Microsoft picks the nuclear option when it comes to data centers and AI

What you need to know Microsoft’s data centers and AI projects take up a lot of resources and negatively impact the climate. The company is looking to mitigate these issues by picking up nuclear energy. Microsoft is currently looking to fill a new principal program manager for nuclear technology role within the organization. The person […]

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Turtles Carry Signs of Humanity’s Nuclear History in Their Shells

On a spring day in 1978, a fisherman caught a tiger shark in the lagoon surrounding Enewetak Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands in the north Pacific. That shark, along with the remains of a green sea turtle it had swallowed, wound up in a natural history museum. Today, scientists are realizing that this turtle […]

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Russia Is Powering Up a Giant Laser to Test Its Nuclear Weapons

So far Russia’s lack of such a laser hasn’t been a great disadvantage in ensuring its weapons function. That’s because Russia is committed to continuously remaking plutonium “pits,” the explosive cores found in many nukes, named after the hard centers of fruits like peaches. If you can readily replace old explosive pits with new ones, there’s less […]

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You Might Survive a Nuclear Blast—if You Have the Right Shelter

But let’s be honest: Most people, even in the moderate damage zone, won’t survive. Hardly anyone lives or works in nearly windowless reinforced-concrete buildings, nor in the vicinity of a concrete bunker. (Even people at a bank would have to get into the vault to be in the safest place; people in a subway would […]

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Ukraine’s Biggest Nuclear Plant Needs a Safety Zone

Until Ukraine and Russia reach an agreement, the plant remains in danger. “There’s no question: There should not be any military operations at the plant or in the vicinity of the plant,” says Ed Lyman, senior global security scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and coauthor of the book Fukushima: The Story of a […]

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Worried About Nuclear War? Consider the Micromorts

Putting a percentage on the likelihood of a nuclear disaster can feel icky—like you’re boiling down the immensity of human suffering into a spreadsheet. “I think what people dislike about this is that people are thinking about the unthinkable,” says Spieghalter. But confronting the unthinkable is unavoidable if we want to reduce the risk of […]

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Alan Ahn Says Nuclear Is Still the Carbon-Free Fuel of the Future

“We need nuclear energy to fight climate change,” says Alan Ahn, a senior fellow at Third Way, a think tank that advocates for the industry. But he acknowledges you might not share his opinion. Especially, he says, if you’re around his age and grew up watching Homer Simpson, a rather infamous member of the nuclear […]

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Nuclear Power Plants Are Struggling to Stay Cool

From its humble start as a glacial trickle in the Swiss Alps, the Rhône River quickly transforms into one of the world’s most industrialized waterways. As it winds through the south of France toward the Mediterranean Sea, its chilly water is drawn into boilers, sucked through pipes as coolant, deviated for agriculture. Among its biggest […]

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Smaller Reactors May Still Have a Big Nuclear Waste Problem

Lindsay Krall decided to study nuclear waste out of a love for the arcane. Figuring how to bury radioactive atoms isn’t exactly simple—it takes a blend of particle physics, careful geology and engineering, and a high tolerance for reams of regulations. But the trickiest ingredient of all is time. Nuclear waste from today’s reactors will […]

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Nuclear Fusion Is Already Facing a Fuel Crisis

In the south of France, ITER is inching towards completion. When it’s finally fully switched on in 2035, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor will be the largest device of its kind ever built, and the flag-bearer for nuclear fusion. Inside a donut-shaped reaction chamber called a tokamak, two types of hydrogen, called deuterium and tritium, […]

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Mars Colonies Will Need Solar Power—and Nuclear Too

But the weight of the needed solar equipment would go up to more than 20 tons for a Mars outpost closer to the poles. Mars is tilted on its axis by about 25 degrees, slightly more than Earth is, and its orbit is less circular, so less sunlight would reach those PV cells during parts […]

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The Nuclear Reactors of the Future Have a Russia Problem

Say you want to make nuclear fuel: Take some uranium, and with molecular wizardry, transform this heavy metallic element into a gas. Then put it in a centrifuge and whirl it around in a radioactive tornado, until the lightest particles cluster towards the center. Those are the molecules containing the uranium isotope 235. That’s the […]

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Risks to Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plants Are Small—but Not Zero

On Thursday, invading Russian forces seized the Chernobyl nuclear plant in northern Ukraine near the Belarus border. The site of the infamous meltdown in the spring of 1986 is the scene of an ongoing environmental crisis. Soil and water remains poisoned by radioactive contaminants, and nuclear material is still being cleaned up inside a containment […]

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DeepMind Has Trained an AI to Control Nuclear Fusion

The inside of a tokamak—the donut-shaped vessel designed to contain a nuclear fusion reaction—presents a special kind of chaos. Hydrogen atoms are smashed together at unfathomably high temperatures, creating a whirling, roiling plasma that’s hotter than the surface of the sun. Finding smart ways to control and confine that plasma will be key to unlocking […]

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