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Behind the Japanese Nuclear Reactor Crisis

Engineering professor Theo Theofanous, long recognized for his work on risk and accident analysis specifically focused on nuclear reactors, begins the first of three podcasts on the Fukushima incident with Curiouser & Curiouser host Jai Ranganathan.

Ever since the massive 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, the world's eyes have been fixed on the crippled nuclear reactors at Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Explosions, radiation leaks, maybe a meltdown — a truly terrifying situation for the people of Japan and for the world.

But with so little good information coming out of Fukushima, what exactly is going on? And what does this mean for nuclear power in Japan and in the rest of the world?

In this podcast, Dr. Theo Theofanous talks about the latest developments at Fukushima. Theofanous is a professor of chemical and mechanical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has spent much of his career researching nuclear power design and nuclear power safety and has earned honor after honor in the field, such as the prestigious Lawrence Award from the Department of Energy.

This podcast is the first of a series of three with Theofanous and, here, he discusses how the particular reactors at Fukushima work and how this nuclear disaster got started.

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Music in Curiouser & Curiouser is Bring It On No Vox by Jamie Miller and David Matheson; and Computer by State Shirt

Also on, how an expert in nuclear power safety soured on the energy source and turned to solar.