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[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • blogTO ranks the five busiest subway stations in Toronto.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the idea of using charged particle beams to propel sails.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin notes how some American conservatives blame Ebola on DDT bans.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that exoplanet Kepler 91b, detected by its eclipses of the sun, has been confirmed through radial velocity measurements.
  • The Dragon’s Tale suggests that a mysterious event reported in 775 CE around Eurasia may have been a cometary impact.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas considers if future shock, once a generational thing, may now be coming more quickly than that.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the decline of the American bathhouse, reports on a Spanish legislator who blames the national debt on same-sex marriage, and observes an anti-HIV organization’s campaign against PReP.
  • Languages of the World’s Asya Perelstvaig examines the origins of Yiddish.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money approves of Bulgarians repainting Soviet war monuments in superheros.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting that the Unied States’ economic problems began long before 2008.
  • Otto Pohl reports from Ghana, in the middle of economic and currency collapse.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes that the Rosetta spacecraft is current scouting a landing site for its Philae landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
  • Torontoist describes how Arnold Palmer got his start at the Canadian Open.
  • Towleroad argues that out actor John Barrowman is a gay icon, and suggests that an anti-gay pogrom in Uganda may not have happened.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that today is the 75th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that divided northeastern Europe up between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Russia’s moves in Ukraine have harmed its Asian interests vis-a-vis China and argues that recent events have consolidated support for Ukrainian statehood.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Andart’s Anders Sandberg links to a paper of his examining the ethics of brain emulations. How ethical is it do make very life-like simulations of minds?
  • blogTO notes a public art movement tracing the former path of the Don River.
  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes that population change in the US is a consequence of migration and natural change.
  • Centauri Dreams considers intergalactic travel. Given the huge travel times involved, travelling on a hypervelocity star ejected from a solar system may be more secure.
  • The Cranky Sociologists’ SocProf notes that not caring about a particular social issue until it affects you actually isn’t good for society as a whole.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting between 5.3 and 10% of Sun-like star ssupport Earth-sized planets in their circumstellar habitable zones, and another identifying HIP 114328 as a solar twin.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the latest developments in marriage equality in Finland.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes that Scottish devolution hasn’t changed much policy, perhaps passing over the possibility that perhaps devolution has prevented change.
  • Patrick Cain maps the 2014 Ontario election.
  • Torontoist notes that the Toronto Star has given the Toronto Public Library more than a million of its vintage photographs.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that, according to a recent court ruling, smartphones in the US are safe from arbitrary search.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine is steadily losing its position there.

[LINK] “For Atom-Friendly Asia, a Nuclear Power Boom—in the West, Stagnation”

Katherine Tweed’s Scientific American article contrasting the ongoing boom in nuclear reactors in Asia with stagnation in the West makes a convincing contrast. (South Korea isn’t mentioned in the article–it should be.) I do wonder if China’s state-directed push will continue without consequences, and whether or not the current West lull might yet be temporary. Non-oil energy may be useful.

More than a decade ago a contract was signed to build the world’s first third-generation European pressurized reactor (EPR) in Finland. The cutting-edge, 1,600-megawatt nuclear power plant, Olkiluoto 3, which its French maker Areva boasted as the most advanced safety design of the time, is still under construction today. There have been various setbacks as well as endless finger-pointing between Areva and the Finnish utility TVO, which are locked in court battle over expanding costs. Now the reactor might not be completed until at least 2017, if at all, with a price tag of $11 billion, more than double its original estimate.

The Olkiluoto 3 situation is not unique. Another Areva EPR in Flamanville, France, is also behind schedule and over budget. A recent government deal for two new EPRs in the U.K. has also come under fire.

The prospects for a nuclear power revival are no better in the U.S. Although the technology has never been cheap, cost overruns and delays are plaguing the handful of next-generation pressurized water reactors currently being built, the first since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Even before that event, a study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the cost of new nuclear plants, globally, doubled from 2002 to 2009. The third-generation reactors have safety features that should prevent a meltdown similar to Fukushima’s but political controversy, along with the high price tag means that new nuclear complexes in the U.S. and Europe could be in the single digits instead of dozens originally planned less than a decade ago.

