Scientists Turn Nuclear Waste into Diamond Batteries That’ll Last for Thousands of Years — by Philip Perry (

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Woman looking at a diamond.

Nuclear energy is carbon free, which makes it an attractive and practical alternative to fossil fuels, as it doesn’t contribute to global warming. We also have the infrastructure for it already in place. It’s nuclear waste that makes fission bad for the environment. And it lasts for so long, some isotopes for thousands of years. Nuclear fuel is comprised of ceramic pellets of uranium-235 placed within metal rods. After fission takes place, two radioactive isotopes are left over: cesium-137 and strontium-90.

These each have half-lives of 30 years, meaning the radiation will be half gone by that time. Transuranic wastes, such as Plutonium-239, are also created in the process. This has a half-life of 24,000 years. These materials are highly radioactive, making them extremely dangerous to handle, even with short-term exposure.

The typical nuclear power plant creates about 2,300 tons of waste annually. 99 reactors are currently employed in the United States. That’s a lot of waste per year. The US is currently stockpiling 75,000 tons of nuclear waste. It is carefully stored and maintained. However, just like anything else it is vulnerable to natural disasters, human error, even terrorism. Storage is also costly. American taxpayers are on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.

So what can be done? Researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK have a solution. Geochemist Tom Scott and colleagues have invented a method to encapsulate nuclear waste within diamonds, which as a battery, can provide a clean energy supply lasting in some cases, thousands of years.

How a nuclear power plant works.

Scott said there were no emissions, no moving parts, no maintenance, and zero concerns about safety. The radiation is locked safely away inside the gemstone. All the while, it generates a small, steady stream of electricity. Nickel–63, an unstable isotope, was used in this first experiment. It created a battery with a half-life of a century.

There are other substances which would last over ten times longer, while helping to reduce our nuclear waste stockpile. Older nuclear reactors, in service between the 1950s and the 1970’s, used graphite blocks to cool the uranium rods. But after years of service these blocks become covered in a layer of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope with a half-life of around 5,730 years. Once a power plant is decommissioned, those blocks must be stored as well.

By heating the blocks, scientists can turn carbon-14 into a gas, which would be gathered and compressed into a diamond—since diamonds are just another form of carbon, anyway. Each gemstone emits short-range radiation, which is easily contained by just about any solid material. Since diamond is the strongest substance on Earth, it can be safely stored inside. Researchers covered their work in a lecture at the university entitled, “Ideas to change the world.”

The diamond batteries only put out a small amount of current. They can’t replace contemporary ones quite yet. Scott told Digital Trends, “An alkaline AA battery weighs about 20 grams, has an energy density storage rating of 700 Joules/gram, and [uses] up this energy if operated continuously for about 24 hours.” Meanwhile, “A diamond beta-battery containing 1 gram of C14 will deliver 15 Joules per day, and will continue to produce this level of output for 5,730 years — so its total energy storage rating is 2.7 TeraJ.” Another stumbling block is cost, as anyone who has ever saved up for an engagement ring can attest.

Once these hurdles are overcome, possible applications include powering spacecraft, satellites, high- flying drones, and medical devices such as pacemakers—anything really where batteries are difficult or impossible to charge, or change. One tantalizing speculation: powered by such crystals, interstellar probes could operate even in the darkest reaches of space, where solar power is no longer feasible.

Applications abound. So much so, that Dr. Scott and colleagues are asking the public for other possible uses. Weigh in with yours at: #diamondbattery

To learn more about this project click here:


What Is the Most “Godless” City on Earth? by Paul Ratner (

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Whether you fervently believe in a deity or flat our reject any religious teachings, opting for an atheist mindset, chances are you would rather be surrounded by like-minded people. Outside of the extreme religious control exercised by ISIS or the state-mandated atheism of countries like North Korea, most places are somewhere in between on the religiosity scale. But if you wanted to know what is the most “godless” place you can live, where would you go?

This place is most likely a city, at least according to how some scientists have described atheists.

“Those with no religious affiliation have been found to be younger, mostly male, with higher levels of education and income, more liberal, but also more unhappy and more alienated from wider society,” said Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, professor of psychology at the University of Haifa, about atheists in a psychological profile.

To biopsychologist and author Nigel Barber, these people are more likely to be in a major population center, and not a rural area, because cities tend to be more prosperous, and as such their inhabitants will feel less need for religion. In fact, he thinks that by 2038 most countries will have less than 50% of their populace thinking that religion is important to them, crossing what he calls “the atheist threshold”.

What are some places that have already passed this point?

