On January 3, 1961, nine days after Christmas, Richard Legg, John Byrnes, and Richard McKinley were killed in a remote desert in eastern Idaho. Their deaths occurred when a nuclear reactor exploded at a top-secret base in the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS). Official reports state that the explosion and subsequent reactor meltdown resulted from the improper retraction of the control rod. When questioned about the events that occurred there, officials were very reticent. The whole affair, in fact, was discussed much, and seemed to disappear with time.
In order to grasp the mysterious nature of the NRTS catastrophe, it help to know a bit about how nuclear reactors work. After all, the generation of nuclear energy may strike many as an esoteric process. However, given its relative simplicity, the way in which the NRTS reactor functions is widely comprehensible. In this particular kind of reactor, a cluster of nine-ton uranium fuel rods are positioned lengthwise around a central control rod. The reaction begins with the slow removal of the control ro, which starts a controlled nuclear reaction and begins to heat the water in the reactor. This heat generates steam, which builds pressure inside the tank. As pressure builds, the steam looks for a place to escape. The only place this steam is able to escape is through the turbine. As it passes through the turbine on its way out of the tank, it turns the giant fan blades and produces energy.
On the morning of January 3, after the machine had been shut down for the holidays, the three men arrived at the station to restart the reactor. The control rod needed to be pulled out only four inches to be reconnected to the automated driver. However, records indicate that Byrnes yanked it out 23 inches, over five times the distance necessary. In milliseconds the reactor exploded. Legg was impaled on the ceiling; he would be discovered last. It took one week and a lead-shielded crane to remove his body. Even in full protective gear, workers were only able to work a minute at a time. The three men are buried in lead-lined coffins under concrete in New York, Michigan, and Arlington Cemetery, Virginia.
The investigation took nearly two years to complete. Did Byrnes have a dark motive? Or was it simply an accident? Did he know how precarious the procedure was? Other operators were questioned as to whether they knew the consequences of pulling the control rod out so far. They responded “Of course! We often talked about what we would do if we were at a radar station and the Russians came.
“We’d yank it out.”
Official reports are oddly ambiguous, but what they do not explain, gossip does. Rumors had it that there was tension between the men because Byrnes suspected the other two of being involved with his young wife. There is little doubt than he, like the other operators, knew exactly what would happen when he yanked the control rod.
According to the paragraph 2, which of the following is directly responsible for energy production?
Recent advances in science and technology have made it possible for geneticists to find out abnormalities in the unborn foetus and take remedial action to rectify some defects which would otherwise prove to be fatal to the child. Though genetic engineering is still at its infancy, scientists can now predict with greater accuracy a genetic disorder. It is not yet an exact science since they are not in a position to predict when exactly a genetic disorder will set in. While they have not yet been able to change the genetic order of the gene in germs, they are optimistic and are holding out that in the near future they might be successful in achieving this feat. They have, however, acquired the ability in manipulating tissue cells. However, genetic mis-information can sometimes be damaging for it may adversely affect people psychologically. Genetic information may lead to a tendency to brand some people as inferiors. Genetic information can therefore be abused and its application in deciding the sex of the foetus and its subsequent abortion is now hotly debated on ethical lines. But on this issue geneticists cannot be squarely blamed though this charge has often been leveled at them. It is mainly a societal problem. At present genetic engineering is a costly process of detecting disorders but scientists hope to reduce the costs when technology becomes more advanced. This is why much progress in this area has been possible in scientifically advanced and rich countries like the U.S.A., U.K. and Japan. It remains to be seen if in the future this science will lead to the development of a race of supermen or will be able to obliterate disease from this world.
According to the passage, the question of abortion is