Nuclear Reactors in Japan

There’s been a fair amount of worry the last couple days about the situation with several nuclear reactors which were hit by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The difficulty is, of course, that most reporters know nothing about nuclear energy or physics, and there is a tendency (in TV news in particular) to focus on whichever “experts” are most exciting. Combine that with the fact that when most people near the word “nuclear” they picture a mushroom cloud and it’s easy to produce hysteria.

While the events at the Fukushima plant reactors are serious, they also underline how many layers of redundancy and safety measures are built into modern nuclear power plants. There’s a good blog post by an MIT engineer (expanded and corrected by the Nuclear Science and Engineering department as MIT) which covers the basics of how this type of reactor works, what happened to the reactors at this plant which are having problems, and what the relevant dangers are. I’d strongly recommend this post over most mainstream media coverage. Members of the Nuclear Science and Engineering department has continued posting additional updates on the topic at this blog.

4 Responses to Nuclear Reactors in Japan

  • Thanks for posting this. I’m saddened but not surprised by that the anti-nuclear energy demagogues have jumped on this issue. I actually read a comment on another blog that said, “The risks are too high and there are simply too many Homer Simpsons in the world.” Because the Simpsons is obviously a reality show. I suspect that the dumbest person who ever worked at a nuclear power facility is smarter than the individual who made that comment.

  • DC, thank for posting this as well. I actually found this site two days ago in my attempt to find some real analysis on what is going on over there. I dispise hype of an event for the sake of selling commercial air time. I pray to the Lord everyday for a swift and asy resolve to this disaster and then again for the people of Japan.

    God Bless.


  • Please go to where I have been keeping a running commentary on the nuclear-related events in Japan. Pray for the workers who are heroically trying to control a desperate situation. And pray for all the people who are far more devastated by the loss of infrastructure, homes, food, water, clothing, shelter, etc., than by anything happening at Fukushima Daiichi or Fukushima Daini. PS, while I speak for no company, organization or institution, I have 30+ years of experience as a nuclear engineering professional (unlike news journalists, politicians and environmentalists). And go to and for the latest updates, NOT MS NBC or its adversary Fox News. They are both equally worthless.