Saturday, February 25, 2012

Atomic Locomotive?

The USSR talked about it. The U.S. talked about it (there were even toy versions!). Modern Russia is giving it serious thought. The Red Chinese are supposedly thinking about it, too, but they're not sayin' much.

...No matter how safe or careful, a reactor-on-rails is going to be difficult to insure -- the rails can be fraught with hazard.

(The USSR did build the world's first civilian power reactor, then ended up running it 18 years past the planned 30-some year active life when Soviet checks started to bounce. It's a museum now, a memento of an earlier time. It's a tiny prototype of the big RBMK design -- yes, that RBMK.)

...All that, and I never even mentioned Supertrain! Well, until now.


Ritchie said...

Not everything that's possible is a good idea.

Dave H said...

They should look into nuclear pulse propulsion, like an Orion spacecraft would have used. It requires a lot less shielding. Kind of hard on the tracks though.

Roberta X said...

I was tickled by the commenter at the "Peaceful Atom" story who found the Nixie-tube counters so very Olde Tyme: they are later additions or replacements. The original instrumentation would have been solidly analog, since that was all anyone had.

A nuclear train does seem a bit iffy, if for no other reason than the ijits who would lay down across the tracks or worse ijits who'd try for derailing. And I'd think you'd want to keep it off single-track runs unless it was the only engine on 'em ever, solo.

Keads said...

Yes. When a train derails it is always going to go bad.

Nixie tubes? I have a Nixie tube clock!

Tam said...

There is an entire website lovingly devoted to Supertrain.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention 0ne of 1976's less memorable nuclear attempts, "The Big Bus."