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Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters; From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima (Englisch) MP3 CD – Audiobook, 15. März 2014

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 180 Rezensionen
24 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Exciting, entertaining and educational review of the development of nuclear power 8. Februar 2014
Von C. E. J. MD - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book, a gift from its author, was much more interesting than I expected it to be. It's a fascinating account of the many things that have gone wrong in our quest for development of atomic power. Written in an entertaining and often humorous style, it reveals what we have learned from our mistakes, only to find new mistakes to make. Unexpectedly exciting, but perhaps unavoidably including much technical detail, one is left with a great appreciation of the pioneers of nuclear energy. We are also left with a cautious optimism for the future of nuclear power. I was very surprised that much of this information is public knowledge. Also, one is left with a profound respect for neutrons.
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An Amazing Feat! Gripping! 21. Mai 2014
Von G. Poirier - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
One would think that a book detailing the history of nuclear/atomic accidents, with lots of technical detail, would likely be of interest only to the most devoted nuclear/reactor physicists/engineers. Not so in this case! Certainly there are a lot technical descriptions of how reactors and other apparatus are made and how they operate, as well as play-by-play descriptions of how the various accidents occurred and their aftermaths. The descriptions are clear, most specialized terms are explained and the events leading to the various disasters are told in a most captivating way. But in my view, what makes this book so special is the author’s writing style, particularly his careful choice of words when describing the events that transpired: wittiness, tongue-in-cheek narratives, subtle sarcasm, etc. I often found myself laughing out loud at the way the author presents some of his material. Because of all of this, at least in part, I believe that this book can be enjoyed by a fairly broad readership.

One might expect that a tome like such as this one would contain a number of mistakes – editorial or otherwise. I must admit that I found very few. Other than a couple of misprints, i.e., on page 12, radium-266 should be radium 226 and on page 283, cesium-167 should be cesium-137, I did find one error of greater significance which may of interest to nit-pickers like me: footnote 82 at the bottom of page 99 is incorrect. In particular, the roentgen (R) and the rem are entirely different quantities. Very briefly, the roentgen applies only to X-ray and gamma-ray photons and is defined in terms of the ionization of air, i.e., the absolute value of the total charge of the ions of one sign produced per unit mass of air. Roentgens can be converted to rads (or rems) to human tissue using appropriate conversion factors whose values depend on the energy of the incident photons.

Overall, I believe that this book is a major contribution to the literature that describes various aspects of the nuclear field, which has often been perceived by the general public as being disturbing and obscure, in understandable, relatively jargon-free, language. It puts various nuclear accidents into perspective and makes the structure and operation of several nuclear devices more widely accessible.
13 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Crash Course in Nuclear History & Dynamics 6. Februar 2014
Von Mallory Anne-Marie Forbes Haws - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition
I totally loved this book, which sounds odd considering the topic; but it is so educational, so diligently researched, and well-written that it is actually entertaining. As a child of the Korean Conflict and Cold War, anything atomic has always been a hot topic for me. The author's research has been exceptionally deep and wide-ranging, and I feel as if I've just finished a year's university course in the topic; that's how much I've learned.

I reviewed an ARC provided by the publisher via
12 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
entertaining stories, technical info, and wonderful wit 19. Februar 2014
Von High Words - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
This is an outstanding book - exactly what I like: not just how things work, but how Murphy gets in there and messes it up.

I love how author James Mahaffey mixes nuclear physics and subtle wit. He might be the only nuclear physicist to describe the British Windscale Nuclear plant's graphite core as crumbling like a tea biscuit. This keeps the story line going from both a technical and a very readable, entertaining angle.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An Excellent Informative Book about Atomic Accidents and Their causes 2. Juni 2014
Von Elizabeth Crom - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Last week I finally finished reading “Atomic Accidents” by Jams Mahafey. The book was a gift. I am a slow reader, but I did read the entire book including the informative footnotes. This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in nuclear science or nuclear energy. . Mahafey not only discusses many Atomic accidents that most of us have never heard about, but he also provides tutorials on the nuclear science behind the accidents. He discusses detail designs of various nuclear reactors and bombs. Dangerous mistakes have been made, but several accidents were the result of smart, reckless, maverick scientists doing something stupid that they knew was dangerous and likely to get them and others killed.

