Cutting-Edge Nuclear Technology: Which Questions Matter?

Cutting-Edge Nuclear Technology: Which Questions Matter?

Richard_Buttery
Nathan_Myhrvold
Per_Peterson
Sonja_Schmid
29 October 2017
2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
  • University of California, Berkeley: Wheeler Hall Auditorium

H3) Cutting-Edge Nuclear Technology: Which Questions Matter?

Moderator: Senne Starckx
Organizer: Senne Starckx

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How should science reporters write about nuclear technology — both fission and fusion? Should they focus on the scientific, the engineering and the safety aspect? Or should they also include the economic picture? And what about the rapidly changing energy landscape, characterized by an evolution that’s very difficult to predict?

When you are working as a science journalist on a nuclear-related story, often the main category of people you interview are engineers. That means that technology is always at the forefront in the discussions you have. Will it be feasible? When will it be ready? Will it work? Will it be safe?

This is narrow-minded. Because indeed, projects like ITER and the Generation IV nuclear reactors can become great technological achievements. But seldom do we ask: Do we really need them? And who pays the bill?

Nuclear energy and technology is a double-edged sword for journalists. Science journalists will focus more on the technology than on the economy, while more economically or even politically inspired writers will question the costs and the possible economic benefits.

In this session we will address these issues to scientists who are all very familiar with nuclear energy, although from different perspectives: cutting-edge technology, climate, sustainable  and reliable energy, the waste enigma, safety issues and economics.

The goal of the session is to let the invited experts share their personal vision on the coverage of nuclear-related topics in the general and specialized press. Do journalists ask the right questions? What should they focus on? And what’s less important?

The session will be moderated by Senne Starckx, a science journalist from Belgium with extensive experience reporting on nuclear-related topics.

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