Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Uncharted Meets the Geek Atlas

At heart, I suppose, I’ll always be a geek.

My best friend in high school lamented, in my presence, that he was a “geek magnet” at Bonneville High. I have a collection of rocks that look like pig noses. I tell people I work at a landfill. A radioactive landfill. A radioactive landfill where the stuff sometimes blows up or catches fire on its own. And I love my job.

But this confirms it: John Graham-Cumming, author of The Geek Atlas (available in book form here) has noticed me. Not me per se, but a video I put together a few years ago about Experimental Breeder Reactor-1, a decommissioned nuclear power plant, the first to create useful atomic power, which I pass to and from work four times a week. I posted it to uncharted.net’s YouTube channel and promptly forgot about it. (The video, obviously, is embedded above.)

Now it’s featured at www.geekatlas.com, coinciding with Graham-Cumming’s own visit to EBR-1, one of 128 stops “Where Science and Technology Come Alive,” as Graham-Cumming subtitles his book.

And it does. EBR-1 is, to me, a fascinating place. Atomic – now nuclear – research has always been in the background here in eastern Idaho. That I work within a mile of EBR-1, however, makes the place special to me. I love to visit the decommissioned reactor and to inhale, if briefly, the air of the heady days of atomic research when scientists were optimistically hoping to tame the atom and make electricity “too cheap to meter.” Though technology has advanced, fear of nuclear power has stalled those dreams. But it’s fun to think this little bit of Idaho history – and my video, which Graham-Cumming describes as “quirky” – are getting their moment in the sun.

You can, of course, read about Idaho’s atomic history at http://www.uncharted.net/, here. Enjoy.

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