UK nuclear power stations ‘could be forced to close’ after Brexit

Leaving Euratom treaty will shut down nuclear industry if international safety agreements are not made in time, MPs told

Nuclear power stations would be forced to shut down if a new measures are not in place when Britain quits a European atomic power treaty in 2019, an expert has warned.

Rupert Cowen, a senior nuclear energy lawyer at Prospect Law, told MPs on Tuesday that leaving the Euratom treaty as the government has promised could see trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt.

The UK government has said it will exit Euratom when article 50 is triggered. The treaty promotes cooperation and research into nuclear power, and uniform safety standards.

Unlike other arrangements, if we dont get this right, business stops. There will be no trade. If we cant arrive at safeguards and other principles that allow compliance [with international nuclear standards] to be demonstrated, no nuclear trade will be able to continue.

Asked by the chair of the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy select committee if that would see reactors switching off, he said: Ultimately, when their fuels runs out, yes. Cowen said that in his view there was no legal requirement for the UK to leave Euratom because of Brexit: Its a political issue, not a legal issue.

The UK nuclear industry would be crippled if new nuclear cooperation deals are not agreed within two years, a former government adviser told the committee.

Euratom explainer

There is a plethora of international agreements that would have to be struck that almost mirror those in place with Euratom, before we moved not just material but intellectual property, services, anything in the nuclear sector. We would be crippled without other things in place, said Dame Sue Ion, chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, which was established by the government in 2013.

She said movement of the industrys best intellectual talent was made easier by the UKs membership of Euratom.

The government said it was working on alternative arrangements to Euratom. Describing the notification of withdrawal as a regrettable necessity when article 50 is triggered, energy minister Jesse Norman said that the UK saw clear routes outside of Euratom to address issues such as the trade of nuclear materials.

We take this extremely seriously and are devoting serious resources [to looking at new arrangements], he told the Lords science and technology committee on Tuesday.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said there was a lot to be done to put in place transitional measures replacing Euratom.

What were collectively warning about is the potential for there to be a very hard two-year period during which there are lots of other things the government has to deal with, that could leave it in a position where some of these things arent in place, he said. Greatrex said one possible option was an associate membership of Euratom.

Over the weekend, the GMB union called on ministers to reconsider their foolhardy rush to leave the treaty, claiming it could endanger the UKs entire nuclear future.

But the Office for Nuclear Regulation argued there could even be be some positives to leaving Euratom, such as a reduction in bureaucracy. If we relinquish Euratom there would be reduced burden from not having to comply with directives, said David Senior, an ONR executive.

Norman also promised a decision was due soon on the next stage of a delayed multimillion-pound government competition for mini nuclear reactors, known as small modular reactors. I love the projects and ideas but I want to be shown the value, he told the peers.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/28/british-nuclear-power-stations-could-be-forced-to-close-after-brexit

At 140 a mile, how does Elon Musks moon trip compare with other journeys?

From car to rail, its hard to find a terrestrial journey that matches SpaceXs astronomical cost

It is a stratospheric sum but it does, at least, include the return journey. Elon Musk, the billionaire American transport visionary, has suggested that the first, so far unnamed, passengers on his SpaceX flight round the moon will pay about $70m (56m).

Musk says the journey, tentatively scheduled for 2018 on an untested Falcon Heavy rocket, will cover up to 400,000 miles, although the Apollo 13 crew, on their trip to the moon in 1970, were a record 248,655 miles from Earth, so this figure seems modest if anything. Either way, 400,000 miles (about 16 times the circumference of Earth) for 56m is equal to about 140 a mile, which is easier to fathom. But how does it compare with terrestrial journeys?

Rail: The priciest rail ticket in the UK, the home of extortionate rail travel, is reportedly 501 for the 480-mile anytime return from Shanklin on the Isle of Wight to Buxton in Derbyshire (includes the ferry). Thats a little more than 1 a mile. The most expensive season ticket by distance, from Harlow Town in Essex to London Liverpool Street, is less than 40p a mile for a full-time worker.

