. LOL

If a body does not have the energy to escape the pull, it will "come back"...look how far away the moon is, stop it's revolving around the earth, and it would get pulled in.

What about Voyager, if you can get fr enough away, the gravity won't pull the object back in even if it is in orbit, (I do realize how impractical it would be to launch something that far into space and escape both the Earth's and the Sun's gravity)

"IF" it lost momentum, i.e. did not have the energy to continue forward (barring there being anything else in the galaxy with gravitational fields), it would eventually be drawn back. This is the whole idea about the eventual reversal and collapse of "big bang". Eventually, no matter how far is recedes, it will eventually loose the energy to expand, and begin contracting again.

Humans are like that, we can't be content with messing up our own little area of the planet, lets trash the entire galaxy. :-)

It will probably be sucked into another planets atmosphere and burn up and disappear, or be sucked into a black hole never to be seen again.

And any lifeforms it comes across....oh well.

Yeah, but you never now, maybe they are immune to radiation.

Kind of like deer may someday become immune to rifle rounds ?

Well they might live on a planet with lots of radiation already and only those that are immune may survive. And radiation isn't designed to kill, unlike rifle rounds.

Immune ? Immune to having holes poked in it? Immune to the breakdown on the cellular level ? I expect you feel we will become immune to the toxins our factories put out every day; one of these days. Not likely. Not even remotely likely.

Ah, but in the grand scheme of things, we just reincarnate as cockroaches : )

Notice that both rifle rounds AND radiation poke holes in you; the biggest difference, besides the "size" of the hole(s), is that the radiation leaves a trail of poisonous material as it pokes it's billions of holes (rather then the single hole of a rifle) :-)

Lots of little holes, or one big hole, I can't decide which would be a better or worse way to die, no to be too depressing :)

One big one would be better. The other way, you suffer slowly from the toxins produced...this is one of the reasons SO many died at Hiroshima. The docs did not know what was going on, so they treated those that "looked the worst off". Those are the very people that were going to die no matter what. Had they treated those "without symptoms yet" they could have saved a lot more people.

It's just as likely to find a planet of 'klingons' who will consider it an attempt at genocide and return the favor... Radiation IS designed to kill, just like the physics of something impacting a body is designed to kill (read up on neutron bombs).

Yeah, but the most likely solution is that it will get sucked into a star, because most of the gravity in the universe is in stars, considering there are many more of them than planets and that the stars are many times larger than the planets that orbit them. It's not designed to kill, it is just naturally gives of the radiation which kills. but yes, neutron bombs are designed to kill.

You have a very poor understanding of space and it's size. It's NOT like on tv or the movies. Burning up in the atmosphere just makes it into smaller parts, it doesn't get rid of the radiation (would you like a lifetime of uranium gas? It's not that much...) The nearest black hole is something like 1,600 light years away-the farthest a human artifact has gotten something like 14 light hours away, and it took 30 years to do it!

I am aware that space is vastly huge, but if you wait long enough, it might get sucked into a black hole. An yes I am aware of the massive amounts of radiation that would be made if nuclear fuel would disintegrate into tiny particles. (I was referring to the golf balls and other crap we will probably be firing into space) Also, I think that we can go a lot faster with 30 more years of technology than 14 light hours in 30 years.

Bad news-we can't even get things going as fast as 30 years ago. Since the space program was 'defunded' and the moon missions abandoned, we don't have the rockets or the capability to make them anymore : (

That's why we should hope that the private companies will become viable soon. (I realize that going to the moon may not be that useful, but who cares, it would be awesome. Actually, a practical use for going to the moon would be to build a telescope on themoon, very little atmosphere so no messing up. It would be kind of like another Hubble, but i don't know if dust would be a problem.)