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The Three Mile Island Nuclear Blunder

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

The Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania could have gone into a nuclear melt down, what is called, with a gallows laugh, the China Syndrome. That is where the nuclear core super-heats and melts through the bottom of the reactor vessel, the foundation of the building, and presumably keeps going until it reaches China. Of course what really happens is that it hits the water table that bursts into steam and throws nuclear material up and out for miles around. Call it a very bad thing. Luckily it didn't happen. What did happen was that the nuclear core was partially exposed. A faulty sensor failed to note that fact. It took 48 hours before the technicians realized exactly how hosed they really were. In the meantime, they were telling authorities that they had it under control. They weren't lying. They were freakishly wrong! Other blunders led to the creation of a hydrogen bubble that was released into the atmosphere. Will that cause higher rates of cancer in the surrounding neighborhood? We are from the future, so we know that it will not. The real damage was done to the reputation of nuclear power. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The technicians at Three Mile Island were ill-trained in a new industry that had few people with any practical experience. The hydrogen bubble was something that never came up in their computer models. And the public was primed to freak out because two weeks prior to this incident, the movie "The China Syndrome" was released. I saw the movie and thought it was a little over the top, but given the Three Mile Island incident, maybe not. Today, the fears of a nuclear meltdown have diminished and our technological expertise has increased. It may be time to try nuclear power again. Toshiba has been trying to sell a pocket nuclear reactor. They bury it underground and refuel it every 30 years. It puts out around 10 megawatts... enough to power your neighborhood, but not your DeLorean time machine. [3] [4] [5]

Smallpox becomes the first disease eradicated through human intervention

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

Through the use of vaccinations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the smallpox virus was eradicated, besides a few samples kept to be studied in both the USSR and the US. In the early 1950s there were an estimated 50 million smallpox cases worldwide. To help prevent the spread of the virus, the process know as ring vaccination was performed, which consisted of vaccinating all those living near the site of an outbreak. Early on, the US and the USSR donated vaccines to the World Health Organization (WHO) to be used to help prevent the spread of smallpox in developing countries, however by the early 1970s, over 80% of the vaccines in use in the developing countries were produced their. The last outbreak of smallpox was in Birmingham, UK, and was the result of smallpox being used for research at the University of Birmingham Medical School. In response to this, all known stocks of smallpox were either destroyed, or were transferred to one of 2 labs with the highest rating of bio-security according to the WHO. The two sites were the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USSR's State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR. In July 2014, several vials of smallpox were discovered in an FDA lab in Bethesda, Maryland.[6][7]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
The eradication of smallpox shows how even mortal enemies, ones who were mere moments away from eradicating each other from the face of the Earth multiple times, can work together to achieve a laudable goal. Some skeptics might ask why only two viruses have been eradicated through vaccinations if vaccines are all their touted to be, there are several factors that combined to allow smallpox to be eradicated. The first major reason is that humans are the only vector for smallpox, meaning the only way to get smallpox is from another person with smallpox. It can't jump from a human to an animal then back to another human. Another major reason is that it's symptoms are extremely visible, and has an extremely short latency period where one carries with virus without displaying any symptoms. That last major reason smallpox was so efficiently eradicated is that once a person has smallpox or receives the vaccine, they have lifelong immunity to smallpox, this is because smallpox was a relatively stable virus with very few mutations.

America Held Hostage... Day 1

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

I'd like to say that the Shah of Iran is a great guy, but I can't. On the other hand he is not a monster. He is breaking heads, but not any that don't deserve to be broken. He is keeping order in a part of the world that seems on the brink of disaster, and it is a losing battle. The Shah has cancer, and the vultures are starting to circle. He had been pushing OPEC to raise the price of oil in the hope of spurring the Iranian economy, but this has bought him many enemies including the elite in Washington D.C.. President Jimmy Carter pulls his public support of the Shah. This allows the Ayatollah Khomeini to return from exile. The Revolution is on. I cannot adequately summarize all that follows, but the Shah needs surgery, and he wants it in the United States. President Carter says no. (Actually, he said, well... never mind. It was not polite.) Carter fears that the Iranians will retaliate against the US Embassy, but he finally relents and allows the Shah into the USA under an assumed name. Nevertheless, raging Iranian students overrun the US Embassy and take American hostages. The Iranian hostage crisis has begun, but it is nearly the end for the Shah. He will be dead in a few months. [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
News coverage of the Iranian hostage crisis always seemed to begin this way, "Day 200 of the Iranian hostage crisis... America held hostage!" It was a daily count that eventually destroyed Jimmy Carter's Presidency... although the oil crisis and the economic downturn didn't help much either. The final blow to Carter was when the American hostages were freed on inauguration day for President Ronald Reagan. Reagan had promised to get tough with the Iranians and here was the proof! Actually, it was not proof at all except proof that the Iranians wanted to embarrass Jimmy Carter... and it worked. [9]

