A Series on Nuclear Power Safety and Accidents

This year I took a course called Modern Physics, which was infamous for being the most difficult course my high school had to offer. For the second’s term final, we had to do a seminar on a topic of our own choosing and mine was “Nuclear Power Accidents and Safety”. I’m from Turkey, and currently two nuclear power plants are under construction. When the news first broke in 2010, I, with the rest of the public, was quite concerned for our safety. For me nuclear power was Chernobyl, and Chernobyl was horrible. However, doing this project made me realize that it wasn’t a black-and-white issue. There are a lot of grey areas and misconceptions when it comes to Nuclear Power. Especially looking at the behind the scenes of the accidents are quite interesting in terms of seeing how small, careless mistakes can escalate into huge disasters. During my presentation I analysed three specific events which are the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima disaster. Of course, before starting talking about them I have to briefly explain how nuclear plants operate and some basics. So, below is the general flow. I’ll update this post with links and edits as I write the series.


Science in Jurassic World

I finally got a chance to watch Jurassic World, and although it was entertaining, I was a little disappointed. I had seen the original Jurassic Park movies when I was little, and was fascinated enough to consider being a paleontologist for a time period. I didn’t know much about dinosaurs -and still don’t actually- but watching the Jurassic Park movies made me admire them and  the scientists who studied what is left of them. And this is one of the problems with Jurassic World. There is no science. None of the main characters are scientist and the main scientist is just a flat antagonist. As for the dinosaurs, they seem more like fantasy monsters rather than real animals. The velociraptors in the original movie were the most cunning and dangerous hunters of the nature. The chase scenes would and still does give me the chills. Now, in the new movie, they are reduced to pets. I don’t think anyone who grew up with Jurassic Park movies would find this idea credible. Sure, it is a movie and suspension of disbelief is a movie watcher’s best friend, but this one doesn’t create enough verisimilitude to facilitate that.

The video above is the scene from Jurassic Park where we are first told about the raptors. Compare it with the raptors in Jurassic World and you’ll see the problem.

The second issue with Jurassic World has nothing to do with science, yet in terms of believability it’s even worse. Our female protagonist Claire Dearing spends the entire movie in high-heels. Considering she works as a executive manager to at this park, it is perfectly OK for her to be dressed in this attire. Until she starts running from the dinosaurs in the woods in the same heels. Deciding on a character’s outfit doesn’t require scientific counselors, it is just common sense. Jurassic Park had Dr. Ellie Sattler, who, as a paleobotanist, made for a much more suitable protagonist. You can read more about the contrasting styles on Clothes on Films¹ .

Claire Dearing vs. Ellie Sattler

These two are the problems that bothered me. Of course, as it is expected from any blockbuster, there are many scientific inaccuracies that bother the scientists and other knowledgable people on these areas. Here are a few I thought that were the most interesting.

The Feather Debate

No one knows what the dinosaurs exactly look like, but still we have a somewhat rough idea. Their depiction of the carnivores in Jurassic World is not exactly accurate, which is actually a little understandable. You want them to look especially dangerous. However, there is one aspect that was completely ignored. We know dinosaurs are the ancestors of the birds, and there is more to that. According to a recent discovery, almost all dinosaurs had feathers covering their bodies.

Velocity Issue

In the Jurassic Park movie, we see a T-Rex chasing a Jeep. In Jurassic World, we see Claire Dearing (in her essential heels) outrunning a T-Rex. Which one is correct? Surprisingly, Jurassic World got this one right. According a study, a T-Rex’s max speed is between 10 and 25 miles an hour, which is roughly between 15 and 40 km/h. It means if you are fast, you can actually outrun a T-Rex.

For more scientific issues in Jurassic World, you can check this article on Vocative.

¹Clothes on Film is a very interesting site which feature detailed and also fun analysis of costumes in movies, with lots of interviews and reviews. It’s definitely worth checking.