Pick of the Day: Physics Lecture

This month, the University of Regina Physics Department has presented three lectures that might well be sub-titled Physics for Dummies. Nov. 19, Dinesh Singh presented Albert Einstein's Legacy and the Future: The Search for Signs of Quantum Gravity in which he reviewed the impact of Einstein's 1915 publication of his General Theory of Relativity and ongoing efforts by physicists to discover the force that binds particles together on the subatomic level.

The week previous George Lolos had discussed the search physicists are currently engaged in to identify the hundreds of subatomic particles like quarks, leptons, gluons, photons and the like that, along with protons, neutrons, electrons, are the building blocks of matter.

Tonight at 7 p.m. in RIC 119 the series concludes with this talk by Edward Mathie titled Saskatchewan Uranium Issues: Nuclear Physics for the Public. According to his bio, Mathie was one of the 12 men appointed by the Wall government to the Uranium Development Partnership -- the group that produced the by now largely discredited report recommending that Saskatchewan move aggressively to deepen its involvement in the uranium and nuclear industry to the extent of building two big-ass reactors for power generation and even supporting the establishment of a nuclear waste disposal site up north.

When Dan Perrins was conducting his review of the UDP report in May-June I sat in on two sessions. Not for one second would I characterize the people who opposed the recommendations as Luddites intent on returning Saskatchewan to some imagined pre-industrial utopia. Rather, they were highly intelligent and committed people who offered cogent critiques of virtually every aspect of what, by any objective standard, was a deeply flawed process where a panel composed almost exclusively of uranium and nuclear advocates purported to lay out a roadmap for the province's energy future via a biased report that exaggerated potential problems and costs associated renewables and downplayed nuclear's sorry track record related to cost overruns and technological breakdowns.

Now, of course, the government is engaged in a broader review of energy policy that at least opens the door to the possibility of renewables being part of the mix. It'll be interesting to see what Mathie will say in his lecture. From where I sit, nuclear is a dying industry and if the province really wants to get ahead of the curve and secure for itself a truly sustainable energy supply then investment in renewables is the way to go. But we shall see.

Being generally pro-science, I'm reluctant to engage in scare-mongering. So for your bemusement only I offer up this trailer for the classic 1955 Sci-Fi flick Them. It's not as alarmist as the cover story Paul did on our dystopian nuclear future back in August, but for now it will have to do.

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