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  1.  (9638.41)
    People always wonder why I hate on nuclear power. That's why. Fuck. I hope it doesn't get any worse, and all of our chappellers in Japan are ok.
  2.  (9638.42)
    Just the other day they said that this wasn't as bad as Three Mile Island, and now today some Princeton professor is saying it's actually much worse. Makes you wonder what will happen tomorrow.

    If things had worked out for us, my wife and I would be teaching in Japan right now. Now this has happened. The interesting thing is that I work with someone who visited and taught in Haiti and almost stayed longer, which means he would've been there when their earthquake happened.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMar 14th 2011
    New York Times:
    TOKYO — Japan’s nuclear crisis verged toward catastrophe on Tuesday, after an explosion at one crippled reactor damaged its crucial steel containment structure and a fire at another reactor spewed large amounts of radioactive material into the air, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.
  3.  (9638.44)
    Oh boy, I don't know that I should be feeling tense about it, but I am. I'm far enough away that even as the situation is worsening now I'm pretty sure I'm in no danger, but this doesn't like it's going to get any better. I hope everyone down there is taking care and staying as safe as they can.

    And on a lighter note, the Governor of Tokyo, Ishihara Shintaro who was being discussed recently here because he was spearheading that crackdown on adult manga, apparently said that the earthquake was tembatsu, "divine punishment".

    What an ass-hat.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMar 15th 2011
    Huh. I guess its "nice" to know it's not just dumbasses on YouTube comments who think this is punishment for something completely unrelated.
    • CommentTimeMar 15th 2011
    Japan's Giant Shock Rattles Ideas about Earthquake Behavior
    "This earthquake is a lesson in humility," says Emile Okal, a geophysicist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who studies great earthquakes and tsunamis. Few experts had thought that the seismic zone near Sendai, Japan, was capable of producing earthquakes anywhere near as powerful as the magnitude-9.0 shock on 11 March, the largest on record in Japan. Okal and his colleagues want to understand why the event was so much stronger than many people expected -- and what it means for seismic risks in Japan and elsewhere around the globe.
    • CommentTimeMar 15th 2011
    Somebody beat the WBC to the punch! is not evil! It's good even!
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    Regarding the nuclear situation: why don't scientists know anything??

    It is enfuriating to see one expert after the other admitting they don't know what has happened, what is happening and what's going to happen with the Fukushima plant. I wouldn't be surprised anymore if at some point the thing is going to turn into a black hole and suck up the whole world or something.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011

    My honest guess? Everyone's hedging their bets. No one wants to be the person to say "Yep, it's going tits up" or "Nope, everything's going to be fine" if the opposite happens.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    That's true I guess...

    But what is so baffling to me is that basically, nobody knows...I had always assumed that there were people who knew what could happen if this scenario materialized. It's not as if they didn't know Japan was earthquake prone...
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    Well, there is This Explanation about how nuclear reactors work and what happened to the one in Fukushima

    Also, because scientists don't always have THE ANSWER to things.
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    My expectation is that scientists aren't about guesses. They can give scenarios, but already this event has exceeded parameters of all scenarios previously developed.

    I'm very leery of anyone calling him or herself a scientist who's willing to volunteer a supposition when an unprecedented disaster like this occurs.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    Unprecedented maybe, but bound to happen at some point.

    This possibility should have been in all the scenario playbooks. 8,9 Earthquake was not only a possibility, it was from a geographic point of view almost a certainty that quakes of this magnitude were going to happen at in Japan. There have been several 8 + magnitude earthquakes in Japan's recorded history. And when they happen at sea, as they often do, a tsunami is unavoidable.
    • CommentAuthoricelandbob
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    Posted this n the Around The Net thread,b ut it's useful here as well...

