What to read about nuclear energy online

How to avoid information overload on the Internet

By Dan Yurman

 One thing I learned in the five years that I published my nuclear energy blog Idaho Samizdat is that there can be too much nuclear information.  This lesson was brought home with the mind-crushing rush of information that hit the wires during the height of the Fukushima crisis.  But what about keeping up with the news on the nuclear industry in ordinary times?

If your employer can afford it, your firm subscribes to one or more of the specialty newsletters that tap in at $2,000 or more per year for a subscription.  In return, readers get detailed, expert news and analysis that would never, ever show up in the mainstream news media.  I worked for such a specialty newsletter for five years and remain grateful for subscriber support since it meant the difference, metaphorically speaking, between a having a roof over my head and sleeping under a bridge.

However, because of copyright restrictions, most of these newsletters contain web beacons or other electronic devices that are designed to stop a firm from buying one subscription and then emailing each issue to its employees.  While there is the copy machine dodge, that is so 20th century.  Plus, waiting for the inter-office mail to deliver a bootleg copy puts you one day behind your electronically wired-in colleagues.

So, what’s a nuclear pro to do to stay current without shelling out the equivalent of a new car lease down payment?  The answer is there are a number of free news services available on the Internet that can go a long way to keep your mental inbox full of interesting stuff.  Here’s a short list of free sources.

Online services

Nuclear Town Hall – This is a seven-day-a-week, and twice-a-day on weekdays, summary of links to business and political news about nuclear energy.  Based in Washington, DC, it has a global perspective and also a special section on nuclear energy OP EDs and opinion pieces.  Resolutely pro-nuclear in every respect it even cites nuclear bloggers when it sees something of interest.  You can read the updates on the website or subscribe to it by email.

World Nuclear News – This is a five-day-a-week service that publishes short news reports about the global nuclear industry.  Based on London, it is available on the website, or via email delivery by the time U.S. readers are pouring their second cup of coffee.  A searchable archive allows readers to dig into the background of breaking news.

NEI Smartbrief – Sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, it picks up news clips from the mainstream media and posts a brief summary of about half a dozen of them a day with links to the original source online.  The brief is published weekdays except major holidays.

Nuclear Power Daily – Like NEI Smartbrief, this daily nuclear news summary relies on wire services and other sources.  Like NEI Smartbrief, it is an advertising supported service.

Google News – Google News allow you to search by keywords and to set up news alerts based on them.  You can set up as many alerts as you want and have the alerts delivered by email or RSS feed.  You can select instant delivery or once a day.

Nuclear Energy blogs are a great source of information often posting news in specialized developments days or weeks ahead of the mainstream news media.  A great starting place is the blog roll list of links here on ANS Nuclear Cafe.

Books

There is another “what to read” issue, and that is how to answer questions from in-laws, friends, and the occasional non-nuclear colleagues who genuinely want to know more about nuclear energy.  Here’s a reading list that you can clip and save.  All of these books are in print and most can be found in a public library or through interlibrary loan.  The major online book selling services stock these volumes.

Three must reads – Start here

The Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, by Gwyneth Cravens

Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey, by William Tucker

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, by Stewart Brand

Further reading for generalists

Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Charles D. Ferguson

Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century, by Ian Hore-Lacy

The Reporter’s Handbook on Nuclear Materials, Energy, and Waste Management, by Michael Greenberg et.al

Histories

Nuclear Firsts: Milestone on the Road to Nuclear Power Development, by Gail Marcus

The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference, by Ted Rockwell

Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor, by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang

Nuclear Silk Road: The Koreanization of Nuclear Power Technology, by Byung-Koo Kim

Nonproliferation

Physics for Future Presidents, by Richard A. Muller

The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes

The Spread of Nuclear Weapons, by Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz

Single Issues

Radiation and Reason, by Wade Allison

Nuclear Reactions: The Politics of Opening a Radioactive Waste Disposal Site, by Chuck McCutcheon

Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World, by Tom Zoellner

Sustainable Development / Climate Change

Storms of my Grandchildren, by James Hansen

The GeoPolitics of Energy: Achieving a Just and Sustainable Energy Distribution by 2040, by Judith Wright and James Conca

Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air, by David JC MacKay

General Reference

Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia - a single volume - by Steven B. Krivit (Editor), Thomas B. Kingery (Editor), Jay H. Lehr (Series Editor)

& & &

If you have a favorite news source, or best book on nuclear energy, please post your suggestions in the comments.

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Dan Yurman published the nuclear energy blog Idaho Samizdat from 2007 to 2012.

10 Responses to What to read about nuclear energy online

  1. I would add:
    Thorium: energy cheaper than coal by Robert Hargraves

  2. Don’t forget ANS Nuclear Headlines (http://www.ans.org/members/headlines/) for ANS members. With updates every 15 minutes, it can be a bit like drinking from a fire hose, but ANS members have often indicated that they have been the first among their colleagues to learn about specific news items by subscribing to this service.

  3. You’re no different than the right-wing and Fox News–you don’t want any exposure to information that might challenge your thinking. We read much of the above, too. But there are a lot more internet and other sources of skeptical and outright critical thinking on nuclear issues that are far more valuable….Keep ignoring them, it’s one reason we’re winning.

  4. I think there is some overlap in the energy area, but here are a few suggestions for policy and history: http://jaideepprabhu.org/books/nuclear

  5. This list is rather small a primer for the casual observer. In depth sources are domestic national & industry labs, international private & national labs complete with translations. Societies, companies, military, niche field specific nuclear organizations, nuclear trade mags. etc. etc.

  6. My goodness, Michael! If this is what you call “winning,” I’d hate to see your definition of losing.

    Gallup – Americans Still Favor Nuclear Power a Year After Fukushima

  7. donb, thanks. The free website has links to hundreds of documents relevant to energy, civilization, climate, sources (coal, gas, wind, solar, biomass, …) and advanced nuclear power technologies (AP1000, SMRs, LMFBRs, PBRs,…) and of course liquid fluoride thorium reactors — for energy cheaper than coal — the only realistic way to dissuade 7 billion people in 250 nations from burning fossil fuels for energy.

  8. James Greenidge

    Seasons Greetings;

    Really appreciate this list! If only it could be posted in every library as well!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  9. “Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor”. The scientific, engineering and political history of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) is the subject of a new book by Charles E. Till and Yoon Chang, who together led the IFR program at Argonne from its inception as a laboratory initiative in 1984 until 1994 when its funding was cancelled. Written for non-specialists in reactor technology. Available at Amazon.com.

  10. Don’t forget J Samuel Walker’s Three Mile Island. An excellent description of the events leading up to TMI and the resulting impacts.