SpaceX: An Overview

SpaceX is a company that designs, manufactures, and launches rockets and spacecraft. Elon Musk founded the company in 2002. His goals are to revolutionize spaceflight, provide commercial access to space, and eventually colonize other planets[1]

The Rise of Elon Musk

The rise of Elon Musk; from Blastar to blast-off!

Elon Musk was born in South Africa on June 28, 1971. Musk developed an interest in computers at an early age, and taught himself how to program them. He was 12 when he sold his first software, a game called Blastar. At age 17, Musk moved to Canada to attend Queen’s University and avoid mandatory service in the South African military. In 1992, he left Canada to study at the University of Pennsylvania. He later graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics and a bachelor’s degree in physics. Musk then headed to Stanford University in California, to pursue a PhD in energy physics, however, he dropped out only 2 days after he started attending. He dropped out to try and take advantage of the internet boom, that was just beginning.

In 1995 Elon Musk founded the Zip2 corporation with his brother, Kimbal Musk. Zip2 provided and licensed online city guide software for newspapers. It was used by companies such as The New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. In 1999, Elon Musk sold Zip2 for 341 million dollars to a division of Compaq Computer Corporation. Using money from the sale, Kimbal and Elon Musk founded X.com, which later became known as PayPal. He sold PayPal to Ebay, in October 2002, for 1.5 billion dollars.

During that same year, Elon Musk also became a US citizen, and founded SpaceX. SpaceX’s original goal was to build spacecraft for commercial use. SpaceX started by launching small rockets, as they were relatively cheap, and easy to build. In 2005 SpaceX was awarded an indefinite contract by the US military, allowing it to purchase up to 100 million dollars worth of rocket launches. In 2008, NASA announced that SpaceX won the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services contract, which would have SpaceX deliver supplies to the International Space Station, and possibly transport crew. The contract was for 1.6 billion dollars worth of deliveries. This made SpaceX the world’s first private contractor to deliver cargo to the ISS.

The Birth of SpaceX

A Falcon Heavy rocket blasting off from a SpaceX launch site.

SpaceX had a rough start, the first three launches were failures. The first launch, a Falcon 1 launch in March 2006, failed minutes into its flight due to a fuel line leak. The second launch, another Falcon 1, was launched in March, 2007, and was lost in space, minutes after taking off. In August 2008, the third launch was also a failure, when the first and second stages failed to separate. The fourth launch was successful. In September 2008, SpaceX’s first Falcon 1 made it into Earth’s orbit.

The Bumpy Road to Reusable Rockets

The bumpy road to reusable rockets

One of SpaceX’s greatest accomplishments is landing and reusing rocket stages. The development of reusable rockets began on September 21, 2012. SpaceX built a prototype around the empty tank of an early version of the Falcon 9 rocket. The US Federal Aviation Administration, that licensed the test, didn’t allow it to go more than half a mile above the ground. The 8 tests, of taking off and landing with the prototype, gave SpaceX necessary data for developing the software and hardware that would later guide rocket stages back to earth. The tests took place at a facility in McGregor, Texas.

The next prototype was built around a second generation Falcon 9 tank. It was 40 meters tall with retractable legs. Its first test was a success and it flew more than 1,000 meters into the air before landing, however on its second test, a sensor was blocked, which caused strong winds to push it off course. An automatic process caused it to self-destruct before it drifted outside of the safe testing area. 

The first time SpaceX attempted to land a rocket’s stage was before the Falcon 9 tests. It was during SpaceX’s first completely commercial mission, launching a Canadian satellite called Cassiope into orbit. The launch was successful, however the first stage of the rocket lost control during the descent, and plunged into the ocean.

The next Falcon 9 rocket launched with the intent of landing, was on April 18, 2014. It was the first mission that an operational Falcon 9 flew with landing legs attached. Its landing was largely successful, however it was slightly off target, and plunged into the ocean, instead of landing on the platform.

On July 14, 2014, another Falcon 9 was launched, carrying cargo to the International Space Station. The delivery was a success. The rocket was launched without landing gear, as it was not intended to land. The first stage fell back into the ocean after detaching, but it slowed itself enough that it hit the ocean slowly. The rocket was used as a test, to see if it could slow down enough, to potentially land safely. It proved that the Falcon 9 rocket could reenter the atmosphere at super-sonic velocities, restart the main engines twice, and hit the surface slowly.

SpaceX often lands spent rocket stages on remotely controlled ships. These drone ships are large mobile floating platforms. Landing rockets at sea is an important capability, because if a rocket malfunctions, there isn’t anything that could be damaged nearby. If the rocket is off course, it will merely land in the sea, and be lost.

On January 10, 2015, a Falcon 9 attempted to land on a drone ship. The hydraulic fans controlling it’s decent stuck, and it flew out of control and crashed. Two months later, a Falcon 9 was launched, with a delivery of supplies and instruments to the International Space Station. The first stage was supposed to land on a drone ship, however a sticky valve prevented it from shutting off the engine in time, which caused it to fall over and explode.

A Falcon 9 rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral on December 22, 2015. It was SpaceX’s second launch for the company Orbcomm. The rocket took-off, and flew straight up to the edge of the atmosphere, and the first stage detached and came back down, and landed, marking the first successful landing of a used rocket stage. It was a vertical take-off launch. The term VTVL is often used now, for vertical take-off, vertical landing.

The next attempted landing, was onto a drone ship on January 7, 2016. However it was a failure, as one of the rocket legs failed to lock into place when it opened, and the rocket fell over, and exploded. There was another failed landing on March 4, 2016, as the rocket didn’t have enough fuel left over to slow itself down. The rocket didn’t have enough fuel because it had to deliver the satellite into a much higher orbit than usual. It crashed into the landing platform while moving too quickly, and exploded.

The first successful landing onto a drone ship took place on April 8, 2016. After a mission to the ISS, the rocket landed. It was later re-flown, which made it the first ever orbital rocket to be reused. A month later another rocket is successfully landed on a drone ship after delivering a satellite into a geostationary orbit.

As the technology for reusable rocket stages was perfected, Elon Musk started building all of his rockets with reuse in mind. SpaceX recovered every single rocket launched in 2017.

The Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy Rockets

SpaceX’s most used rockets, the Falcon 9 and the Falcon 9 Heavy.

SpaceX uses two different kinds of launch vehicles, the Falcon 9, and the Falcon Heavy. The Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket. The Falcon 9 rocket is designed to launch satellites or the dragon capsule, another creation of SpaceX. The Falcon 9 is 12 feet in diameter, 230 feet tall and weighs 1,207,920 pounds. It can deliver a payload of 50,000 pounds to a low earth orbit, a payload of 18,000 pounds to a geosynchronous orbit, or a payload of 8,800 pounds to Mars. It was designed to be easily reusable. Having only two stages minimizes the separations. The first stage has 9 engines, that are positioned so that even if two of them fail, the rocket can still complete its mission. The tanks are composed of an alloy of aluminum and lithium. It uses liquid oxygen and RP-1 (refined petroleum) as fuel. The rocket generates around 1.7 million pounds of thrust, at sea level and 1.8 million as it exits the atmosphere[7]. The difference in thrust comes from atmospheric pressure. The atmospheric pressure counteracts the pressure from the rocket’s combustion, causing less thrust to be produced.

The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket is only powered by a single Merlin vacuum engine. Its purpose is to deliver the payload into the desired orbit, once the rocket is already in space. The tanks are made of the same aluminum-lithium alloy as the first stage. The second stage can be restarted multiple times if it is carrying multiple payloads that require different orbits[7]. 

The Falcon Heavy rocket is designed for much heavier payloads. It is the most powerful operating rocket today, by a factor of 2. Its total width, is 40 feet, and it is 230 feet tall. It has 2 stages, and 2 boosters. It weighs 3,125,735 pounds. It can deliver a payload of 140,000 pounds to low Earth orbit, 58,800 pounds to geosynchronous orbit, 37,000 pounds to Mars, or even 7,700 pounds as far as Pluto. The rockets are built with a 40% safety margin, meaning that they can withstand forces up to 40% greater than the maximum planned.

The first stage of the Falcon Heavy is made up of three cores. There are two cores on opposite sides of the center core. The side cores are connected to the center core at the top and bottom. Each core is very similar to the Falcon 9 rocket, with aluminum-lithium tanks and 9 Merlin engines. At liftoff all three cores fire at full thrust, but shortly after liftoff, the center core throttles down while the booster cores keep firing at full thrust. Once the booster cores separate and land, the center core throttles back up to full thrust.

The second stage is almost identical to the second stage of the Falcon 9, with a single Merlin engine and aluminum-lithium tanks. Its purpose is also the same.  Both rockets rely on the Merlin engine, which was developed by SpaceX. 

When launching a rocket, the primary difficulty isn’t lifting the rocket into space, it’s accelerating the rocket to orbital velocity. Orbital velocity differs depending on the distance from the earth. The orbital velocity for a low Earth orbit is 17,000 miles per hour. Low Earth orbit is an orbit centered around 1,200 miles from the surface of the Earth. Orbital velocity decreases as you get farther from the Earth. The equation used to calculate orbital velocity is SQRT((G*M)/R). G is the gravitational constant, M is the mass of the central body, and R is the radius of the orbit.

Because of orbital velocity, the location for launches is very important. Launch sites all tend to be near the equator, to take advantage of the fact that the Earth rotates. At the equator, the Earth is moving at about 1,000 miles per hour. That means the rockets launched on or near the equator start out traveling at 1000 miles per hour, meaning they need to accelerate less to achieve an orbit.

SpaceX’s Launch Sites

SpaceX’s South Texas (Boca Chica area) launch site. Photo from SpaceX.

SpaceX owns several different launch locations, all very far south in the USA. There is one in Texas, two in Florida, and one in California.

The launch site in Texas is called the SpaceX South Texas Launch Site. It is located in the Boca Chica area at the southern end of Texas. It is suited for orbital launches, as it is as close to the equator as you can get in the United States. Being close to the equator takes advantage of the lessened acceleration requirements. It is also far from any populated area, so in the event of a failed launch, the risk of injury is minimal.

Launch complex 39A is located near the Kennedy Space Center. Launch complex 39A was the site of many historic launches, including the Apollo missions, and Skylab. SpaceX has made numerous changes to the launch site, to support launches of larger rockets, such as the Falcon Heavy these changes include a greatly expanded hangar and reinforced launchpad. SpaceX also benefits from already existing local infrastructures, that supported the previous launches there. These include weather monitoring, ground support, payload processing facilities, and long-range tracking cameras.

SpaceX owns another launch site in Florida, on Cape Canaveral, Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40). It is in the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with Patrick Air Force Base to the south and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the north. Because of the proximity to other launch sites, SLC-40 benefits from many of the same services that they do, be it for fuel, parts, security, location, or weather monitoring services.

SpaceX’s Plans for the Future

Artist’s conception of a BFR approaching the Red Planet.

SpaceX has many ambitious plans for the future. One such plan is the Starship. The Starship is collectively the cargo carrying Starship spacecraft and its launch vehicle, the Falcon Super Heavy.  The Starship is designed to be able to carry crew along with cargo.

The Falcon Super Heavy rocket will carry the Starship. It will be 223 feet tall, and 30 feet in diameter. It will be able to generate 16 million pounds of thrust, and will carry 6.6 million pounds of propellant. Both the Starship and Falcon Super Heavy will use Raptor engines instead of Merlin engines. The Falcon Super Heavy will use 37 Raptor engines while the Starship stage will use 7. Raptor engines will be larger and run on liquid methane, rather than RP-1. This is because RP-1 can cause problems with residue build-up, in a process that is known as coking. Another reason methane will be used, is because it is theorized that methane could be extracted from the surface of Mars, making re-fueling the Starship possible on Mars.

