Monday, August 21, 2006

Madonna has "Cure" for Nuclear Waste.

The singer, Madonna, has apparently developed a "cure" to eliminate the Earth's nuclear waste based on a "magic" Kabbalah potion. She and her husband Guy Ritchie have been lobbying the nuclear industry over a plan to clean-up radioactive waste, and have contacted Downing Street (where Mr Blair lives), Whitehall and British Nuclear Fuels (Ltd.) proposing a "mystical" liquid that has already been tested with success in a Ukrainian lake, near Chernobyl. The creation of the potion apparently involves chanting the name "Chernobyl" and those of other nuclear power installations over the liquid as part of a Kabbalah ceremony, which confers upon it magical properties. One official is reported to have commented: " It was like a crank call... the scientific mechanisms and principles were just bollocks, basically."
However, civil servants at the Department of Trade and Industry were obliged to take the couple seriously, presumably in view of their celebrity. The Kabbalah Centre, based in California, holds that water is a uniquely important material that can be imparted healing powers by "meditations and the sharing of consciousness." Madonna apparently believes that it is her mission on Earth to rid it of the problem of nuclear waste, as she made clear in newspaper interviews during her lobbying campaign of a few years ago, saying:
"I mean, one of the biggest problems that exits right now in the world is nuclear waste. That's something I've been involved with for a while with a group of scientists - finding a way to neutralise radiation, believe it or not."
Although a BNFL team have been unable to find any scientific validation that it works, I wonder whether they may be any basis. I have been unable to find any details of the "fluid" and so can do no more than speculate. For example, does it work in combination with natural minerals - i.e. "zeolites" - which as I have written about before are very effective in decontaminating radioactively contaminated land, materials, animals and people? That would have a sounder scientific underpinning, perhaps, but it is not clear why the Kabbalah water would be any better than ordinary water. I don't know if there is a mineral used anyway, of if the "fluid" is just poured into the contaminated lake, and "Hey Presto!" If so, then another explanation must be sought.
I am, however, open-minded, and since it is hard to disagree with Madonna that nuclear waste "is" a very large problem, perhaps all angles should be explored! I read recently about a material called "Brown's Gas" which can apparently substantially reduce the level of radiation emitted by "Actinium", I think? So there may be forces at work beyond those we are normally familiar with, which takes our understanding and faith into the Twilight Zone of "Cold Fusion" which is still being investigated. For sure, we do not understand many aspects of our world (let along the vast swathes of "The Universe"), but something pretty profound would need to have been missed to underpin these and many other proposed "alternative" phenomena - but perhaps it has?
Returning to rather more simple and mundane - but consequentially profound - matters, there remains the issue of "energy use" (and provision) to sort out. I have perhaps laboured the point is many of these postings that we need to use less energy, and that has to be "key" to devising any strategy to our future survival beyond a back-track to the Stone Age. I feel vindicated that many voices, even from the U.K. government, are now sounding along these lines too. Hence, there is a call for the return of the bicycle.
Rather as a rough estimate based on a head-count of the number of vehicles on the road in my immediate vicinity, I reckon that 90% of the requirement for liquid transportation fuel could be eliminated by a change of lifestyle. This would involve a similar "cut" in the number of plane flights too. Intriguingly, a recent study in Montana has concluded that about half of all car journeys (we are not specifying the type of "car", Hummer and its friends or not) are only 3 miles or less, and so could be made without resorting to the internal combustion engine. Making them by bicycle instead would save about 24 billion gallons of gasoline per year in the U.S. That's about 150 million barrels, or two days supply for the entire world.
Since the U.S. uses around one quarter of the world's oil if everyone took this simple expedient that would equate to eight days worth less to find of oil. If we move to an entirely more localised approach to life (that's on a daily basis but keeping truly advantageous global mechanisms of communication, particularly the Internet), then we could approach my 90% reduction - but that would be a far less comfortable option. However, we will need to consider it at some point, and the sooner we do the less painful the transformation will be. It is common sense really, you can't carry on and on squeezing this precious stone that we call "Earth" and expect blood to continue to drip from it... or just squeeze it harder as we "need" to take more. It is already showing signs of running dry.

2 comments:

Kirk Sorensen said...

Dear Madonna,

There's only two ways to get rid of nuclear waste--let it decay or transmute it to something else. The vast majority of the waste produced in conventional nuclear reactors represents the byproducts of fission: essentially uranium atoms that have been split. These have short half-lives (minutes to days) and go away very quickly. A few have half-lives of months, and a very few have half-lifes of years.

There is also the nuclear waste created when uranium doesn't split but absorbs the neutron---this waste typically has very long lifetimes and is best destroyed through transmutation.

I know that you enjoy the Kabbalah water, but the only value I can see for it would be to serve as a moderator for neutrons (produced through fission) to be used for transmutation. And since most transuranics (the uranium-absorbs-a-neutron waste mentioned above) proceeds most effectively in a stream of fast neutrons, even the Kabbalah water moderating neutrons may do more harm than good.

But keep up the good work working on waste disposal options. I would recommend investigating liquid-chloride fast reactors for waste transmutation rather than Kabbalah water. More neutrons.

Best wishes,

Kirk Sorensen

We Support Lee said...

Madonna's scheme has its roots in young-Earth creationist nonsense. Madonna ain't got scientific background, y'know what I mean?

For a skeptic's take on Madonna's silly theory that half-life can be altered, check out fellow blogger Nuclear Is Our Future