Thursday, January 12, 2017

Imaging Fukushima Reactor Core Using Muons

If you are in the US, did you see the NOVA episode on PBS last night titled "The Nuclear Option"? If you did, did you miss, or not miss, the technique of imaging the Fukushima reactor core using the muon tomography developed at Los Alamos?

You see, whenever I see something like this, I want to shout out loud to the public on another example where our knowledge from high energy physics/elementary particle physics can produce a direct practical benefit. A lot of people still question whether our efforts in these so-called esoteric areas are worth funding. So whenever I see something like this, there should be a conscious and precise effort to point out that:

1. We had to first understand the physics of muons from our knowledge of the Standard Model of elementary particle.

2. Then those who do understand this often will start to figure out, often with collaboration of those in other areas of physics, of what could possibly be done with such knowledge.

3. And finally, they come up with a practical application of that knowledge, which originated out of an area that often produces no immediate and obvious application.

Things like this must be pointed out in SIMPLE TERMS to both the public and the politicians, because that is the only level that they can comprehend. I've pointed out previously many examples of the benefits that we get, directly or indirectly, from such field of study. It should be a requirement that any practical application should present a short "knowledge genealogy" of where the idea came from. It will be an eye-opener to many people.

Zz.

1 comment:

Brian Poe said...

Great concept about "knowledge genealogy"! That's a useful lens with which to view the benefits of basic research. Thanks for posting