SpaceX’s Competitors

There are companies other than SpaceX that are expanding into commercial spaceflight, and making their own innovations. Some of the more notable examples are Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Virgin Galactic, Xcor Aerospace, and Made in Space.

Boeing manufactures and sells airplanes, rotor-craft, rockets, satellites, missiles, and telecommunications equipment. Their scope has only recently expanded to include rockets. The rocket they developed is the CST-100 (Crew Space Transport – 100) or Boeing Starliner. They have yet to sell any, as the rockets are still in the development and testing phase. It is designed to carry up to 7 passengers, and would be viable to orbit for up to 7 months, and reliable for 10 launches. It is also designed to be compatible with other launch vehicles such as the Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9, and Vulcan.

Another company that competes with SpaceX is the Sierra Nevada Corporation. They cover other areas than space-craft, such as national security and defense. One of their major projects is the Dreamchaser. It is designed to be launched from any conventional rocket, and can deliver up to 12,000 pounds of cargo. Like the Boeing Starliner, it is still in development, and has not yet been put into commercial use.

Launch Statistics

SpaceX has made a total of 91 launches, as of March, 2020. This includes 83 Falcon 9 launches, 3 Falcon Heavy launches, and 5 Falcon 1 launches. SpaceX has only failed a total of 5 launches, 3 of which were from the early testing and development of the Falcon 1. The most launches in one year, was during 2018, when a total of 21 rockets were launched, 9 new Falcon 9 rockets, 11 previously used Falcon 9 rockets, and one Falcon Heavy. 2020 is planned to be a close second, with 20 launches. There have already been 6 used Falcon 9 launches as of March, 2020. SpaceX has successfully landed 50 cores, or the first stage.

SpaceX has launched a total of 343,223 kilograms, or 756,677 pounds, of payload into various orbits. The majority of this was launched into a geostationary transfer orbit. This is an orbit designed to transfer from one orbit, to another, in the same plane, using the minimum amount of fuel possible. Another large portion of the launches were into polar orbits. Recently SpaceX has been doing mostly LEO (low earth orbit) launches.

SpaceX has a wide range of customers. Most of the launches are commercial, but many are for public agencies such as NASA, USAF and NRO. 60% of the launches are commercial, while 25% are for NASA, 1% and 2% from the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) and USAF (United States Air-Force) respectively. SpaceX has performed 67 launches for commercial sources, 28 for NASA, 3 for the USAF, and 2 for the NRO. SpaceX has launched 10 rockets for its own purposes, or 9% of its total launches. SpaceX employs 7,000 people and was founded more than 18 years ago.

Plans to Colonize Mars

SpaceX has many goals that seem like near impossibilities. Probably the most notable of these is SpaceX’s claim that it will put people on Mars, by 2025. SpaceX plans to accomplish this using the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is still being developed. SpaceX plans to launch a BFR carrying a Starship, into orbit by 2020 or 2021. This is the technology that will be used to transport crew and cargo to Mars. SpaceX plans to launch two loads of cargo to Mars, by 2022. This is because Mars’s orbit only brings it relatively close to the Earth once every two years. The rockets are planned to land on Mars by late 2022, or 2023. These launches would be carrying cargo necessary for the future base on Mars, such as tools and materials to construct habitats, generate power, and gather water. They also plan to make use of methane found on Mars, to potentially power return flights[12].

There is nothing planned for Mars in the year 2023, however SpaceX plans to fly Yusaku Maezawa around the Moon. Yusaku Maezawa is a Japanese billionaire who bought SpaceX’s services. It will be the first time that SpaceX has sent anyone to the moon, and Maezawa will be the thirteenth person to ever visit the moon[12].

In 2024, SpaceX plans to launch another BFR with a human crew, bound for Mars. SpaceX is unsure if it will need multiple launches or not, as the supplies needed to survive on Mars might be too much for a single launch, even with the previously delivered supplies from 2022. SpaceX plans to have the first people set foot on Mars in 2025, with the spaceships serving as temporary homes for the astronauts. By sometime in 2028 SpaceX plans to have completed the first Mars base, known as Mars Base Alpha. Mars Base Alpha would contain only the necessities to survive, but it will expand from there. From this point on, everything is less sure, but SpaceX projects that they may have a rudimentary city built on Mars by 2030[12].

Conclusion

It is important to stop and think about the amazing accomplishments SpaceX has made, bringing topics that were mere science fiction into reality. Landing and reusing rockets was never even considered before SpaceX accomplished it. They have even created a plan to colonize Mars. SpaceX is an amazing company that has completely changed the spaceflight industry.

References

[1] = https://www.spacex.com/about 

[2] = https://www.biography.com/business-figure/elon-musk 

[3] = https://www.whereisroadster.com/spacex/ 

[4] = https://www.oakton.edu/students/8/iiliev5728/Final%20Progect/SpaceX.htm 

[5] = https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/science/spacex-falcon-launch.html 

[6] = https://qz.com/1016072/a-multimedia-history-of-every-single-one-of-spacexs-attempts-to-land-its-booster-rocket-back-on-earth/ 

[7] = https://www.spacex.com/falcon9 

[8] = https://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy 

[9] = https://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/circles/Lesson-4/Mathematics-of-Satellite-Motion

[10] = https://www.fastcompany.com/3026685/the-worlds-top-10-most-innovative-companies-in-spacSe 

[11] = https://www.sncorp.com/

[12] = https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-spacex-mars-plan-timeline-2018-10#2028-finish-building-mars-base-alpha-10

Radio Astronomy

Radio astronomy is a way of looking at extraterrestrial objects using the radio waves that they emit or reflect.

Radio waves are part of what is known as the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum contains all the different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, of which visible light is a small part, specifically 4 *10^14 to 7*10^14 hertz (7.5*10^-07 to 4.3*10^-7 meters). As you dip below the range of visible light you get into the range of infrared light. Infrared light is the range of the electromagnetic spectrum between 7*10^14 hertz ( 4.3*10^-7 meters) and 10^13 hertz (3*10^-5 meters). Once below infrared, there is microwave radiation. Microwaves continue from 10^13 to 3*10^11 hertz (3*10^-5 to 1*10^-3 meters). Any electromagnetic radiation with a frequency below 3*10^11 hertz (1*10^-3 meters) is considered radio waves. They have a wavelength of at least 1 millimeter(“The EM Spectrum”).

The first form of electromagnetic radiation outside of the visible spectrum was discovered in the year 1800 by Sir William Herschel. He performed an experiment in which he separated light with a prism. He then placed thermometers in each distinct color of light, including one above and below the visible light. The thermometer that was outside of the visible light, on the red end, measured the highest temperature, though it seemed to be wholly outside of the light. It was this experiment that first showed the existence of infrared radiation(NASA).

The theory of electromagnetism was proposed in 1873, by the Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell. He determined that there were four main electromagnetic interactions. The first is that the force of attraction or repulsion between electric charges is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them, the second is that magnetic poles come in pairs that attract the opposite pole and repel like poles, the third is that an electric current in a conductor produces a magnetic field, the poles of the field being determined by the direction of the current, and the fourth is that moving an electric field relative to a conductor produces a magnetic field, and vice versa (Lucas, “Electromagnetic Radiation”).

The theory of electromagnetism by Maxwell predicted the existence of radio waves, and in 1886, Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist, used Maxwell’s theories to produce and receive radio waves. Maxwell used an induction coil and a Leyden Jar to produce the radio waves he detected. Hertz was the first person to transmit and receive radio waves, and the basic SI unit of frequency, the hertz, was named in his honor, as one electromagnetic cycle per second(Lucas, “Radio Waves”).

Sir Oliver Lodge was the first person to attempt to detect radio waves from an extraterrestrial source. He was conducting experiments on the propagation and reception of electromagnetic waves. He went on to create the “trembler”. It was a device based on the work of the French physicist Édouard Branly, who showed that loose iron filings react to electromagnetic waves inside of a glass tube. Lodge’s trembler used the shaking of iron filings to detect Morse code carried by electromagnetic radiation(Britannica). During his experiments with electromagnetic radiation, Lodge viewed the Sun as a possible source for radio waves. He attempted to detect them in the centimeter wavelengths, but though he failed, he was still the first one to try.

Many attempts were made to detect radio waves from extraterrestrial sources, but none were successful until 1931. Karl Jansky, while working for Bell Laboratories, tried to determine the source of  radio interference that was present around 20 MHz. Jansky built a large steerable antenna that would receive in wavelengths of 5 to 30 meters, or 15 to 30 MHz frequency. The antenna allowed him to locate the sources of static. He found three distinct sources, local thunderstorms, distant thunderstorms, and a steady hiss of static that was coming from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, as he showed using the source’s position in the sky (“UREI-Radio Astronomy Tutorial-Sec.4”).

Jansky’s findings were largely ignored for quite a while. It wasn’t until 1937, when Grote Reber read Jansky’s work that there were any major advancements. Reber was an electronics engineer, and an avid radio amateur. After reading Jansky’s work, Reber built the first real radio telescope, to which most telescopes today are very similar. It was a 9.5 meter parabolic reflector dish that he built alone in his backyard. He spent years studying radio emissions of varying wavelengths until he detected celestial emissions at a wavelength of 2 meters. Reber confirmed that the emissions were from the galactic plane, and continued to observe various radio sources until in 1944 he published the first radio frequency sky maps. His telescope is still on display today at the Green-Bank Observatory, in Green-Bank, West Virginia(“UREI-Radio Astronomy Tutorial-Sec.4”).

The first radio emissions from the Sun were discovered in 1942 by J.S. Hey, who was working with the British Army Operational Research Group to analyze occurrences of radio jamming of Army radar sets. There was a system for observing and recording potential jamming signals, which led Hey to conclude that the sun was emitting intense radio waves. It was later in the same year that G.C. Southworth  made the first successful observations of thermal radio emission from the sun at centimeter wavelengths, a frequency of less than 30 GHz(“UREI-Radio Astronomy Tutorial-Sec.4”).

The next major discovery was in 1963 when Bell Laboratories assigned Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson the task of tracing a radio noise that was interfering with the development of communication satellites. They discovered that no matter what direction they pointed the antenna, it would always receive the interference even where the sky was visibly empty. They had discovered cosmic background radiation, an ambient radiation that is always present. It is now widely believed that  cosmic background radiation is energy that remains from the creation of the universe. Wilson and Penzias went on to win the Nobel Prize for their discovery in 1978 (“UREI-Radio Astronomy Tutorial-Sec.4”).

A typical radio telescope consists of several different parts. They are the antenna, the reflector dish, the amplifier, and the computer that receives, records and processes the data. The  dish is used to reflect and focus the radio waves onto the antenna. The antenna of a radio telescope, at the focal point of the dish, receives the radio waves and converts them to electricity. The resulting electrical signals are sent to the amplifier, which as the name implies, amplifies the signal. Once the signal has been amplified it is usually sent to a computer where it is processed and recorded. Many telescopes are also mounted on a base that allows for movement, so they can be aimed at different parts of the sky(“Design of a Radio Telescope”).

The structure of radio telescopes haven’t changed much since the one that Reber built. Perhaps the largest advancement is telescope arrays. An array is many smaller radio telescopes that have been linked together. The multiple telescopes create an effect similar to having a single telescope with a dish radius as large as the radius of the array. This is due to the different positions from which each telescope views the sky, causing them to receive the same signals that a single dish would if it extended as far as the array. There are many problems with building a large single dish telescope. It would be very hard to build, as it would require an immense amount of materials and have difficulty supporting its own weight. An array has some drawbacks of its own, such as the light gathering abilities of an array are worse than what they would be if it was a single dish telescope of the same size, as light gathering abilities are determined by the total area covered. Another advantage of arrays is that many smaller telescopes are much easier to direct than a large one.