One of the big mistakes discussed was with the Castle Bravo (Shrimp) program at Bikini in the Marshal Islands in 1954 which was a test of the first practical H-Bomb. The H-Bomb proof of concept had been demonstrated earlier in 1952. The proof of concept bomb weighed about 82 ton which included the cryogenic system necessary to keep Deuterium and I believe Tritium liquefied until detonation. The bomb used Tritium-Deuterium fusion for fuel and produced about 11 M ton equivalent of TNT. The Castle Bravo was much smaller using a solid fuel H-bomb designed to yield about 5 M ton, with the greatest possible yield of 6 M ton. Instead it yielded somewhere around 21 M tons. The explosion sent radioactivity fall out around the world.

The bomb used Lithium deuteride (Li D) for the fusion fuel. Natural lithium contains both Li 6 and Li 7. Li 6 has a very large neutron absorption cross section, but Li 7 has a very small cross section so it was ignored as being important. They enriched the Lithium to have about 40% Li 6 and 60% Li 7. They assumed that the Li 7 was just extra weight that they couldn’t get rid of, but it wouldn’t be a factor in the explosion.. Unfortunately, their assumption was wrong! Actually the Li-7 did absorb neutrons which started a chain of reactions that caused the excess energy yield.

The bomb used a plutonium fuse which is actually a plutonium bomb that provided neutrons to convert the Li-D to the tritium and deuterium and also provide the energy required to cause the tritium and deuterium from the same molecule to fuse. When a neutron is absorbed by Li 6, tritium plus an alpha particle is formed by decay. The tritium component then fuses with the deuterium and releases a lot of energy. However, the plutonium fission produces a high proton flux that causes absorption of a neutron by the Li 7 to form Li 8. The Li 8 thus quickly decays into tritium plus an alpha particle and also fast neutron in addition to enough additional energy cause the tritium and the deuterium to fuse. The fast neutron causes fission of the depleted U 238 which was used for the tamper in the plutonium bomb trigger. This caused the bomb to have a fission explosive component that amounted to two thirds of the total energy yield and also caused most of the radio active fallout.

A plutonium bomb requires an implosion which compresses a subcritical mass of plutonium about the size of a baseball down to a super critical mass of plutonium about the size of a marble. The depleted U 238 was about the heaviest material available and was used to help direct the implosion to the center to compress the sub critical plutonium mass into a super critical mass. This also helped hold the mass together after the initial explosion to provide for the maximum number of fissions and fusions before the bomb tore apart. High energy neutrons are required to fission U 238. The fast neutrons from the Li 7 decay caused the depleted U 238 to fission. This extra fission energy produced most of the excess energy yield and also caused most of the radio active fallout.

In the later H-bombs they made a lot of improvements that increased safety and also made the bombs smaller and more efficient. One of these improvements really surprised me. The fuse for the fission bomb component actually became a fission-fusion explosion. They called the fusion component of the trigger "fission boost". The sub critical mass of plutonium is placed in the center of a cavity in the “fuse” and compressed by an explosion which was normally a chemical explosion. In the older bombs the plutonium was not placed into the bomb until a short interval of time just before the bomb was to be dropped. At first this was a dangerous manual operation and later a mechanical operation. But these operations were subject to failure particularly in the event of a crash. The fission boost was obtained by by injection of deuterium gas and tritium gas into the center of the fuse before detonation of the chemical explosion. The chemical explosion was large enough to cause fusion of the small amounts of tritium and deuterium. Without the “boost” from the fusion, the chemical charge did not have enough energy to cause the fission trigger to explode. The process of injection of the tritium and deuterium provided an extra step in the arming process that was necessary to completely arm the bomb.

Before I got to the last chapter of the book “Caught in the Rickover Trap” I was a little disappointed that Mcahaffey hadn’t mentioned Alvin Weinberg’s LFTR reactor design. But he did talk about it in that last chapter and put it at the top of his list for improved nuclear reactors.

As I understood the last chapter The Rickover trap was belief that the LWR was good enough for all time and didn’t need any improvement. The reactor worked and worked well but it was very dangerous and inefficient so far as fuel was concerned. From the book, It is clear that much more research was done on making bombs more efficient and safer to use than was put into Nuclear power research. For analogy purposes I believe that the nuclear power research was equivalent to stopping computer research at the 8008 cpu and the CPM operating system by declaring that the computer technology was good enough and no more research was needed.

I highly recommend the book to any one that has not read it.
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