The 19th Annual Dick Smyser Community Lecture Series continues on Thursday, May 26, featuring Dr. James Mahaffey, speaking on Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters from the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima. This event is sponsored by Friends of ORNL (FORNL). The event is free of charge and will be held at the American Museum of Science and Energy, 300 S. Tulane Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. A reception will be held in the museum lobby starting at 5:30 p.m. (snacks will be served), and the lecture starts at 6:00 p.m. in the museum auditorium. This talk should be of interest to the general public.
Jim Mahaffey, formerly of the Georgia Institute of Technology and later Head of Advanced Research at Nanoventions Inc. in Roswell, Georgia, has written two popular books about nuclear power. The first one, Atomic Awakening, is a history of nuclear power, and of course it includes the Clinton Works at Oak Ridge as part of the story. The second book, Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters from the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima, the subject of the lecture, describes the interesting things that can go wrong with nuclear power, and it too includes some Oak Ridge stories.
In general, human beings seem to have an irrational fear of everything having to do with nuclear power generation. In this presentation, a review of his book Atomic Accidents, Jim Mahaffey explores the causes and the reasons for these almost universal feelings, starting before the discovery of radiation, proceeding through the early 20th century period of exciting discovery, and starting a long down-turn with the development of the atomic bomb, the cold war, and the era of big commercial power reactors. It’s more optimistic than it may sound. There is still a need for nuclear power, it is a remarkably safe way to push electrons though wires, but caution and vigilance are appropriate.
FORNL is an organization formed to facilitate and maintain a beneficial association of those who have an interest in ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory). FORNL provides a mechanism for members to keep in touch with co-workers, retirees, and current ORNL activities by providing the community at large with presentations and events. More information can be found on the FORNL website is http://www.fornl.info.
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