Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know Paperback – Apr 15 2011
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"This book is a must read for all literate citizens living in this century...Essential" - CHOICE
About the Author
Charles D. Ferguson is President of the Federation of American Scientists and an Adjunct Professor in Georgetown University's Security Studies Program. Trained as a physicist and nuclear engineer, he has worked on nuclear policy issues at the U.S. Department of State and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've been delighted with this book so far. There is enough science here for a science-literate non-scientist to understand what's going on - i.e. how nuclear energy works, what radiation is, what kinds of radiation present what kinds of problems, how different degrees of uranium enrichment are necessary for civilian and military uses, and so on.
The author certainly seems to have a good grasp of the issues, and has the credentials that make you think he ought to. He's also very objective - tells you what's good and not good about nuclear energy vs coal or wind power; whether uranium is in short supply; that nuclear power is very expensive in some ways and relatively cheap in others, etc. So I have confidence that I'm getting balanced information and will therefore be able to come to my own conclusions.
There are places where I'd like more detail, and may seek a follow-up book. However, the trade-off is that this book gives you a good introduction to many facets of nuclear energy, and the author has made it interesting enough that I'm keen to learn more. I enthusiastically recommend this book.
The author seems to want to be---and I think is---fair to all sides of the topic not only of nuclear but alternatives. It reminded me of Feynman's comment that each theory should present the good and the bad, not just what you propose.
He points outs the pro/con of each alternative [focus on nuclear though], costs, time frames to build and operate, benefits, causes of disasters and what has been done to prevent more, etc..
Most of the articles I've seen on nuclear technology are either outdated [several years old] or are advocating for one technology. I'm especially interested in the fast neutron pyrometalic technology and this book does deal with it along with other 4th generation technology.
Readers will learn alot where nuclear stands and comparisons with other technology.
Personally, politics bore me so I did skip over a few pages and paragraphs that focused a little too much on politics (I estimate there are ~20 pages discussing nuclear politics). However, the author does emphasized several interesting points regarding the political struggle the nuclear energy industry is facing so you will not be disappointed if you want to learn about that.
After reading this book, not only am I going to save it for future reference, I'm also going to purchase similar books that discuss nuclear energy. You are bound to learn a lot about nuclear energy after reading this book. Buy it.
In this way, it is very good for the college educated reader who is looking more in depth at a film like "Pandora's Promise", or books such as "Plentiful Energy" or Reese Palley's "The Answer." It is much more of a summary than a treatise on sustainable energy security, such as Prof. Jeff Eerkens' book, "The Nuclear Imperative" (2 editions).
My own perspective on this book is that it provides many clear summaries and answers; yet the nuclear energy topic is so technically challenging enough that even its ardent non-profit organization supporters have debates about which type of nuclear energy is ideal for the 2010s and 2020s. A debate continues about Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) vs. Gen. III+ gigawatt level stations, FBRs and ADTRs. Which one is the best? Ferguson says cost is a determining factor.