In a WIN/GALLUP survey from 2015, China was declared the world’s least religious country, with twice the amount of “convinced atheists” (at 61%) than any other country. Following it was Japan at 31% and the Czech Republic at 30%. In general, Western Europe was the least religious area according to the survey, with 51% of the population either not religious or decidedly atheist. Scandinavia, in particular, often leads the way in such polls, as Sweden, Denmark and Norway have large populations of non-believers.

What about specific cities?

Berlin has been called the “atheist capital of Europe” since 60% of Berliners do not associate with any religion.

As far as the U.K. is concerned, according to a 2011 Census, Norwich had the most people (42.5%) marking “no religion”. This is compared with 25.1% for the whole of England and Wales.

In the U.S., the American Bible Society’s rankings for 2016 point to Albany/Schenectady/Troy area in New York State as being the least “Bible-minded,” which means only 10% of the respondents there read the Bible in the last week and lead their lives accordingly. Boston was the least Bible-minded city in the survey, with just 11% of its population having the book as a part of their lives.

The most Bible-friendly city? Chattanooga, Tennessee. Not surprisingly, the South leads the U.S in religiosity, with cities in Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia and Louisiana topping the chart.

In a separate survey, the 2016 Public Religion Research Institute identified Portland, Seattle and San Francisco as the least religious cities in America, with 37% of the people there practicing no religion. Boston was number 8 in their findings.

So what is the least religious city in the world? While the numbers could surely vary based on how you define religiosity, the largest city in China, the least religious country in the world, would likely be the most atheist population center in the world. And that would be Shanghai, a city of 24 million people of whom 86.9% say they are not affiliated with any religion. That could amount to about 21 million atheists.

Cover photo: A man flies kite at The Bund on December 5, 2013 in Shanghai, China. Heavy smog hit northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Choreographer Akram Khan: ‘The body speaks the truth’

Choreographer and dancer Akram Khan tells tremendous stories without a word ever passing his lips. His performances “Desh, “Toro” and “Giselle” combine movement, visual art and soundscapes and take their cues from sources as diverse as traditional Indian Kathak dance, flamenco and ballet. His latest production “Until the Lions” revisits a legendary saga, giving it a feminist twist. He tells us about reading people’s body language and the relative merits of mathematics versus dance.

Update on Billye Talmadge, H.W., M.

Billye is doing really well.  She seems to be more coherent lately. Her hands are stiff so I have bought her play doh and adult coloring books and colored pencils.

Recently I bought her some new clothes her winter clothes were getting pretty ratty. She loves the color red and I was able to find her a couple of red sweaters and a red watch. She is delighted. It is easier for her to see bright colors.

We (Robert McEwen and myself) spent part of Thanksgiving day with her. On her birthday I took her presents and cards. She loves getting mail so if you are sending out cards please don’t forget her.

Her Address is:

Billye Talmadge
Lawrence Convalescent Home
812 SE 48th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97215


Suzanne  Deakins, H.W., M.

Elliot Luztig on Hannah Arendt’s “Origin of Totalitarianism”

1. Hannah Arendt in her book The Origin of Totalitarianism provides a helpful guide for interpreting the language of fascists.

2. She noted how decent liberals of 1930s Germany would “fact check” the Nazis’ bizarre claims about Jews like they were meant to be factual.

3. What they failed to understand, Arendt suggests, is that the Nazi Jew hating was not a statement of fact but a declaration of intent.

4. So when someone would blame the Jews for Germany’s defeat in WW1, naive people would counter by saying there’s no evidence of that.

5. What the Nazis were doing was not describing what was true, but what would have to be true to justify what they planned to do next.

6. Did 3 million “illegals” cast votes in this election? Clearly not. But fact checking is just a way of playing along with their game.

7. What Trump is saying is not that 3m illegals voted. What he’s saying is: I’m going to steal the voting rights of millions of Americans.

8. Fascism is the opposite of conservatism because it refuses to acknowledge reality as a limitation on the scope of human will.

9. Unfortunately most conservatives in America today only have an eye for that phenomenon when they see communists doing it.

10. No harm ever came from overestimating the danger of a political situation. Whole civilizations have been lost from underestimating it.

