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  • richardmitnick 5:05 pm on January 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Medill Reports,   

    From Argonne Lab via Medill Reports: “Out from the shadows: Argonne’s quest to demystify nuclear energy 


    Dec 12, 2012
    Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

    Argonne National Laboratory is trying to set the record straight on nuclear energy as a clean fuel that can be generated safely. No carbon emissions and no need for imports.
    But the scientists working inside it want the world to know they’ve got nothing to hide.

    Argonne grew out of the Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb at a secret location in New Mexico during World War II. ‘Argonne has really been the reactor laboratory,’ [Argonne nuclear engineer Roger] Blomquist said. Now Argonne scientists are putting the cabash on the nuclear-related stigma and promoting public awareness of the reality and potential of nuclear energy. ‘We’ve never done bombs, nuclear weapons—anything like that,’ he said.

    Argonne National Laboratory

    The lab, focusing on nuclear energy, alternative energy and battery development among a long list of interdisciplinary research programs, is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. Argonne’s dedication to public education is especially pertinent in society’s current interest in nuclear energy as a potentially green solution, according to Tom Ewing, Associate Division Director of Argonne’s Nuclear Engineering Division.

    During a private tour of a nuclear energy museum on Argonne’s campus, Blomquist explained that the laboratory’s work includes reactor materials construction and safety, fuel recycling and general reactor safety. Argonne developed the world’s first nuclear reactor able to produce electricity and then produced the first prototype reactor used to power the whole town of Arco, Idaho, as part of proving the stability of boiling-water reactors.

    ‘We’re not trying to do something secretive here,’ said Emily Wolters, also an Argonne nuclear engineer, in an interview. ‘We’re just trying to show people it’s a safe technology.'”

    See the full article here.

    Argonne Labs Banner

    Medill Reports is written and produced by graduate journalism students at Northwestern University’s Medill school.

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  • richardmitnick 7:36 pm on April 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Medill Reports   

    From Medill Reports: “Clocks measuring Earth’s formation off by millions of years” 

    by Eric Eckstrom
    April 10, 2012

    “Timing is everything and astrophysicists at Argonne National Laboratory may reset the “clocks” that time the formation of our planet.


    The problem is that the Earth formed far more rapidly than previously thought, according to new research pursued at Argonne and several other labs. If accurate, researchers say there are significant implications for not only the planetary history of Earth, but for the moon, Mars, and the early history of the solar system.

    ‘It helps better congeal our ideas and models about how the early sun evolved and on what time scale,’ said Richard Pardo, operations manager of the physics division of Argonne.

    The idea was born during a conversation between Michael Paul, one of the Argonne physicists involved in the research, and a colleague working in Japan.

    Thus began a 4-year journey to recalculate the planetary history of Earth.

    By manufacturing and studying a previously “extinct” isotope called Samarium-146 – one of the elements present during the formation of the solar system – their suspicions were eventually confirmed.

    Samarium-146’s half-life, or time it takes the isotope to decrease by half, was 30 percent shorter than previously determined. This was significant because Samarium-146 was the “clock” physicists and geochemists used to gauge the speed at which the Earth formed during its early history, and the speed of that clock had been wrong by a weighty margin.

    The Samarium-146 was studied using Argonne’s superconducting linear accelerator known as ATLAS [Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System], a machine that shoots beams of subatomic particles in materials to unravel near invisible mysteries. ‘We use it to find a needle in a haystack,’ said Ernst Rehm, another Argonne Physicist involved in the study. ‘In 20 or 30 years, this technology will move forward and can be used as a precise dating tool when studying Mars,’ Rehm said.

    See the full article here.

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