Lecture summaries for "Nuclear Power and Society"
Fall 2011

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22 - 26 August 2011

This class starts on Tuesday, 23 August 2011; we will meet at 10:00 p in LLC 216.

We will start with an overview of the course, an introduction of the participants in this class, and an introduction to use of computers on campus – see the PC Productivity Guide for more help.

 

A bit of time was spent on email. All email must:

  1. have a clear statement of content in the subject line
  2. have a salutation (like: Dear Les,)
  3. be well written
  4. be signed (type your name at the bottom)
  5. have an informative signature block (it's important to know the contact information of the sender)

A signature block on email should contain the following information:

Mine would look like:

---
Leslie Kanat
Johnson State College
les.kanat@jsc.edu
(802) 635-1327

 

The class concluded with a rough concept map of the issues surrounding nuclear energy.

 

Assignment (due 30 Aug 2011): Please send me a properly written email (subject line, well-written, spelled correctly, signed, and a signature block).

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29 August - 2 September 2011

Click here for a current version of the concept map regarding issues surrounding nuclear energy.

 Read about Germany's bold move to phase out nuclear power.

 


The definitions of thesis and abstract come from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (1979):

 


Assignment (due 1 Sep 2011): Develop a thesis statement regarding your research topic and send it to me with a properly written email; please use your JSC account.

 

Assignment (due 5 Sep 2011 – oops, it should be Tuesday, 6 Sep 2011): Create a Word document using the following guidelines:

  1. Title page (title, name, date, and affiliation) without a footer in Section 1.
  2. Section 2 has the following footer: Name (on left) and Page # (on right). The first page of Section 2 should be Page 1.
  3. Section 2 should have two subheadings: Thesis (include your thesis statement) and Introduction (a couple, or so, paragraphs that cites two references).
  4. Force a new page in Section 2 and use the subheading: References. Include two properly formatted references that you cited in the Introduction.
  5. Email the attached document to me along with a properly written email.

end of assignment

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5 - 9 September 2011

Click here to purchase MS Office for your personal computer for $15.

 


Energy

Energy may be defined as the ability, or capacity, for doing work. Energy is a property of matter that can be converted into work, heat, or radiation. As long as something can do work, it is able to use energy.

Some units of energy: joule (J), calorie (c), food calorie (C), British Thermal Unit (BTU), a quad (1015 BTUs), and an erg.

Conversion factors: 1 BTU = 0.252 kcal = 252 cal = 1055 J ≈ 104 ergs

For example, the average daily energy consumption (food intake) for an adult is 2000 Cal = 2 · 106 cal = 8.37 · 106 J = 7942 BTU

 

Types of energy and types of resources:

 

Power

Power is a measure of the rate of doing work. It deals with the time interval during which energy is used.

Some units of work: joule/second (J/s), watt (W), BTU/hour, and horsepower (hp).

Conversion factors:  1 J/s = 1 W = 3.412 BTU/h = 0.001341 hp

 

 

We pay for energy, not power. That is why our electric bills are in units of kilowatt-hours. Using energy conserving devices, like compact fluorescent light bulbs, reduces the amount of energy we need to buy to power the bulbs.

How much does it cost to burn a 100 W light bulb for 30 days (assuming electricity costs $0.12 per kWh)?

    30 d × 24 h/d × 100 W × 1 kW/1000 W × 0.12$/kWh = $8.65  

When compared to an incandescent light bulb, a compact fluorescent bulb uses only one quarter of the amount of electricity for an equivalent light output, therefore costing only $2.16 per month; that's a fantastic savings!

 


Some general comments from the assignment that was due on 6 Sep 2011. Please meet with me, individually, to discuss your work.

General comments:
  • avoid using 'you'
  • avoid spaces in filenames – use only alphanumeric characters
  • cite properly
  • capitalize proper nouns
  • staple
  • do not abbreviate
  • use hyphens for hyphenated words
  • do not align using spaces
  • avoid orphans and widows
  • use 1.5 line spacing

Regarding references:

  • use hanging indents
  • use one font style
  • remove hyperlinks
  • watch punctuation
  • do not use all capital letters
  • alphabetize references
  • follow the APA guidelines
  • use reputable sources; avoid blogs, Wikipedia.com, about.com, howstuffworks.com, and similar sites

 


Assignment (due 15 Sep 2011): First Draft (Word document)

 
Grading Rubric for Research Papers (first draft)
points

topic

attributes

5

title page

appropriate title; name; date; affiliation; no page numbers

15

thesis

prominent; clear purpose; takes a stance

30

content

three properly referenced statements; paragraphs tell a story; well-written; proper grammar

15

references

proper format

5

subheadings

informative; appropriate

20

figure

referenced; appropriate; informative; captions; placed well

10

presentation style

line spacing; indents; alignment; use of white space; stapling; page numbers

100

total (less two points for each spelling error, misuse of apostrophe, misuse of hyphen or use of the word 'you'; maximum 30-point loss)

Think about the images (graphs, figures, tables, maps, pictures, etc.) that could be used to support the thesis of your research (for use in the written document, PowerPoint presentation, and poster).

