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Talk:FAQ on radioactivity and nuclear technology

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This Nuclear energy related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


Answers to write[edit]

  • What are the possible health effects of radiation exposure?
  • What are the units for measuring radiation?
  • How does a nuclear reactor work?
  • Are nuclear power plants safe? (or: how safe?)
  • What are the environmental impacts of nuclear power?
  • What does nuclear waste look like?
  • How is nuclear waste processed and stored?
  • How long is nuclear waste dangerous?
  • Is there enough uranium?
  • How likely are nuclear accidents? (already partially addressed by the "how safe are nuclear reactors" question)
  • What are the potential consequences of a nuclear accident? (-> refer to SOARCA)
  • Are nuclear power plants insured against accidents? (-> Price-Anderson and similar acts elsewhere)

Potential nuclear weapons section

  • What are the types of nuclear weapons? (dealt with in 'how does a nuclear bomb work?')
  • How hard is it to build a nuclear bomb?
  • Is it possible to build a bomb from spent fuel? (already dealt with in another question)
  • How powerful is a nuclear explosion?
  • What are the effects of a nuclear explosion?
  • Could nuclear war end life on Earth?

Things to improve in existing answers

  • Add a note about failed waste repository projects in Germany.
  • Refs for uranium mining section.
  • Ref for the waste longevity answer.
  • Re-calculate the waste volume comparison with UK figures.
  • Better introduction.

--Tweenk (talk) 02:27, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

Coming along nicely[edit]

I cruise RC a lot so I've been seeing you busily cobbling this baby together. This really looks great! If you need me to do anything I'd be happy to find someone to help you since I'm an old fat lazy dude with no ambition. But seriously, it really does look swell! 05:22, 28 July 2012 (UTC) C®ackeЯ

Thanks for the appreciation :)
You (or the people you recruit) can always help by pointing out which parts are unconvincing or seem one-sided. Obviously I have a strong opinion on these subjects, so this kind of independent scrutiny should help a lot.
BTW, I'll announce this article on the saloon bar once I feel it's fairly complete. Right now it's missing some information on nuclear accidents, and I am considering adding a third section dealing with nuclear bombs. --Tweenk (talk) 08:00, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

Impacts of uranium mining[edit] leaching, which extracts uranium by pumping a solution of sodium bicarbonate or sulfuric acid into the ground and removing it after it reacts with the ore. can result in groundwater pollution.

I think it should mention that this is a gentler way of fracking. Yes, it's not nearly as harmful as the method oil companies use—baking soda and sulfuric acid are relatively mild compared to the more volatile chemicals used in oil fracking—but that's still what it is. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 04:43, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

These methods are a little different. Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas involves drilling holes in a hard, impermeable rock and then cracking it by pumping hot water with additives under high pressure into the holes. The cracks allow more methane to permeate out of the rock. In in-situ uranium leaching, there is no fracturing and the deposit must be water-permeable to be suitable for extraction with this method. No amount of fracturing would help, because the uranium must first react with the leaching agent to become mobile. --Tweenk (talk) 23:26, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Gotcha—it's not fracking because there's no actual fracturing. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 23:28, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Citation Needed[edit]

There are a lot of things in this FAQ that need a citation. Do you mind if I add the template in where appropriate? I ask, of course, because this is your userspace.--ADtalkModerator 06:53, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Go ahead. --Tweenk (talk) 16:07, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

"Are depleted uranium munitions dangerous?"[edit]

I'm not going to contest any of this, mainly because I barely care, but I thought that something that may be worth adding to this section is that NATO has banned the use of DU rounds. (Source: guy in an Army Air Calv unit that used to use DU rounds)--Just relax, and stay funny (talk) 02:25, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I can't find a web source for this. Currently I can only find this, an official NATO source from 2005, which does not mention a ban. The rest of Google mainly talks about "depleted uranium bombs" in Libya, even though there is no such thing. Maybe the ban was in force for a specific operation or came from someone else than NATO, e.g. one of the national armies. --Tweenk (talk) 02:47, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
I couldn't tell you about any of it. It was brought up in a class once, so I talked to my Army Air Calv friend, and he's told me that NATO has banned the use of DU rounds. I just thought it would be useful for this--Just relax, and stay funny (talk) 02:56, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

What is radioactivity?[edit]

Under this heading we say: Radioactivity is the instability of certain kinds of atomic nuclei.

I think this is wrong. I'd say that "Radioactivity" is the general name for the various particles and radiation given off by these unstable atoms.--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 21:41, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

The proper name for that is 'ionizing radiation'. In scientific contexts, 'radioactivity' is a property of atomic nuclei. You can't say someone was "exposed to radioactivity" - you need to say "exposed to (ionizing) radiation". On the other hand, you can say "emission of radioactivity", which means the emission of radioactive nuclei into the environment.
In common usage, 'radioactivity' can refer to radiation, but it's not strictly correct. Use of the phrase 'radioactive particles' to describe alpha / beta / gamma radiation is also incorrect, since they are not themselves radioactive, only ionizing. --Tweenk (talk) 05:06, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
So ... you're saying the definition: Radioactivity is the instability of certain kinds of atomic nuclei. is literally correct? Because I still don't think it is.
Looking for various definitions I find: S: (n) radiation, radioactivity (the spontaneous emission of a stream of particles or electromagnetic rays in nuclear decay), and Radioactivity refers to the particles which are emitted from nuclei as a result of nuclear instability. and Radioactivity is the spontaneous disintegration of atomic nuclei. The nucleus emits particles, � particles, or electromagnetic rays during this process. and As its name implies, radioactivity is the act of emitting radiation spontaneously. These would seem to agree with my understanding rather than yours.--Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 09:56, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
It's not clear what link 1 refers to - radiation or radioactivity. Link 2 is just wrong, the emitted particles are 'ionizing radiation', not 'radioactivity'. Links 3 and 4 basically agree with the definition in the FAQ (for link 4, this is apparent in the second sentence). I will change 'instability' to 'spontaneous disintegration' so that it agrees with link 3. --Tweenk (talk) 05:07, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
Well that's better I suppose. The thing is that it's an "activity" not a state. Something is happening. --Bob"I thought this was supposed to be "Rational" Wiki?." 11:41, 30 January 2013 (UTC)