Car: A Ferrari F12tdf has the joint worst fuel economy, according to US government figures, with as little as 12 miles a gallon. At current pump prices, that equates to about 45p a mile. Even adding depreciation, insurance and the 340,000 cost of the car its a lot cheaper than space.

Bus: Buses are cheap, right? Not if you take the No 47 from Lewisham Park in south-east London to Lewisham Hospital, 135 metres up the road. At 1.50 that equates to almost 18 a mile.

Air: You would think air travel comes close, but the worst damage you can do on an airliner is a 55,000 return ticket from London to Melbourne (20,000 miles total) in Etihads penthouse suite. But thats only 2.75 a mile.

Tube: The closest you can get to matching the cost of lunar travel is on the London Underground. The shortest Tube journey is the 350 metres, from Covent Garden to Leicester Square. A cash ticket costs 4.90, which equates to almost 23 a mile, about a sixth of the cost of a trip to the moon and back and a lot quicker.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2017/feb/28/140-pound-mile-elon-musk-moon-trip-spacex-compare-terrestrial-journeys

What a Baby Can See In Its First 12 Months of Life

According to research it takes babies approximately two years for their eyesight to fully develop. In fact children can’t focus on their parents’ faces, even close up, until they’re around three months old.

You can read more about how a baby’s vision develops at Business Insider.

 

 

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/videos/what-a-baby-can-see-in-the-first-12-months/

‘Science for the people’: researchers challenge Trump outside US conference

Scientists rally in Boston amid alarm over presidents views and fears for the future of the EPA, as ecologist likens current struggle to Galileos

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/19/epa-trump-boston-science-protest

Fictional characters make ‘experiential crossings’ into real life, study finds

A fifth of readers report characters from novels cropping up in their daily lives, hearing their voices even after putting books aside

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/14/fictional-characters-make-existential-crossings-into-real-life-study-finds

Successful male contraceptive gel trial brings new form of birth control closer

Designed to be a reversible and less invasive form of vasectomy, Vasalgel has been found to work reliably in primates

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/07/successful-male-contraceptive-gel-trial-brings-new-form-of-birth-control-closer-vasalgel

‘Tinder for orangutans’: Dutch zoo to let female choose mate on a tablet

Orangutan Samboja will be shown males on a touchscreen in experiment aimed at learning more about mating choices

A Dutch zoo hopes to increase the breeding chances of a female orangutan by seeing if she will choose a preferred mate on a touchscreen before they are introduced.

In a four-year experiment it has called Tinder for orangutans, the Apenheul primate park in Apeldoorn will show Samboja, an 11-year-old female, pictures of possible partners from an international great ape breeding programme.

The aim is to gain greater insight into how female orangutans make their mating choices, Thomas Bionda, a behavioural biologist at the zoo, told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Since the male orangutan could come from as far away as Singapore, the zoo also hopes to increase the chances of a successful encounter.

Often, animals have to be taken back to the zoo they came from without mating, Bionda said. Things dont always go well when a male and a female first meet.

The research is part of a broader programme looking at the role of emotions in animal relationships, the biologist said. Emotion is of huge evolutionary importance. If you dont interpret an emotion correctly in the wild, it can be the end of you.

Evy van Berlo, an evolutionary psychologist, told local paper Tubantia that earlier tablet tests with bonobos who, along with chimpanzees, are the closest living relatives to humans had shown they demonstrated heightened interest in photos containing positive stimuli, such as other bonobos mating or grooming one another.

The scientists main problem has been building a touchscreen tough enough to withstand Sambojas attentions, Van Berlo said.

One tablet, reinforced with a steel frame, was tested successfully for the first time two weeks ago on two older orangutans, she said, but did not survive long when Samboja whose mother, Sandy, is affectionately known as Demolition Woman got hold of it.

Once the scientists have a strong enough screen, Bionda told NOS, they would examine whether appearance alone is enough to create a spark of attraction between two animals.

This is completely digital, of course, he said. Usually, smell plays an important role too. But with the orangutans, it will be what you see is what you get.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/31/tinder-for-orangutans-dutch-zoo-to-let-female-choose-mate-on-a-tablet