“The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped
on Hiroshima, a military base.” announces the 33rd US President,
Harry S. Truman, for the nuclear bombardment of the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Soon after that, Nagasaki met the same fate. These were the events that emanated
from the works of American Physicist, Julius Robert Oppenheimer who was the
director of the Manhattan Project. He was later known as “Father of the Atomic
Nuclear threat has been a nightmarish prospect for many people
due to its macabre nature that shows lack of human compassion. The cause for
concern has resurfaced over recent years as tension rises between superpowers like the United States of America
and North Korea along with shaky foundations of the Iranian nuclear deal.
Leaving the socio-political aspects aside, this issue begs for some scientific
innovation from a different perspective that could contribute to resolving nuclear terrorism before history
There are hundreds of nuclear reactors in the world that use
a particular isotope of uranium (uranium-238) as their fuel. Aside from
releasing tremendous amounts of energy, when this isotope undergoes fission, it
largely decays into plutonium which has the ability to sustain nuclear chain
reactions, ergo the ammunition for nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy, through the
use of uranium, has helped humanity progress immensely but at the same time, it bears risks that might not be worth
taking. The isotope of the plutonium produced has been constructed into weapons
of mass destruction and are also sold illegally worldwide.
To combat this problem, most people jump to a conclusion that solar and wind
energy – in massive scales – is the perfect replacement and while that might be
true I think, in conjunction to that, there is another alternative that can harness
nuclear power without its overbearing risks – thorium reactors.
Thorium reactors function by the fission of a different
isotope of uranium transmuted by a more naturally abundant and fertile element,
thorium. There have already been some researchers that have posed thorium as a
viable alternative from as early as the cold war. According to Alvin Radkowsky,
a nuclear physicist and then chief scientist at the U.S. Navy nuclear
propulsion division, thorium reactors produce 98% less plutonium than standard
reactors and even then, the composition of the plutonium isotope produced would
make it very difficult to manufacture them into nuclear devices. This could be
a solution for a problem that has been haunting innocent civilians since
progressing to the atomic age.