Walking around Böblingen

Having walked around Stuttgart the day before we thought we should get some fresh air, so we headed for a stroll around Böblingen.

It ended up being a bit of an epic after we got a tad lost. It was just before Google Maps came out with decent Europe data, so we hadn’t been able to scope out things beforehand. In retrospect we were took a pretty crazy route, we really didn’t know where we were for a while there. Oh well.

The forest was really pretty, looking at the shots now it was pretty cloudy, but at the time I think we thought the weather was pretty nice!

Don’t miss the shot of the sign we found as we walked out of the forest, having been lost for a few hours. Luckily it seems it’s just a nice historical artifact rather than the current state of affairs, I think anyway – I still have all my legs.

For the short-sighted the key phrase is “Firing Range”.

photo View the photos »

Posted by mike on Tuesday September 5th, 2006, tagged with , , , | comments disabled

Catching up

Been a bit lazy on the blog front lately, here’s a few posts with some piccies that I’ve been sitting on for ages.

Posted by mike on Tuesday September 5th, 2006 | comments disabled

Procrastination

Paul responds to my comments in response to his comments ..

I should really be working, so I’ll make this quick:

  • I wasn’t suggesting the German accident was anything other than that, I was just pointing out that any complex piece of engineering is going to have lots of rough edges, and when you’re playing with nuclear fuel you need to be extra careful.
  • The fact that introducing oxygen into the reactor could lead to a fire is a little worrisome, although everything I’ve read suggests that getting enough oxygen in is almost impossible, but never say never.
  • Unfortunately the ultra-violet laser may not be necessary, as it seems some proponents of PBMRs believe they’re so safe as not to require a containment building. Sure thing.
  • I don’t have a firm grasp on what coal reserves are like, but the obviously biased World Coal Institute suggests 164 years supply at current production levels, it’s not clear if that takes into account growth in consumption.
  • As far as siting wind farms etc. I couldn’t agree more. And the solution is simple, either we build a wind farm here or we pipe the emissions from a coal power plant into your house, which would you prefer?
  • The point is not to generate 1485 Tw/h using solar tomorrow, although with solar panels on every house there’d be a lot less lost in transmission. Some people think we can halve energy use without too much trouble, that is the way forward.

The way I see it[1], we simply can not afford to develop alternatives (solar, wind etc.) and nuclear at the same time. I mean that partly in financial terms, but also in terms of collective attention. If we start building big-arse nuke plants all over the place, I think the public will just loose any interest in developing green alternatives – and then we’re screwed.

Once we have a large installed base of nuclear plants there will be accidents, that’s inevitable, we are not perfect engineers. Whether those accidents are worse in nature than those for existing technologies is debatable, but it’s up to the proponents of nuclear power to show they’re not.

Then again perhaps we’re screwed in terms of climate change anyway. We can probably destroy most of a city, or even perhaps a few thousand square kilometres, with a worse-case nuclear accident. A few too many parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere and we might be looking at hundreds of flooded cities, whole nations turning to desert, or worse, who knows.

Update: Rusty’s just handed me this month’s Scientific American, which very fortuitously is a feature issue on “Energy’s Future Beyond Carbon – how to power the economy and still fight global warming”, I will be reading it with interest.

[1] Without taking a stance of course ;)

Posted by mike on Friday September 1st, 2006, tagged with , | comments disabled

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