Neighborhood Micro-Nuclear

Happy global warming scenarios like the methanetime bomb  have the tendency to push my imagination toward delusional futuristic realms in which hastily built nuclear reactors sprout up in urban neighborhoods as a last resort.  But that’s just me.  And James Lovelock.

Of course that’s no nuclear power plant cooling tower in the photo above — it’s the Temple de Hirsch Sinai Alhadeff Sanctuary at 16th and Pike in the Central District, built in 1960 and designed by B. Marcus Priteca, who also designed the Langston Hughes Center.

But hold on: the thing is, micro-nuclear is not just a delusion.  Google “micro-nuclear” and the first hit announces this:

Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.

WTF you say?  How could you not have heard about this before?  And um, wouldn’t there be preposterous security and safety risks with such a system?

And so while you’re still furrowing your brow over this, you think, well, technology moves so fast it’s impossible to keep up with it all, and anyway you’ve probably got lots of other things to think about right now, you need to check your facebook, so you just file this one away for the time being, maybe to bring it up casually a few days later over drinks with friends.

Or, perhaps your curiosity drives you to take another 30 seconds and drill a bit further down the list of google hits, and just maybe you get lucky like I did and you click on hit number 12:

This story got picked up by Dvorak Uncensored, Engadget, Gizmodo, Wired, and others. Strangely, I could find no mention of this on Toshiba’s main corporate site, and I know they do some stuff with nuclear reactors in Japan. Eventually, someone actually asked Toshiba about it and confirmed it was a hoax.

Isn’t the information age fabulous?