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 Post subject: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 19:36 
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Rude Belittler

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Okay, a not-bad first episode of the new series. Still not sold on Donna, though it'll be nice to have a companion who'll give the Doctor some shit, rather than blindly following him.


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 21:04 
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It was as good as most opening episodes, I think. Tate is still really bloody annoying.

Couple of really good individual moments though.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 22:04 
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I quite liked it in the end, despite thinking 'ho-hum' when the baddies seemed a bit too Sarah Jane Adventures. And SJA is great and all, but 'Hi I'm an alien and I want to sucker stupid shallow people into doing something bad for them' has been done a few too many times.

Fortunate then that some inspired fun burst out in the last third, with the nice idea of interplantery nurseries and the Close Encounters Mothership. Donna was a mixed bag (oh ho!). Overall she annoyed me less than I thought she would - thankfully she's a different person to the incredibly grating one in The Running Bride. I still wish she wouldn't pull her 'fish face' though, you know, the one where her mouth becomes a terrifying pointed void of maw and her eyes go all tiny black buttons. *Shudder*

Still, she's not that bad. If a bit annoying.

3/5

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 22:15 
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Wait - has Catherine Tate got a permanent role as the assistant? Fuck, am I glad I don't watch MR RELIEVED FACE

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 23:01 
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I can't believe I'm posting this, but Catherine Tate didn't annoy me anywhere near as much as I thought she would, and dare I say it, she actually looked quite attractive in some scenes.

Shit storyline though, and WHAT THE FUCK have they done to the theme music?

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 23:56 

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Fairly naff plot, crappy baddie and I'm not keen on Catherine Tate (middle name: Irri). But it weren't bad - certainly better than that Manhattan Daleks guff from the last series.


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 23:58 
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GazChap wrote:
WHAT THE FUCK have they done to the theme music?

Ruined it, but then surely everyone knew Murray Gold would get round to that sooner or later?

As for Tate, I thought she did rather well, and that the character could be interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:27 
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EvilTrousers

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Another thumbs up for the new assistant if not the actual episode itself. I like the idea of the Doctor almost being hen pecked rather than having some love lorn puppy following him around. The streak of piss-esque line right near the end set the tone even if it did seem to come from that Nanna character's mouth rather than Donna's.

Episode wise it was agreeable enough and certainly one the 9 year old in the house enjoyed more than we did. I don't know why but the most annoying thing for me was the really badly directed crowd scenes with people pointing at the little fat things wandering about.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:26 
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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:41 
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I enjoyed it, more than I thought after the last crappy couple of episodes (inc. the Xmas special). I think Tate is going to be fine as the assistant. I am optimistic - even the recent series of Torchwood was surprisingly good, woo!

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:00 
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CUS wrote:
I am optimistic - even the recent series of Torchwood was surprisingly good, woo!
I've not watched Doctor Who yet, but on the subject of Torchwood -- the finale was excellent but NUCLEAR REACTORS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY. Apart from the fact that THEY MAKE THEIR OWN POWER so it's really quite hard to cut power to one, the very last line of failsafe involves a mechanism which, roughly, is a ton of control rods held back against springs by electromagnets. Power cut == electromagnets off == rods into reactor. End of story.

Seriously, I found this so annoying it detracted from the (otherwise excellent) finale. Grrr. There is also no nuclear reactor in Cardiff, but I can forgive that.

On a related note, the etymology of the nuclear jargon SCRAM is worth a giggle.


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:24 
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If there were a real nuclear reactor, they probably would have got a lot of possibly legal grief for scaremongering with their bad science.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:36 
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baron of techno

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richardgaywood wrote:
CUS wrote:
I am optimistic - even the recent series of Torchwood was surprisingly good, woo!
I've not watched Doctor Who yet, but on the subject of Torchwood -- the finale was excellent but NUCLEAR REACTORS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY.

Hmm, I don't watch Torchwood, but what way did they say it worked?

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Apart from the fact that THEY MAKE THEIR OWN POWER so it's really quite hard to cut power to one,

They rely on a grid connection to operate though. The turbines will shut down in the event of the grid being lost.

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the very last line of failsafe involves a mechanism which, roughly, is a ton of control rods held back against springs by electromagnets. Power cut == electromagnets off == rods into reactor. End of story.

Woah, that's not the end of the story! I thought you said you'd done physics?
The vital issue which makes nuclear power and reactor design such a tricky business, is that after you've shut the thing off, you've got decay heat to deal with.

This can be several hundred megawatts, in a large reactor!

