Tag: Uranium

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David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss Hong Kong hitting pause on an extradition agreement with the Chinese government following massive protests. They also examine the Supreme Court’s approach to Christian vendors vs. the LGBT agenda. They consider what comes next after Iran’s decision to exceed the low-grade uranium limit […]

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Marie and Pierre Curie: A Love Story

 

When I think of the name Curie, I automatically think of Marie Curie, the incredibly bright and industrious woman who discovered the nature and uses of uranium. She is especially recognized for being the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize. (The Nobel Committee first wanted to give the prizes only to her husband, Pierre, and Henri Becquerel, but Pierre insisted the Marie also be recognized.) Her husband’s insistence that she be included was typical of the kind of love, partnership and respect this couple shared:

By the summer of 1898, Marie’s husband Pierre had become as excited about her discoveries as Marie herself. He asked Marie if he could cooperate with her scientifically, and she welcomed him. By this time, they had a one-year old daughter Irene. Amazingly, 37 years later, Irene Curie herself would win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

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As they celebrate seven years of the Three Martini Lunch, Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America also applaud Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley for requesting testimony from the FBI informant behind the explosive reports of Russians engaging in bribes, kickbacks, and Clinton Foundation donations in order to get Hillary Clinton’s […]

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Rosatom: Russia’s One Bright Spot (Thanks to Hillary?)

 

MedvedevIn a depressing address to glum members of the Duma last week, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev enumerated a long list of crises and problems confronting the Russian economy. Medvedev blamed the country’s dire economic conditions on the double whammy of sanctions and falling energy prices, and laid out the anti-crisis measures that his government is taking to prop up banks, municipalities, small and medium-sized business, and the automotive industry, among others.

Two-thirds through his speech, Medvedev turned to two pieces of good news: a record harvest and the successes of the nuclear energy industry, under the umbrella of Rosatom (“Russian atomic energy”), which builds nuclear power plants and weapons. Medvedev proudly characterized Rosatom as “stable” and praised that stability as “of critical importance” to Russia. Per Medvedev, Rosatom’s portfolio of nuclear power plant contracts rose from 12 in the previous year to its current 29. Medvedev praised Rosatom’s technology as cutting edge (contrary to its backward reputation from the Chernobyl era).

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Hillary’s Day of Wrath

 

Hillary-Clinton-angry3Today was a very bad day for Hillary Clinton. This time it wasn’t about logos or burritos, but rather uranium, foreign affairs, and serious corruption. The New York Times published an exposé on ties between the Clintons and a sketchy deal that left Vladimir Putin in control of a significant portion of America’s uranium; uranium it can now sell to Iran and other bad actors in the world.

You can read the 4,500-word Times article or watch the nine-minute-long summary produced by Fox News, but here’s a simplified tick-tock of the deal:

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Saturday Night Science: Uranium Enrichment

 

Uranium enrichment centrifuge cascadeIt is expected that some time in March 2015 an agreement will be announced between the United States and the rest of the P5+1 nations and Iran about constraints on Iran’s nuclear program in return for removing sanctions against the Iranian economy. Saturday Night Science does not veer into policy issues, nor cover breaking news, but to understand the implications of any agreement, if and when the details are announced, it’s important to grasp the fundamentals of uranium enrichment and its consequences for the ability to build a nuclear weapon. So let’s dive into the gnarly specifics. I will concentrate on the technologies most commonly used today and leave out many details. Think of this as an executive briefing on what you need to know about any proposed agreement. If you follow the links in the material that follows, you will find more information on these topics.

Natural uranium, extracted from uranium ore, is composed primarily of two isotopes (isotopes are nuclei with the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons). Isotopes have identical chemical properties, but can behave differently in nuclear reactions. In natural uranium, 99.284% is the heavier U-238 nucleus, while 0.711% is U-235. U-235 is the only isotope which can fission with thermal neutrons, which are the means of fission in nuclear power reactors and nuclear fission weapons. It is possible to build a power reactor which uses natural uranium, but only with a moderator of heavy water or graphite, but no modern civil nuclear power reactors use these designs, which are expensive and inefficient. It is impossible to build a nuclear weapon of any kind from natural uranium.

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