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Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know [Paperback]

Charles D. Ferguson
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 15 2011 What Everyone Needs to Know
Originally perceived as a cheap and plentiful source of power, the commercial use of nuclear energy has been controversial for decades. Worries about the dangers that nuclear plants and their radioactive waste posed to nearby communities grew over time, and plant construction in the United States virtually died after the early 1980s. The 1986 disaster at Chernobyl only reinforced nuclear power's negative image. Yet in the decade prior to the Japanese nuclear crisis of 2011, sentiment aboutnuclear power underwent a marked change. The alarming acceleration of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels and concern about dependence on foreign fuel has led policymakers, climate scientists, and energy experts to look once again at nuclear power as a source of energy. In this accessible overview, Charles D. Ferguson provides an authoritative account of the key facts about nuclear energy. What is the origin of nuclear energy? What countries use commercial nuclear power, and howmuch electricity do they obtain from it? How can future nuclear power plants be made safer? What can countries do to protect their nuclear facilities from military attacks? How hazardous is radioactive waste? Is nuclear energy a renewable energy source? Featuring a discussion of the recent nuclear crisis in Japan and its ramifications, Ferguson addresses these questions and more in a book that is essential for anyone looking to learn more about this important issue.

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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.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Aug. 6 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a good overview - more could be writen to explain certain concepts. It's lacking references so if you want to learn more about a certain topic you may be out of luck.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, objective, informative April 15 2012
By Adam - Published on
I bought this because I am interested in the policy debates around energy production. I'm a policy wonk rather than a scientist, but am interested in understanding the science so that I can make more informed judgments about nuclear energy.

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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent source to understand how Nuclear Power Generation fits into the larger Energy Sector Landscape Jan. 27 2013
By Shaker Cherukuri - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent book to understand how Nuclear Power Generation fits into the overall scheme of things in Energy Sector. The book explains the history behind the evolution in the industry, the accidents (TMI, Chernobyl, Fukushima), the regulation, the economics and the future.

It is a balanced analysis and considers the possibility that someday Renewable Energy (like Wind and Solar) might make Nuclear Power Generation unnecessary.

In my opinion, we will still need Nuclear Power for space exploration and colonies. So continued research is critical. Generation IV Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) might provide that bridge and could become a staple of base load power.

Mr. Charles Ferguson talks about how as we transition from fossil fuels for power generation and transportation, Nuclear Energy might be the bridge that meets our energy needs. I agree.

My take: As computing goes from desk to cloud, power generation might eventually go the other way with distributed augmentation using renewables and baseload using Nuclear Generation IV and later reactors.

PS. It is not a technical book about Nuclear Engineering.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a book that summarizes where we are March 13 2012
By John W. Fuqua - Published on
I have looked for such a book for a long time.
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Nuclear review June 18 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In college doing a composition. I needed research material. This book was very informative and interesting. I am glad I purchased.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informativ and neutral May 9 2014
By Silvan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
While after reading I'm still confused wether I should support nuclear energy it or not. Well I guess thats in the nature of the topic :) I tend to yes as the alternatives are not yet adequate or way worse with certain severe consequences. It feels a lot less scary when you actually know how it works and where the real issues are.
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