Create those images. Find those images. Use those images. Properly cite those images.

The images must be at least 500 Kb to show up well on a poster.

end of assignment

 

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12 - 16 September 2011

This is an important week for nuclear power in Vermont. The US District Court in Brattleboro, VT, will hear the case of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC et. al. v. Shumlin et. al. The outcome of this case should determine the future of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and may have repercussions throughout the entire nuclear industry. Follow the legal issues at Justia.com.

 

Expect a quiz on Tuesday, 20 September 2011 note change of date.

 

The Atom

There are hundreds of subatomic particles; all subatomic particles are made of quarks. For simplicity, we are interested in only three subatomic particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons:

Neutrons and protons are found in the nucleus of an atom and define the atomic mass of that atom. The atomic mass of an element represents a weighted average of all of the isotopes of that type of atom. For example, the average atomic mass of carbon, C, is 12.011 amu. Some isotopes of carbon have 5, 6, 7, or 8 neutrons (11C, 12C, 13C, or 14C respectively). Most isotopes of carbon have 6 neutrons and therefore the average atomic mass of carbon is about 12 amu (6 neutrons + 6 protons). See the table of nuclides produced by Brookhaven National Laboratories.

Isotopes are atoms of the same type (same atomic number, i.e. same number of protons) but have varying atomic mass (i.e. varying numbers of neutrons). Some isotopes are stable and others are unstable (radioactive). There is no magic formula for determining which isotope of an atom is unstable; the stability of an isotope is governed by the weak nuclear force. Read more about isotopes from the USGS.

Hydrogen has numerous isotopes: 1H (hydrogen), 2H (deuterium), and 3H (tritium); read about the sources and health effects of tritium. There are shortages of 99Mb (molybdenum) which are causing delays for certain medical tests (such as heart and kidney function tests and bone scans (including those looking for tumors).

 

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19 - 25 September 2011

General comments regarding the first draft of the paper:

 

Assignment (due 13 Oct 2011): Second Draft (Word document)

end of assignment (do the best you can do in the time that you have).

Grading Rubric for Research Papers (second draft)
points

topic

attributes

5

title page

appropriate title; name; date; affiliation; no page numbers

5

abstract

data-rich; succinct; tells the whole story

5

thesis

prominent; clear purpose; takes a stance

40

content

appropriate; data-driven; referenced; refers to figures; apparent research effort; tells a story; segues; defends thesis; well-written

10

references

proper format

5

subheadings

informative; appropriate

20

figures

referenced; appropriate; informative; captions

10

presentation style

line spacing; indents; alignment; use of white space; stapling; page numbers

100

total (less two points for each spelling error, misuse of apostrophe, misuse of hyphen or use of the word 'you'; maximum 30-point loss)

 

 

Use the JSC Library, rather than Google, to find relevant documents.

To use the Expanded Academic ASAP, go to the library home page, then click:
Find Articles > About database searching > Expanded Academic ASAP > select the index term and type in keyword > repeat previous step for more index terms > Search

Use Academic Search Premier, go to the library home page, then click:

Find Articles > About database searching > Academic Search Premier > select the index term and type in keyword > repeat previous step for more index terms > Search

To learn how to search the Internet, try the Bare Bones Tutorial from the University of South Carolina.

 

 

Unstable Isotopes and Absolute Dating

Isotopes can be identified by use of a mass spectrometer. Unstable isotopes generate radiation as the nucleus undergoes spontaneous decay. The weak nuclear force controls the rate and mechanism of the decay of the nucleus.

Common decay mechanisms include:

 

Half-life is the average amount of time required for one half of the original number of radioactive atoms (parent atoms) to decay to child (daughter) products. Unstable isotopes are used for absolute dating. Each isotope has a defined half life. After five half lives, only 1/32 of the parent isotope remains; this small amount is difficult to measure accurately so we choose an isotope that has a half life appropriate to the age of the feature of interest (for example, depositional age, age of crystallization, or age of metamorphism).

Radon is an unstable isotope that occurs as a gas and forms from the decay of radium. Radon gas is a problem in many dwellings because radium may often be substituted for other elements that have two valence electrons. According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, radon is estimated to cause between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths per year. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Please read the Fact Sheet on Radon produced by Healthy Vermonters 2010 or phone the VT Department of Health and speak with Bryan Wemple, radon program director (802-863-7277). 

The Vermont Department of Health can also test your water for a large number of contaminants. A Gross Alpha test (section 4 RA) costs $45. Click here for the order form for all water tests (and costs); read the supplement associated with the order form.

 

Ellen Hill, from SERVE, spoke to the class on Thursday.

