09 May 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project


Bathing in the Cerenkov Glow - Briefly

Yesterday's blog was satire.  At least I think it was.  Conceptually, it's not totally preposterous.  But this is a blog, not a monograph, and I have a rule against "research," especially that which might reveal uncomfortable and dangerous truths.  Normally in this age of enhanced legal activity, it is customary to put disclaimers immediately adjacent to, well, pretty much everything.  I didn't think I was taking a big chance, because most people won't be able to get a spent nuclear fuel rod and install it in their pool overnight; it usually takes weeks or even longer.  Thus, I felt it was safe to wait 'til today to issue this


I was not seriously suggesting that you obtain a spent nuclear fuel rod and use it to heat your pool. 


  • Spent nuclear fuel rods can be used to make "dirty bombs."  You don't want terrorists in SCUBA gear taking over your back yard and forbidding you to put any pork products on your barbeque.

  • It's true that neutrons from the fuel rods are absorbed harmlessly in water.  But impurities in the water can also absorb neutrons, and become "activated" and dangerously radioactive.

  • It would probably take a lot of lead glass to really stop the gamma radiation.

  • Even nuclear power eventually decays - you would have to replace the fuel rod periodically, and it would then be your problem to figure out what to do with the old one.  Own any mountains in Nevada?

  • Notwithstanding my aesthetic preferences, I am told that most people do not want their offspring to have wings.

So there.  Another great idea shot to hell due to engineering practicalities and evil reality. And yet, I can't escape the feeling that there is something to this.  One man's nuclear waste is another's energy source, I always say.

Richard Factor