One example of a telescope array is the Very Large Array, or VLA, in New Mexico. It is composed of 28 separate dishes and antennas. Each dish is 82 feet wide and has 8 receivers. They are all steerable. They are arranged in a “Y” shape that varies in size, because the telescope are all on rails, making them mobile to adjust the size of the array. The array is half a mile to 23 miles across, depending on where the telescopes are on the rails(“Very Large Array”). It operates in frequencies from 1 to 50 GHz. The surfaces of the dishes are made of aluminum panels.  The VLA has made and contributed to many interesting discoveries, such as ice on Mercury, study of black-holes, and the center of our galaxy. It also observed an effect predicted by Einstein, Einstein rings. These are rings of electromagnetic radiation that have been distorted through intense gravity of massive objects such as black-holes.

One of the largest single dish telescopes is the Arecibo Observatory, in Puerto Rico. It is called the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC) and was built in 1960, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. It is built into a volcanic crater and has a 305 meter wide reflector dish. The antenna is suspended above it by cables and can be moves to track different parts of the sky. The antenna of the telescope is also unusual. It is a dome that contains multiple reflecting dishes that further focus the radio waves. This is done so that the antenna can be mobile, to aim the telescope, as the dish is stationary. The Arecibo telescope discovered the first extra-solar planets. It was also used to produce detailed radar maps of the surface of Venus and Mercury, and discovered the first binary pulsar.

The EHT (Event Horizon Telescope) array covers the largest distance of any array. It is composed of 10 different telescopes and arrays around the world. Due to the spread of its components it has an effective aperture the size of the earth, which gives it the highest angular resolution possible on the surface of the earth. The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX), an array that is a collaboration between the Max Planck Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), the Onsala Space Observatory (OSO), and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is one part of the EHT array. The 30-meter telescope on Pico Veleta in the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the James Clark Maxwell Telescope operated by the East Asian Observatory, the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano built on the summit of Volcán Sierra Negra, the Sub-millimeter Array (SMA) located near the summit of  Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, and the South Pole Telescope (SPT) all make up the worldwide EHT array (“Array”).

The EHT array has been used to monitor black holes. It has watched the black-holes SgrA at the center of the Milky Way and M87 in the center of the Virgo A galaxy. It has been studying the validity of many theories about the mass of black holes, the event horizon, gravitational lensing, and possible emissions. The silhouettes of the black-holes matched predictions. In 2019, the EHT also managed to take a direct picture of the silhouette of the black-hole in the center of our galaxy, SgrA.

Radio telescopes have made many discoveries and observations. One such observation is the imaging of asteroids. Scott Hudson and Steven Ostro were the first people to image an asteroid. They imaged the peanut-shaped asteroid 4769 Castalia using the Arecibo observatory in 1989.

Another discovery is that of millisecond pulsars. The discovery was made in 1983, by Donald C. Backer, Miller Goss, Michael Davis, Carl Heiles and Shrinivas Kulkarni at the Arecibo telescope. A millisecond pulsar is one with a very fast rotational period. The one discovered is known as PSR B1937+21, and spins about 641 times a second. Since this discovery nearly 200 more have been discovered (Maggio).

One of the many applications for radio astronomy has been in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The term most commonly used for scientific pursuits of extraterrestrial life is SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence). SETI has involved many arrays and telescopes around the world. There are also several projects that allow people to help observe the sky and donate idle processing power to analyzing the radio signals. SETI has not found any definite signs of other intelligent life, but it has detected signs that may indicate other intelligent life, such as the WOW signal. The WOW signal was an unusual burst of electromagnetic radiation, as if another planet was sending out radio bursts in the chance that someone detects them as we are.

Mercury’s rotational period was determined by radio telescopes. Using the Arecibo telescope, in 1964, Pettengill found that Mercury actually completed a full rotation every 59 days. It had long been thought to be tidally locked, maing the rotational period the same as the orbital, at 88 days (Maggio).

Binary pulsars were also discovered through radio astronomy. They were discovered in 1974. A binary pulsar is a pulsar with a white dwarf or neutron star orbiting it (Maggio).

In 2008, Arecibo was used to detect organic molecules in a starburst, an unusually fast developing star system that consumes available gases much more quickly than normal, 250 million light-years from Earth. Methanimine., a carbon based molecule (CH3N), and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) were discovered in the starburst Apr 220, which lies in the constellation Serpens. The discovery of organic molecules is very important for the possibility of life in other solar systems (Maggio).

Another very important discovery of radio telescopes is that of exoplanets. An exoplanet is any planet that exists outside of our solar system. On January 9, 1992, the astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail, using the Arecibo telescope, discovered exoplanets orbiting a pulsar named PSR 1257+12. It is 2,300 light-years away in the constellation Virgo (“Top Astronomical Discoveries”).

Radio astronomy has made many interesting discoveries, and given rise to many theories.  It has been used for many different purposes, from photographing the event horizon of black-holes to searching for extraterrestrial life. It will likely continue to be enlightening and interesting into the future as it has been for the past 90 years

Have a question?


Works Cited

NASA, NASA, imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/toolbox/history_multiwavelength1.html.

The EM Spectrum, labman.phys.utk.edu/phys222core/modules/m6/The EM spectrum.html.

A Brief History of Radio Astronomy, www.astronomytoday.com/astronomy/radioastro2.html.

UREI-Radio Astronomy Tutorial-Sec.4, www.haystack.mit.edu/edu/undergrad/materials/tut4.html.

Design of a Radio Telescope, www.sas.upenn.edu/~patann/RadioTelescopeDesign.htm.

“Array.” Event Horizon Telescope, eventhorizontelescope.org/array.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 8 June 2019,               

Lucas, Jim. “What Are Radio Waves?” LiveScience, Purch, 27 Feb. 2019, 

Lucas, Jim. “What Is Electromagnetic Radiation?” LiveScience, Purch, 12 Mar. 2015, 

Maggio, Patricia K. “The Top Five Discoveries Made by Radio Telescopes.” Sciencing, 2 Mar. 2019, sciencing.com/top-discoveries-made-                  radio-telescopes-7566858.html.

“Top Astronomical Discoveries Made by Radio Telescopes.” Home Page -, 7 Nov. 2018,                             discoveries-made-by-radio-telescopes/.

“Very Large Array.” National Radio Astronomy Observatory, public.nrao.edu/telescopes/vla/

The Uncertain Future of Nuclear Power

Here is another paper on nuclear power that I wrote for my ENGR 140 class in April of 2019. I cheated slightly and reused most of the content from my nuclear power essay, “Nuclear Power Subsidies: Are They Worth It“, that I wrote for my English 102 class around the same time. So there is only a little new content in this one, but I thought I’d share it any. Any critiques would be much appreciated.


Nuclear power is a huge industry comprised of about 450 nuclear reactors around the world that together supply eleven percent of global electricity demand (“Nuclear Power”). However, this vast enterprise that he world has come to depend on was not always here. In fact, nuclear power is a relatively recent development compared to other energy sources. The first nuclear reactor to deliver electricity to the power grid began operating in the Soviet city of Obninsk in July of 1954. It was a five megawatt electric (MWe) reactor called AM-1, standing for Atom Mirny (Peaceful Atom). The name alludes to its peaceful use as a power generator as opposed to the weapons-focused atmosphere under which nuclear power was developed. The year before it was built, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower had enacted a program he called “Atoms for Peace,” the purpose of which was to reallocate research funds from weapons development to electricity production. It bore its first fruit in 1960 with the Yankee Rowe, a 250 MWe pressurized water reactor (PWR). Throughout the 1960s, Canada, France, and the Soviet Union developed their own nuclear reactor systems, with Canada devising a unique reactor type called CANDU, France beginning with a type similar to the Magnox design developed in Britain in 1956, but then settling on the PWR reactor design, and the Soviet Union with two small reactors, a PWR and another type called a boiling water reactor (BWR). Britain later settled on the PWR design, as well. By the end of the 1960s, the US was manufacturing 1,000 MWe reactors of PWR and BWR design. The Soviet Union lagged a little, but by 1973 it had developed its first high power channel reactor (RBMK) rated at 440 MWe, a design that was later superseded by a 1000 MWe design.  Kazakhstan and Russia went on a brief tangent developing so called fast neutron reactors, but other countries almost invariable embraced the light water reactor (LWR) design, which includes the BWR and PWR designs. (“History of Nuclear Energy”).

            Despite all of this growth, however, during a period from 1970-2002 nuclear power underwent a “brown out” in which demand for reactors declined and previous orders were cancelled (“History of Nuclear Energy”). During this period, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster struck. However, the stagnation did not last for long, and by the 1990s nuclear power was blossoming again, beginning with the Japanese Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6, a 1350 MWe Advanced BWR. In the 2000s, some new reactors were built in Europe and North America, but the bulk of construction occurred and is ongoing in Asia. (“History of Nuclear Energy”).

This revival in nuclear power can be attributed to several factors: policy makers around the world began searching for a sustainable, reliable, low-cost, limited carbon and secure power source to address the global energy crisis (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 3) and provide their countries with energy security (“History of Nuclear Energy”). These considerations continue on to the present; because of concerns about conventional energy sources like coal and oil, the need to stabilize harmfully volatile energy prices, and a growing fear of global warming, nuclear power is being considered as a possible answer to global energy exigencies (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 3). These ideas have garnered significant support, as an effective and well-organized effort to increase public investment in nuclear power to unprecedented levels is ongoing (Koplow 11). Nuclear power is receiving strong support from organizations like the US Department of Energy (DOE), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the International Energy Agency (IEA) (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 3). All of these policy makers seek great benefit for society from nuclear power, but it is worth considering its drawbacks, too.

            Since the development of nuclear power, there have been many tragic accidents. In fact the most recent accident was one of the worst in history. A 15-metre tsunami caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake off the Eastern coast of Honshu island shut down power and cooling to three reactors at the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear site on March 11, 2011, causing all three reactor cores to melt down over next three days and release 940 PBq radiation, giving it a 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). 100,000 were evacuated from site, of which 1,000 died as a result of extended evacuation. (“Fukishima”). According to Swiss bank UBS, this catastrophe was more damaging to the reputation of nuclear power than the more severe Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1968, because it occurred in Japan, a highly developed economy (Paton 2011). Even Japan was unable to control the inherently risky nature of nuclear power.

            The processes that occur inside of a nuclear reactor are just the same as those that operate inside an atomic bomb, only slower and, usually, more controlled. While everything is designed to function nicely under ideal conditions with some margin for error, sometimes reactors are struck with more than they can bear, natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. When this happens, the reactions in the reactors can “runaway” with devastating results. A report by the Guardian shortly after the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, counted thirty-four nuclear and radioactive accidents and incidents since 1952, the year the first one occurred “Nuclear Power Plant Accidents”).  Later in 2011, another incident occurred (“Factbox”), this time in France, bringing that total to thirty-five. A 2010 estimate by energy expert Benjamin K. Sovacool placed the number at ninety-nine, but he used different criteria; Sovacool expanded the definition of a nuclear incident to something that causes property damages in excess of 50,000 USD (“A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power”). He estimated that these incidents’ total costs in property damages exceeded twenty-billion USD, and this was before the extremely expensive Fukishima incident that occurred a year later. Even with all of these accidents, however, some still argue that nuclear power is one of the safest forms of power generation.

           The World Nuclear Association defends the nuclear industry with the following statistics: only three major accidents have occurred in over 17,000 collective reactor years of nuclear plant operation; a terrorist attack via airplane would be ineffective; few deaths would be caused by reactor failure of any magnitude; other energy sources cause many more deaths: fatalities per TWy for coal (597), natural gas (111), and hydro (10,285) all dwarf the figure for nuclear (48 (“Safety of Nuclear Reactors”). However, this does not consider several important factors: thousands have been killed either as a direct result of conditions caused by the incidents or indirectly as a result of evacuations (“Fukishima”). Another important factor that some ignore or underestimate is that there have been very significant numbers of cancer deaths attributed to nuclear accidents, not including unquantified irradiation from regularly produced nuclear wastes (Sovacool et al.); little is known about fuel cycle safety (Beckjord et al. ix). Nuclear weapons expert Lisbeth Gronlund has estimated with ninety-five percent confidence cancer deaths of 12,000-57,000 from the Chernobyl accident alone (Gronlund). It is clear, then, that nuclear power has had a much greater negative impact on society than many suppose.

