This great article was found by a regular reader here, Mr. E.W., who shared it. I find it highly intriguing because there has just been news that the second reactor at Tokyo Electric's Daichi Electrical Nuclear power plant may be on the verge of meltdown. There have been the usual appraisals within the media that the lack-luster response of the Japanese government to the disaster, even as it was ongoing, was do to the "celebrated" Oriental characteristic of not wanting to lose face or be embarassed. I even read, on a couple of occasions, a couple of ...well...ridiculous articles attributing it all to the Japanese sense of bushido, an analysis that left my simultaneously laughing and mystified, as if someone was suggesting that Japan's solution to the Fukushima problem was to get out the samurai swords and commit a kind of collective national suicide. On the more suerious side, I had suspicions then, and continue to maintain them, that the disaster that befell that country was not entirely a natural event, and that nasty players were involved. The then-Japanese government was making a serious attempt to mend old wounds with China, and the Chinese were actually listening. Then came the warnings of then-Secretary of Defense Gates to Japan, warnings which were, as you'll recall, little more than threats. And then came...Fukushima. The geopolitical context, in other words, was suggestive of more than simply acts of God or nature.
So what, exactly, are the Japanese up to? Well, for one thing, besides rearming, they've been continuing their massive cold fusion research efforts, this time, with a view to use low-energy nuclear reactions as a means of cleaning up nuclear waste:
COnsider the implications of these paragraphs in the Fukushima context:
...Yasuhiro Iwamura, a former Mitsubishi Heavy Industries nuclear expert, now a specially-appointed professor at Tohoku University, joined the project in April. The research team has embarked on the following nuclear transmutations: turning radioactive palladium, which emits beta rays for hundreds of thousands of years, into radiation-free and stable tin; transforming radioactive selenium into stable strontium; changing radioactive zirconium into ruthenium; and turning radioactive cesium into praseodymium, which has a half-life of only 13.6 days.
Experts say that the radioactive materials listed above are the most challenging to process among nuclear power plant byproducts. The government has selected the research team's method, aimed at turning nuclear waste into radiation-free material, as one of the project candidates for its Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies (ImPACT), a program of government-sponsored research launched in 2014.
More than 10 institutions, including Tohoku University and Mitsubishi Heavy, are taking part in the nuclear transmutation research project, partially funded by ImPACT. The research focuses on hitting radioactive material with neutrons to change the number of neutrons inside atomic nuclei so that the material will not emit radiation. However, until now, only large-scale facilities have been able to generate and accelerate the neutrons used in the transmutation process.
Thus, Kasagi and other researchers have decided to conduct research triggering nuclear transmutation through reactions between radioactive materials and deuterium gas or hydrogen gas, a far simpler method.
People engaged in the business of nuclear power didn't believe in the possibility of cold fusion back then, said Iwamoto. "But we need the technology for transforming radioactive waste into safe matter."
Of course, this is a long way from any practical method of being able to deal with the Fukushima disaster, much less its evironmental impacts in the Pacific, where already plant life is showing signs of mutations. But it does raise the context for our high octane speculations. Japan has long been a heavy investor in cold fusion, and its scientists have been at the forefront of documenting anomalous findings that are difficult for conventional scientific models to explain. So suppose, for a moment, that Japanese scientists were able to contrive a cheap, easy, cost effective, and most importantly, enviromentally effective way to transform deadly nuclear waste from reactors, or otherwise, into harmless matter. Suppose for a moment they even find a way to do so with those most deadly substances, highly enriched uranium or, even more deadly, plutonium, or cesium, or cobalt, or strontium... suppose they found a method to clean up "nuclear spills" similar to the bacteriological technologies developed to clean up oil spills? So let's extend our high octane speculation. If such a method were to be found, I submit it might be as much a bad thing, as a boon, for such a technology, for certain warped individuals, would mean that the normal deterrents to the use of nuclear weapons, the fallout and after-effects, would be substantially removed. On the other hand, such a technology - to really extend our speculation - could equally be possible to transmute normal harmless matter into deadlier forms.
Whatever one makes of such high octane speculations, however, Japan now has pressing national security reasons to pursue every avenue, even the ones conventional science would prohibit, toward the solution of a national emergency. THe old adage is that necessity is the mother of invention. And the Japanese are good inventors. The bottom line here is this is a quiet story, and a new chapter in the cold fusion story, and it's one to watch, for rest assured, the intelligence agencies of the great powers are watching it, and probably also doing their own experiments, if they have not already done so.
See you on the flip side...