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PostPosted: Dec 17, 2015 2:06 am 
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Anyone watching the CBS show "Supergirl"? In a recent episode we see that Supergirl's aunt, General Astra, tried to warn the people of Krypton of the planet's destruction. Astra was a sort of eco-terrorist trying to stop the people of her planet from deriving energy from the planet's core, the rate at which the energy was being drawn was causing changes in weather and oceans. This is no doubt a parallel to global warming on Earth. The character claims that it was the greed of the Krypton government that caused the planet to explode. Now General Astra is out to save Earth from what she sees as a similar fate. She claims to have a solution to Supergirl, but says it is something that the people of Earth will not like. So, apparently, she's going to bring this solution by force.

This show lays it on pretty thick. There is also a character, Maxwell Lord, a genius in business, technology, and medicine, that wants to save the world from "gas guzzlers" with his electric train and, no doubt, other technologies. His company, Lord Technologies, was the site of a battle of Kryptonians, Supergirl on one side with General Astra's minions on the other, in the mid-season cliffhanger.

Another character, Reactron, was a nuclear reactor technician. This reactor where he worked, a THORIUM powered reactor BTW, suffered a meltdown that Superman came in to stop. In the process two technicians, a husband and wife, were thought dead from the radiation. Reactron was one of the technicians, then called Ben Krull, who was left disfigured by the radiation and his wife was killed. He blamed Superman for his wife's death and thought that by killing Supergirl, Superman's cousin and only publicly known living relative, he could get some revenge.

Reactron uses a nuclear powered suit of armor to battle Superman and Supergirl. This suit shoots rays of radioactive energy from its gauntlets. The reactor core that powers the suit will, of course, irradiate the city if it is damaged unless the "demon core" is coated with lead quickly after it's removed from the suit.

Another character, John Jones, was recently introduced. He's the last of a race of martians, forced to leave a dying Mars at some unspecified time in the past. Who wants to bet that it was an irresponsible use of some energy source on Mars that left that planet uninhabitable?

When did nuclear power become the "bad guy"? I remember watching episodes of "Thunderbirds" where the International Rescue team would go around saving people from disasters with nuclear powered machines. I speak of the 1960s era Thunderbirds show, not the more recent movie from Jonathan Frakes. That movie didn't specify what powered the Thunderbird vehicles. In the 1960s the world seemed to view nuclear power as how we were going to bring about a future world of prosperity.

When did that change come? I'm sure the movie "China Syndrome" had something to do with it. But that movie could have only been made in a world where nuclear energy wasn't already viewed as a danger, it fed upon this fear and spread it to more people.

It certainly would be nice to see nuclear power get a more positive view in popular culture. We need more "Thunderbirds" and less "China Syndrome".

What will be interesting to see is how this Supergirl story arc plays out. Astra plotted this attack on Lord Technologies as a way to save the world from ecological disaster. What doesn't add up yet is how this is supposed to allow her to reach this goal. Lord Technologies created the "super train", which is supposed to free us from our fossil fueled cars and planes. Does Astra plan to steal the technology so her minions can build more trains for us?

How can we bring about a cultural shift on how nuclear power is viewed? This Supergirl show isn't helping. At least that is how it's playing out so far. It doesn't help that a lot of people that watched this show had thorium introduced to them as the cause of people's death, and the power source for a super villain's weapons.

This might seem trivial to many, my complaining about how nuclear power is portrayed in a TV show, about a fictional version of the world, based on comic book characters. I don't see this as so trivial. Government policy follows from public opinion. Public opinion follows popular culture. If you want an example on how TV fiction can affect the public then do an internet search on "the CSI effect".

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Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.


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PostPosted: Dec 17, 2015 9:48 am 
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Nuclear energy is a cheap trick that lazy writers use to create fear and drama in the shortest period of time. Pretty much the end of the story.

Nobody get rich (or better ratings) by slowing down the action for a moment to have a main character deliver a factually-correct explanation of technology.

In the long run, I think our point of view will triumph. Remember how many movies featured the artificially-intelligent psycho computer? That was a movie staple from the 60s well into the 80s. Now it's essentially gone. Why? Because people interact with computers all the time now, and they didn't then, and they realize that they're stupid and harmless.


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PostPosted: Dec 23, 2015 2:48 am 
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Nuclear energy building had a good run in North America and Europe in the 1970's which has petered out. Used fuel has been painted as a bugbear and its recycling is being avoided. Earthquake and tsunami in Japan was treated as an indication of doomsday.
The revival of nuclear power is now likely only in Asia including West Asia and Russia in the next decade or two. China is the leading proponent of nuclear power now. If Russia or China start peddling lease of disposable floating nuclear plants which could be returned to suppliers, the acceptance could improve.


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PostPosted: Dec 23, 2015 4:31 pm 
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People the world over, even in the US, are beginning to realize that the "disaster" in Japan was due mainly to panic, not to nuclear power. Yes, that accident was substantial, but it was the fear driven response tht has caused all the problems.

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Last edited by KitemanSA on Apr 14, 2016 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Dec 26, 2015 2:26 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Nuclear energy is a cheap trick that lazy writers use to create fear and drama in the shortest period of time. Pretty much the end of the story.

Nobody get rich (or better ratings) by slowing down the action for a moment to have a main character deliver a factually-correct explanation of technology.

In the long run, I think our point of view will triumph. Remember how many movies featured the artificially-intelligent psycho computer? That was a movie staple from the 60s well into the 80s. Now it's essentially gone. Why? Because people interact with computers all the time now, and they didn't then, and they realize that they're stupid and harmless.


