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No Nuclear Waste

Turn it into flying saucers
  (+3, -7)
(+3, -7)
  [vote for,
against]

Radioactivity is powerful. Alpha particles are ejected with speeds of 3,000 miles per second and the atoms themselves recoil with speeds of 500 miles per second, 70 times earth's escape velocity! So why hasn't all the troublesome nuclear waste already vanished off into space?

Two problems: The atoms collide with air molecules and lose their energy long before they escape Earth and their directions are random so half the radioactive stuff heads downward.

The solution? Form high level nuclear waste into thin disks and coat the top with something just thick enough to stop the upward alpha particles. Spin the disk to stabilize it's direction and let the downward alphas push the disk steadily upward and out of our lives.

Just like the happy ending of a 1950's sci-fi movie: eerie, blue glowing flying saucers heading off into space, never to return.

Hyde-and-Sikh, Jun 02 2006

[link]






       Someone tell me why this is bad science.
Germanicus, Jun 02 2006
  

       While you're at it, figure out a way to use Brownian motion to float in mid air.
theircompetitor, Jun 02 2006
  

       [-] for the bad science. Something "Just thick enough to stop the upward alpha particles" will be much more than the waste is capable of lifting. Even a single-molecule-thick contiguous layer of the radioactive waste will be too heavy for the waste to lift, given all the individual particles that are -NOT- decaying at any given instant.
[+] for the image of glowing blue disks rising off into space.
  

       Overall, neutral.
Freefall, Jun 02 2006
  

       first of all, [germanicus], this idea's principle kinda has flaws //like the happy ending of a [...] movie//.   

       secondly, it's bad science because of it's contradictions: downard alpha particles are _undesired_ because we don't want to have radioactivity in our atmosphere, on the other hand the same particles are _used_ to raise a disc (which, by all means, i don't understand why is intended to be thrown into space), so we end up throwing a disc _out_ of the atmosphere, and spreading radiation _into_ the atmosphere. So what was wrong with the disk?, someone may ask.   

       thirdly - what [freefall] said.   

       But i only have a minus to give, and i will give that for the contradiction this idea involves.
sweet, Jun 02 2006
  

       For the record [sweet], my request was to confirm my fears, I knew something had to be wrong with this.
Germanicus, Jun 02 2006
  

       A + for this interesting idea. Unfortunately, there’s not going to be enough lift, and the angular momentum will quickly dissipate due to air friction, so that, if they ever took off, the disks would tumble back to earth. However, this might work for propelling spacecraft.
ldischler, Jun 02 2006
  

       uhmmm... [ub], i think the creator of this idea was considering nuclear waste. that's.... waste. can we _use_ nuclear _waste_ ? then why is it called waste?
sweet, Jun 03 2006
  

       [sweet] Nuclear waste would still be waist because it would only be used to get rid of itself, not for anything else after the material was initially used.   

       And why not make the "something just thick enough to stop the upward alpha particles." a stationary concaved disk that the nuclear waste would be placed on, and then launch itself into space without the disk.
BJS, Jun 03 2006
  

       This is bad science because nuclear waste does not emit many particles and those it does emit are very very light in mass. Radiation has no mass, No mass means no reactionary movement on the part of the waste. The particles that are emmited are no where near enough force to even move the object let alone accelerate it.   

       Ion propulsion uses this principle but it is ejecting molecules of ionized Xenon Gas, which has a realatively large mass and so you get a reactionary movement on the part of the engine. However this thrust is Very Very Small( an Ion thruster could not escape earths gravity), but it is steady and requires very little power to maintain. Thus pound for pound an Ion thruster can ultimately achieve a high rate of speed.
jhomrighaus, Jun 03 2006
  

       //Radiation has no mass//
It may not have mass, but it has momentum (E/c), so there will be thrust even without particles.
ldischler, Jun 03 2006
  

       While that is correct, the amount of thrust(or more accurately acceleration) experienced by the object is minute. In Space with no gravity, a Solar sail can use this energy to accelerate an object(as could a person by blowing on it) But within earths gravity these forces are essentially meaningless.
jhomrighaus, Jun 03 2006
  
      
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