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The Age of Radiance
« on: Jun 03, 2014, 05:24 »
The Age of Radiance, The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era, Craig Nelson, 2014
   I just received a post card from Bruce Kelsey who was born and raised in Idaho Falls...The National Reactor Test Site...
He had just surveyed the museum that is EBR1.
He thought my interest rated the card.
Not far from the museum, whose parking lot serves as the resting place of the two nuclear engines meant to propel a nuclear jet,  are the sites of SL1 , famous for it's accident, S1W, the nautilus engine and test area north, the never realized home of the nuclear jet.
   S1W, the Nautilus submarine engine, is the beginning of the PWR, the world's preeminent reactor.
   SL1 was  the beginnings of the Combustion Engineering PWR, Palo Verde, the country's largest nuclear power site being the result.
   Entergy bought the oldest of the Combustion Engineering reactors, Palisades, not long ago and in the occasion of beginning their first refueling outage as owner they brought on an inspirational speaker who, on a beautiful spring afternoon in a big tent on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan told the story of how, as the first time copilot of a nuke capable two seat jet on it's three point circuit into the Gulf of Mexico, failed to overcome his respect for his counterpart's rank and experience in pointing out that the fuel supply was inadequate for the task.
   The large power point screen he presented to the packed tent of hundreds then showed the pilot's compartment and little else of the remains of the plane, having barely reached the home runway.
   He explained that, as with all rules, liberties are taken over and over and each new shift, crew, or administration picks up where the last left off until the speed limit of 55 mph becomes obscured and forgotten...All that matters is pushing the envelope slightly beyond what the last crew did.
   That speaker was Craig Nelson, the author of the best selling book Rocket Boys. I bought the paperback he was selling in the tent. His new book, being reviewed here, is Radiance, The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era.
   The story, from Roentgen's bones, Becquerel's rocks and Curie's radium to Fermi's tank trip first in to the melted tower at Trinity, Teller's insanity, the Pacific and Nevada explosions, Cuba, TMI, Chernobyl,'s all here.
   Trident, czar bomb, plutonium, breeders, Oklo and WIPP... a settled and no longer controversial description of the central topic of the modern world.
   For students of this stuff, like me, not having read this would have weakened substantially whatever I might have to say on the topic.
   The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Now it Can be Told, Atomic America, Taming the Rays, The Uranium People, The Nuclear Express...Radiance deserves a place in this arena.
   It is the first book since Mahaffey's Nuclear Renaissance to offer a comprehensive view of the history of the world that the readers of this forum have lived, pondered and struggled with for decades.


« Last Edit: Jun 03, 2014, 10:33 by Wlrun3 »


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