Stupid and harmless? Are you referring to the computers or the average movie viewer? Yes, that was a cheap shot but I felt like I had to do it.

I agree that nuclear power will win out in the end, it must or we return to cooking with cattle dung. I can also agree that in fiction we must allow for some technical inaccuracies for the sake of a story. I can set aside the bad science and still see the thinly veiled propaganda in popular culture. I use the CBS Supergirl show as a very recent, and not so thinly veiled, example.

In this TV show they not only had the "big bad" as an eco-terrorist trying to save us earthlings from ourselves but they had to change DC comic canon to do it. The reasons on why Krypton was destroyed varied based on the version of the story told. As I recall in every case until now the cause was natural, an unstable core, asteroid impact, sun going nova, and perhaps others. In this case the writers chose a global warming analog of the people of Krypton sucking energy from the planet core. They not only changed the origin story of a very prominent element of our popular culture, they did so in a way to make us feel bad about our own energy consumption. This isn't just artistic license, or bad science, this is propaganda.

It's not like there wasn't plenty of ways to create a "big bad" in this fictional universe that would be true to it's source material. As an example I recall the character Astra making reference to "Rao" much like one would a deity. I found this odd so I did a little search on the internet on what "Rao" meant in this universe. Rao is a god to some people on Krypton, it is also the name they give to their sun. Rao is either a sun-god like many pagan religions in our own world history, or they view Rao as a single god that exists to them as their sun. My reading of Rao tells me that in DC comic lore that there was some level of conflict between the Rao worshippers and those that were more secular, scientific, or what have you. I'd think that this alone would be plenty of fuel for a plot line that is topical for modern audiences. Perhaps this reference to a deity will become a plot element in the show.

I'd probably let this just go by without comment if they also didn't show nuclear power to be evil. Global warming is something that a lot of people are already familiar with. Making that a plot element in itself is not really a problem to me. This show is just in the middle of its first season, so it is possible for the writers to redeem themselves. The character General Astra does claim to have a solution to the problem of ecological damage but has not yet revealed it. The only thing she's said about it is that the people of earth won't like the solution.

I have already seen the writers backpedal somewhat on things. The character Maxwell Lord is one. He's something of a scientific and business genius, I'd describe him as a mix of Elon Musk and Lex Luthor. He's stated several times his desire to solve the problems of the world, his electric high speed train is one example. He's also stated a distaste for the use of force or weapons to reach his goals. In spite of this we see him show up in the climactic battle with a weapon capable of injuring, or perhaps killing, a Kryptonian. It's not surprising that a character like this would be capable of developing such a weapon, it is surprising that he showed up with this weapon when he did. He obviously was working on this for some time, someone that claims to not be in the business of making weapons doesn't just show up with something like this on a whim.

This is perhaps more concern over a stupid TV show than a healthy mind should show. I will say that I do enjoy the series. I enjoyed other TV series based on Superman lore in the past, like Lois and Clark, Smallville, and the Saturday morning cartoons. I see plot elements from these shows being recycled, such as characters suspecting the identity of the superhero. The character Cat Grant has confronted her assistant, Kara Danvers, with some convincing evidence that she is in fact Supergirl. I saw how previous shows dealt with this, I'm curious on how the writers of this show will address it. I suspect the shapeshifter John Jones will pretend to be Supergirl and stand next to Kara Danvers in front of Cat Grant to "prove" they are two separate people, that or her friends will use a hologram projector like what was demonstrated in a previous episode.

I can enjoy a well written TV show, even with a pile of bad science in it. Doctor Who is a good example of this, it's got heaps of cheese, corniness, campiness, and gobs of bad science. It's also very entertaining in spite of, or perhaps because of, this. I just don't like my entertainment preaching to me.

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Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.


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PostPosted: Apr 12, 2016 4:24 pm 
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Came across another pop culture failure on nuclear energy. Youtube had as one of those "recommended for you" videos the first ten minutes of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2", link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfV-0Yv5vNY

In the video we see our favorite web slinger chase down a Russian mob trying to steal plutonium from an OsCorp armored truck. About two minutes in the mobsters break open the container which holds several glass vials each with a glowing rod inside. As it's opened a computerized voice warns the mobsters that the contents are radioactive and... explosive?

After that the video continues with some more car crashes, funny comments from the hero, the hero catches the criminal and kisses the girl. In all it's pretty much a whole movie in itself, which I suppose was the point.

Again we see movie writers portray science and technology poorly. Again I must point out that I realize that this is a movie and real world physics need not apply, especially since it is a movie about a teen with the ability to shoot spider like webs from his hands, climb up walls, and lift a bus. If this is the case then why not make up a new material instead of place non-sensical properties on a known element? Call it kryptonite, unobtanium, glowy-explodium, or something.

Getting back to the Supergirl story that started this thread we see what the big bad in that show had planned. It was a weapon that can control the minds of people inside its field. The entire population of National City is caught within it and are compelled to do the bidding of the big bad. The original big bad, General Astra, is dead but her husband and right hand man, Non, picked up where she left off. Non now has the people of National city working on solving the world's problems, which apparently involves typing quickly into the nearest computer.

Again we get to hear how Non (I think he calls himself a general now) is doing this so that he can solve the problems on Earth, such as crime, prejudice, and of course global warming. The show ends with a cliffhanger before we can see what Non has planned to solve Earth's energy needs. Oh, and Superman shows up briefly but for convenient reasons he's caught in the mind control too.

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Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.


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PostPosted: Apr 12, 2016 10:07 pm 
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Best part is it's said to be 238Pu.

Such fun.


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