Open Letter to Electors


Daniel Brezenoff
Democracy and Progress

Bret Chiafalo
Washington State Elector

Michael Baca
Colorado Elector

Beth Caldwell
Washington State Elector
Former Attorney, Office for Civil Rights, US Department of Education
Co-Founder, Metastatic Exchange to Unleash Power

Sahar F. Aziz, M.A., J.D.
Professor of Law, Texas A&M University School of Law
Former Senior Policy Advisor, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Randall Balmer, M.Div, Ph.D
John Phillips Professor in Religion
Dartmouth College

Sotirios A. Barber, Ph.D
Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame

Deborah Barnbaum, Ph.D
Professor and Chair of Philosophy
Kent State University

Khaled A. Beydoun, M.A., J.D.
Associate Professor of Law, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
Affiliated Faculty, Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project
Center on Race & Gender, University of California, Berkeley

Mark B. Brown, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Government
California State University, Sacramento

Matthew J. Brown, Ph.D.
Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology
Associate Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas
The University of Texas at Dallas

Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann
Columbia Theological Seminary

Arthur Caplan, Ph.D
Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor
Founding head, Division of Bioethics
New York University Langone Medical Center1

The Honorable David N. Dinkins, LL.B
106th Mayor of New York City
Professor in the Practice of Urban Public Policy
School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Mary L. Dudziak, J.D., Ph.D
Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law
Emory University School of Law

Laura K. Field, Ph.D
Professorial Lecturer, School of International Service
Associate Faculty, School of Public Affairs Political Theory Institute
American University

Jamal Greene, J.D.
Dwight Professor of Law
Columbia Law School

Daniel J. Hicks, Ph.D
Policy Fellow
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Steve Hiltz, Ph.D
Lecturer in Philosophy
Southern Methodist University

Jean Kazez, Ph.D
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Southern Methodist University

Craig J. Konnoth, J.D., M.Phil
Sharswood Fellow & Lecturer in Law, Penn Law School
Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania

Daniel J. Levine, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Political Science
The University of Alabama

Sanford V. Levinson, J.D., Ph.D
St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law
Professor of Government
The University of Texas at Austin

Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Ph.D
Lecturer on History and Literature and on Public Policy
Program Director, Carr Center for Human Rights
Harvard University

Continue reading Open Letter to Electors

Gemini Full Moon, December 13th, at 4:05 pm PST at 23 degrees

2016 has been a year of enormous evolution and change. Time is needed to process what we have all seen this year, and to prepare for all that is ahead. This Full Moon can help with some of the necessary assimilation. Within Geminienergy, there are always multiple options and more than one possible outcome, and there are probably many.

Gemini has the ability to be objective and see all sides of any issue. We are all experiencing the unsettling and intensely chaotic energies of Uranus Square Pluto which have been pushing our buttons and the limits of our ability to accept the status quo for several years now, working us all into a volcanic frenzy. We are seeing extremes and corruption at every turn and it is up to each of us to examine what resonates with love and what with fear as we formulate our opinions and take a stand. Your body knows the difference as it can perceive black or white, good and evil, and strength or weakness. So tune in and listen to your body.

The Sun in Sagittarius helps mitigate the restless and overactive Gemini mind by bringing in the playful and optimistic enthusiasm of fire energy. Sagittarius energy is not only fun, but philosophical and helpful, with a deep desire to help the underdog as justice tops the Sagittarius list of what is important. This is the perfect magical energy for this holiday season and the true nature of what Christmas represents no matter your religious beliefs.

Trines always seem to make things easier and we are in the midst of a grand trine in air made up from the Moon (in Gemini), Mars (in Aquarius) and Jupiter (in Libra). This combination of planetary energies helps bring in more positive and helpful attitudes with the enhanced ability to take in the ideas and needs of others with less judgment, and to illuminate a better path forward with greater abundance and success. A good way of putting it is to change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change. If we can each put a positive spin on what we see our intentions will help create a better outcome.

Chiron is in the sign of Pisces. This is a helpful energy in feeling greater faith, inspiration and imagination. These are the feelings necessary to help create a big difference in our world. Take a moment each day through the holidays to reflect on your blessings and how you want the world to be and then take positive steps to move in that direction. We are living in a time of intense change and we need everyone’s faith and love centered intentions. Let’s all create magic together.

Written by Wendy Cicchetti

A Full Moon symbolizes the fulfillment of the seeds planted at a previous New Moon or some earlier cycle. Each Full Moon reminds us of the seeds that may be coming to maturity, to their fullness, to fruition, to the place where the fruits or gifts are received. It may seem that fulfillment of our goals takes a long time. Some intentions may manifest within the two week phase prior to the next New or Full Moon. Some however, depending on their complexity, may take a much longer time. Just remember that our thoughts and emotions set Universal Action in motion and much work takes place behind the scenes as everything is orchestrated for fulfillment. Keep visualizing your goals as though you have already attained them and they will eventually manifest. Do not concern yourself with current conditions or worry about controlling it. The universe takes care of those details. Just keep seeing what you want, and move in that direction with your actions, and give no energy to what you don’t want. Patience is required.

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