The only way to disperse that heat is by keeping the cooling water flowing. This requires electric pumps, operated from grid power. If the grid fails, you have standby diesel generators. If the generators run out of fuel, you have several hours of battery power. Once the batteries go flat, the water in the core will quickly boil off. Then the fuel channels will melt. Then the molten fuel, metal and other stuff will pool in the bottom of the reactor vessel - that's a meltdown. Heard of Three Mile Island? If fission begins again in the pool of stuff, then you've potentially got a China syndrome.

The point is: you can't walk away from present-day nuclear reactors, because they are not inherently safe. Making them safe requires a lot of very complex engineering band-aids, and everything to work as it should.


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:55 
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Goth

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I don't mind Catherine Tate in Dr Who at all. I find her largely non irritating and don't see what you're all complaining about (Apart from those of you who aren't). I don't like Catherine Tate when she's doing her own show though. I'm glad I wasn't imagining the change in theme music. It's horrible and shit.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:59 
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baron of techno

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I've never seen Catherine Tate before (other than as the runaway bride). I thought she was OK, and the episode wasn't too bad overall.
Not the same to look at as Billie but sort of interesting all the same.

What's wrong with the theme music? I didn't rate the "new" version that they've had until now, this one is at least an improvement on that, and I hope they'll edge closer to the Orbital version over time :)


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:00 
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Goth

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I really hope that they don't have her falling in love with The Doctor. I've hated that previously.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:04 
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The new theme is terrible, an abortion of a tune.

Personally speaking I loathe The Catherine Tate Show (yet another in an increasing list of lazy comedy slag writing shows...yes Little Britain I'm looking at you) but quite like her as Donna, probably my favourite scene of the opener was her spying the Doctor for the first time.

Really liked the baby lard aliens...so cute you want to scoop their eyeballs out.

But overall the episode was a bit meh and not a patch on the last seasons opener (although infinitely better than the Christmas / Minogue special).

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:08 
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baron of techno

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Oh I liked the Minogue one! It had Minogue in it.

I also liked the bit where the taxi ran into the crowd of lard-lings and skidded on several of them. I could have written that bit, I was waiting for it to happen.


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:17 
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I'm as certain as I can be (without knowing) that this won't happen, and that Donna will indeed be just a mate for him. They'll probably do it so that she is the one who sorts out 'the mess' of Rose and Martha, as they go along.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:18 
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Nirejhenge wrote:
I really hope that they don't have her falling in love with The Doctor. I've hated that previously.


They've already stated that isn't going to happen.

Tate was alright. Until she started yelling, at which point her voice grated on my very soul.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:19 
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Yeah it wasn't bad, overall. I quite enjoyed it, despite getting a bit bored in the middle section. I also tire of evil alien companies with two henchmen and inquisitive mortally doomed journalists getting the exposition done for us. (Although it was a nice twist having the journalist not get killed, I did feel a bit like throwing things at her for being so irredeemably stupid.)

No, it was the nurseries angle and the world not being doomed for once that was nice. More plot lines that don't involve the entire world being under threat please, Mr Davies. Who knows, you might even manage to do a 'keep two or three very interesting people' safe plot line. Or even one supremely likable person. Wouldn't that be ace?

The title music was a bit meh. Not annoying though. I might even watch this episode again at some point. As for Catherine Tate, I don't hate her, but I've never been able to like intelligent people who spoon-feed us crudities in lieu of humour. It shows laziness and contempt. Still, she was okay and had some nice moments.

Next episode looks good. Expect me as an Ancient History and Classical Archaeology graduate to get jolly cross, though. (Hint: In the trailer Roman bloke says that prophecy is not a woman's job - what, a woman like the Sibyl and her priestesses? You clot.)

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:23 
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nervouspete wrote:
Yeah it wasn't bad, overall. I quite enjoyed it, despite getting a bit bored in the middle section. I also tire of evil alien companies with two henchmen and inquisitive mortally doomed journalists getting the exposition done for us. (Although it was a nice twist having the journalist not get killed


Meh, I said "just fucking shoot them already!". I mean, the henchmen were carrying sub-machineguns at all times, and had loads of opportunities to blast the journalist as well as the Doctor and Donna. Either throw in some firefights or don't bother with the guns in the first place. Rubbish!


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:25 
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Goth

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It still should have been Sally Sparrow as the assistant. I mean she's even got a stylish name!

I was mildly amused that the journalist woman had to resign herself to her fate of being constantly tied up again after escaping. That villain woman was terrible though.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:27 
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baron of techno

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Nirejhenge wrote:
It still should have been Sally Sparrow as the assistant. I mean she's even got a stylish name!


I [heart] Sally Sparrow.


