A week or so before the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, I watched a curious documentary on PBS. It was called “Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail.” You can see it here. The presenter was a physicist named Derek Muller. What’s odd is that Muller concludes that nuclear power is not the way to go, but the way the film was edited, the message is the opposite: that nuclear power is relatively safe and that its technical problems are at the point of being solved.
Let’s start with the end. Muller speaks from a village near Fukushima, Japan, site of a 2011 nuclear power plant meltdown after a strong earthquake and ensuing tsunami. He says, “What should we do with uranium? As a physicist I’m tempted to say it’s such a great source of power. It has such incredible energy density and so many benefits that way. How can you ignore it? But after studying it, after searching the world and following the story of uranium, the feeling that I’m left with is that it’s not ready to take over; and seeing how far renewable energy has come, that suggests to me that there are alternatives these days and that we don’t need to go with uranium. We don’t need to risk another place like this.”