The Department of Energy is expected to announce a major development regarding fusion energy on Tuesday. Alex Gilbert, fellow at the Payne Institute, discusses the significance of this potential discovery. (NBC News)
What is FUSION Power?
Fusion power is a proposed form of power generation that would generate electricity by using heat from nuclear fusion reactions. In a fusion process, two lighter atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus, while releasing energy. Devices designed to harness this energy are known as fusion reactors. Research into fusion reactors began in the 1940s, but as of 2022, only one design, at the US National Ignition Facility, has conclusively produced a positive fusion energy gain factor, i.e. more power output than input.
Fusion processes require fuel and a confined environment with sufficient temperature, pressure, and confinement time to create a plasma in which fusion can occur. The combination of these figures that results in a power-producing system is known as the Lawson criterion. In stars, the most common fuel is hydrogen, and gravity provides extremely long confinement times that reach the conditions needed for fusion energy production. Proposed fusion reactors generally use heavy hydrogen isotopes such as deuterium and tritium (and especially a mixture of the two), which react more easily than protium (the most common hydrogen isotope), to allow them to reach the Lawson criterion requirements with less extreme conditions. Most designs aim to heat their fuel to around 100 million degrees, which presents a major challenge in producing a successful design.
As a source of power, nuclear fusion is expected to have many advantages over fission. These include reduced radioactivity in operation and little high-level nuclear waste, ample fuel supplies, and increased safety. However, the necessary combination of temperature, pressure, and duration has proven to be difficult to produce in a practical and economical manner. A second issue that affects common reactions is managing neutrons that are released during the reaction, which over time degrade many common materials used within the reaction chamber.
Fusion researchers have investigated various confinement concepts. The early emphasis was on three main systems: z-pinch, stellarator, and magnetic mirror. The current leading designs are the tokamak and inertial confinement (ICF) by laser. Both designs are under research at very large scales, most notably the ITER tokamak in France, and the National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser in the United States. Researchers are also studying other designs that may offer cheaper approaches. Among these alternatives, there is increasing interest in magnetized target fusion and inertial electrostatic confinement, and new variations of the stellarator. (wikipedia)
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Sandra Day O’Connor Institute Mourns Passing of Founder
PHOENIX (Newswire.com) – The namesake organization founded by the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court is mourning the loss of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
“No words can describe the profound loss of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The organization she founded remains resolute and will redouble our efforts to continue her lifetime work and extraordinary legacy,” said Gay Firestone Wray, Board of Directors Co-Chair.
The Institute will carry on its mission to further the distinguished legacy and lifetime work of Justice O’Connor to advance American democracy through civil discourse, civic engagement, and civics education.
“From our organization’s founding in 2009 following her retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor led our organization with vision and intellect, and she exemplified our nation’s ideals,” said Sarah Suggs, President and CEO. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to continue her work and dedication to our great nation.”
Sandra Day was born on March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas. She spent much of her younger years on her family’s 160,000-acre Lazy B ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border. At 16 she went to Stanford University for college, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in economics. She stayed for law school. Day graduated and, six months later, married John O’Connor, the love of her life. They eventually moved to Phoenix, where Sandra Day O’Connor began her rapid professional rise, which included holding positions as assistant attorney general of Arizona, majority leader of the Arizona State Senate, and judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals. She also found time to raise three sons—Scott, Brian, and Jay—and make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
On August 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court; on September 21 she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate with a vote of 99-0.
Her career on the Court was historic. Justice O’Connor will be remembered not only for being the first female on the Court, or for her clear-eyed judicial reasoning and writings and major decisions, but also for her insistence on civility, her penchant for bringing people together to solve problems, whether in Washington, D.C. or over tacos and beer in her Arizona dining room.
“She overcame obstacles with quiet skill and determination and, in the process, inspired and continues to inspire countless others,” said Institute Board of Directors Co-Chair Matt Feeney.
We will miss you, Justice O’Connor.
About the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy
Founded in 2009 by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the O’Connor Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3), continues her distinguished legacy and lifetime work to advance American democracy through multigenerational civil discourse, civic engagement and civics education. Visit www.OConnorInstitute.org for more information.
Source: Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy
NASA Remembers Trailblazing Astronaut, Scientist Mary Cleave
Retired NASA astronaut Mary Cleave, a veteran of two NASA spaceflights, died Nov. 27. She was 76. A scientist with training in civil and environmental engineering, as well as biological sciences and microbial ecology, Cleave was the first woman to serve as an associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
Born in Southampton, New York, Cleave received a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, in 1969, and Master of Science in microbial ecology and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering, both from Utah State University, Logan, in 1975 and 1979, respectively.
“I’m sad we’ve lost trail blazer Dr. Mary Cleave, shuttle astronaut, veteran of two spaceflights, and first woman to lead the Science Mission Directorate as associate administrator,” said NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana. “Mary was a force of nature with a passion for science, exploration, and caring for our home planet. She will be missed.”
Cleave was selected as an astronaut in May 1980. Her technical assignments included flight software verification in the SAIL (Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory), spacecraft communicator on five space shuttle flights, and malfunctions procedures book and crew equipment design.
Cleave launched on her first mission, STS-61B, aboard space shuttle Atlantis on Nov. 26,1985. During the flight, the crew deployed communications satellites, conducted two six-hour spacewalks to demonstrate space station construction techniques, operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis experiment for McDonnell Douglas and a Getaway Special container for Telesat and tested the Orbiter Experiments Digital Autopilot.
Cleave’s second mission, STS-30, which also was on Atlantis, launched May 4, 1989. It was a four-day flight during which the crew successfully deployed the Magellan Venus exploration spacecraft, the first planetary probe to be deployed from a space shuttle. Magellan arrived at Venus in August 1990 and mapped more than 95% of the surface. In addition, the crew also worked on secondary payloads involving indium crystal growth, electrical storms, and Earth observation studies.
Cleave transferred from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland in May 1991. There, she worked in the Laboratory for Hydrospheric Processes as the project manager for SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing, Wide-Field-of-view-Sensor), an ocean color sensor which monitored vegetation globally.
In March 2000, she went to serve as deputy associate administrator for advanced planning in the Office of Earth Science at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington. From August 2005 to February 2007, Cleave was the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate where she guided an array of research and scientific exploration programs for planet Earth, space weather, the solar system, and the universe. She also oversaw an assortment of grant-based research programs and a diverse constellation of spacecraft, from small, principal investigator-led missions to large flagship missions.
Cleave’s awards included: two NASA Space Flight medals; two NASA Exceptional Service medals; an American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award; a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal; and NASA Engineer of the Year.
Cleave retired from NASA in February 2007.
Salmonella Outbreak: Cantaloupe Recall Investigation
Salmonella outbreak: Cantaloupes recalled. Ongoing investigation. Stay informed for updates on the recall.
In recent weeks, an outbreak of Salmonella linked to cantaloupes has raised concerns across the United States and parts of Canada. The outbreak, which began in early November 2023, has resulted in numerous cases of illness reported from various states. Health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are diligently investigating this outbreak to identify the source of contamination and prevent further illnesses. This blog post aims to provide an overview of the outbreak investigation, affected products and stores, symptoms of Salmonella infection, and recommendations for consumers and businesses.
On November 22, 2023, Crown Jewels Produce, Sofia Produce, and CF Dallas initiated a recall of fresh cantaloupes and related products due to potential Salmonella contamination. As of November 24, CDC reported a total of 99 cases from 32 states, with the latest onset date being November 10, 2023. The investigation is still ongoing, as authorities are working to determine if additional products are linked to the illnesses. The FDA will provide updates on this situation as more information becomes available.
Affected Products and Stores:
The following brands of whole fresh cantaloupes have been recalled:
- Cantaloupes labeled “Malichita” or “Rudy,” with the numbers “4050” and “Product of Mexico/produit du Mexique.”
- These cantaloupes were sold in retail stores located in Arizona, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, and Canada. It is important to note that this list may not include all states, as the cantaloupes could have reached consumers through further retail distribution.
Recalled cut cantaloupe and products made from the recalled whole cantaloupes include:
- ALDI’s cantaloupe, cut cantaloupe, and pineapple spears in clamshell packaging with Best-by dates between October 27 and October 31.
- Vinyard’s cantaloupe chunks and cubes, fruit mixes, melon medleys, and fruit cups containing cantaloupe. Most of these products have a “Vinyard” label, and some have a red label with “Fresh” sold between October 30 and November 10 in Oklahoma stores.
- Freshness Guaranteed seasonal blend, melon trio, melon mix, fruit blend, fruit bowl, seasonal fruit tray, fruit mix, and cantaloupe chunks. RaceTrac fruit medley sold in clear square or round plastic containers at select retail stores in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Illinois, Texas, and Louisiana.
Symptoms of Salmonella Infection:
Salmonella infection typically manifests within 12 to 72 hours after consuming contaminated food and typically lasts for four to seven days. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. It is important to note that severe infections are more likely to occur in children younger than five, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems.
Status and Recommendations:
The investigation into the cantaloupe-related Salmonella outbreak is still ongoing. Authorities will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available. In the meantime, the following recommendations are crucial:
- Consumers, restaurants, retailers, and wholesalers should refrain from consuming, selling, or serving recalled cantaloupes or products containing cantaloupe.
- Those who have frozen cantaloupes for later use should check their freezers and discard any recalled fresh or cut cantaloupes.
- If you are unsure whether your cantaloupe is part of the recall, it is best to err on the side of caution and dispose of it.
- Retailers and wholesalers who received recalled whole melons should identify the boxes labeled “Malachita/Z Farms” or “Malichita” or “Rudy” from Crown Jewels Produce and Sofia Produce (TruFresh) and remove them from their inventory.
- It is crucial to follow FDA’s safe handling and cleaning advice, ensuring that any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with the recalled products are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized to prevent cross-contamination.
- If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of a Salmonella infection after consuming recalled cantaloupes, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly.
The outbreak investigation of Salmonella linked to cantaloupes is a matter of concern, and authorities are actively working to protect public health. By staying informed, following the recommendations, and taking necessary precautions, we can collectively mitigate the risks associated with this outbreak. Stay tuned for updates and adhere to the guidance provided by health authorities to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones.
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