Presumably he means this. Peter mqzp 02:37, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Pretty much. There is some speculation of uranium use but given that the whole area is highly classified that doesn't mean much. Uranium's pyrophoric proterties suggest to me that its use is unlikely although I guess there might be some kind of military use for a compact cloud of flaming toxic death I can't see it being worth the effort.Geni (talk) 19:01, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Additions to "Can nuclear power infrastructure be used to create a nuclear weapon?"[edit]

Geni, you keep inserting vague wording under the question "Can nuclear power infrastructure be used to create a nuclear weapon?" which is meant to imply that an advanced nation may somehow clandestinely make a nuclear weapon, and that to claim otherwise is a 'direct insult to the ingenuity of chemical engineers'. What exactly are you trying to argue?

  • Unfortunately most serious attempts to create nuclear weapons are by nation states which have a fair ability to meet difficult chemical and engineering challenges. I have no idea what this means. Does Iran qualify? Not really, because we already suspect that Iran is trying to make a bomb. The only case that would sort-of fit the description is Israel, except even they didn't manage to keep it secret and wouldn't be able to pull it off without U.S. assistance.
  • This is however somewhat time dependent. Over the longer term it is somewhat more viable to hide small drops in production. No, you still have to substantially change the way the centrifuges are connected together, which would be detected by an IAEA inspection. The enrichment process does not separate U-235 and U-238 completely - each step alters the isotope ratio very slightly. To make 80% U-235 you need many more cascades than to make 5% U-235 for reactors.
  • Light water reactors are not however the only class of reactor used for electricity production. This sentence is superfluous, because CANDU and RBMK are mentioned in the previous sentence.
  • That said 20 tons really isn't that much by the standards of industrial chemistry (and there are some theoretical separation techniques that could be made to be highly modular) so a sufficiently determined advanced industrial economy might well be able to pull it off. So what is the conclusion? That someone, somewhere, at some point in time might make an atomic weapon without the whole world knowing?

I welcome constructive changes to the article, but I just don't understand what you are trying to say and your edits make the article sound a bit schizophrenic. --Tweenk (talk) 23:33, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Iran doesn't have a significant domestic nuclear program. The usual suspects for people who could buil a weapon without people noticing are japan and germany. We know that south korea managed to make small amounts of enriched material without the IAEA (and supposedly the south korean goverment) noticing.
False. Transfers can be done manually if you've got enough chemists experienced with working with fluorine.
Its needed to counter the misleading inference of the following sentence.
The clonclusion is that some chemical engineers are really rather good at what they do and saying that they can't do something is unwise.Geni (talk) 01:30, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
"We know that south korea managed to make small amounts of enriched material" do you have a link? I would be interested in reading about this. As for Japan and Germany, these countries might be technically capable of building a clandestine nuclear weapon but I don't see how such a program would be financed and who would take this kind of political risk.
As far as I understand the operation of an enrichment plant, manual transfers between centrifuges are unfeasible. The installation is working in continuous flow, not in batches.
I don't see the misleading inference. CANDU and RBMK are used for power production and have online refueling capabilities.
I can add a paragraph at the end that making a bomb clandestinely using civilian infrastructure would be possible but very hard, and it is almost certainly easier to build separate secret facilities (the Israel route). --Tweenk (talk) 23:08, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
South korea? They used atomic vapor laser isotope separation.[1]
In the case of Japan there are enough government subsidies to hide the funding and with their slightly odd technocrat based government its entirely possible that it would be decided that china posed enough of a threat that nuclear weapons were needed. Note that this is the less paranoid position. More paranoid observers assume that this has already happened.
Again you underestimate chemical engineers. Your biggest challange is squaring the paperwork although some of the people who work at Sellafield could probably help you there.
civilian infrastructure includes building up a knowledge base. Flourine chemists for example.Geni (talk) 22:02, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
Your links says: "the revelations confirm the potency of the IAEA's new environmental monitoring system called for in the agency's Additional Protocol" - e.g. they didn't manage to hide these activities from the IAEA. --Tweenk (talk) 00:15, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
The IAEA missed it at the time and didn't find out until after the South Korean goverment did. That qualifies as hiding by any reasonable standard.Geni (talk) 14:36, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

Dubrova and heritable germ-line mutations after Chernobyl[edit]

Dubrova et al (1996) confirmed heritable germ-line mutations after Chernobyl — Unsigned, by: / talk

How much nuclear waste is produced?[edit]

"83 kg of hazardous waste" What is the definition of "harzardous"? It's not explicitely said in the book. Äxl (talk) 10:38, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

Uranium glass etc[edit]

Some mention perhaps - it is available and somewhat unsafe [2], [3] and [4] etc. Anna Livia (talk) 19:21, 5 March 2020 (UTC)