Tag Archives: National Academy of Sciences

Fukushima Daiichi Current Status and Lessons Learned

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) presents a great volume of information related to the 12 March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident and the current status of planning and recovery actions on their website at the following link:


From this web page, you can navigate to many resources, including: Fukushima Daiichi Status Updates, 6 September 2013 – Present. Here is the direct link to the status updates:


The IAEA’s voluminous 2015 report, The Fukushima Daiichi Accident, consists of the Report by the IAEA Director General and five technical volumes. The IAEA states that this report is the result of an extensive international collaborative effort involving five working groups with about 180 experts from 42 Member States with and without nuclear power programs and several international bodies. It provides a description of the accident and its causes, evolution and consequences based on the evaluation of data and information from a large number of sources.

IAEA Fukushima  Source: IAEA

You can download all or part of this report and its technical annexes at the following link to the IAEA website:


There have been many reports on the Fukushima Daiichi accident and lessons learned. A few of the more recent notable documents are identified briefly below along with the web links from which you can download these documents.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA):

A summary of the NRA’s perspective on Fukushima accident and lessons learned is the subject of the March 2014 presentation, “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident and Responses in New Regulatory Requirements.” You can download this presentation at the following link:


 National Academy of Sciences:

The U.S. Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a technical study on lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident for improving safety and security of commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S. This study was carried out in two phases. The Phase 1 report, Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety of U.S. Nuclear Plants, was issued in 2014, and focused on the causes of the Fukushima Daiichi accident and safety-related lessons learned for improving nuclear plant systems, operations, and regulations exclusive of spent fuel storage.

NAP Fukushima Phase 1  Source: NAP

If you have a MyNAP account, you can download the Phase 1 report at the following link to the National Academies Press website:


The Phase 2 report, Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants: Phase 2, recently issued in 2016, focuses on three issues: (1) lessons learned from the accident for nuclear plant security, (2) lessons learned for spent fuel storage, and (3) reevaluation of conclusions from previous Academies studies on spent fuel storage.

NAP Fukushima Phase 2  Source: NAP

If you have a MyNAP account, you can download the Phase 2 report at the following link:


U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC):

A summary of the U.S. NRC’s response to the Fukushima accident is contained in the May 2014 presentation, “NRC Update, Fukushima Lessons Learned.” You can download this presentation at the following link:



100th Anniversary of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and the Advent of a New Generation of Gravity Wave Detectors

One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein presented his General Theory of Relativity in November 1915, at the Prussian Academy of Science. Happy Anniversary, Dr. Einstein!

Today, general relativity is being tested with unprecedented accuracy with a new generation of gravity-wave “telescopes” in the U.S., Italy, Germany, and Japan. All are attempting to directly detect gravity waves, which are the long-predicted quakes in space-time arising from cataclysmic cosmic sources.

The status of four gravity-wave telescopes is summarized below.

USA: Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)

LIGO is a multi-kilometer-scale gravitational wave detector that uses laser interferometry to, hopefully, measure the minute ripples in space-time caused by passing gravitational waves. LIGO consists of two widely separated interferometers within the United States; one in Hanford, WA and the other in Livingston, LA. These facilities are operated in unison to detect gravitational waves. The Livingston and Hanford LIGO sites are shown in the following photos (Hanford above, Livingston below):

ligo-hanford-aerial-02Source LIGO Caltechligo-livingston-aerial-03Source: LIGO Caltech

LIGO is operated by Caltech and MIT and is supported by the National Academy of Sciences. For more information, visit the LIGO website at the following link:


Basically, LIGO is similar to the traditional interferometer used in 1887 in the famous Michelson-Morley experiment (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson–Morley_experiment). However, the LIGO interferometer incorporates novel features to greatly increase its sensitivity. The basic arrangement of the interferometer is shown in the following diagram.

LIGO experiment setupSource: LIGO Caltech

Each leg of the interferometer has a physical length of 4 km and is a resonant Fabry-Perot cavity that uses a complex set of mirrors to extend the effective arm length by a factor of 400 to 1,600 km.

On 18 September 2015, the first official “observing run” using LIGO’s advanced detectors began. This “observing run” is planned to last three months. LIGO’s advanced detectors are already three times more sensitive than Initial LIGO was by the end of its observational lifetime in 2007. You can read about this milestone event at the following link:


You also can find much more information on the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) at the following link:


Italy: VIRGO

VIRGO is installed near Pisa, Italy, at the site of the European Gravitational Observatory (http://www.ego-gw.it/public/virgo/virgo.aspx). VIRGO is intended to directly observe gravitational waves using a Michelson interferometer with arms that are 3 km long, with resonant Fabry-Perot cavities that increase the effective arm length by a factor of 50 to 150 km. The initial version of VIRGO operated from 2007 to 2011 and the facility currently is being upgraded with a new, more sensitive detector. VIRGO is expected to return to operation in 2018.

You can find much more information on VIRGO at the following link:


Germany: GEO600

GEO600 is installed near Hanover, Germany. It, too, uses a Michelson interferometer with arms that are 600 meters long, with resonant Fabry-Perot cavities that double the effective arm length to 1,200 meters.

You can find much more information on the GEO600 portal at the following link:


Japan: KAGRA Large-scale Cryogenic Gravitational Wave Telescope

The KAGRA telescope is installed deep underground, in tunnels of Kamioka mine, as shown in the following diagram.

img_abt_lcgtSource: KAGARA

Like the other facilities described previously, KAGRA is a Michelson interferometer with resonant Fabry-Perot cavities. The physical length of each arm is of 3 km (1.9 mi). KAGRA is expected to be in operation in 2018.

You can find much more information on KAGARA at the following links:






National Academies Press (NAP)

The National Academies Press (NAP) was created by the National Academy of Sciences to publish the reports of the National Academy of SciencesNational Academy of EngineeringInstitute of Medicine, and National Research Council, all operating under a charter granted by the Congress of the United States.   The NAP publishes more than 200 books a year on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and medicine, providing authoritative information on important matters in science and health policy. NAP offers more than 5,000 titles in PDF format.  All of these PDFs can be downloaded for free by the chapter or the entire book.

If you do not already have a NAP account (free), then you can do this easily by clicking on the following link:


At this site, you will see a “Help” column on the right side of the page.  Under the heading “Using NAP.edu”, select “MyNAP”. On this new page, follow the instructions under “Getting Started” and register for your account.  Once you have an account, you’ll be able to select and download the NAP pdf documents you find interesting.  You also should receive periodic e-mails announcing the availability of new NAP publications.

I hope you’ll find NAP to be a valuable resource.