            In addition to the risk of irradiation, there is the unique risk of nuclear proliferation. Several countries have successfully managed to covertly advance their nuclear weapons programs behind a clever guise of nuclear power (Sovacool et al). Because of this, nuclear power will always require government oversight to oversee waste management and control proliferation risks. According to the authors of a 2003 interdisciplinary MIT study, if the nuclear industry is to expand new international safety guidelines will be needed to overcome proliferation risks. (Beckjord et al. ix).

            These same authors of the MIT study suggest that a once-through fuel cycle where a significant amount of fissionable (although expensive to recover) uranium is wasted is the best option in terms of cost and proliferation and fuel cycle safety. The only disadvantages, they say, are in long-term fuel disposal and resource preservation considerations (Beckjord et al. 4-5). However, this, as the authors admit, leads to more toxic waste and a faster consumption of limited resources. They propose a model in which by the year 2050 1,000 new LWR reactors will be built to help displace CO2 emissions by dirtier forms of energy production. They are willing to accept the predicted four nuclear accidents that would occur during this expansion. (Beckjord et al.). To consider what the full impact of such a proposition would be on society, it is worth looking back at all of the impacts of the current nuclear industry.

            The nuclear power industry has several other ill effects, social and environmental, not previously discussed. First of all, it causes direct environmental damage: it kills much wildlife through water filtration and contamination (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 6), as well as creating such damage at certain sites that environmental remediation expenses sometimes exceed value of ore extracted at uranium mills (Koplow 6). It also causes indirect environmental damage by contributing to global warming.

            Nuclear power produces significant carbon dioxide emissions. This is contrary to the claims of some that nuclear power is carbon-free (Beckjord et al. 2). This common misconception arises from the fact that nuclear reactors themselves produce no emissions, but if one includes the entire nuclear fuel cycle in the calculations, this misconception is exposed. One estimate ranked greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for power plants per unit of electricity generated in order of highest to lowest: industrial gas, lignite, hard coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, photovoltaic, wind, nuclear, and hydroelectric. Although hydroelectric is ranked at the bottom, hydroelectric plants operated in tropical regions can be 5-20 times higher than in temperate regions making their emissions on the same level as biomass. (Dones et al. 38). In this list nuclear is ranked second best, but later estimates contest this figure: Sovacool analyzed 103 studies of nuclear power plant GHG equivalent emissions for currency, originality, and transparency. He found that the mean value for nuclear power plants is 66 gCO2e/kWh, placing nuclear power above all renewables (“Greenhouse Gas Emissions” 1). And the prospects for nuclear power emissions will only get worse as time goes on. Quality of ore used can greatly skew estimates of GWH emissions (Storm van Leeuwen). As high-quality uranium reserves are depleted, the nuclear power industry will be forced to turn to lower and lower grades of uranium ore, which will drastically increase the energy required to produce fissionable nuclear fuel. Since refinement processes are powered by fossil fuels, this will also significantly increase the carbon footprint of nuclear power. Thus, emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle will match those of combined-cycle-gas-fired power plants in only a few decades. Although advanced fast-breeder or thorium reactors could potentially reduce this problem, they are not likely to commercially available for at least a couple of decades. This combined with the long deployment times for nuclear reactors effectively proves that nuclear power is not a viable long-term solution for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. (Diesendorf 8-11). Nuclear power is a significant environmental burden, but it is also a significant social burden.

            From its beginnings, the nuclear power industry received heavy subsidies from governments, meaning the general public was forced to fund this private industry. On September 2, 1957, the Price-Anderson Act, designed to limit the liability incurred by nuclear power plant licensees from possible damages to members of the public, attained force of law in the United States. This first of nuclear power subsidies was intended to attract private investment into the nuclear industry by shifting liability for nuclear accidents from private investors to the public, making it pay for damages incurred upon itself. (“Backgrounder on Nuclear Insurance”). Since then, subsidies in various forms have continued. One form of subsidy that the nuclear industry receives comes in the form of research and development funds. Out of the total energy research and development fund of International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries of about 12.7 billion USD, nuclear power received twenty percent in 2015; one third the 1975 figure (“Energy Subsidies”). Other subsidies can be categorized as follows: output-linked, production factors, risk and security management, intermediate inputs, and emissions and waste management. Output-linked subsidies grant financing based on power produced. Subsidies to production factors help cover construction costs. Risk and security management subsidies shift liability for accidents either to consumers or the government. Intermediate input subsidies lower the cost of obtaining resources necessary for generating power such as fuel and coolants. Emissions and waste management subsidies either eliminate or reduce the cost of waste disposal. (Koplow 12-13). Examples of such subsidies can be found in every aspect of nuclear power in the form of federal loan guarantees, accelerated depreciation, subsidized borrowing costs for publicly owned reactors, construction work in progress (CWIP) surcharges to consumers, property tax reductions, subsidized fuel, loan guarantees for enrichment facilities, priority access to cooling water for little to no cost, no responsibility to cover costs of potential terrorist attacks, ignored proliferation costs, lowered tax rates on decommissioning trust funds. (Koplow 5-8). Governments also covered the 70 billion dollars needed to defray excess capital costs of nuclear power plants in recent years. Furthermore, the nuclear industry is not forced to pay the true cost of the numerous accidents, some which have been estimated to exceed 100 billion dollars. (Bradford 14). If the projected model from the MIT study of 1,000 new reactors by 2050 becomes reality, the immense cost to taxpayers of the nuclear industry will only increase proportionally.

            However, there are doubts about whether this plan is even feasible. According to a 2003 interdisciplinary MIT study, there is enough uranium to fuel 1000 new reactors for forty years (Beckjord et al. 4), leaving no sustainability issues for nuclear power in the near future. However, this figure does not include an important factor: the quality of the uranium. As uranium ore quality decreases, energy costs to extract increase exponentially (Storm van Leeuwen 23). Factoring in uranium quality, energy expert Benjamin K. Sovacool estimated that global uranium reserves could only sustain a two percent increase in nuclear power production and would disappear after a mere seventy years (“Second Thoughts” 6). Furthermore, the most economical uranium ore deposits have already been discovered and nearly all are currently being mined. New deposits such as these are very unlikely to be discovered for many geologic reasons. (Storm van Leuuwen 71). Additionally, nuclear power may become a non-viable option if climate change significantly increases water demand, since according to energy researcher Doug Klopow, nuclear power is “the most water-intensive large-scale thermal energy technology in use” (7). Another sustainability concern for nuclear power plants is waste disposal. Health and environmental risks posed by spent fuel from nuclear reactors last for tens of thousands of years (Beckjord et al. 22). To date, even the authors of the favorable MIT study admit that “no nation has successfully demonstrated a disposal system for these nuclear wastes” (22). If this is the case, how can the world expect to support an over 200% increase in the number of nuclear reactors?

            In short, although nuclear power experienced intense growth throughout the 1950s and 60s and then into the beginning of the 21st century, when the true costs are considered, it seems that it may have done more harm than good. It has proven to be unsafe in many ways from the numerous accidents which have caused great direct property and environmental damage as well as indirectly caused thousands of fatalities, not to mention the risks of nuclear proliferation and the day-to-day environmental destruction involved with running nuclear power plants. The authors of the MIT study sum it up well; if new technological solutions to current problems are not developed, “nuclear power faces stagnation and decline” (ix), similar to in the later quarter of the 19th century. Thus, nuclear power is not likely to play a significant long-term role in power generation in the foreseeable future, at least not in its current state.


Works Cited

“Backgrounder on Nuclear Insurance and Disaster Relief.” United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, January 17, 2018,                                       https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/nuclear-insurance.html. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Beckjord, Eric S. et. al. “The Future of Nuclear Power.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003,                                                                                http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-full.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Bradford, Peter A. “Wasting Time: Subsidies, Operating Reactors, and Melting Ice.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, vol. 73, no. 1, Jan.                      2017, pp. 13–16. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00963402.2016.1264207.

Diesendorf, Mark. “Is Nuclear Energy a Possible Solution to Global Warming?” Social Alternatives, vol. 26, no. 2, 2007 Second Quarter                      2007, pp. 8–11. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=26314563. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Dones, R., Heck T., and S. Hirschberg. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Energy Systems: Comparision and Overview.” Paul Scherrer                        Institute, 2004, https://inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:36002859. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Energy Subsidies.” World Nuclear Association, February 2018, https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/economic-                                  aspects/energy-subsidies.aspx. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Factbox: A brief history of French nuclear accidents.” Reuters, September 12, 2011, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-nuclear-               accidents/factbox-a-brief-history-of-french-nuclear-accidents-idUSTRE78B59J20110912. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“Fukishima Daiichi Accident.” World Nuclear Association, October 2018, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-                   security/safety-of-plants/fukushima-accident.aspx. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Gronlund, Lisbeth. “How Many Cancers Did Chernobyl Really Cause?—Updated Version.” Union of Concerned Scientists, April 17, 2011,                     https://allthingsnuclear.org/lgronlund/how-many-cancers-did-chernobyl-really-cause-updated?. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“History of Nuclear Energy.” World Nuclear Association, April 2019, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-             generation/outline-history-of-nuclear-energy.aspx. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Koplow, Doug. “Nuclear Power: Still not Viable without Subsidies.” Union of Concerned Scientists, February 2011,                                                         https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/nuclear_power/nuclear_subsidies_report.pdf. Accessed                     April   26, 2019.

“Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2019.” Energy Information Agency,             February 2019, https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Nuclear Power in the World Today.” World Nuclear Association, February 2019, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-                                       library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Nuclear power plant accidents: listed and ranked since 1952.” The Guardian, 2011,                                                                                                           https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Paton, James. “Fukushima Crisis Worse for Atomic Power Than Chernobyl, UBS Says.” Bloomberg, April 4, 2011,                                                         https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-04-04/fukushima-crisis-worse-for-nuclear-power-industry-than-chernobyl-ubs-             says. Accessed April 26, 2019.

“Safety of Nuclear Reactors.” World Nuclear Association, May 2018, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-                         security/safety-of-plants/safety-of-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Sovacool, BenjaminK. “A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia.” Journal of Contemporary Asia, vol. 40, no.             3, Aug. 2010, pp. 369–400. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00472331003798350. Accessed April 26, 2019.

—. “Second Thoughts About Nuclear Power.” Research Support Unit (RSU), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of                 Singapore, January 2011, http://www.fukuleaks.org/edanoleaks/Scribble_Japan_Earthquake/pdfs/201101_RSU_PolicyBrief_1-                   2nd_Thought_Nuclear-Sovacool.pdf. Accessed April 26, 2019.

—. “Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey.” Energy Policy, 2008, https://www.nirs.org/wp-                             content/uploads/climate/background/sovacool_nuclear_ghg.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Storm van Leeuwen, Jan Wilhelm. “Nuclear power- the energy balance: Part D: Uranium.” Ceedata Consultancy, October 2007,                                   https://www.stormsmith.nl/Media/downloads/partD.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Nuclear Power Subsidies: Are They Worth It?

Here is a paper that I wrote in April of 2019 for my English 102 course. It examines the merits of nuclear power as weighed against other power sources in an attempt to answer the question of whether or not tax money should be spend to subsidize the industry. It will be incorporated into my upcoming expanded dissertation on nuclear power which I will call, “Nuclear Power: History Harm and Hope.” It will be about the history of nuclear power, from the first stars to the modern day industry, the harm the industry has caused, and whether or not their is enough hope for improving the industry to justify its continued existence. As you might expect, it will be very lengthy. Anyway, I hope this current essay on nuclear power subsidies will be thought provoking and please tell me what you think down below and in the forum, because that will help me with my final dissertation. Thanks!


