Thursday, 6 October 2011

Nuclear-powered Mars Curiosity set to launch in November

Nuclear-powered Mars Curiosity set to launch in November!!! this awesome news! "Curiosity’s generator is built to withstand launch explosions or the extreme heat — up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit — that would be encountered during an inadvertent atmospheric re-entry after an upper-stage engine failure.
The plutonium dioxide fuel is protected by several layers of safety. Fuel pellets the size of marshmallows are sheathed in a dense, iridium heat shield. The pellets are bundled in pairs in high-strength graphite shells designed to absorb the most powerful possible impacts. And those shells are wrapped with ablative sleeves made of carbon-bonded fiber." read more:

Target station at ESS

A great article about the target station at ESS in the Oct issue of the Physics World: "Handling 100 °C temperature changes that occur in less than 3 ms is a key task for those designing the European Spallation Source, as Michael Banks reports... When complete in 2019, the €1.48bn European Spallation Source (ESS) will be the most powerful source of neutrons in the world. With construction expected to start in 2013, and the facility fully open by 2025, the ESS will produce neutrons by accelerating protons in a linac to 2.5 GeV before smashing them into a seven-tonne target. The neutrons will then be cooled by a moderator and sent to 22 experimental stations to be used by researchers to probe the structure and physical properties of a wide range of solids, liquids and gases. The ESS will specialize in long wavelength, or "cold", neutrons that suit experiments on large-scale structures such as polymers and biological molecules.". See to read about technical challenges of building the target station... The full issue dealing with also other types of large scale facilities could be downloaded here:

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Licence renewal of the Chalk River Labs

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hold today hearing for the licence renewal of the Chalk River Labs until 2016... The public hearing is webcasted live on the CNSC website ( and will be archived for 3 months. All submissions including AECL’s and CNSC's recommendations and the submissions filed by the public are available upon request directly from the CNSC website:

Monday, 3 October 2011

Tandem Accelerator Superconducting Cyclotron

Did you know 25 years ago, on Oct. 3, 1986, the world's first Tandem Accelerator Superconducting Cyclotron (able to accelerate most elements to 10 MeV per nucleon) was officially opened at Chalk River Laboratories? using superconducting technology for the first time in building accelerators, they were able to create a more powerful yet smaller and cheaper accelerator ... also see for a pdf file of the paper describing its commissioning (IEEE Transaction on Nuclear Science, October 1985, Volume NS-32, Number 5, p.2643)... more historical highlights could be found here:

Sunday, 2 October 2011

National Innovation Strategy

This is a great read on why the US is now behind 5 nations in overall innovation and competitiveness and continues to fall further behind, a national innovation strategy is needed to reverse this course... perhaps there are lessons to be learned here in Canada as well... see for the report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. "Each of the five nations ranked by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation as “out-competing” the U.S. has implemented a national competitiveness or innovation strategy: that is, a unified plan to marshal their governmental and private resources to support new technologies and ideas. Worldwide, at least 30 countries have established their own competitiveness plans. Yet the U.S.– alone among the world’s technological leaders–has failed to draw up a roadmap for innovation. Is it any wonder that, with no clear view of our destination, America has failed to make strides in the right direction?"... "Now is not the time to be slashing federal investment in research and development in science. Investments in our federal science agencies and our national innovation infrastructure are minimal down-payments on our country’s security, public health, and economic vitality that we cannot afford to postpone."... read more:
This is the latest Global Innovation Index 2011 rankings of the world’s most innovative countries, Canada ranks 8 behind Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong (SAR), Finland, Denmark, and the US:

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Medical isotope shortage

There is still no plan to solve the medical (as well as industrial and research) isotope shortage problem in the long term: "At present, both the Dutch and Canadian reactors are operational again, and doctors have enough isotopes to carry out millions of routine nuclear medicine procedures per year, as they have in the past. But because both of these reactors, as well as all of the rest in the small fleet of research reactors that generate medical isotopes, are rapidly aging, a replacement for them is desperately needed.
The Canadian government has even given the world a hard deadline for this replacement. In 2016, it has pledged to shut down the 50-year-old Chalk River reactor forever." ... Let's not forget a replacement for the aging NRU not only will solve the medical isotope problem but also allows Canada to continue with its leadership role in neutron scattering and nuclear science and technology for years to come... Read more: