At the moment, China is the country in the world that invests the most on nuclear energy. They currently have 17 nuclear power plants under construction, which is huge in comparison to India which comes in second with 7 plants in construction [world-nuclear.org]. It is not just any type of reactors either, just a week ago the first AP1000 reactor, a generation III+, first of its kind, reached its full power [Chinese-AP1000-reaches-full-power-operation].
A lot of money also goes into research on new nuclear technology. Recently Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) published promotional videos on their Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (TMSR) project. With over 400 researchers, the Chinese are making rapid progress. It’s truly inspiring. Let’s hope more countries are to follow.
Here is a great animation of the chart of nuclides with explanations of the most important properties in nuclear physics. One such property is the magic numbers which are combinations of neutron or protons which display enhanced stability for the nucleus. In turn, predicted magic numbers of N=184 and Z~114-126 for superheavy nuclei are a focus in my thesis.
The electrification of the transport industry is making progress, at least as it concerns cars. However, for trucks, transport on water, and air transport little have changed. Here fossil fuel is still the primary workhorse. It is clear that storing energy in chemical bonds is convenient and economical, while there evidently remain issues with battery storage.
With high temperature molten salt reactors it is possible to generate synthetic fuel, in a sustainable fashion. John Bucknell presents the technology and simultaneously explains how such a system can improve the nuclear plant economics in this video.
YAML stands for “Yet Another Markup Language (YAML) Ain’t Markup Language (YAML^2)”. Somewhat confusing it may seem. The aim of the project which started in early 2000s was first to create yet another markup language with a different syntax. The purpose later changed from just a pure markup language to data oriented and hence the YAML^2. One of the main focusses is user readability.
YAML’s approach is similar to XML and JSON, where parsing data in files into structures of the most common programming language is targeted. Actually, YAML is a superset of JSON, i.e. it allows JSON syntax. The language allows encoding of scalars (i.e. integers, strings etc), lists and associated arrays (cf. python’s dictionaries or hashes). What follows is the syntax of how scalars, list and associated arrays (in that specific order) are created in a .yaml file:
Note how easy it is to read and understand the content. And now observe how easy it is to write a c++ script (with yaml-cpp) and obtain the grade of student Anne:
Jupyter Notebook documents are documents which contain both programming code and rich text elements such as links, equations, figures and movies etc. The most attractive feature of these documents is the ability to execute it and modify its content directly in the web browser. When it comes to presenting analyses, this tool becomes very powerful. In education and teaching, subjects which include coding can be taught more efficiently and jupyter enables a richer learning process. Furthermore, in research Jupyter Notebooks is a great opportunity to present detailed advanced analyses which can be accessed and easily followed by anyone. LIGO has done this with its gravitational wave data analysis.
As with all software, one needs to install and configure Jupyter Notebook prior to run and use it. Especially in the classroom such a process presents a significant barrier. With Microsoft Azure Notebooks it is possible to easily tunnel through that barrier and directly access and use the notebook. Alternatively, JupyterHub enables a multi-user and host support of Jupyter Notebooks. With plotly and/or bqplot the plots will be astonishing and your notebook is complete.
As a teacher you will at some point realise that jupyter notebooks is a perfect tool for student assignments. When this occurs you will want to use nbgrader. It is an extension to Jupyter which guides you as a teacher to create, manage and grade assignments. Similarly, with GitHub Classroom larger coding projects including jupyter notebooks can easily be managed by the instructor.
As a nuclear physicist you sometimes desire quick and easy access to a large amount of nuclear data. You find yourself searching the web for complete data sets of the specific property your interested in. If you find a data set, it might not be as complete as you wanted and above all it requires some proper file parsing to read in the data.
With PyNE your problems are solved. It is called a Nuclear Engineering Toolkit and provides a Python API where e.g. nuclear decay data based on ENSDF can be obtained.
In Russia, Dubna, a new facility is built purely dedicated to superheavy element research. Its name, “The Superheavy Element Factory”, speaks for itself, the objective is to synthesise new chemical elements.
The following video gets you properly introduced to the factory and also the current status of superheavy element research.
Git is an awesome version control software and it is a given for all my projects. I usually use GitHub to host my repositories. GitHub has a superb user and collaboration interface where you can e.g.:
Describe your repository through a Readme that interprets markdown and views it at the front page.
Post issues and discuss them in a forum-like system.
Create a Wiki to describe your project in detail.
Additionally , the webpage offers, what they denote, GitHub Classroom. It functions as a Learning Management System (LMS) and it strongly helps the teacher to deliver material to the students, administer tests and other assignments, track student progress, and manage record-keeping.