Introduction

Today, nuclear power is a huge industry, the most visible part of which is 450 nuclear reactors around the world. Together they supply eleven percent of global electricity demand (“Nuclear Power”). However, it was not always this way; nuclear power is a relatively recent development compared to other energy sources. The first nuclear reactor to deliver electricity to the power grid began operating in the Soviet city of Obninsk in July of 1954 (“History of Nuclear Energy”). On September 2, 1957, the Price-Anderson Act, designed to limit the liability incurred by nuclear power plant licensees from possible damages to members of the public, attained force of law in the United States. This first of nuclear power subsidies was intended to attract private investment into the nuclear industry. (“Backgrounder on Nuclear Insurance”).

Since then, subsidies in various forms have continued. One form of subsidy that the nuclear industry receives comes in the form of research and development funds. Out of the total energy research and development fund of International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries of about 12.7 billion USD, nuclear power received twenty percent in 2015; one third the 1975 figure (“Energy Subsidies”). Other subsidies can be categorized as follows: output-linked, production factors, risk and security management, intermediate inputs, and emissions and waste management. Output-linked subsidies grant financing based on power produced. Subsidies to production factors help cover construction costs. Risk and security management subsidies shift liability for accidents either to consumers or the government. Intermediate input subsidies lower the cost of obtaining resources necessary for generating power such as fuel and coolants. Emissions and waste management subsidies either partially or completely shift the cost of waste disposal from investors to the government, and ultimately to the taxpayers. (Koplow 12-13).

Examples of such subsidies can be found in every aspect of nuclear power in the form of federal loan guarantees, accelerated depreciation, subsidized borrowing costs for publicly owned reactors, construction work in progress (CWIP) surcharges to consumers, property tax reductions, subsidized fuel, loan guarantees for enrichment facilities, priority access to cooling water for little to no cost, no responsibility to cover costs of potential terrorist attacks, ignored proliferation costs, lowered tax rates on decommissioning trust funds. (Koplow 5-8).

Despite such subsidies, during a period from 1970-2002 nuclear power underwent a “brown out” in which demand for reactors declined and previous orders were cancelled (“History of Nuclear Energy”). However, policy makers around the world are now in search of a sustainable, reliable, low-cost, limited carbon and secure power source to address the global energy crisis. Because of concerns about conventional energy sources like coal and oil, the need to stabilize harmfully volatile energy prices, and a growing fear of global warming, nuclear power is being considered as a possible answer to global energy exigencies (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 3).

Furthermore, an effective and well-organized effort to increase public investment in nuclear power to unprecedented levels is ongoing (Koplow 11). Nuclear power is receiving strong support from organization like the US Department of Energy (DOE), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the International Energy Agency (IEA) (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 3).

Despite all of this support, it is clear that governments should discontinue current subsidies and scrap plans for new ones, because they entail use of taxpayers’ money to forward an inefficient and risky solution to a problem that could be better addressed by renewable technologies.

Concerns about nuclear Power

Reliability

            The first concern is that nuclear power plants are subject to various phenomenon that can disrupt their power output, damaging their reliability. For purposes of this paper, reliability will be assumed to mean the ability of a power plant to consistently produce power without unpredictable disruptions in power output. The reliability of an energy source depends on the reliability of intermediate inputs, what keeps the power plant running, and the likelihood of failure. The most important intermediate inputs for nuclear reactors are water for cooling and, of course, fuel, i.e. uranium. A lack of either of these two things would cause a nuclear reactor to stop functioning. This means that during drought a nuclear reactor might be forced to shut down, as water consumption of even a single reactor is immense, amounting to 115 million liters per day (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 7). The reliability of uranium fuel supply varies from country to country depending on level of uranium fuel self-sufficiency. For example, China imports about eighty-eight percent of its uranium from other countries. This factor is significant because thirty percent of the global uranium supply comes from countries such as Uzbekistan that have a climate of political instability (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 5). Since the very nature of droughts and political unrest consists of unpredictability, nuclear power will necessarily be subject to some level of unpredictable disruptions in power output.  

           Other natural phenomenon can disrupt nuclear power plant operation, as well. A 15-metre tsunami caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake off the Eastern coast of Honshu island shut down power and cooling to three reactors at the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear site on March 11, 2011, causing all three reactor cores to melt down over next three days and release 940 PBq radiation, giving it a 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). 100,000 were evacuated from site, of which 1,000 died as a result of extended evacuation. (“Fukishima”). According to Swiss bank UBS, this catastrophe was more damaging to the reputation of nuclear power than the more severe Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1968, because it occurred in Japan, a highly developed economy (Paton 2011). Thus, it is unclear if nuclear power will ever become reliable.

Sustainability

            The second concern is that nuclear power is highly unsustainable. For the purposes of this paper, sustainability will be measured as the ability of an energy source to provide power over the long term. For nuclear power plants, sustainability, then, mainly depends on the long-term availability of uranium at a sufficiently low cost so that energy expenditures on refining do not exceed energy generated. According to a 2003 interdisciplinary MIT study, there is enough uranium to fuel 1000 new reactors for forty years (Beckjord et al. 4), leaving no sustainability issues for nuclear power in the near future. However, this figure does not include an important factor: the quality of the uranium. As uranium ore quality decreases, energy costs to extract increase exponentially (Storm van Leeuwen 23). Factoring in uranium quality, energy expert Benjamin K. Sovacool estimated that global uranium reserves could only sustain a two percent increase in nuclear power production and would disappear after a mere seventy years (“Second Thoughts” 6). Furthermore, the most economical uranium ore deposits have already been discovered and nearly all are currently being mined. New deposits such as these are very unlikely to be discovered for many geologic reasons. (Storm van Leuuwen 71). Additionally, nuclear power may become a non-viable option if climate change significantly increases water demand, since according to energy researcher Doug Klopow, nuclear power is “the most water-intensive large-scale thermal energy technology in use” (7). Another sustainability concern for nuclear power plants is waste disposal. Health and environmental risks posed by spent fuel from nuclear reactors last for tens of thousands of years (Beckjord et al. 22). To date, even the authors of the favorable MIT study admit that “no nation has successfully demonstrated a disposal system for these nuclear wastes” (22). This highly questionable sustainability is linked to the economics of nuclear power.

Monetary cost

           The third concern is that nuclear power is very costly compared to many alternatives. According to the MIT study, “The U.S. public is unlikely to support nuclear power expansion without substantial improvements in costs and technology” (6). Nuclear power is the fourth most expensive energy source, not even considering costs of waste storage, decommissioning, interest on loans, and power transmission infrastructure construction costs (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 4). In uncontrolled markets nuclear power is uncompetitive with natural gas and coal (see table 1) (Beckjord et al. ix).

Table 1. Comparative Power Costs (Beckjord et. al. 7).

Even with proposed cost reduction such as in construction, nuclear power still trails behind combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power with favorable fuel prices. Many renewables also beat the price of nuclear power. According to data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), the unweighted average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for nuclear power in 2018 is 7.75 cents/kWh, with the lowest LCOE being that of geothermal power at 3.83 cents/kWh (“Levelized Cost”).

            Furthermore, these are only the known and easily quantifiable costs of nuclear power. For example, it is hard to quantify the environmental cost nuclear power. It kills much wildlife through water filtration and contamination (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 6), as well as creating such damage at certain sites that environmental remediation expenses sometimes exceed value of ore extracted at uranium mills (Koplow 6). Even without considering environmental factors, economic challenges facing nuclear power include a competitive generation market in which investors will bear risks of permit obtention and construction and operating  cost uncertainties, unpredictable operation and construction costs, political and regulatory challenges associated with obtaining a permit, and certain risk of plants being cancelled (Beckjord et al. 37-38). None of this factors in the cost of nuclear accidents, either, which some have estimated can exceed 100 billion USD, such as Fukishima. It is no wonder, then, that without government subsidies such as the 70 billion dollars spent to defray excess capital costs in recent years and free nuclear waste disposal services, no commercial reactor could ever be successful (Bradford 14). And whatever the true cost of nuclear power, it will always be very volatile. According to Sovacool, “Lack of certainty about the availability of uranium is likely to fuel price spikes which will increase the production costs of nuclear energy” (“Second Thoughts” 6). Since uranium prices on which nuclear power prices are dependent are highly volatile, nuclear power is unlikely to stabilize energy prices, especially considering the climate of political instability in countries such as Uzbekistan that account for thirty percent of current Uranium production (Sovacool, “Second Thoughts” 5). But even with this high cost it is worth considering whether nuclear power is worth retaining to help battle climate change.

Emissions

            The fourth concern is that nuclear power produces significant carbon dioxide emissions. This is contrary to the claims of some that nuclear power is carbon-free (Beckjord et al. 2). This common misconception arises from the fact that nuclear reactors themselves produce no emissions, but if one includes the entire nuclear fuel cycle in the calculations, this misconception is exposed. One estimate ranked greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for power plants per unit of electricity generated in order of highest to lowest: industrial gas, lignite, hard coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, photovoltaic, wind, nuclear, and hydroelectric. Although hydroelectric is ranked at the bottom, hydroelectric plants operated in tropical regions can be 5-20 times higher than in temperate regions making their emissions on the same level as biomass. (Dones et al. 38). In this list nuclear is ranked second best, but later estimates contest this figure: Sovacool analyzed 103 studies of nuclear power plant GHG equivalent emissions for currency, originality, and transparency. He found that the mean value for nuclear power plants is 66 gCO2e/kWh, placing nuclear power above all renewables (“Greenhouse Gas Emissions” 1). And the prospects for nuclear power emissions will only get worse as time goes on. Quality of ore used can greatly skew estimates of GWH emissions (Storm van Leeuwen). As high-quality uranium reserves are depleted, the nuclear power industry will be forced to turn to lower and lower grades of uranium ore, which will drastically increase the energy required to produce fissionable nuclear fuel. Since refining processes are powered by fossil fuels, this will also significantly increase the carbon footprint of nuclear power. Thus, emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle will match those of combined-cycle-gas-fired power plants in only a few decades. Although advanced fast-breeder or thorium reactors could potentially reduce this problem, they are not likely to commercially available for at least a couple of decades. This, combined with the long deployment times for nuclear reactors, effectively eliminates nuclear power as a viable long-term option for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. (Diesendorf 8-11). When all this is considered, nuclear power subsidies seem especially insulting: due to the long construction time and high expense of nuclear reactors, nuclear power subsidies come with a high opportunity cost when it comes to reducing emissions, because they will reduce investment in lower-cost alternatives (Koplow 9). Even though nuclear power may not be of use in stopping global warming, perhaps it can be justified on grounds of safety.

