Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

The federal black hole of lost nuclear bomb material

Link here. Key quote:

Unlike civilian stocks, which are closely monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and openly regulated – with reports of thefts or disappearances sent to an international agency in Vienna — the handling of military stocks tended by the Department of Energy is much less transparent.

The Energy Department, which declined comment for this story, doesn’t talk about instances of lost and stolen nuclear material produced for the military. It also has been less willing than the commission to punish its contractors when they lose track of such material, several incidents suggest.

As much as six tons of nuclear material is recorded as missing and unaccounted. Worse,

Regarding transfers to academic researchers, government agencies, or commercial firms within the United States, the Energy Department’s inspector general concluded in 2009 –the most recent public accounting – that at least a pound of plutonium and 45 pounds of highly-enriched uranium loaned from military stocks had been officially listed until 2004 as securely stored, when in fact it was missing.

The most important point made by the article is that the federal government imposes no consequences on anyone in the government who screws up in this matter. In fact, the article cites examples where the incompetent were given awards afterward. Meanwhile, this same federal government has punished private contractors very severely for similar mishaps.

This really is par for the course. The federal government today is terribly run, and those in charge routinely get away with being incompetent, and often get bonuses for being so. If we had any sense, we’d shut it down, firing everyone. We could quickly hire new people and get things done better.

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  • Phill O

    The plastic disks (calibration standards) while very expensive due to their nature as analytical standards or reference materials, really are of little concern for health and safety.

    However, if I had lost this stuff, you bet the Canadian regulatory agency would string me up!!!!!!!

    Has anyone checked with the Clinton Foundation? The apparent losses of quantities is a health concern (and terrorist concern). I do not know if plutonium is carcinogenic. I doubt it. It kills to rapidly to have been study for that route. It is highly poisonous!!!!

  • Max

    Check with the Clintons!
    That’s a good one. Maybe the Russian president will return what the Clintons have already sold…
    Of course, they will want their money back. I wonder how they will collect it… By any means possible? Billionaires from holding public office… And without any investigation of wrongdoing. No intent? HAR

    Mexico also can’t seem to hold on to their radioactive materials.

    This is at least the seventh case of radioactive material being stolen across Mexico since 2013, according to AFP. In all instances the materials were recovered safely.
    And again last week.
    Won’t be long now before we see a dirty bomb somewhere.

  • Jonathan

    Engineering a gun-type atomic bomb is not that complicated. The hard part is obtaining the right amount of highly enriched uranium. Unfortunately, the amount needed is not large and there appears to be a fair amount of HEU floating around on the black market. I think the risk of atomic terrorism is real but downplayed by governments because they don’t want to panic people.

  • Max

    Just as an update, posting in the proper location, it has just been revealed that some plutonium went missing last year!
    The government kept under wraps not willing to panic any one. They still will not reveal how much plutonium and cesium had gone missing. (it takes seven pounds to make atomic weapon) It was in the protective box that was stolen from the car in the parking lot as the two men from Idaho was sleeping.

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