 

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26 - 30 September 2011

Nuclear power plants produce energy by use of fissile 235U. Thermal neutrons, slowed by a moderator, split 235U and produce energy, fission products, and three additional neutrons. Additional neutrons are absorbed by control rods (boron, cadmium, or carbon) or by 238U. 238U spontaneously decays to 239Pu.

We discussed uranium, enriched uranium, highly-enriched uranium, and depleted uranium.

In the US, one-third of the nuclear power plants are boiling water reactors; the remaining two-thirds are pressurized water reactors. Light water is both the moderator and the coolant. Vermont Yankee is a boiling water reactor.

 

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3 - 7 October 2011

Discussion of isotopes and nuclear power plants.

Quiz on Thursday...

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10 - 14 October 2011

Fall Break.

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17 - 21 October 2011

Linda Kramer, Librarian, on Tuesday.

Illustrator on Thursday.

Draft of a Grading Rubric for First Draft of the Posters
points

topic

attributes

5

title

appropriate; name; date; affiliation

10

thesis

prominent; clear purpose; takes a stance

25

content

succinct; well-written; referenced; refer to figures

10

references

proper format

10

fonts

size; color; style; consistency

25

images

graphs; figures; pictures; captions

15

artistic appeal

demonstrate skill level

100

total (less two points for each spelling error, misuse of apostrophe, and misuse of hyphen)

 

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24 - 28 October 2011

Karen Madden, from Academic Support Services, on Tuesday.

Illustrator on Thursday.

 

A Farewell to Nuclear Arms by Mikhail Gorbachev
 

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31 October - 4 November 2011

Kate Wilson and Clyde Stats from Academic Advising and Margo Warden from First Year Experience on Tuesday.

Assignment (due 3 Nov 2011): First Draft of Poster

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7 - 11 November 2011

PowerPoint presentations:

 

Assignment (due 10 Nov 2011): First draft of PowerPoint presentation. Use the information from the work you have done so far (as presented in your Word document). Use the rubric below to develop your presentation. Save your final version in the U:\ENV1060F11\PowerPointPresentations\ folder and name it with your last name (for example, my presentation would be kanat.pptx). Be ready to present your work on Thursday. See the grading rubric below.

Grading Rubric for PowerPoint Presentations
points

topic

attributes

4

title page

title, name, date, affiliation

4

thesis slide

clear; concise; take a position

5

color scheme

clean; distinction between background and foreground colors; consistent use of colors

8

pictures

high quality; referenced, large; applicable; captioned; at least four

8

references

proper format; at least four

12

text

size, color, style, placement; minimal

5

animations

text, figures, subtle

4

slide transitions

subtle and appropriate

30

content

bulleted text; support thesis short phrases; referenced; conlcusion

5

style

black start and appropriate end slide

10

presenter

speaking clearly; prepared; looks at audience; speaks loudly; timing; handles questions well

5

printout

handout six slides per page; pure black and white

100

total (less two points for each spelling error, misuse of apostrophe, and misuse of hyphen)

 

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14 - 18 November 2011

Assignment (due 17 Nov 2011): Final Draft of Word document

 Comments from the first draft of the PowerPoint presentation:

 

Read the following articles:  

 

Extra Credit: Write a "Letter to the Editor" of the Burlington Free Press, The New York Times or other national paper (six points), or write an article for Basement Medicine or other local paper (three points). The rules:

  1. The Letter to the Editor must be about nuclear power.
  2. Submit a draft of the letter to me along with the complete guidelines for submission to the appropriate paper.
  3. Submit an edited version of the letter to the media.
  4. Bring me a copy of the paper in which it was printed (or a recording of the broadcast); the copy (or recording) must be handed to me by 15 December 2011 in order to receive extra credit.
  5. The letter must be published (or broadcast on radio or television).
  6. There is a 20-point limit on extra credit (there is an additional 20 points available if you, or your letter, is broadcast on radio or television).

 

 Watch a Youtube video about the recent rally at Vermont Yankee (pay close attention to the time slot 4:55 - 5:15).

 

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21 - 25 November 2011  

Thanksgiving Break be careful.

The NASA Mars Science Laboratory with the Curiosity rover is expected to liftoff on Saturday. Curiosity's electrical power will be supplied by a U.S. Department of Energy radioisotope power generator that produces electricity from the heat of radioactive decay of 238Pu.

 

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28 November - 2 December 2011  

Assignment (due 1 Dec 2011): Final Draft of Poster

General comments related to the final draft of the manuscript:

 

Read: "Vindicated Seismologist Says Japan Still Underestimates Threat to Reactors" as published by Bloomberg.

Watch the preview of "Into Eternity".

Review Dr. Kanat's presentation about a "Hydrologic Perspective of Waste Storage at VYNP".


 

 Future due dates:

Assignment (due 8 Dec 2011): Final Draft of PowerPoint

Final Exam: Thursday, 15 December 2011 at 8:00 a.m.


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