Science, nuclear, and truth

October 17, 2022, 3:01PMANS NewsSteven Arndt

Steven Arndt

Recently, while reading an editorial by William Roper in the journal Science,* I was struck by the fact that the health care industry, in the past two or three years, has been experiencing some of the same challenges our industry has had for the past 40 years. Roper opines on the situation that scientists and health care professionals have had to face in a country that is divided not only along political and ideological lines but also about what constitutes the facts. He goes on to highlight that many scientists think there is a need to get the politics out of public health, while many policymakers (who are frequently politicians) think scientists are not the best people to be making public policy decisions. He also notes that of late, “political leaders, media personalities, and ordinary citizens have proclaimed their own ‘alternative facts.’”

As much as I would like to say something like “join the boat”—our scientific community has had to deal with “alternative facts” for years—I would much rather say to the health care community that we can and should all be striving for the same thing: to help the thought leaders of our world understand that we can only succeed if we are all willing to be in the same boat, working together to fix the problem.

The “gold standard” of regulation

September 12, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear NewsSteven Arndt

Steven Arndt

Much has been written about regulation over the years, including whether or not the nuclear industry is overregulated or whether the regulator is in the industry’s “pocket.” Having a capable and independent regulator is important to the industry for a number of reasons, such as ensuring the safety and security of nuclear facilities and the trust an effective regulator can engender in vendors, investors, international organizations, and the public. However, regulation simply to engender trust or ensure all voices are heard is neither effective nor sufficiently adaptive to support a vibrant and innovative industry. Moreover, overregulation slows innovation, stifles creativity, drives costs upward, and creates scheduling challenges.

So how did the Nuclear Regulatory Commission become the “gold standard” of regulation? The pat response is because of its long history, experience, and available resources. I would contend, however, that what the NRC did better than most—if not all—national nuclear regulators was innovate and develop new ideas and act as the cocreator of the nuclear industry.

Nuclear FOMO

August 4, 2022, 2:49PMNuclear NewsSteven Arndt

Steven Arndt

At the June ANS Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., our Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy used an interesting acronym: he said, “This meeting is so exciting we are going to give nuclear professionals FOMO with respect to ANS meetings going forward.” The term “fear of missing out” was common a few years ago, but I had not heard it recently. So when Craig used it, it really caught my attention. Craig was, of course, correct that the Annual Meeting was great: technically interesting, productive, and great fun, as well. It provided a wonderful opportunity to learn, network, and advance both academic and business goals. However, in thinking about this phrase I realized that in a lot of ways, getting people to realize how important nuclear science and technology is for making the world better is a lot like trying to get people to understand that they are truly missing out.

Unapologetically pronuclear

July 5, 2022, 2:46PMNuclear NewsSteven Arndt

Steven Arndt

By the time you read this, I will have celebrated my 41st anniversary as a member of the American Nuclear Society. In thinking about this time, I find myself realizing that I have never been part of anything else (besides my immediate family) for as long. I joined ANS when I started graduate school and have been an active member ever since. In that time, I have worked for several employers, been active in other professional and social organizations, lived in four different states, and worked on projects that have taken me all over the world—but my ties to ANS and the people I have met here have been the most influential I have ever known. In thinking about this, I can only come to one conclusion: there is something special about ANS. Is it the technology? The people? For me, it is both.

Recently I was reminded that nuclear is special because we are always under the microscope. Easy as it would be to view this as a curse, I think we need to see this as a blessing. As nuclear science and technology professionals, we need to embrace the opportunity to tell everyone who asks—anyone who comments or even thinks that nuclear has issues—why we are so enthusiastic about what nuclear is doing for the world.