Monday, March 21, 2011

A is for Atom

I'm very relieved to see that the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant appears to be going well. I'm glad the heroic technicians, firefighters and soldiers have the situation in hand and I wish them the best of luck in alleviating the crisis. To put things in historical perspective, British documentary film maker Adam Curtis has posted his film A is for Atom on his blog.

The film shows that from very early on - as early as 1964 - US government officials knew that there were serious potential dangers with the design of the type of reactor that was used to build the Fukushima Daiichi plant. But that their warnings were repeatedly ignored.

The film tells the story of the rise of nuclear power in America, Britain and the Soviet Union. It shows how the way the technologies were developed was shaped by the political and business forces of the time. And how that led directly to inherent dangers in the design of the containment of many of the early plants.

Curtis is an excellent filmmaker and I find all his documentaries riveting, especially the series this is part of, Pandora's Box, which interrogates the intersection of politics and science.

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