    Adam Curtis Doscumentary: A is for Atom
    The film tells the story of the rise of nuclear power in America, Britain and the Soviet Union. It shows how the way the technologies were developed was shaped by the political and business forces of the time. And how that led directly to inherent dangers in the design of the containment of many of the early plants.
    Those early plants in America were the Boiling Water Reactors. And that is the very model that was used to build the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Three of them were supplied directly by General Electric.
    In 1966 the US government Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards tried to force the industry to redesign their containment structures to make them safer. But the chairman of the committee claims in the film that General Electric in effect refused.
    And in 1971 the Atomic Energy Commission did a series of tests of Emergency Core Cooling systems. Accidents were simulated. In each case the emergency systems worked - but the water failed to fill the core. Often being forced out under pressure.
  4.  (9638.55)
    I'm gonna guess that scientists aren't saying what's exactly up at the plant because the plant has been evacuated and they aren't there, from what I know.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    I guess that's true.

    I understand that the experts can't know the exact situation at the plant at this moment, but I assume there is still contact between the people working to keep the disaster from getting worse, and those experts who are meant to inform the public. Based on the information they get from those people the experts should then be able to give a rundown of the possible outcomes: in the event that meltdown is avoided, then any radiation leakage will be minimal and not very harmful. In the event that they cannot get the situation under control, or when meltdown occurs, or the fuel rods are exposed, whatever, then everybody should evacuate Japan and swim for safety. Give some actionable information.

    If you want to build a machine capable of emitting deadly amounts of radiation but you cannot tell what's going to happen to that machine should some event like a tsunami occur, then perhaps it's smarter not to build that machine at all.

    So I'm just angry that this could happen.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    > ... the experts should then be able to give a rundown of the possible outcomes ... In the event that a) ... or in the event that b)

    People already know what happened, at Chernobyl: don't they.

    [At least, they have an idea of how many "first responders" died soon afterwards. Estimates of the subsequent deaths vary: from the official estimates of -- wait for it -- zero; to unofficial estimates of up to a million.]

    So, "in the event" of a scenario like uncontained fire, I suppose they can predict the consequences. Recent news like "can't drop coolant from helicopters because it's too radioactive" sounded sadly familiar to me (because I've read that, at Chernobyl, the helicopter pilots went ahead and completed the missions).

    What they're hoping though, presumably, and what everybody don't know yet (i.e. people aren't sure of: or at least, some people aren't agreeing with others), is whether they'll be able to prevent such a scenario.

    My point of view is that they are, now, outside of the normal operating scenarios. For example, the spent fuel rods are supposed to be sitting around indefinitely, in a cooling pool. Now, the pool/coolant is gone, and the rods are begining to overheat: and the question is whether/when they'll be able to replace the coolant.

    They (the Japanese) are hoping/expecting/saying that they'll be able to get it under control. Other governments (e.g. the French) are saying that the authorities have "visibly lost control" and that people (e.g any French citizens around Tokyo) should leave the country.

    [It occurs to me that telling everyone to leave the country might never be a feasible option for the Japanese authorities; logistical problems: the US couldn't even evacuate NOLA.]

    Japan nuclear crisis and tsunami aftermath - live updates: March 16
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2011
    > I'm gonna guess that scientists aren't saying what's exactly up at the plant because the plant has been evacuated and they aren't there, from what I know.

    Even when they're "at the plant" they're not "there": it's all remote control, isnt it.

    The book _Systemantics_ includes 100s of examples, several of which are from the nuclear industry:

    * All the alarms go off at once: you can't tell what's wrong.
    * You initiate corrective action and the alarm is extinguished: extinguished because you initiated corrective action, not because the corrective action actually happens
    * Something is blocking the coolant system: and you don't know what. It takes 6 months to build a probe that can go in and investigate: you find it's a piece of the emergency fail-safe system, which was installed later and isn't on the plant's blue-prints, a piece of which has broken and has blocked the coolant system.

    Systemantics: I recommend it.
  5.  (9638.59)
    I was trying to be optimistic and believe that the Japanese authorities and the operating company were doing what was best, but it's sounding increasingly like they could have, and could be, doing things better. It's worrying that only now are they connecting a power line from another source to the plant to restore power, and while I think everything should be taken with a pinch of salt - this isn't exactly happy reading.
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2011
    Seems to me the real problem is the huge amount of people not getting evacuated, or even fed, watered or warmed up whilst they shelter. It's cold and there are dead bodies everywhere. How much longer can they keep going?