Slightly OT: Pete Ashdown for Utah Senator in 2006

Jacob Fugal lukfugl at gmail.com
Mon Jul 11 17:05:57 MDT 2005


On 7/11/05, Michael Huston <mike at jhuston.com> wrote:
> I was confused about something he said about nuclear testing and
> thought that it directly contradicted something he had said about the
> international community being very close to workable fusion power, and
> we aren't because we're backward, technologically.

Opposition of nuclear testing and support of fusion research are not
necessarily contradictory. The problem is that the word "nuclear" is
highly overloaded.

By definition, "nuclear" is an adjective relating the subject to the
nucleus of something else. In the default context, the nucleus
referred to is that of the atom. Multiple technologies take advantage
of possible changes and interactions between the nuclei of different
atoms. The two primary interactions are those of fission and fusion.
Thus we have atomic nuclear fission and atomic nuclear fusion.

Further, there is a difference in the technologies leveraging nuclear
fission. For lack of better terms, I'll refer to them as military
applications and commercial applications. Common examples are nuclear
weapons and nuclear power plants, respectively. There may come a day
when there's a similar distinction for applications of fusion, but
right now I know of no military fusion applications since "cold
fusion" (a self sustaining fusion reaction) has not yet been achieved.

So, when someone speaks of something "nuclear", assuming the atomic
context, there are many possible meanings:

 1) military (weaponized) fission
 2) commercial fission
 3) research toward commercial fusion

I, personally, oppose the first but neither of the second. In fact, I
promote both of the latter where possible. I find the paranoia of the
general public regarding commercial fission to be not only irrational
but irritating.

Jacob Fugal



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