By Topic

Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE

Issue 4 • Date Winter 1994

Filter Results

Displaying Results 1 - 4 of 4
  • Plutonium: how can we get rid of it?

    Page(s): 7 - 13
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (951 KB)  

    Plutonium is the enigma of the nuclear age. Its presence and its use are never far from headline news because of the horrendous destruction that it can create. Between them, the military and commercial parts of the world's nuclear industry have created about 1000 tons since the time of its discovery in 1941. Though military production is being scaled back in most of the declared nuclear weapons states, civilian power reactors continue to produce more. The paper highlights many of the problems peculiar to the physical properties of plutonium and the relationships between its uses and its potential for abuse. Following the description of these problems, a brief analysis from a technical viewpoint is presented on the choice of methods available for elimination or disposition of plutonium. A conclusion is drawn from this analysis that a series of global-regional centers could provide the best safeguarding. Finally, the paper stresses the need for the states involved in handling plutonium to develop more democratic mechanisms than have been used in the past for decision making. A vital step in this development is that professional engineers and scientists become more informed about the issues surrounding plutonium so that they can participate fully in the process. This is particularly pertinent for those in the nuclear power industry, which may have to overcome financial disincentives in order to aid the elimination of plutonium.<> View full abstract»

    Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.
  • The role of technology in sustainable development

    Page(s): 14 - 19
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (766 KB)  

    The inability of governments represented at the 1992 Earth Summit to reach a consensus on reducing either population growth or consumption, and the political need for the concept of sustainable development to accommodate economic growth, mean that the achievement of sustainable development will depend on our ability to reduce the environmental impact of resource use through technological change. This will require the redesign of our technological systems and not merely the application of technological fixes that are seldom satisfactory in the long term. Past attempts by the appropriate technology movement to affect such a redesign neglected the social dimensions of technological change. Modern advocates of sustainable development will similarly fail unless they recognize the need for fundamental social change and a shift in priorities.<> View full abstract»

    Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.
  • Rethinking technological economy of scale

    Page(s): 20 - 21
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (297 KB)  

    Until about a decade ago, American business still believed in the "economy of scale". Big was better in every aspect of industry. This myth has been crumbling in view of the decline in US industrial competitiveness. There has been a shift from centralized, big machines and capital-intensive processes to smaller systems characterized by "do it yourself" and, in some cases, "just in time" operations. The natural course of almost any technology leads to fragmentation and smallness. Technological economy of scale is temporary, but has been perpetuated for too long both by monopolists and advocates of centrally planned economies.<> View full abstract»

    Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.
  • A new direction in space

    Page(s): 22 - 29
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1066 KB)  

    From the very beginning of the Space Age, a fundamental issue has been whether space exploration should be conducted by manned missions or by unmanned missions. In a so-called unmanned mission, only inanimate systems are transported into space. In a manned mission, human beings are on board the spacecraft. A third option may now be available: an unmanned mission providing virtually the same subjective and objective effect as a manned mission, but with the much lower cost of an unmanned mission. The ongoing revolution in digital processing technology may now make it possible to develop the means for a human to be effectively there, without going there, over interplanetary distances. Unlike conventional robotic rover missions, this third option would be, both subjectively and objectively, virtually equivalent to a manned mission. The new (third) option for manned equivalent space exploration is based upon semi-autonomous control technology. Investment in this technology is likely to pay off with critically important industrial applications on Earth in the coming decades, no matter what may happen in space. Manned equivalent space exploration by this new approach will be much less expensive. and much more likely to prosper and to produce knowledge and commercial opportunities in space.<> View full abstract»

    Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

Aims & Scope

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine covers the impact of technology (as embodied by the fields of interest in IEEE) on society

Full Aims & Scope

Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Katina Michael
School of Information Systems and Technology
University of Wollongong