It Took 2.1 Years For Fukushima's Radioactive Plume to Reach Us

Cesium 134 and cesium 137: The two isotopes that were released into the Pacific Ocean when an earthquake ruined the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the eastern coast of Japan in 2011. The panic over the leakage was instantaneous in the US—but a new study shows how long it really took. » 1/01/15 5:00pm 1/01/15 5:00pm

The Navy once tried using nuclear-powered wetsuits to keep divers warm

The ocean is an inhospitable place for soft, land-based human bodies. It's dark, oxygenless, and, perhaps most intractable of all, really cold. At the pressure of certain depths, neoprene suits will compress and lose their insulating power. The air in tanks also gets cold, so divers become chillier with each breath.… » 12/02/14 1:25pm 12/02/14 1:25pm

We're Running Out of the Nuclear Fuel That Powers Space Travel

Rosetta's lander lasted just 60 hours on a comet after it bounced into the dark shadows of a cliff, where its solar panels couldn't power the vehicle. Why didn't it carry a more reliable power source, say a nuclear battery like one that's unfailingly fueled Voyager for decades? It's a simple question with a… » 12/02/14 12:30pm 12/02/14 12:30pm

How to Store Nuclear Waste for 10,000 Years (and How Not To)

America has currently no plan for its nuclear waste. It did, however, at one point, have a supremely ambitious plan to bury it in a mountain for 10,000 years. From color-changing radioactive cats to rotting kitty litter, this essay from Method Quarterly explores the mythical and the mundane problems of nuclear waste. » 11/14/14 2:52pm 11/14/14 2:52pm

The U.S. once considered using 23 nuclear bombs to blast out a highway

Rising out of California's Mojave Desert are the Bristol Mountains, nearly 4,000 feet of rock blocking easy passage through the scorching desert. For decades, Route 66 and the Santa Fe Railway have had to bend south, acquiescing to the mountains' height. But in the 1960s, at the peak of atomic age, we had a plan… » 9/23/14 4:34pm 9/23/14 4:34pm

Radioactive boars from Chernobyl are still wandering around Germany

Nearly 30 years later, radiation from Chernobyl still scars the landscape. Perhaps most remarkably, some of that radiation traveled hundreds of miles downwind, settled into the soil, and moved up through the food chain. So now we have radioactive wild boars, still roaming around Germany causing trouble. » 9/03/14 11:16am 9/03/14 11:16am

Nowhere Under the Sea Is Safe from Britain's Newest Nuclear Submarine

Russia isn't the only nation launching a nuclear sub hunter after two decades of development. The UK recently rolled the third of seven £1 billion Astute Class nuclear submarines, the HMS Artful, out of its cavernous dry dock for a year of demanding sea trials and a quarter century of service beneath the seas. » 7/04/14 11:30am 7/04/14 11:30am

If Einstein Had Never Been Born, Would We Still Have Nuclear Weapons?

Albert Einstein and his equation E=mc² are famously connected to the modern atomic age. But as nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein writes in this counterfactual account of history, the great physicist mattered less than you'd think in the invention of the nuclear bomb. » 6/28/14 9:00am 6/28/14 9:00am

100 tons of TNT, one really cool explosion shock wave

Today I learned that scientists blow up 100 tons of TNT in the middle of nowhere not just for the fun of it, but to listen to the blast. The Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty Organization sets microphones thousands of miles away to listen to low frequency waves produced by these TNT explosions. » 6/27/14 7:22pm 6/27/14 7:22pm

Seeing a nuclear reactor start up is cooler than my sci-fi dreams

Ka-freaking-boom. The piercing blue flash reverberates through the water and looks cooler than my imagination. If watching movies has taught me anything, it's that when you see that particular shade of glowing blue, something superhuman is happening. And yes, a nuclear reactor starting up is as powerful as it gets. » 6/26/14 12:36am 6/26/14 12:36am

The most spectacular and destructive atomic bombs in history

Here are the most spectacular and destructive atomic detonations in history. Most of them are in crispy HD thanks to the folks of Atom Central, one of my favorite sites. Looking at their terrifying beauty, I can't understand why we wasted so much in these absurd devices of mass extermination. » 5/22/14 7:04pm 5/22/14 7:04pm