Notable Births

  • Alton Sterling (died 2016, age 37): Fatally shot by Baton Rouge police for carrying a gun while selling CDs. In retaliation several Dallas police officers were shot dead. The shooter was cornered and then blown to bits by a robot carrying a bomb. (I hope that was all clear.--alexshrugged) [10] [11]
  • Keshia Knight Pulliam: As Rudy Huxtable, the youngest child on the Cosby Show. [10] [13]
  • Jennifer Morrison: House as Dr. Allison Cameron. [10] [14]
  • Kate Hudson: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. She is Goldie Hawn's daughter. [10] [15]
  • Bam Margera: Skateboarder and star of Viva La Bam and Jackass. [10] [16]

This Year in Film

  • The China Syndrome: This movie about a nuclear power plant accident is released two weeks before the real Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurs. [17]
  • Apocalypse Now: (I have never seen it, but my sense is that it is crazy as all get out.--alexshrugged). [18]
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture: (A highly produced version of Star Trek the TV series, but without much substance.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • Alien : Science fiction takes a whole new direction. (This movie scared the pee-waddles out of me.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • -- In Comedy: The Jerk, The Muppet Movie, Meatballs, Being There and Monty Python's Life of Brian.

This Year in TV

  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Politically incorrect action comedy. (I've never seen it, but it looks like Smokey and the Bandit if Sally Fields had been more buxom.--alexshrugged) [19]
  • Hart to Hart: TV mystery starring Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers. [19]
  • Knots Landing: A prime time soap opera. [19]
  • And spin-offs like...: The Facts of Life (from Diff'rent Strokes), Benson (from Soap) and Trapper John, M.D. (from M*A*S*H). [19]

This Year in Music

  • Heart of Glass: Blondie. [20]
  • I Will Survive: Gloria Gaynor. [20]
  • Hot Stuff: Donna Summer. [20]
  • The Wall: Pink Floyd. [20]

  • Eleven fans are killed before The Who concert begins: The crowd outside the stadium hears the band performing a sound check, and believe the concert has already begun! As the doors open, the crowd rushes in, and 11 people are crushed to death. [21] [22]

This Year in Video Games

  • Mattel's Intelivision Game Console is test marketed: In 2 years it will have 20% of the home game market. [23] [24]
  • Milton Bradley releases the first handheld game console: Microvision games come on cartridges. [23]
  • Atari releases Asteroids to the arcades: The quarters are dropping like mad. [23]
  • The TI-99/4A computer from Texas Instruments is introduced: It had the chiclet keyboard like little mint candies. Weird, but popular enough. [23]

In Other News

  • The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan: This will become the Soviet equivalent of "Vietnam". They are not the first and won't be the last. I'm looking at you President Bush, President Obama, and maybe President Trump. (He gets a grace period... for now.--alexshrugged) [21]
  • GLOBAL COOLING! It is snowing in the Sahara Desert: It will snow again on December 19th, 2016. (I'm not trying to prove Global Cooling. I'm pointing out that anyone can "prove" just about anything by choosing events that support their narrative and dismissing the ones that do not, so use caution.--alexshrugged) [21] [25]
  • Skylab falls out of orbit and hits Western Australia: Pieces of the lab actually made it all the way down although, it didn't look too good. Years later a Yahoo dot com commercial will poke fun at Skylab by showing an Australian in the Outback buying pillows online to protect his trailer from a falling satellite. [21] [26]
  • The Sony Walkman goes on sale in Japan.: It's a cassette player, but it looks cool. (I bought one.--alexshrugged) [21]

