Week 6 320 W2020


Nuclear II Before Class

  • Read about the latest and perhaps last (?) US nuclear reactor to be built.
  • Can Thorium Save the Global Nuclear Power Industry?
    Imagine assessment questions:
    – Why is Thorium better than Uranium?
    – If Thorium is better, then why are we using Uranium?
  • Watch this video by a pro-nuclear activist. We will discuss this in class.
  • First and foremost: read this NPR interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Green New Deal! Please also hear the podcast that you can access on the right near the top. What does she say that that you find is supported by this class? What might she have done better?
  • Please read about and start the empathy self-intervention. You can find the link to the website on the main class website.
  • last 5 years were hottest 5 years in last century. Please see the animation in this article about the temperature rise.
  • Finish PS#5 to turn in today.
  • See the video: How about the nuclear power we have yet to control: Fusion
  • Please see video Nuclear Safety
  • Please see the slides if you like.
  • Please see this video / read the article. Subramanian The numbers in this paper are important. Please know them.
  • Maybe I’m wrong to dismiss nuclear in our energy future. See this video explaining why.
  • I posted some notes on Assessment #5 on main class website. Many student answers were passable but lacked detail and/or support. Please see notes and make sure you’re solid on these questions… expect to see them again.
  • Fusion again? I’ve often proclaimed that fusion (like the fuel cell car) has been, is today, and will always be the energy technology of the future. However, There are people that know way WAY more than I do about fusion who disagree. Please please listen to this MIT pod cast with Dennis Whyte of MIT’s Plasma Physics and Fusion Center. I did my senior project on a small tokamak at MIT’s Plasma Physics Center. After listening to the pod cast, I want to know, who do you agree with more: the leading expert in fusion, or me (dropped out of a fusion program after 2 years at PPPL)… and why? What might I be missing? What might Dennis be missing? There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but the issues it brings up are important ones.


Wednesday’s Class: Climate Change, the Policy and Politics. Before Class
  • Please do PS#5 due today (Wednesday). Sorry for the change in schedule.
  • Please see the video Response to CC Also see Slides about Human Response
  • Please look up and understand what the Anthropocene Epoch is.
  • Please see Single Action Bias vs Foot in the Door [related to climate change].
  • While you read about the Kübler-Ross model, please ponder why I’d have you read this while studying human response to climate change.
  • This really happened! Please see this very short video from around 2006 CEI CO2 is life, by the Competitive Enterprise Institute , It’s interesting to note that two years ago, Trump chose the leader of CEI, Myron Ebell, to lead the EPA transition team.
  • See “The Daily Show” John Stewart on climate change
  • Please see Our Brains and Climate Change
  • We can speculate why shortly after taking office, Trump wanted the names of scientists working on climate change, but this isn’t the first time that there has been a Ban on talking about CC
  • California has not been acting as a regular state. On some levels, California has lead or been in direct opposition to Washington DC. Jerry Brown has brought this to a head with respect to Climate Change and Immigration: read CNN.
  • This is not new. A decade ago, REPUBLICAN Arnold Schwarzenegger initiated “international” climate change mitigation talks with UK’s Tony Blair saying that President George W. Bush was “late to the after party party”
  • I posted some notes on Assessment #5 on main class website. Many student answers were passable but lacked detail and/or support. Please see notes and make sure you’re solid on these questions… expect to see them again.
  • Please see energy audit spreadsheet on main class website. please audit your electricity use. Please hand in results next Wednesday in class.
  • Nuclear? Thanks for your attention to this issue today. I hope I was able to make a case that it’s a complicated landscape and I have a hard time taking someone seriously who starts out with, “the only way to stop climate change is…” I do admit that the most I study the energy landscape, the less I am against nuclear. It is maybe the best “supply side management” solution to providing electricity all the time. I personally like demand side management (real time pricing and dispatchable loads), but it’s not politically popular. I certainly think we should continue to fund research in fusion research, small nuclear development, and Thorium reactor research. Additionally, we’ve talked about nuclear as base load, but new reactors can “load follow” ramping up and down with demand. Cheap? Maybe electricity is already cheap enough. Grid? we will likely persist to have the grid in populated areas.
  • My 11 year old son turned me onto Our World In Data… For instance, check out the amazing graph on this page, describing the carbon emissions associated with a kg of each food. Beef produces 60 kg of CO2 (equivalent) per kg of beef! 6 kg for chicken… 1 kg for peas… and 0 kg for some nuts!
  During Class    

  • Pick up power meters so that you can measure power consumption and see how much electricity you use. Groups of two people are invited. 


Friday’s Class : We meet at the Poly Canyon Village Cogeneration Facility (Next to the parking garage).
Before Class Activity Session.
  • Assessment, Working on Projects. Having a discussion about materials for class prep, evaluating bills or taking a hike? pending weather.