Ironically, the experience has been markedly different in Asia. Two of Areva’s EPRs are expected to come online in China next year. China and South Korea are building the third-generation reactors with fewer construction delays and cost overruns than their Western counterparts. “They’ve been single minded about it,” says Tony Roulstone, course director for nuclear energy at the University of Cambridge. “And that single-mindedness has its advantages.” China and other Asian countries have been building nonstop for the last 30 years whereas the multiyear gap in the U.S. has resulted in a loss of construction knowledge. China also seems to have the advantage of endless manpower, and the state owns the country’s largest nuclear firm.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 21, 2014 at 8:11 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • io9 shares photos of Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana.
  • Anders Sandberg links to a recent discussion of a paper he co-authored on the ethics of augmentation.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper analyzing the density of different Kepler-discovered exoplanets that determines that worlds more than 2.5 times the diameter of Earth are likely to be mini-Neptunes.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes evidence for global cooling following the Chixculub impact that ended the Cretaceous, tracks the spread of farming from the Neolithic Fertile Crescent, and observes Russia’s withdrawal of a particular rocket engine from use by the United States.
  • Discover‘s Imageo blog shares maps of what the world will look like when the West Antarctic sheet melts.
  • inuit panda scarlet carwash notes the happy reunion of a cat separated from his owners three years ago by the Japanese earthquake with said.
  • Language Log links to a paper suggesting that the location of letters on a standard QWERTY keyboard influences the way we see the words these letters make up.
  • Registan warns that it looks as if Kazakhstan won’t be able to balance Russia off with China and the United States now.
  • Torontoist shares pictures of the Game of Thrones expedition in town.
  • Towleroad notes that disgraced NBA team owner Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper went terribly for him.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy links to a Michael Totten essay making the point that Cuba is actually a very repressive society.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that some Karelians want greater autonomy for their Russian republic.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • At The Dragon’s Tales, Will Baird reports that Sweden and Finland, spooked by Crimea, are now contemplating NATO membership.
  • On a very different note, The Dragon’s Tales also notes that Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, with a Europa-like ocean underneath, is perfectly suited for a space mission.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that workers are dying on World Cup construction sites in Brazil as well as in Qatar.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Emily Lakdawalla notes the very recent discovery of Kuiper belt object 2013 FY27, big enough to be a dwarf planet.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy links to a profile of the blog and its blogger in Tablet magazine.
  • Window on Eurasia has a series of links. One argues that Russia’s weakness not its strength motivated the move into Crimea, another argues that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a catastrophe and that the Russian government knows it, another observes Belarus’ alienation from federation with Russia.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at reddish brown dwarfs, objects that may lie just on the cusp of being planets.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper analyzing the stellar cycles of Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a Singaporean academic’s argument that Sino-American misunderstandings (lack of understanding, more precisely) could lead to catastrophe.
  • Joe. My. God. shares a Seattle editor’s argument that Musab Masmari, charged with trying to burn down a crowded gay bar, should be charged with multiple counts of attempted murder.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money shares more depressing rape rhetoric for right-wingers.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that Switzerland’s immigration controls are directed against those who are quite like the Swiss–Germans, Italians, French, and so on–rather than outsiders.
  • Strange Maps notes the town of Agloe in upstate New York, placed by mapmakers eager to trap thieves of their work.
  • Understanding Society shares Theda Skocpol’s analysis of the 1979 revolution in Iran, one that differs substantially from her theory.
  • Now at the Washington Post, the Volokh Conspiracy’s Ilya Somin takes issue with people who would like to abolish early voting. (Among other things, these people are generally more informed about their political choices.)
  • Window on Eurasia notes Karelian activists in Russia who want to keep their republic in existence and open to Finland.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Crooked Timber’s Jon Mandle reflects on his experiences of a visit to Auschwitz.
  • The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird notes the development of a robot that can walk like a cat.
  • Eastern Approaches suggests that Croatia, set to enter the European Union, should pick up economic tips from Finland’s experience in the 1990s.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen argues convincingly that the lack of payment for sperm donors in Canada means that domestic sperm–from paid domestic sperm donors, at least–is short.
  • Savage Minds considers language revival among tribal peoples in Taiwan by looking to the mixed experience of Southern Maori revivalists in New Zealand.
  • The Search offers guidelines as to the digital archiving of images. (Keep them in TIFF but don’t worry if they’re JPEG.)
  • Torontoist’s Desmond Cole notes a recent protest in Toronto to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the federal government’s limiting of access to healthcare to refugees.
  • Towleroad reports on the GLBT components of the anti-government protests in Turkey.
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