Japanese Nuclear Reactors

It is always sad to see a country not learn from the mistakes of the past. Japan sits firmly within the Pacific Ring of Fire which is highly susceptible to earthquakes and resulting Tsunami’s.
Nuclear Reactors by their nature require large amounts of water for cooling, so are mostly built near the ocean, as we have seen with Fukushima which leaves them vulnerable to the devastation of a Tsunami.
Now, it is worth noting, that I am not totally against Nuclear Energy, it has its use in medical treatment, and I believe it will one day prove to be an invaluable resource in terms of space exploration. I do not think it is bad, but nuclear reactors are dangerous and the spent radioactive waste is extremely lethal. I think it is a shame that it is used, before all other renewable energy sources have been exhausted.
Now I understand that Japan is a relatively small country in terms of land mass, which may present some problems with clean renewable energies, but I really think they need to fast track their solar, wind and tidal wave technologies to reduce their reliance on nuclear energy.
The timeline on this BBC article, indicates that Japan has been nuclear power free from May to September 2012 (approximately 4 months) and also from September 2013 to present, which is more than a year, so it can be done.
There are companies with very large amounts of money invested in these nuclear power plants and they will lobby government to restart them. The only ones who can stop it from happening is the Japanese people.

Alone in the Galaxy?

I am a fan of Professor Brian Cox, and his series “Wonders of the Solar System” and “Wonders of the Universe”
I almost bought tickets to see his show in Australia. However after reading an article on the sydney morning herald website, I had completely lost my faith in his credibility.
The article was titled “We are alone in the Universe”. To say that intelligent life does not exist elsewhere in the universe is absolutely ludicrous, I have no doubt that it does. However when I just now revisited the article, it appears it was just poor journalism, and they had misquoted Professor Brian Cox. They have since corrected the article and issued a retraction.
He has been quoted as saying

“There is only one advanced technological civilisation in this galaxy and there has only ever been one – and that’s us,”

I will concede that what he is saying is possible, although I think highly unlikely. But there is a chance he could be right. Life indeed appears to be rare. A rare combination of circumstances need to be in place in order for intelligent life as we know it to be present. The planet needs to be have water, needs to be the right distance from a sun, so that the temperature will allow life, it needs to have an atmosphere. It also needs to have a planet like Jupiter within the solar system, which has been dubbed the vacuum cleaner of the solar system and in a large number of instances has drawn large meteors into it, thus preventing an impact with earth.
These circumstances are a rare combination which has allowed intelligent life to develop and thrive, and it is clear so far, that it is not all that common a combination, and life indeed is rare from what we have seen and know. This understanding should serve as a reminder of the immense importance of protecting our natural environment. It saddens to see how little regard we have for just how precious the earths atmosphere is, and how we have placed short term greed over this most precious of resources.

Obama on Climate Change

I have liked President Obama right from the start. I think he is essentially a good person trying to do good positive things, unfortunately I cannot say the same for some of the american presidents of past who have just been out to serve their own self interest. To finally see an american president get serious on the topic of climate change, was both surprising and refreshing.
According to the NASA website

Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities,1and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

Yet the fossil fuel lobby industry is a powerful one, they yield power in the form of political donations, and to date they have had a strong influence on policy making in Washington. Let’s hope that changes, and we start to see decisions which are in the best interests of the mainstream public and not special interest groups.

Cosmos 2014

Over 33 years after the original Cosmos TV series was released, National Geographic are remaking this brilliant TV series and have modernised it with the latest information that we know. While the old series is clearly dated, it is brilliant and still worth watching for the late Carl Sagan, a man who I have the deepest and utmost respect for. Carl Sagan explained things in such a touching and eloquent manner, that few could possibly match. The new series is presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson, I am so looking forward to seeing it. 

Higgs Boson

The recent discovery on a particle which is believed to be the Higgs Boson, is quite fascinating. I am not entirely sure that it has been confirmed that it is the particle that they were looking for, but the Higgs Boson, or the God particle as it is commonly referred to by the media could provide us with valuable information on both the formation and future of the universe. I do not like the “God Particle” tag that it has been given. Below is an interesting video explaining the Higgs Boson.

With all new knowledge, there seems to also be risks. Could this new discovery be used for great things, such as space exploration, or for bad things, like weapons of even greater mass destruction.  Below is a video from an australian tv show with Dr Karl which questions the future possibilities of this scientific discovery.

Global Warming – Real or Not?

Well there seems to be general consensus among scientists that there is global warming.
Yet there is still debate within the general community over whether global warming is happening or not, and even among those who will concede that the globe is warming, some will argue that it cannot possibly be induced by humans. That we are too insignificant to have an impact on the planet. This to me is a ridiculous argument, there are many parts of the world where you can see the physical impact that pollution has on the atmosphere. And furthermore, I have seen a documentary where astronauts have talked of the lit up planet at night, the lights being city man made lighting.
This page has some incredible photos which show that.
I have always felt that whether you believe it or not, I would rather be on the cautious side and make changes towards a greater use of renewable energy sources. and be wrong, than sit back and do nothing and risk inflicting catastrophic damage on the earth’s atmosphere which may very well be reversible. There may be other planets in the universe which may be inhabitable, we have yet to discover them, nor do we have the means of getting there, so we really need to take care of this wonderful planet.
This youtube video explains things in a very thought provoking way.

Amazon Dams

Saw an interesting piece on Sixty Minutes Australia on the plight of the native people of the Amazon forest.
They have lived their lifestyle relatively untouched by modern society for thousands of years, and now, like in a scene from the movie “Avatar” that way of life is likely to come to an end. They are planning to build 60 dams throughout the Amazon which will see some areas completely flooded, while other areas will be dry and without water. They said the people that are displaced might be reduced to going to the major cities and begging for their survival. You have to wonder in such a situation whether Solar and Wind power options have been fully exhausted.
They do have two very popular people who are advocating for their cause, James Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar, as well as Sigourney Weaver, who I always associate with Ripley from the Alien series of movies.
Not sure if this video can be viewed by people outside of Australia, but it is definitely worth taking a look.