Saturday, 16 November 2013

A is for Atom

Despite First Capital Connect's, and an unhelpful ticket office's best efforts, I made it only a little bit late to the nuclear docufest at the Brixton Ritzy.  I'm having some lunch now in an extremely posh pub that is completely empty in the centre of Brixton on a Saturday lunchtime except for me and several staff.  

The film I've seen so far is A is for Atom.  It reminded me a bit of the reasons that science documentaries are often not fun to watch for a science audience.  It was a strange mix of pointed scenes, and stereotyping of scientists, though I think ultimately it wanted to paint a correct picture of nuclear power as something that has a lot of hands in it, and in particular in the US, commercial interests trumped everything else - including safety.  There were some scientific inaccuracies - such as that a core might burn through the floor of a reactor and there would then be nothing to stop it tunnelling through to the other side of the world.  Fortunately gravity would stop that happening.

I loved all the old footage, including newsreels and corporate propaganda, and learned a few interesting things - like the fact that some Soviet scientists were able to publish a critique of the safety aspects of nuclear safety in a newspaper but US scientists did not seem confident enough to do so (hah!), and it was nice to see so many interviews with (now-dead) players in the key years of nuclear physics, but ultimately it was not aimed at the likes of me, and it showed.  

Right - expensive vegetarian sausages have arrived, and I shall eat.