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:29 
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I missed this. Oops. I'm terrible at watching TV shows on time. I accidentally missed the final part of last season's finale, and the entire last series of Torchwood.

Is it being repeated, do we know? I'd rather avoid watching it on the computer if at all possible.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:35 
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kalmar wrote:
Woah, that's not the end of the story! I thought you said you'd done physics?
It's worse than that -- I worked for Nuclear Electric (now called British Energy to get that scary N-word out of the way) for a few years, in the Barnwood office. I worked on computer modelling software that calculates from neutron flux and coolant temperature data to deduce conditions inside the fuel pins. I've also stood on top of a fuel pond and marvelled at the Cherenkoff radiation.

Quote:
The vital issue which makes nuclear power and reactor design such a tricky business, is that after you've shut the thing off, you've got decay heat to deal with.


Yes, I accept your very good point that I've just made a handwavy stupid argument as to why Torchwood's handwavy stupid argument is stupid. Mae culpa!

Quote:
Once the batteries go flat, the water in the core will quickly boil off.

Pedant: only one reactor in the UK (Sizewell B) uses water as the coolant, the others are all CO2 cooled. I wonder what boiling off what would like. Sizewell B's outlet channel temperature is about 450degC if memory serves, and the water is held liquid with some stupendous amount of pressure; the pipework around it is quite impressive to behold. As temperature rises, eventually the pipework will give way and I'm willing to bet that would be spectacularly devastating.

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Then the fuel channels will melt.

Or, excitingly, catch fire in an old school Magnox reactor (with solid Uranium fuel). That's quite fun apparantly.

Quote:
Then the molten fuel, metal and other stuff will pool in the bottom of the reactor vessel - that's a meltdown. Heard of Three Mile Island? If fission begins again in the pool of stuff, then you've potentially got a China syndrome.
Now, I'm fuzzy on this bit. The question is, once you've flooded the reactor with a neutron poison, how long does it take to dissapate heat; you'll certainly put a stop to the neutron chain reaction damn fast, as that isn't actually all that stable in a uranium based reactor anyway (plute based fast breeders are a different story). My instincts are that, unless some other factor intervenes, the core cools off quite quickly once the neutron flux is eliminated. I must confess though that I have no data to back this up.

The two famous exceptions have other factors: Three Mile Island had been run for hours with a coolant release valve left open, which meant there was far less coolant than their should have been, and Chernobyl was running the reactor much hotter than it should have been due to a surplus of Xe-135. Neither reactor was SCRAMmed until it was tool late, so I don't think either accident invalidates my reasoning.

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The point is: you can't walk away from present-day nuclear reactors, because they are not inherently safe. Making them safe requires a lot of very complex engineering band-aids, and everything to work as it should.

This is very true. As with aircraft, only more so, there are systems, and redundant systems, and backups, and backups of the backups, and redundant backups of the backups, and so forth. But it's a hell of a lot safer than it is usually presented in popular fiction, which usually suggests that at any second they can just shoot off into meltdown mode at the drop of a hat.

Also, fascinating semi-related link.


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:41 
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kalmar wrote:
Meh, I said "just fucking shoot them already!". I mean, the henchmen were carrying sub-machineguns at all times, and had loads of opportunities to blast the journalist as well as the Doctor and Donna. Either throw in some firefights or don't bother with the guns in the first place. Rubbish!


Hmm, actually, you're right. Give them rubbish stun-darts or something instead, and some added jokes about the henchmen really wishing they had machine guns. And yes, the villainess was a bit underwhelming. A completely obvious portrayal with completely obvious dialogue. Good job that last third was so corking, eh?

And Sally Sparrow for companions. GOOD LORD, THIS.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:54 
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richardgaywood wrote:
I worked for Nuclear Electric (now called British Energy to get that scary N-word out of the way) for a few years, in the Barnwood office.


Huh - my dad used to work just over the road at Barclays, and my school was just up the road from there.

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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 13:55 
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baron of techno

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richardgaywood wrote:
Quote:
Then the molten fuel, metal and other stuff will pool in the bottom of the reactor vessel - that's a meltdown. Heard of Three Mile Island? If fission begins again in the pool of stuff, then you've potentially got a China syndrome.

Now, I'm fuzzy on this bit. The question is, once you've flooded the reactor with a neutron poison, how long does it take to dissapate heat; you'll certainly put a stop to the neutron chain reaction damn fast, as that isn't actually all that stable in a uranium based reactor anyway (plute based fast breeders are a different story). My instincts are that, unless some other factor intervenes, the core cools off quite quickly once the neutron flux is eliminated. I must confess though that I have no data to back this up.


