Thursday, 19 May 2011

How to get rid of nuclear waste

Finland, Finland, Finland. The country where I want to be, pony trekking or camping or just watching TV!

Yes people Finland. The country that brought the world saunas, Nokia phones, reindeer, some outrageously attractive people and in World War II, they threw Soviet Russia about like a rag doll with just 30 tanks to their 6,500! And after watching a documentary called ‘Nuclear Eternity’ recently, these bulletproof Fins are now thinking long term and have built a massive underground impenetrable repository for their nuclear waste for the next 1000 years. These buggers are planning ahead.

It was with this knowledge that the documentary had dangled in front of my face that I took along to the pub after work one Friday afternoon and then dangled it right in front of Jamie’s face. His response was nothing short of simple.

“Why the fuck are they burying it? That’s stupid, they need to be chucking it out into space!”

Yes people hold on and strap in, we are going interstellar with this one! I probed further into his concept to see how he thought it would work.

“Well space is massive and it’s out there doing nothing. As there is nothing out there it should start doing something, so it can look after all our waste”

What followed next was a diagram of the most basic proportions.

“Right, so if this is the space we know about. And that is England there, then we just chuck it out over here. We would have to be proper fucking unlucky for it to come back and hit us”

You would hope that hurling nuclear waste into space wouldn’t be like spitting into the wind. However, this concept does come from a man who referred to the world as ‘England’.
I attacked back with good old-fashioned facts. To put a kilogram of anything in near earth orbit costs about £12,000. To get that kilogram to the moon will cost £120,000. On a galactic scale the moon from the Earth is like your next-door neighbours house. We need a bit more distance on our nuclear waste or it will come back and smack us.

Undaunted by cold hard numbers, Jamie attacked the issue, it might cost £12,000 to put a manned craft in space, or £120,000 to land a manned craft on the moon, but once it’s out there all you have to do it nudge it in the general direction you want it to go, which is pretty much anywhere away from earth, so it wouldn’t cost that much.

Then came a new idea. An elevator to space.

Yes an elevator into space. Well it turns out that an elevator was gilding the lily a bit; it will actually just be a rope.

“Aye not just any rope though Penny, a ‘new technology’ one up for the task. We will attach it to a space station, haul the waste up the rope like a conveyor belt and then chuck it off into space from up there. Won’t need any rockets or stuff for that!” “also the rope can’t be attached to earth as it has to rotate in orbit so it will just dangle in the atmosphere with a weight at the end, or maybe a platform that we can land on and prepare the rigging”.
Now I know that this concept of an elevator into space has been kicking around for many years and some scientists believe it to be possible so we cant attack his concept. However, this still barely gets it away from ‘England’.

Undaunted, Jamie continues that chucking it way out makes sense. I try a new approach and mention that it could damage any other life out there in the universe. I still to this day don’t know what to make of his response…

“If other life is like bacteria and that, then who cares. And if it is proper aliens then they will likely be smarter so will swing by England and say ‘here lads don’t use that nuclear shit, use this new technology stuff!”

So there you go. What doesn’t kill you, should make you come back to ‘England’ and tell them how to do it better. Just a heads up for you all - no matter what information and facts you throw at Jamie he is unlikely to back down with an idea.

About three pints later Jamie relents and then puts forward a new concept…
“Right then, lets just chuck it all into the sun!”

And lets end on that note. 

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