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More Nuclear Reactors on the Way

Sunflower pulled out of nuclear reactor tower


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is spending $230 million this fiscal year to start building two new prototype nuclear reactors over the next seven years as part of an Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. Both will be built in equal partnership with an industrial firm and could receive up to $4 billion in funding from the DOE. Commercial nuclear generators supply 20 percent of U.S. electrical power and 50 percent of our carbon-free energy. The inventory comprises 96 reactors, down from 113 in the early 1990s. More reactors are slated to close, and the nuclear industry’s share of the electricity supply is expected to fall, yet engineers continue to develop designs for reactors they say will be safer and more efficient. Proponents of nuclear power doubt the program will spur construction of new commercial reactors as long as natural gas and renewable energy remain relatively cheap. Robert Rosner, a physicist at the University of Chicago, says, “New builds can’t compete with renewables.”
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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