[edit] Wiki says that the decay heat declines from 6.5% to 1% (of previous operating power) in the hour after shutdown. Beta-decay, not fission.
That's a troubling amount of heat energy to get rid of - especially if you've shut down because of a coolant circulation problem, say. What happens after the fuel reforms in a big, un-moderated lump in the bottom of the reactor is anyone's guess.

And fair enough, I can't claim to know exactly what would happen either. Perhaps the real problem is that nobody, not even the experts, really does: new reactor designs still pick suspiciously different approaches to dealing with a worst-case scenario, and until one of them is tested, it's hard to be sure.

I'm not convinced by some of the claims made for the CANDU thing for example, the EPR design seems to understand the problem better - it has a "core spreader" and seperate cooling system specifically to deal with a reactor breach accident. And several other belts-and-braces solutions.

I know nothing about how UK reactors work, so feel free to educate me :)


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 Post subject: Re: Doctor Who
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 15:03 
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kalmar wrote:
Wiki
Mohh! I went off and read the same page, clicked Quote, and in the meantime you'd done your edit :D

Quote:
says that the decay heat declines from 6.5% to 1% (of previous operating power) in the hour after shutdown. Beta-decay, not fission.
That's a troubling amount of heat energy to get rid of - especially if you've shut down because of a coolant circulation problem, say.
Well, Sizewell B (for example) runs at 1196 MW electrical output. Overall efficiency of a PWR is about 30% or so, so that suggests that immediately after a coolant release followed by a SCRAM you would have to deal with 259MW of heat generation.

Hmm, I was going to start calculating the volume of reactor and the approximate volume of water, but a lot of these SCRAM systems use a liquid injection anyway, like heavily boron dosed water or something. I don't know what Sizewell B uses. Well, let's plow on regardless. IIRC Sizewell B has about 400 fuel assemblies and each one is about 60cm across and 6 m long (all these numbers are from memory from 1996-2000, and I've been drunk since then, so I may be a bit out). That suggests a core volume of about 864m^3. Each assembly holds 36 fuel rods and each rod is 20mm x 6metres, so the fuel occupies around 108m^3. Add on a bit more volume for the structure of the assemblies and you may have something like 700m^3 of coolant. That suggests 700,000 kg of water, disregarding heat expansion of the water.

C_p for water is 4.18 J g^-1 K^-1, which finally gives us a heating of the water of (according to my very rusty maths) 11.3 degC per second. I'm not about to go geeking out further with some integration; clearly, the decay heat tails off quite quickly if it is down to 1% within an hour. Say it stays at 6.5% for 15 min, that suggests a temperature increase of the coolant of about 170degC. That's probably not enough to be troubling, as it is still 2000 degC away from the melting point of the fuel. Even if you lost half the coolant (and that the SCRAM doesn't just pump liquid in to replace it, which I think it does) this isn't the worst thing that can happen to a reactor[1].

"Assume all cows are spherical and hollow."

Quote:
What happens after the fuel reforms in a big, un-moderated lump in the bottom of the reactor vessel is anyone's guess.
Modern reactors use uranium dioxide fuel, mind -- it's ceramic and doesn't melt until 2500 degC. I think you'd be going great guns to get it to melt en masse. It's not very thermally conductive, however; in the core it's formed into little pellets, about 20mm across, and the pellets stuck end-to-end into meter long rods. Each rod is coated in zirconium layer that acts as the primary conductive mechanism to get heat out of the fuel and into the coolant. One thing we've seen is that under high reactor load, the amount of fissionable product that is gaseous increases, and the gas pressure can get high enough to balloon the zirc out from the pin. This causes gaps that inhibit the cooling process. We did a lot of calculations of the Fission Gas Release, it's a key safety metric and has to be kept within tight parameters.

Quote:
I'm not convinced by some of the claims made for the CANDU thing for example, the EPR design seems to understand the problem better - it has a "core spreader" and seperate cooling system specifically to deal with a reactor breach accident. And several other belts-and-braces solutions.
Slightly off the end of my knowledge now, CANDU I know but EPR is new to me. I've got my excuses, how do you know so much about reactors?

[1] The worst case I considered was a reactor vessel breach which, despite the reactor being quicktly SCRAMmed, results in gaseous fissionable product being released into the atmosphere. The worst of these is Iodine-131, a virulent alpha emmiter which the human body, apon breathing it in, decides to do what it does with all chemical iodine i.e. store it in the thyroid gland. This can in theory cause a hell of a lot of very nasty brain tumours. I-131 concentration levels is another very key safety metric. Fuel with too much of it in was retired prematurely.


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