nuclear power

Darpa's Cyborg Insect Spies, Now Nuclear-Powered

When you write for Popular Science, it's easy to become desensitized to wild and crazy future tech. To wit: When I first heard that Darpa wanted to develop cyborg insects to carry surveillance equipment, I thought "ok, cyborg insect spies are pretty cool, but not blowing me away."

Then today, Cornell researchers working on the program unveiled a prototype transmitter for the cyborg bugs that runs on radioactive isotopes. Nuclear powered cyborg insect spies? Ok, now you have my attention.

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Finnish Company Claims Its Copper Canisters Can Store Nuclear Waste for 100,000 Years

While the fate of America's Yucca Mountain appears to be sealed, Finnish company Posiva is moving forward with a cutting-edge nuclear waste storage facility that it claims will safely store radioactive waste in drums deep in the ground for 100,000 years. While challenges abound, a green light from the Finnish government expected by 2012 will make the site on Finland's Olkiluoto Island the first permanent nuclear waste repository in the world, opening the door for more to follow.

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Russian Energy Firm Presses Forward With World's First Floating Nuclear Power Plant

It's one of those ideas that just sounds wrong: a barge-like floating nuclear plant in the middle of the ocean. But despite its somewhat unconventional approach, a Russian firm we first reported on in 2006 is forging ahead with plans to have the first model ready to begin service in 2012.

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Kaguya Spots Uranium, Raising Hope of Nuclear-Powered Lunar Colonies

Before its planned end-of-life crash landing, which it broadcasted dutifully in HD, Japan's Kaguya lunar craft used its gamma ray spectrometer to find the "first conclusive evidence" of uranium on the lunar surface.

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Cheaper, Smaller Nuclear Reactors Seek Customers in Developing World

A reactor ten times smaller than any online today is cheaper, but still lacks interested customers

While global warming may present a serious problem for most humans, it has been a great boon to the nuclear power industry. Looking to capitalize on the political and public will behind power plants that don't emit greenhouse gases, nuclear engineering company Babcock and Willcox has rolled out a new power plant almost ten times smaller than many of the reactors currently online.

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Eels Disappearing? Inconceivable!

The slippery species may be slipping away

There must be too many local fishermen out for pleasure cruises at night through eel-infested waters. European eels are in crisis, their numbers mysteriously plummeting in the last decades.

Also in today's links: farting machines, death via LHC and more.

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Dino vs. Flu vs. Nuclear Reactor

A nuclear reactor leak, decoded dinosaur proteins, and swine flu?! The news gods have smiled on this blogger

Scientists decoding dinosaur flesh? Problems with nuclear reactors? We got something for everyone in today's news roundup. All of a sudden, I'm a lot less scared of the flu...

First, though, on the swine flu front, Slate explains how Asian countries use heat sensors to help screen for flu victims. NEC, the electronics manufacturer that makes the cameras, told that there are 108 of them deployed at airports in Japan, but they couldn't say how many were in use at other Asian airports. Also, like the Slate piece, they couldn't say if the technology actually helped prevent the spread of the flu.

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Weighing the Costs

Findings complicate debates over nuclear reactors, GM crops

From the US PopSci team

Also in today's links: synaesthesia and sea horses.

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How to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Even if you can't get near the dog

Giving dogs and clams a new lease on life, mini-nuclear power plants, and more, in today's crop of radioactive links.

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The Explosive Nuclear Question

What would you use to keep next-generation nuclear reactors cool? If you said highly reactive molten sodium, take a bow

It's going to be at least another two decades before any commercial models are built, but researchers are at work designing the Generation IV nuclear reactors. Unlike the generation II and III models now in use that use water to cool and control the fission (preventing runaway reactions, subsequent meltdowns and the environmental apocalypse that would result), the leading contender for cooling material for the Gen IV reactors is molten sodium. Not sodium chloride (plain, unreactive table salt), but sodium metal.

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