Thoughts on Nukes

While nuclear power can be a source of energy and positive production, it can also be used as a force to cause harm. The word “nuke” in and of itself, can illicit emotional reactions.

This episode of ExplorerInside the Nuclear Threat” addresses how the challenges are faced when this powerful force is used for harm and how we can defend ourselves from the world’s most lethal weapon.

Following you’ll find the thoughts of people from many different sides of the spectrum on nuclear issues:

Radioactivity is an explosion of the atom that wasn’t discovered until about 100 years ago. It was a mystery at first. The answer came from the tiny center of the atom: the nucleus. When that nucleus explodes — that is the rare thing. Very few nuclei explode, the ones that do are called radioactive. That tiny little thing [the nucleus]… is like a mosquito inside a football stadium, that’s how small it is inside of the atom… but when it explodes, it releases an enormous amount of energy.

Richard Muller
Nuclear Physicist, U.C. Berkeley

Nuclear power can be an emotional issue for some people. Looking at the physics helps cut through the clutter and allows people to consider the facts and make up their own mind. This is a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes and see for yourself how much goes into the safe and efficient generation of electricity at a nuclear power plant. The National Geographic crew came to our site without an agenda. We at the Cook Nuclear plant are always willing to participate in a scientific and fact-based discussion about nuclear power.

Bill Schalk
Communications Manager, Cook Nuclear Power Plant

One of the concerns about a nuclear North Korea is whether they would proliferate.  They have shown with their missile program that they are willing to sell technology that is highly desirable on the black market. If they were to sell nuclear know-how or nuclear material itself, that could be extremely dangerous.

Corey Hinderstein
Specialist, Nuclear Threat Initiative

Since the cold war ended 20 years ago, we worry less about Russian and Chinese nuclear weapons. There is still concern because there is so many of them, but our relationship with those two countries is different now than it was back then. The biggest concern we face today is that terrorists will acquire nuclear weapons and try to use them against the United States or its allies.

John Harvey
Nuclear Deputy, Department of Defense

The site called “Natanz” is Iran’s primary uranium enrichment facility. It was built underground deliberately to conceal it and to protect it from attack. It has been hardened with multiple layers of fill dirt and concrete so as to protect it from even the most sophisticated bunker busting bombs. The Iranians hope to use this facility to enrich low-level uranium into weapons-grade uranium.

Tim Brown
Intelligence Analyst

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Watch video of satellite imagery revealing secret nuclear facilities in Iran >>

The GeoEye1 satellite weighs 4300 pounds, and orbits at an altitude of 423 miles above earth. It does a complete orbit in 98 minutes, moving around the earth at a speed of four miles per second. Even at that constant speed, we are able to look down on the planet and see objects on the ground as small as something the size of a home plate on a baseball diamond.

Mark Brender
VP of Communications, GeoEye

Explorer: Inside the Nuclear Threat premieres Tuesday Mar. 2 at 10P et/pt.