The need to develop Thorium based Nuclear Energy as the major electric energy supply. 6. Thorium based nuclear power is not suited for making nuclear bombs.

 Thorium based Nuclear Power does not produce Plutonium239, which is the preferred material used in nuclear bombs. The higher Plutonium isotopes and other TRansUraniums are about as nasty as they get, and need expensive protection against terror attacks, and need to be stored for a very long time.

One anecdote from my youth. The time had come to apply to University, and to my delight I was accepted to Chalmers’ University in Sweden as a Technical Physics major. I felt, maybe I can do my part by becoming a Nuclear Engineer and help solve the energy needs of the future. The Swedes at that time championed the heavy water – natural Uranium program together with the Canadians. Sweden is a non-aligned country, so it was not privy to any atomic secrets, it had to go it alone. They settled on the heavy water moderated natural Uranium process because Sweden had an ambition to produce its own nuclear bomb. Officially this was never talked about, and I was not aware of it at that time. They could have gone with Thorium instead, but a Thorium based nuclear reactor  produces very little Plutonium, and what it produces is PU-238, not suitable for bomb making.

I was excited to learn about all the possibilities and signed up for a couple of nuclear classes. One lab was to design a safety circuit, then run the heavy water research reactor critical and hopefully watch the reactor shut down from the safety circuit before the system safety circuit shutdown. About that time the word came that U.S. will sell partially enriched uranium at bargain basement prices if Sweden agreed to abandon the heavy water project and sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, a treaty being formulated by U.N.

Sweden was in awe about U.N, all the problems of the world were to be solved through it, and it had such capable General Secretary in Dag Hammarskjöld, a Swede. I looked at the light water, partially enriched Uranium nuclear power plants being developed and decided to have no part with it, not due to safety concerns but it was the design that produced the most nuclear waste of any of the available designs. At that time there was still optimism that fusion would be ready by about the year 2010 or so. The cost of maintaining spent fuel in perpetuity was never considered, so light water reactors became the low cost solution.

India on the other hand refused to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, kept their heavy water program going and had by 1974 produced enough plutonium for one nuclear bomb, which they promptly detonated. They still use heavy water moderated reactors, but since India is low on Uranium but rich in Thorium they have now converted one heavy water reactor to thorium with a Plutonium glow plug. It went on-line in 2011.

They are also developing molten salt Thorium reactors, but full production is still a few years off.

There we have it. We could have gone with Thorium from the beginning, but the cold war was on, and the civilian peaceful use of nuclear energy was still all paid for by nuclear weapons research and development. Once all the bombs we could ever need were developed the greatest asset of nuclear power became its greatest liability.

 

Take heart. Take care of your heart.

Being an engineer I have always tried to understand what makes us tick. The heart is a wonderful piece of engineering and it keeps on ticking no matter what, faster when anxious or exercising, then going back to resting pace when the challenge is over. It worked fine for the first 75 years of my life, but then I noticed a gradual change. Well, this is part of normal aging I thought, so I shrugged it off and went on with my life as best I could. One very early morning I woke up with a cold sweat and pain in my chest and both arms, so I stood up and started to walk it off. I burped and burped and after a couple of minutes it went away and I felt a good warmth in my chest and that was it, so I went back to sleep. Checking my stamina later I found it had gone down by at east a factor of two. This fall I had a congestive cold and found that I could not do the trick that always worked before, whenever I found myself short of breath with a slight pain in my chest I hyper ventilated until it went away. That does nor work well in a coughing spell. Anyhow, I decided to wait until my yearly physical checkout. That is when my doctor discovered I had anemia as well. Sudden anemia is usually a sign of internal bleeding, so first I was in for a complete plumbing checkout. But I insisted that I better see a cardiologist asap, and there was a cancellation, so I could go in the day after the colonoscopy. I failed the stress test miserably, and they found blockages. Off to catheterization. It revealed that my Left Anterior Descending artery (yes, that is the so called widowmaker) was more than 90% blocked. But it also revealed that another artery was 100% blocked, and the heart had connected that artery with another artery, it had provided its own bypass. Isn’t it wonderful how God in the 750 Megabyte DNA information provided in every cell He also provided us with a very good repair kit. However,  the widowmaker artery is alone, so when it goes altogether, that’s the end. For me, it was not too late, so they put in a stent, and already when I was wheeled out of the operating room I felt like a new man. (Yes, you are awake during the procedure, they tell you to hold your breath so they can take yet another x-ray as they poke around.) Poking around they found a third, partially blocked artery, but it may be fixed with medication.

I am thankful to God for modern medicine. They can do all these things just by going in through the artery in the wrist, look around and put in a stent. When I grew up, if you got a heart attack, that was it. But most of all I stand in awe at the wonders of God

Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Merry Christmas! A very traditional Scandinavian Christmas!

We have finally decorated our Christmas tree! From our Scandinavian traditions Christmas Eve is the big day. We are awaiting the arrival of our children and grand children. First we all go to church, singing Christmas carols, After a short message telling the real reason for the season that Jesus came to earth, born of a virgin, sent to die to redeem us from our sins, risen again and is now back in Heaven with the Father, as He was from before the beginning of time. The singing ends with all singing “Silent Night, Holy Night.

Then we go back home and enjoy our Christmas dinner, followed by at least one more hour of singing Christmas carols, all choose at least one, beginning with the youngest. We do this while dancing around the Christmas tree. Then we eat the Marzipan cake, decorated as the Rose of Sharon and sing happy birthday, Lord Jesus. After that, it is the giving out of Christmas presents. We open them, one at a time, giving thanks, or whatever come to mind after each present.

There is no Santa in our Christmas, that would take away from the centrality of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Day is for eating and relaxation.

This is our traditional Scandinavian Christmas. No Lutfisk, my wife is from Denmark.