And a bunch of other stuff that is incredibly important, but it's just too much stuff.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1979, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. William Booth (December 4, 1987). "Postmortem on Three Mile Island". Science, New Series (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 238 (4832): 1342-1345. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1700109. Retrieved 07 April 2017. "Samples taken from the reactor vessel and examined at DOE's Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) reveal that at least 70% of the TMI-2's core was damaged, and between 35 and 45% of it actually melted during the accident, according to James Broughton, manager of the accident evaluation program for EG&G Idaho, the lead contractors at INEL. In addition, approximately 40,000 pounds of core material migrated to the bottom of the reactor during the accident. Many investigators are surprised that the reactor vessel maintained its integrity in the face of so great a challenge.". 
  2. Marshall, Eliot (April 20, 1979). "Preliminary Report on Three Mile Island, A". Science, New Series (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 204 (4390): 280-281. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1748000. Retrieved 07 April 2017. "The accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was dangerously out of control for at least 48 hours, according to a preliminary staff report given to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on 4 April. That is how long it took the technicians to figure out with any certainly what had gone amiss. During the first 13 1/2 hours after the accident began, the reactor core overheated and then began to disintegrate. Technicians stopped this process by a fortuitous action whose significance they did not fully grasp until much later.
    A mistaken move during this early period-such as a prolonged attempt to depressurize the reactor vessel, which is actually what the plant operators had in mind on the first day—would have caused serious damage to the control machinery and possibly produced a disaster in Pennsylvania. While this explosive and extremely hazardous situation developed, the people of Harrisburg were given bland assurances that the reactor was under control and that they had nothing to fear.".
  3. Backyard reactors? Firms shrink the nukes. - CSMonitor.com (December 29, 2008). Retrieved on 7 April 2017. “The unit, which would be buried about 100 feet underground, would only have to be refueled every 30 years or so. A turbine station would sit above the reactor, turning heat from the reactor into electricity.”
  4. Small nuclear power reactors - World Nuclear Association (29 March 2017). Retrieved on 7 April 2017. “Generally, modern small reactors for power generation, and especially SMRs, are expected to have greater simplicity of design, economy of series production largely in factories, short construction times, and reduced siting costs. Most are also designed for a high level of passive or inherent safety in the event of malfunction. Also many are designed to be emplaced below ground level, giving a high resistance to terrorist threats”
  5. Toshiba 4S - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 7 April 2017. “The technical specifications of the 4S reactor are unique in the nuclear industry. The actual reactor would be located in a sealed, cylindrical vault 30 m (98 ft) underground, while the building above ground would be 22×16×11 m (72×52.5×36 ft) in size. This power plant is designed to provide 10 megawatts of electrical power with a 50 MW version available in the future.”
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smallpox
  7. https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/disease-eradication
  8. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 7 April 2017. “International policies pursued by the Shah in order to increase national income by remarkable increases of the price of oil through his leading role in the Organization of the Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) have been stressed as a major cause for a shift of Western interests and priorities and for an actual reduction of their support for him reflected in a critical position of Western politicians and media, especially of the administration of US President Jimmy Carter, regarding the question of human rights in Iran, and in strengthened economic ties between the United States of America and Saudi Arabia in the 1970s.”
  9. Iran hostage crisis - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 7 April 2017. “The hostages were formally released into United States custody the day after the signing of the Algiers Accords, just minutes after the new American president, Ronald Reagan, was sworn into office.”
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 1979 Births - Wikipedia.
  11. Alton Sterling - Wikipedia.
  12. Adam Brody - Wikipedia.
  13. Adam Brody - Wikipedia.
  14. Jennifer Morrison - Wikipedia.
  15. Kate Hudson - Wikipedia.
  16. Bam Margera - Wikipedia.
  17. The China Syndrome - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 7 April 2017. “The film was released on March 16, 1979, just under two weeks before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, which gave the film's subject matter an unexpected prescience. Coincidentally, in one scene, physicist Dr. Elliott Lowell (Donald Hotton) says that the China Syndrome would render 'an area the size of Pennsylvania' permanently uninhabitable.”
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 1979 in film - Wikipedia (1979). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 1979 in television - Wikipedia (1979).
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 1979 in music - Wikipedia (1979). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 {{cite web | url = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979 | title = 1979 - Wikipedia }}
  22. The Who concert disaster - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 6 April 2017. “The doors were not opened at the scheduled time, causing the crowd to become increasingly agitated and impatient. During this period, the Who undertook a late soundcheck. Some members of the crowd heard this and mistakenly believed that the concert was starting.”
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 1979 in music - Wikipedia (1979).
  24. Official Intellivision Classic Videogame Website. Retrieved on 6 April 2017. “1979 Intellivision console and four game cartridges are successfully test marketed through Gottschalks department stores in and around Fresno, California.”
  25. "First Sahara desert snow in 40 years captured in photographs - The Independent", 21 December 2016. Retrieved on 7 April 2017. “In his images a thin layer of snow rests on deep orange dunes, where he said it stayed for about a day, and forms whirling patterns where the slopes are too steep for it to settle. Snow was reportedly last seen in Ain Sefra in 1979, when a half-hour snowstorm stopped traffic.” 
  26. Yahoo! - Satellite - YouTube. Retrieved on 7 April 2017. “YAHOO! - SATELLITE Commercial Public Services YAHOO! Advertising Agency:BLACK ROCKET USA Creative Director:BOB KERSTETTER Copywriter:BOB KERSTETTER Art Director:STEVE STONE Agency Producer:STACY MCCLAIN Account Supervisor:BETH BORGMAN Advertiser's Supervisor:KAREN EDWARDS Production Company:TOOL OF NORTH AMERICA USA Director:ERICH JOINER Producer:JOBY OCHSNER Lighting Cameraman:MARK PLUMMER Music: Artist/Title:ELIAS & ASSOCIATES”

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