Are you an energy genius? It’s hard to tell whether or not Americans are really aware of the energy that controls our lives, so the following quiz should be revealing. Click through the multiple-choice options below to reveal the answers. Most answers can be found in the pages of the 2023 issues of Nuclear News—if you’ve been a diligent NN reader you should do fine!
Scoring: Zero to five correct answers out of the 20 questions means you may need to read up on energy in order not to be at the mercy of others. Six to 10 correct answers is a good passing grade. Eleven to 15 right answers means you’re really energy literate. Sixteen to 19 correct answers means you should be advising Congress. Twenty right answers suggests you’re Mr. Spock reincarnated.
1. In the event that the world does not decarbonize its energy production sufficiently by 2050 to mitigate the worst of global warming, what is our most plausible Plan B?
2. In the event that the world does not decarbonize its energy production sufficiently by 2050 to mitigate the worst of global warming, what country or group of countries has vowed to act unilaterally to implement Plan B?
3. What energy source can produce 656 billion kilowatt-hours with the least amount of steel?
4. In Washington state, what energy source is used to buffer, or load-follow, renewables as they come and go in order to balance the grid?
5. In California, what energy source is used to buffer, or load-follow, renewables as they come and go in order to balance the grid?
6. When did the earliest known fission reactor (not just fission reactions) begin operation?
7. What was the uranium-235 enrichment level in the fuel of that reactor?
8. What was the average power output of that reactor?
9. Why does the U.S. Department of Defense want a small nuclear reactor as soon as possible?
10. The Artemis I unmanned mission to the moon had three nonhuman crewmembers aboard. Who was not part of the mission?
11. What was the highest dose rate of radiation that any astronaut has received in space?
12. Which state has the poorest wind resources for energy production using on-shore wind turbine?
13. Which of these people does not have a degree in nuclear or chemical engineering?
14. Which of the following state legislatures does not have a Nuclear Caucus?
15. How much energy does it take to lift a person out of poverty?
16. About how much electricity will the world be using per year in 2040?
17. Which country’s deep geological nuclear waste repository plans call for a host rock of clay?
18. From a radioactivity standpoint, not a source standpoint, of the 57 million gallons of nuclear waste in the tanks at the Hanford Site, how much qualifies as low-level waste?
19. Obtaining sufficient supplies of which mineral/metal poses the largest hurdle to decarbonizing the world’s energy mix?
20. According to the recent UN Economic Commission for Europe report, which energy source has the lowest life cycle impact on human health and the environment?
Have a wonderful and happy 2024!
James Conca is a scientist in the field of earth and environmental sciences specializing in geologic disposal of nuclear waste, energy-related research, planetary surface processes, radiobiology and shielding for space colonies, and subsurface transport and environmental cleanup of heavy metals.