Health and security risks

            The fifth concern is that nuclear power production represents a health and security risk in many ways. The first way is in the form of nuclear accidents. The processes that occur inside of a nuclear reactor are just the same as those that operate inside an atomic bomb, only slower and, usually, more controlled. While everything is designed to function nicely under ideal conditions with some margin for error, sometimes reactors are struck with more than they can bear, natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. When this happens, the reactions in the reactors can “run away” with devastating results. A report by the Guardian newspapershortly after the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, counted thirty-four nuclear and radioactive accidents and incidents since 1952, the year the first one occurred “Nuclear Power Plant Accidents”).  Later in 2011, another incident occurred (“Factbox”), this time in France, bringing that total to thirty-five. A 2010 estimate by Sovacool placed the number at ninety-nine, but he used different criteria; Sovacool expanded the definition of a nuclear incident to something that causes property damages in excess of 50,000 USD (“A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power”). He estimated that these incidents’ total costs in property damages exceeded twenty-billion USD, and this was before the extremely expensive Fukishima incident that occurred a year later. The World Nuclear Association defends the nuclear industry with the following statistics: only three major accidents have occurred in over 17,000 collective reactor years of nuclear plant operation; a terrorist attack via airplane would be ineffective; few deaths would be caused by reactor failure of any magnitude; other energy sources cause many more deaths: fatalities per TWy for coal (597), natural gas (111), and hydro (10,285) all dwarf the figure for nuclear (48 (“Safety of Nuclear Reactors”). However, this does not consider several important factors: thousands have been killed either as a direct result of conditions caused by the incidents or indirectly as a result of evacuations (“Fukishima”). While some ignore or underestimate this factor, there have been very significant numbers of cancer deaths attributed to nuclear accidents, as well as unquantified irradiation from regularly produced nuclear wastes (Sovacool et al.); little is known about fuel cycle safety (Beckjord et al. ix). But, nuclear weapons expert Lisbeth Gronlund has estimated with ninety-five percent confidence cancer deaths of 12,000-57,000 from the Chernobyl accident alone (Gronlund). In addition to all of these risks, there is the unique risk of nuclear proliferation. Several countries have successfully managed to covertly advance their nuclear weapons programs behind a clever front of nuclear power (Sovacool et al). Because of this, nuclear power will always require government oversight to oversee waste management and control proliferation risks. If the nuclear industry is to expand, new international safety guidelines will be needed to overcome proliferation risks. (Beckjord et al. ix). The authors of the MIT study suggest that the once-through fuel cycle is the best option in terms of cost and proliferation and fuel cycle safety; only disadvantageous if long-term fuel disposal and resource preservation is considered (Beckjord et al. 4-5). However, this, as the authors admit, leads to more toxic waste and a faster consumption of limited resources. There seems to be no acceptable option for nuclear power.

Conclusion

            Taken together, all five of the above-discussed concerns about nuclear power seem to make a strong case that all subsidies to the nuclear industry be discontinued. First, there are significant concerns about the reliability of nuclear power. Then, there are devastating concerns about the sustainability of nuclear power, at least at its current technological level. Next, there are damning concerns about the true cost of nuclear power, which even considering only straightforward financial expenses is uncompetitive with all forms of renewable energy. After that comes irrefutable evidence that nuclear power is incapable of addressing global warming concerns, unlike renewable alternatives. Finally, concerns about nuclear accidents and the consequences of nuclear proliferation outweigh the seemingly higher death tolls of other energy sources when only on-the-job fatalities are considered. After all this, it is no wonder that even the authors of the pro-nuclear MIT study admit that “Nuclear power faces stagnation and decline” (ix). If energy subsidies are to make a difference in the global energy crisis and for the climate, they must be shifted away from nuclear power and directed towards renewables.


Works Cited

“Backgrounder on Nuclear Insurance and Disaster Relief.” United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, January 17, 2018,                                       https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/nuclear-insurance.html. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Beckjord, Eric S. et. al. “The Future of Nuclear Power.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003,                                                                                http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-full.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Bradford, Peter A. “Wasting Time: Subsidies, Operating Reactors, and Melting Ice.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, vol. 73, no. 1, Jan.                      2017, pp. 13–16. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00963402.2016.1264207.

Diesendorf, Mark. “Is Nuclear Energy a Possible Solution to Global Warming?” Social Alternatives, vol. 26, no. 2, 2007 Second Quarter                      2007, pp. 8–11. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=26314563. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Dones, R., Heck T., and S. Hirschberg. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Energy Systems: Comparision and Overview.” Paul Scherrer                        Institute, 2004, https://inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:36002859. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Energy Outlook 2019.” Energy Information Agency, February 2019, https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf.                      Accessed April 26, 2019.

“Energy Subsidies.” World Nuclear Association, February 2018, https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/economic-                                  aspects/energy-subsidies.aspx. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Factbox: A brief history of French nuclear accidents.” Reuters, September 12, 2011, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-nuclear-               accidents/factbox-a-brief-history-of-french-nuclear-accidents-idUSTRE78B59J20110912. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“Fukishima Daiichi Accident.” World Nuclear Association, October 2018, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-                   security/safety-of-plants/fukushima-accident.aspx. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Gronlund, Lisbeth. “How Many Cancers Did Chernobyl Really Cause?—Updated Version.” Union of Concerned Scientists, April 17, 2011,                     https://allthingsnuclear.org/lgronlund/how-many-cancers-did-chernobyl-really-cause-updated?. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“History of Nuclear Energy.” World Nuclear Association, April 2019, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-             generation/outline-history-of-nuclear-energy.aspx. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Koplow, Doug. “Nuclear Power: Still not Viable without Subsidies.” Union of Concerned Scientists, February 2011,                                                         https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/nuclear_power/nuclear_subsidies_report.pdf. Accessed April   26, 2019.

“Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2019.” Energy Information Agency,             February 2019, https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Nuclear Power in the World Today.” World Nuclear Association, February 2019, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-                                       library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx. Accessed April 25, 2019.

“Nuclear power plant accidents: listed and ranked since 1952.” The Guardian, 2011,                                                                                                           https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank. Accessed April 27, 2019.

“Number of nuclear reactors operable and under construction.” World Nuclear Association, 2019, http://www.world-nuclear.org/nuclear-               basics/global-number-of-nuclear-reactors.aspx. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Paton, James. “Fukushima Crisis Worse for Atomic Power Than Chernobyl, UBS Says.” Bloomberg, April 4, 2011,                                                         https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-04-04/fukushima-crisis-worse-for-nuclear-power-industry-than-chernobyl-ubs-             says. Accessed April 26, 2019.

“Safety of Nuclear Reactors.” World Nuclear Association, May 2018, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/safety-of-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Sovacool, BenjaminK. “A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia.” Journal of Contemporary Asia, vol. 40, no.             3, Aug. 2010, pp. 369–400. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00472331003798350. Accessed April 26, 2019.

—. “Second Thoughts About Nuclear Power.” Research Support Unit (RSU), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of                 Singapore, January 2011, http://www.fukuleaks.org/edanoleaks/Scribble_Japan_Earthquake/pdfs/201101_RSU_PolicyBrief_1-2nd_Thought_Nuclear-Sovacool.pdf. Accessed April 26, 2019.

—. “Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey.” Energy Policy, 2008, https://www.nirs.org/wp-content/uploads/climate/background/sovacool_nuclear_ghg.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.

Sovacool, Benjamin K., et al. “Comment on ‘Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear                     Power.’” Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 47, no. 12, June 2013, pp. 6715–6717. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1021/es401667h.

Storm van Leeuwen, Jan Wilhelm. “Nuclear power- the energy balance: Part D: Uranium.” Ceedata Consultancy, October 2007,                                   https://www.stormsmith.nl/Media/downloads/partD.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.

The Ancient History of Antibiotics

Here is a paper I wrote in February of 2018 about the little known ancient history of antibiotics. When most people think about the history of antibiotics, they think were invented only about a century ago, but they actually go back thousands of years. I hope you enjoy learning about the ancient history of antibiotics and let me know what you think or if you have any questions or ideas for further research (for the latter two, we’d appreciate a comment in the forum).


Abram Leyzorek

2/14/2018

The Ancient History of Antibiotics

            Names like Alexander Fleming and Paul Ehrlich come to mind when we think of the origin of antibiotics. It was Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of the antibiotic mold penicillin in 1929, that seemed, at the time, to overcome humanity’s age-old adversary, the bacterial infection. Paul Ehrlich’s research led to an effective treatment of syphilis via antibiotics. These pioneers ushered in the modern age of antibiotics that has saved countless human lives. (1).

            Little is known, however, about an even earlier use of antibiotics by Emmerich and Low in 1899. They used a compound known as Pyacyonase derived from Pseudomonas aeruginosa in an attempt to cure various bacterial diseases, but soon found the substance to be unfeasible due to excessive toxicity. (1).

            Even less is known is known about certain discoveries that show the use of natural antibiotics by ancient humans; Tetracycline has been found in the bones of Sudanese Nubians dating back to 350-550 AD. Late-Roman skeletons from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt were found to contain markers that indicated the regular intake of tetracycline. The red soils of Jordan have long been used as a cheap alternative to prescribed antibiotics that treat skin infections and were found to contain an actinomycete1 bacterium that produces the antibiotics actinomycin C2 and actinomycin C3. Many herbs in the tradition of Chinese medicine have antimicrobial2 properties, including the artemisia, or the mugworts, from which a potent, anti-malarial drug, qinghaosu or artemisinin, was extracted. (1).

            This tradition goes back thousands of years, but the arms race between bacteria and antibiotics has been ongoing for millions of years, long before humans joined in. The phylogeny3 of certain genes for antibiotic resistance against natural antibiotics, reveals that they developed long ago; the serine and metallo-β-lactamases enzymes, for example, developed two billion years ago. They have been present in plasmids4 for millions of years. (1).

            Modern humans are making big waves in the world of microbes with new, synthetic antibiotics, but they were not, as is commonly believed, the first organisms to use antibiotics. Pre-modern humans used antibiotics extensively, and before them, microorganisms secreted antibiotics. The microbiota inside of animals that consumed plants and soils containing natural antibiotics needed to develop resistance.  (1).

            Humans are suffering today from antibiotic resistant microorganisms, but we have only been mass producing antibiotics for the biological blink-of-an-eye. Much of the resistances have developed over the millions of years that microorganisms were exposed to natural antibiotics. (1).

            But they are capable of extremely rapid mutation to evade our best efforts to exterminate them. Most of the antibiotics that we have developed are already ineffective and the golden age of new antibiotic discovery is long passed. All of the “new” antibiotics developed today are actually just modifications on previous compounds. Their is a delicate equilibrium between the rate at which humans develop “new” treatments, and the rate at which microorganisms develop new resistances. Our rate of discovery seems to be slowing down. Humans may be losing the battle. (1).

            But a new discovery may warrant new hope: researchers at the Rockefeller University in New York have discovered what could be a genuinely new class of antibiotics. They have called it malacidin, short for metagenomic5. acidic lipoprotein6 antibiotic cidin7. It was found in soil samples containing calcium dependent genes; the researches were searching for new treatments related to an exceptionally effective and long-lasting antibiotic called daptomycin, which uses calcium to rupture the cell walls of bacteria. But, in the long run, the microorganisms will always mutate and we will need new treatments. (2).


Footnotes

1.  Actinomycetes are filamentous, rod shaped bacteria of the order Actinomycetales. (3).

2.  Antimicrobial and antibiotic are essentially synonymous, and both have an adjectival form. But here, to avoid confusion, “antimicrobial” describes things that kill microbes, and “antibiotic” refers to drugs that do this. (4) (5).

3. Phylogeny is the evolutionary development of a species or higher taxonomic group. (6).

4.  A plasmid is a genetic cellular structure capable of replication independent from the chromosomes. (7).

5. Describes things associated with the metagenome, the collective genome of all the microorganisms in an environment. (8).

6. Proteins  that combine with and transport lipids in blood plasma. (9).

7. Comes from Latin root cid- meaning cut. (10). In English it has come to mean death or kill, e.g. infanticide, herbicide, etc.


References.

  1. Aminov, R. I. (2010). “A Brief History of the Antibiotic Era: Lessons Learned and Challenges for the Future.” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3109405/. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  2. Healy, M. (2018). “In soil-dwelling bacteria, scientists find a new weapon to fight drug-resistant superbugs.” Los Angleses Times. http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-new-antibiotic-soil-20180213-story.html. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  3. “Actinomycetes.” (2018). Merriam Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/actinomycete. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  4. “Antibiotic.” (2018). Merriam Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antibiotic. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  5. “Antimicrobial.” (2018). Merriam Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antimicrobial. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  6. “Phylogeny.” (2018). Merriam Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phylongeny. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  7. “Plasmid.” (2018). Merriam Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plasmid. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  8. Hover, Bradley M. et. al. (2018). “Metagenomics.” Nature. https://www.nature.com/subjects/metagenomics. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  9. “Lipoprotien.” (n.d.). Google dictionary. https://www.google.com/search?client=opera&q=define+lipoprotein&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.
  10. Schodde, Carla. (2013). “Far too many Latin words for kill.” Found in Antiquity. https://foundinantiquity.com/2013/07/20/far-too-many-latin-words-for-kill/. Date-accessed: 2/14/2018.

