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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday June 16th 2024

Thor and Pandora

by Peter Molenaar

To the ancient observer, the approaching cumulonimbus cloud appeared as a giant hammer from which lightning bolts penetrated the earth.  Hence, the hammer-wielding Viking god associated with thunder storms and destruction, but also healing and renewal, was born in the people”'s mind.  Thor was his name.

In the modern world, Thor”'s considerable legacy is honored once a week (“Thor”'s day”).

But what redemption might he bestow upon the suffering people of Japan?  Curiously, there is a chemical element which also bears his name.  Thorium, atomic number 90, has emerged as the alternative to uranium.

Background note:

Many years ago, opposition to nuclear power successfully curtailed expansion of that industry.  More recently, the pressures of dwindling resources combined with the threats of global warming to induce a renewed interest in “safer” nuclear energy.  Presently, however, the forces of earthquakes and tsunamis have blunted the discussion.

Yet, China, Russia, and India have entered the race to develop thorium power.  Why?  One science writer puts it this way:  “thorium promises what uranium never delivered:  abundant, safe and clean energy ”“ and a way to burn up old radioactive waste”¦there is no possibility of a meltdown, it generates power inexpensively, it does not produce weapons-grade byproducts, and [might well be used to] burn up existing nuclear weapon stockpiles.”Â  “With a dash for thorium,  Obama could kill our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years.”Â  To which is added:  “Because of thorium”'s abundance, it will not be exhausted in 1,000 years.”

Enter Pandora”¦

In Greek mythology, the first earthly woman is named Pandora.  All the gods helped create her.  According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar, referred to as “Pandora”'s Box”, releasing all the evils of humankind.  Note:  The jar was opened out of curiosity, not as a malicious act.  There was but one item which did not escape.  That item was hope.

It is now the marriage of Thor to Pandora which might well save us all.

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