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Nuclear Energy: Realizing the Promise

The 2014 Wheaton College Science Symposium will be hosted by the Department of Physics and Engineering. Nuclear engineering experts will examine the topic of nuclear energy and its potential as a safe and clean energy source; the possibility of harnessing nuclear energy to prevent global warming; and the potential of innovative future nuclear technologies.


The Physics Department at Wheaton College presents the annual Science Symposium entitled “Nuclear Energy: Realizing the Promise.” Global energy consumption is expected to increase in the 21st century due to increasing population and demand from industrialized and developing countries. Yet, most of the world’s energy is derived from fossil fuels which are non-renewable and contribute to global warming. Nuclear energy, like other energy sources, has a number of advantages and disadvantages but will likely be a part of the overall energy solution. Current research is addressing issues such as nuclear safety and radioactive waste and advanced reactor designs may offer significant promise for dealing with these concerns. In this year’s symposium, nuclear engineering experts will examine the future of nuclear energy and explore what might be done to bring innovative nuclear technologies from promise to reality.


Session 1: Wednesday March 26
10:35 – 11:15am  Dr. Robert Bishop (Chapel) 
7:00 – 9:00pm  Pandora’s Promise Film 
9:00 – 9:30pm Panel Discussion of Pandora's Promise with
  • Denis Demoss (Sargent and Lundy LLC)
  • Christine Folch (Wheaton College)
  • Dave Grabaskas (Argonne National Laboratory)
Session 2: Thursday March 27 
7:00 – 7:45pm  Technical and Socio-Political Drivers for
Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Dr. Paul Wilson
University of Wisconsin-Madison
7:50 – 8:35pm  A View of the Near-Term Evolution of
Light Water Reactor Technology
Dr. Ivan Maldonado
University of Tennessee
8:45 – 9:30pm Advanced Reactors: Safety and U.S. Experience
Dr. Dave Grabaskas
Argonne National Laboratory

All sessions will take place in the large lecture hall on the ground level of the Meyer Science Center (SC 145). Directions to the campus of Wheaton College can be found by clicking on the link on the right side of this page.


Documentary: “Pandora’s Promise”

Pandora's Promise movie posterCould nuclear energy save our planet from global warming and climatic catastrophes? Events like Fukushima and Chernobyl have magnified our fears about nuclear energy and contribute to our “anti-nuclear psyche” but some experts are exploring the potential benefits of nuclear energy.

Robert Stone began his career directing one of the great anti-nuclear Oscar nominated documentary Radio Bikini but in Pandora’s Promise, Stone asks whether nuclear energy could save our planet from climatic catastrophes and provide the energy needed to lift the developing world out of poverty.

Stone explores how and why a number of environmentalists have had a change of heart about nuclear energy and are now supporters of nuclear energy considering it “humankind’s greatest hope.” Environmentalists such as Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy and our Changing Climate, discuss their radical transformation from fiercely anti-nuclear opponents to strong pro-nuclear supporters.

Panel Discussion

The documentary will be followed by a panel discussion with the following experts, Christine Folch, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Wheaton College, Denis Demoss, Senior Vice President, Sargent and Lundy LLC, and Dave Grabaskas, Nuclear Engineer, Argonne National Laboratory.

The Wheaton College Science Symposium is an annual event sponsored by Wheaton College. The views expressed by speakers who are guests of the college are not necessarily views of those employed by Wheaton College.

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