Postcard from - Atomic energy

When I was growing up I was given a small book for Christmas. I don't recall who gave it, or the title or publisher, but I do remember some of the content. It was a book about the future, all the wonderful things science would bring us.

In particular one image remains with me even after all this time. A "nuclear family", a smiling mother and father and 2 happy kids having a picnic on a wide, open grassy area. In the background was the containment dome of a nuclear reactor. The nearby text suggested that in the future (which wasn't to be all that far away) nuclear energy would provide electricity so cheaply it would be free.

So what happened. Why do I have an electricity bill?

Well, sadly, reality imposed itself on that naively idealistic scene. Mainly the economics of building and running a reactor, and the huge cost of transporting and refurbishing the fuel rods. Not to mention the current risk of terrorism or natural disasters. For us, Chernoble and Fukashima epitomise the downside of nuclear power.

I enjoy reading past predictions of life in their future, and wonder how many of ours will be viewed as willfully naive in fifty years.

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