On Physics

Following the Chernobyl incident, Soviets offered details of the occurrence to the world, and in that report they stated that the nuclear chain reaction had stopped at the point of explosion. The head of the US Congress’s security committee or whatever they call it called the statement a lie.

Except it wasn’t. The explosion detonated the moderating agent between the uranium isotopes, which prevented all those delicious neutrons from finding new isotopes and continuing the reaction. It was still quite dangerous due to the radiation of course, but such a simple yet forceful and factually incorrect statement probably forwarded the guy’s career a goodly ways. And that annoyed a lot of nuclear scientists.

So with that annoyance in mind, Professor Richard A. Muller at Berkeley eventually decided to set up a series of lectures. It’s called Physics 10: Physics for Future Presidents. They’re not focused on the heavy duty math that goes along with most physics classes. Instead it just relays some of the more important concepts so that an idiot has a basic idea of what’s going on.

And luckily for those of us not attending Berkeley, they put the series up on Youtube. My moment above is discussed towards the end of lecture 7, which addresses nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors, finishing up with the Yucca Mountain issues which are apparently pretty overblown. The downside is that each of these is around an hour and fifteen minutes long, so you’ll need a while to go through more than one or two.

Still, a good way to expand your knowledge. Thankfully, Muller does a pretty good job of keeping a nice pace with it and keeps it interesting. Given the volatility of the topic, he’s also pretty a-political: references to politicians are usually nonspecific or just straight up factual.

This is the link straight to lecture 7. If you’re interested, on the right you can find the links to the others which I’m about to start in on.