A Short Bilgraphical Sketch of Antony van Leeuvanhoek

Here is one of my earliest research papers. It presents a short biographical sketch of one of the most important figures in the history of the science of biology, Dutch scientist Antony van Leeuvenhoek. I hope this inspires you to learn more about this amazing scientist.


Antony van Leeuwenhoek (Layu-wen-hook) was of trades-person lineage born in 1632 in the microscopic (compared with today) village of Delft, Holland. Here, he branched out rapidly in every direction of knowledge, but especially towards biology, on which the numerous fruits of his inquiries weighed heavily.

His formal education at Warmond relocated him to Benthuizen with his uncle. At 16, Leeuvenhoek apprenticed to a linen-draper (merchant). 6 years later, upon his return to Delft, he became a fabric merchant. Yet this by no means consumed his ranging attentions which became captivated by the microscope, in a cell forged by the reading of Robert Hooke’s popular Micrographia. Already, in 1595, compound microscopes capable 30 times magnification had been invented, however Leeuwenhoek through indefatigable patience and skill, ground his own lenses capable of over 200 times magnification. These mounted on a simple 3-4 inch long brass plate with adjustment screws and a mounting needle formed a simple, yet powerful microscope that became the primary tool of his real occupation: biology.

In this field Leeuvenhoek joined the luminaries of his time at the Royal Society of London. Letters beginning in 1673, and widely published, to the Royal society constituted his vivid descriptions of micro-biota and a drawing by his hired illustrator. He observed whatever could be placed on the end of his needle; plaque, pond water, blood, etc. He made the first observation of bacteria, sperm cells, blood cells, various nematodes and rotifers, free living and microscopic parasitic protists, and microscopic foraminifera; these only being the tip of the microscope.

Dutch, his native language, remained Leeuvenhoek’s only throughout his entire 91 years. Thus, his Dutch letters required translation before there publication in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the publication of the Royal Society of London that he held membership in. His work turned towards him the attentions of such persons as Tsar Peter the Great of Russia who’s, like that of so many others, curiosity brought him to Delft where, at any time between 1654 and August 30, 1723 at the time of his death, one might catch Leeuwenhoek adjusting a microscope over some hitherto unknown specimen.


                                                                           References

W., B. M. “Antony Van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723).” Antony Van Leeuwenhoek, University of California, Berkely, 1996, http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/leeuwenhoek.html.

Why the Statue of Liberty is Green

The Statue of Liberty with its iconic green color.
The Statue of Liberty, image retrieved from the National Park Service (4).

The Statue of Liberty is an iconic national monument on Liberty Island that was dedicated on October 28, 1886 (1). Back then, it was not as we see it today; then the exterior was copper colored, because, of course, it was made of copper! But today it is tiffany blue (2) to mint to seafoam green (3), depending upon the lighting (1, see image) (4). This was the result of a series of chemical reactions that took place over the first thirty years after the statue was assembled (5) and provide the reason why the Statue of Liberty is green.

            The first reactions involve a concept called reduction in chemistry. Reduction occurs when an atom that is being oxidized donates electrons to the oxygen atoms. Chemists say that the oxygen atoms have been reduced. (6). They assign an oxidation number to the atom being oxidized that indicates the number of electrons gained or lost by that atom: a positive oxidation number means electrons have been donated and a negative oxidation number means electrons have been gained. Since oxygen is highly electronegative, it is eager to steal electrons. So oxygen tends to take electrons, which reduces its charge. That is the origin of the term “reduction.” Oxygen is more electronegative than most other elements, so in a reaction it is generally the atom that takes electrons and the it is generally the other atoms that give electrons, since they are more electropositive. (7). Since most elements tend to donate electrons to oxygen, the losing of electrons to another element is called “oxidation.” Reduction and oxidation are opposites, but they always go together. Thus, a reaction involving the giving and taking of electrons is called a redox reaction. (6).

            In the first reaction, the copper is oxidized, by oxygen (which is reduced), to form CU2O. This compound is pink or red. Then the copper cation continues to react with oxygen to form copper oxide, 4CuO, which is black to brown. In the first years after Libertas’ figure was erected near New York City, much coal was burned in that city. The resulting air pollution wafted over the Statue of Liberty, bringing with it sulfur. This reacted with the copper to form the compound 4CuS, which is black. Three final compounds form from these initial compounds with the addition of carbon dioxide and hydroxyl ions: CuCO3(OH)(green), Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2 (blue), and Cu4SO4(OH)6(green). (8).

            These three compounds form the iconic blue-green verdigris that encases the Statue of Liberty today. The Statue of Liberty provides a great lesson in chemistry about redox reactions and successive reactions.

References

  1. “Liberty Enlightening the World.” (n.d.).National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm. Date-accessed: 4/10/2018
  2. Knapton, Sarah. (2017). “First new shade of blue discovered for 200 years to be turned into Crayola crayon.” See image at end of article. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/05/12/first-new-shade-blue-discovered-200-years-turned-crayola-crayon/. Date-accessed: 4/10/2018.
  3. Morris, Brian. (2015). “50 Shades of Green…and One Shade of Blue.” PsPrint. https://blog.psprint.com/de(signing/50-shades-green-one-shade-blue/. Date-accessed: 4/10/2018.
  4. “Plan Your Visit.” (n.d.). National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/stli/planyourvisit/index.htm. Date-accessed: 4/10/2018
  5. “Why is the Statue of Liberty Green?” (2018). Wonderopolis. https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-is-the-statue-of-liberty-green. Date-accessed: 4/10/2018.
  6. Clarck, Jim. (2016). “Definitions of Oxidation and Reduction.” LibreTexts. https://chem.libretexts.org/Core/Analytical_Chemistry/Electrochemistry/Redox_Chemistry/Definitions_of_Oxidation_and_Reduction. Date-accessed: 4/10/2018.
  7. “Oxidation-Reduction (Redox) Reactions.” (2018). Khan Acandemy. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/chemistry/oxidation-reduction/modal/a/oxidation-reduction-redox-reactions. Date-accessed: 4/10/2018.
  8. Helmenstine, Anne Marie. (2018). “Why is the Statue of Liberty Green?” Thought co. https://www.thoughtco.com/why-statue-of-liberty-is-green-4114936. Date-accessed: 4/10/2018.

The Chemical History of Aluminum

An example of aluminum in use
Aluminum electric line, used for light weight and decent conductivity.

Aluminum is an essential component in a myriad of modern conveniences from airplanes to pop cans, prized for its high strength to weight ratio and resistance to atmospheric corrosion. This silvery-white metal was even more highly valued in the time of Napoleon III, more even than gold. However, this was merely for its extreme rarity rather than for its applications in manufacturing. This only changed when two young chemists, American Charles Martin Hall and Frenchman Paul Héroult, standing on the shoulders of other notable scientists before them, discovered a chemical method to economically extract pure aluminum from its ores. Their method was only the latest in a long line of attempts in the history of aluminum, but it was the first to be commercially utilized on a large scale and is still in use today. (“Commercialization of Aluminum”).

However, for thousands of years aluminum was not even known to exist, despite its use in compounds predating 5000 BC. Ancient Mesopotamians used aluminum-rich clays to craft fine pottery. In addition, aluminum compounds were utilized by Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians as medicines almost 4,000 years ago. And from the ancient world to the medieval period, an aluminum compound, known as alum today, was used to bind dyes to textiles. However, it was not until the eighteenth century that anyone suspected that a metal could be found in these useful compounds. (“Hall-Heroult”).

Aluminum is Christened

Humphry Davy, an English chemist, made the first attempt to extract this metal in 1807. It was made after a long string of successes in isolating pure metals from compounds, such as potassium from potash and sodium from salt, using a method called electrolysis. (Pizzi). Electrolysis is the process of running a direct electrical current from a battery or other source through an ionic solution called an electrolyte using two metal bars as electrodes. The electrons flow from one electrode to the other making one, the cathode, negative and the other, the anode, positive. Positive ions, cations, in the solution are attracted to the cathode and negative ions, anions, are attracted to the anode. When the ions reach their respective electrodes, electron exchange occurs causing a chemical reaction. In this way pure elements can be separated from compounds. For example, if two copper electrodes connected to a power source were inserted into a solution of molten salt, sodium chloride, the negative chloride ions would be attracted to the anode and the positive sodium ions would be attracted to the cathode. At the cathode, the sodium ions would transfer their excess electrons to the cathode and would become neutral. And the same thing would happen to the chlorine ions at the anode, except here there would be a gain of electrons for the chloride ions. The reactions would look like this: (“Electrolysis”).

​At the cathode: Na++ e- → Na

At the Anode: 2Cl- → Cl2 + 2 e-

​Although Davy failed to extract aluminum from alum in this way, he satisfied himself that the metal existed and named it alumium, afterwards rechristening it as aluminum. (Pizzi).

Aluminum is Isolated

​The first sample of aluminum was obtained in 1825 by Danish scientist Hans Christian Oersted who heated a mixture of aluminum chloride and potassium-mercury amalgam under reduced pressure. This caused the mercury to boil away leaving an impure sample of aluminum. (Ashby). This chemical reaction was as follows (Caroll, 5):

AlCl3+3k→Al+3KCl

Using a similar process but with metallic potassium instead of potassium-mercury amalgam, German chemist Friederich Wohler distilled aluminum pieces up to the size of pinheads by 1840. From these samples, he determined the properties of aluminum such as ductility, color, and specific gravity. This made aluminum available, but only at the hefty premium of approximately 545 dollars per pound (1852 dollars). (“The Element Aluminum”).

The Deville Process

Thus, aluminum remained a mere curiosity until 1854, by which time French chemist Henri Saint-Claire Deville had successfully implemented his improvements on the methods of Wohler, namely the substitution of sodium for the more expensive potassium, to produce globules of aluminum the size of marbles using the following method: (“Deville-Castner Process”).

​Deville’s goal in aluminum manufacture was to reduce sodium and aluminum’s double chloride, 2NaClAl2Cl, using heated metallic sodium. The natural first step, then, was to manufacture the double chloride. This process was begun by taking powdered aluminum oxide, or hydrate of alumina (Al2O3+water), and combining it with lamp-black, salt, and charcoal. The resulting mixture was then moistened and processed in a pug mill before being extruded through dies, cut into three-inch cylinders, and dried. These cylinders were then precisely heated in an atmosphere of chlorine gas which causes the desired double chloride to evaporate from which gaseous form it was condensed into a pale-yellow, deliquescent material pungent in odor. The reaction that produced this most important ingredient was as follows: (“Deville-Castner Process”).

2Al2O3+3C2+4NaCl+6Cl2→2(Al2Cl62NaCl)+6CO

Translated into English, the reaction is alumina plus carbon plus salt plus chlorine gas equals double chloride plus carbon dioxide.

Now all that had to be done was the reduction of the double chloride using sodium. To this end, the double chloride was pulverized and mixed with slices of metallic sodium before being heated in a furnace along with cryolite, Na3AlF6, as flux. This resulted in the following reaction: (“Deville-Castner Process”).

2 (Na Cl) Al2Cl6 + 3 Na2 = 8 Na Cl + Al2.

​This simply means that the double chloride chemically reacted with the sodium to produce the desired aluminum and a byproduct of salt. This alone reduced the price to 115 dollars per pound, but the price did not solely depend on the quantities of aluminum that could be obtained.

​The cost of the materials used in aluminum manufacture, a very important one of which was sodium, was a very important factor influencing the price of aluminum. Until 1886 when a man named Hamilton Y. Castner began developing a safe, inexpensive method, sodium production had been very arduous and perilous. Involving electrolysis, the Castner process (completed in 1888) reduced the price of sodium five-fold. Although this development made aluminum more affordable, it was still prohibitive enough to keep aluminum from widespread use. (“Deville-Castner Process”).

The Hall-Heroult Process

​While these achievements represented giant leaps forward in aluminum production, the greatest and yet unsurpassed method was still to come. This discovery was twice made independently by two twenty-two-year-old chemists during the same year that Hamilton Y. Castner developed his sodium production process, 1886. Charles Martin Hall, an American graduate of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio,, worked with Oberlin College professor Frank Fanning Jewett to develop the following process: (“Hall-Heroult”).

First, alumina is dissolved in a vat of molten cryolite at a temperature of 982 degrees Celsius (Ashby), acting as a flux as in the Deville process. Then, it, the electrolyte, is channeled into a cell with a carbon-lined cast-iron shell. Carbon anodes are suspended in the electrolyte and the carbon lining acts as a cathode. An electric current is passed through the cell and the dissolved alumina separates into its constituents, oxygen and aluminum. The molten aluminum sinks to the bottom of the cell and the oxygen remains around the anodes. This involves two half-reactions, reduction of the aluminum at the cathode and oxidation of the oxygen at the anode: (“Extraction of Aluminum”).

Reduction: Al3+  +  3e-       Al

Oxidation: 2O2-  –  4e-       O2

These two half reactions can be combined into one whole reaction which is as follows (“Extraction of Aluminum”):

2Al23+O32-(l)                 4Al(l)   +     3O2(g)

​Paul Louise Toussaint Heroult independently discovered this same process just two months after Charles Martin Hall. He applied for and received a patent for it in France and applied for one in the United States in May of 1886. Although this was before Hall applied for his patent in July, Hall was able to prove that he discovered the method before Heroult made his patent application. Two years later, Hall founded the Pittsburg Reduction Company with financial assistance from six industrialists involved in Pittsburgh’s metallurgical market, including MIT graduate Alfred Hunt. That same year, the price of aluminum plummeted to $4.86. By 1993, the price had dropped to seventy-eight cents per pound. And by the 1930s, it aluminum was valued at just over twenty cents per pound. (“Hall-Heroult”). This remarkable figure was not, however, achieved by Hall and Heroult alone.

Two other notable developments aided in the commercialization of aluminum, namely the dynamo and the Bayer Process. Without the former, none of what Hall and Heroult achieved would have been possible. Invented by Siemens, Hopkinson, and Edison in 1881, it provided the power source necessary for electrolysis. Later, aluminum companies moved to places where abundant hydroelectric power could be found to drive the dynamos. While the dynamo and hydroelectricity made inexpensive electricity abundant, the Bayer process cheapened the raw material for aluminum production, alumina. As the Castner process cheapened sodium, the Bayer process cheapened the production of alumina. (Ashby).

Summary

​Use of aluminum began several millennia ago in pottery and medicine, but it was not until relatively recently that it was discovered. Over the years, better and better methods were devised for aluminum production and the production of ingredients involved in its production. This continued until the price, once greater than that of gold, was reduced sufficiently so that the full industrial potential of aluminum could be realized. This was achieved in large part by the work of Charles Martin Hall and Paul Louise Toussaint Heroult in 1886. (“Hall-Heroult”). These young chemists were heirs to the work of several other notable chemists who made important contributions to the field of aluminum including Humphrey Davy, Hans Christian Oersted, Friedrich Wohler, Henri Saint-Claire Deville, Frank Fanning Jewett, Hamilton Y. Castner, and Karl Joseph Bayer. Standing on the shoulders of these intellectual giants and using new technologies of their day, Hall and Heroult were able to make aluminum available for widespread use.

Works Cited

​”Aluminium and Its Manufacture by the Deville-Castner Process.” (1889). Science, 260-262.

​Ashby, J. (1999). “The Aluminium Legacy: the History of the Metal and its Role in Architecture.” Construction History, 79-90. Retrieved from: https://www-jstor-org.www.libproxy.wvu.edu/stable/pdf/41613796.pdfrefreqid=excelsior%3Af258906f5aaf47b4f874f03071206939                                                                              

“Commercialization of Aluminum.” (2001, November 2). Retrieved November 11, 2018, from acs.org:                                                                                https://www.acs.org/content/dam/acsorg/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/aluminumprocess/commercialization-of-aluminum-commemorative-booklet.pdf

Dr. William F. Caroll, Jr. (2012, April). “From Garbage to Stuff: How we Recycle Plastics.” The Alembic, 39(3), p. 5. Retrieved from                                 https://www4.uwsp.edu/chemistry/acscws/39%20-%203%20April%202012.pdf

Education, T. J.-O. (n.d.). “The Element Aluminum.” (G. Steve, Editor) Retrieved from Jefferson Labs:                                                                                   https://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele013.html

“16.7: Electrolysis: Using Electricity to Do Chemistry.” (2018, May 4). Retrieved November 11, 2018, from LibreTexts.

“Extraction of Aluminium – Hall (Electrolytic) Cell.” (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2018, from mypchem.com:                                                                  http://mypchem.com/myp10/myp10_htm/al_ext.htm

Pizzi, R. A. (2004). “Humphry Davy, Self Made Chemist.” Chemistry Chronicles, 49-51.

“Production of Aluminum: The Hall-Héroult Process.” (2018). Retrieved November 11, 2018, from American Chemical Society:                                  https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/aluminumprocess.html

Zionism

My favorite expositor of Christianity and one of my favorite users and expositors of of the English language, C.S. Lewis, wrote,

“As long as gentleman has a clear meaning, it is enough to say that So-and-so is a gentleman. When we begin saying that he is a ‘real gentleman’ or ‘a true gentleman’ or ‘a gentleman in the truest sense’ we may be sure that the word has not long to live… . The vocabulary of flattery and insult is continually enlarged at the expense of the vocabulary of definition. As old horses go to the knacker’s yard, or old ships to the breakers, so words in their last decay go to swell the enormous list of synonyms for good and bad.”

I recently followed a link to reasonable laundry-list of the evils of Communism, which someone had re-packaged with “Zionism” added to the title.

I think most everyone knows what “Communist” means: a system of social organization where the means of production are controlled by the collective, usually a State apparatus. This is a very basic and simplistic description of a social system and leaves multitudinous details of implementation unaddressed, but it has a clear and unambiguous meaning. The fact that some think that this is a good
idea, and some do not, has nothing to do with the meaning of the word, thus its use facilitates communication.

“Zionist” is used to mean a lot of different things. Originally I believe Zion is the name of a hill, on which the city of Jerusalem is built. Apparently there is an African animist cult that goes by that name. But its clearest and most useful meaning has for a century or two been, “referring to the
establishment of a Jewish geographic homeland, usually nominally or approximately coextensive with the land given by God to Abraham and his descendants; or supporting or favoring such establishment.” This often, but not always, translates to support for the current political State of Israel.

Use of the word to mean vaguely “wicked” or “Globalist” seems to me unhelpful as well as anhistorical, and also may tend to associate the user with genocidal and totalitarian ideologues, including Hitler and Stalin and their philosophical heirs. I think a resort to history is in order.

The Jews, however broadly or narrowly you define them, have always been a troubled people. Scripturalists would say that this is because they have chronically displayed their fallen human nature by failure in devotion to the God Who chose them particularly for Himself. In the human sense, they have brought much of this on themselves: who will happily put up with someone who says that God
chose him and not you….especially if you fear it may be true?

The Imperial Romans, the Globalists of their day, found the Jews’ intransigent commitment to worship God and not the Emperor, as well as their insistence on their own customs and land tenure, intolerable, and terminated their political identity and geographically dispersed many of them, circa
70AD. Not only did Jews have a bad taste in Rome’s mouth, but the early Christians, whose Messiah was a Jew and who took over the Jewish Scriptures and much of their law and philosophy, were not early favorites of Rome, and took pains to emphasize their non-Jewishness because they faced their own unique budget of Roman discrimination and oppression, to which they were understandably reluctant to add that of the Jews.

The putative ascendance of Jewish identity in Khazaria notwithstanding, Jews carried this opprobrium with them almost wherever they went. If you think you are the Chosen of God, that everyone around you is vaguely unclean, and feel yourself commanded to keep distinctive and non-intuitive dietary and sartorial customs, it is hard to mix and make friends. Many Christians were taught
to believe the libel that the Jews as a whole had rejected, and connived at the execution of, Jesus, when in fact it was a strictly Roman legal process, and abetted only among the Jews by the politicized Temple faction, that resented Jesus’ preaching against their institutional corruption, and happily sacrificed
Whom they considered a trouble maker, as a peace-offering to their equally corrupt Roman overlords.

So Jews as immigrants in much of Europe found themselves widely barred both from owning land, and from membership in craft and trade guilds. Having to make a living somehow, many turned to buying-and selling, and to banking in one form or another. Their veneration of Scripture and study thereof created a robust tradition of literacy, which in those largely illiterate days gave them a natural
advantage in occupations where record-keeping was essential.

Then as now, trading was often more lucrative than manufacture, and banking a hothouse for corruption, neither of which earned the Jews in these occupations any love. Rulers all over Europe borrowed money from Jewish (and other) bankers to finance their wars and other luxuries, and had motive to fan the flames of antiSemitism to avoid blame when they regularly repudiated the loans and
imprisoned or expelled their lenders. Further, land ownership in Mediaeval Europe was concentrated in an often absent aristocracy, which also turned to the landless but literate and numerate Jews for land-administrators and rent-collectors. These professions also breed corruption in all who practice them, but even the honest rent-collector whose face is known to the tenant, receives any hate that may properly belong to a grasping but distant and faceless landlord.

Modern Zionism seems to have begun in the 1800s among Jews who rejected their own rejection by the communities around them, and wanted a home-land of their own. Many of them also rejected the wealth and the decadent urban culture in which they had become enmeshed. After WWI, the collapse of empires, and British guilt about its historical treatment of its Jews, combined to carve
out a physical site, in their Biblical homeland, for this millennium-old aspiration to take root. The Zionist dream was the opposite of Globalist, centering on one home-land for one people, and the opposite of financial, as most of its adherents dreamed only of farming and feeding their families on a small plot of their own or in a small, voluntary collective.

Were, and are there, still, people of Jewish extraction who are part of global financial cabals, who bleed the world by financing war and empire (including that of the Communists)? Of course. Are they the majority, or even a large minority among Jews? No more than they are among the Chinamen, Catholics or Protestants who have likewise deserted their ancestral gods for Mammon.

Jews perhaps slightly more than most humans, and perhaps because of their history of persecution, seem susceptible to a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, where they attach themselves to power, or to an irrational dream of safety. This may account for the number of Jews buying the Communist lie in the early 20th century, or even now after the sometimes iconoclastic Communist countries have eagerly perpetuated their preCommunist traditions by persecuting them. This may also account for the large number of Jews falling for the gun-control lie, even though their very own history, going back to Bible times when the Philistines prevented them from having weapons, clearly teaches the deadly folly of helplessness, and Jews also founded the most uncompromising and philosophically literate anti-gun-control organization in the United States, “Jews for the Protection of Firearms Ownership” (JPFO).

So, I do not believe there is any credible causal, historical, temperamental, or statistical association between Jewishness per se, or Zionism, and globalist/communist/totalitarian/satanic conspiracies, or similar vile philosophies by any other name. To associate the terms, or to infer or allege any such association appears to me ignorant, irrelevant, and destructive of clear thought and communication at best; divisive, and complicit with oppression and genocide at worst.