Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists get set for simulated nuclear inspection

01.09.2014

Some 40 scientists and technicians from around the world will descend on Jordan in November to take part in a simulated on-site inspection of a suspected nuclear test site on the banks of the Dead Sea.

Playing the part of inspectors, the experts will have access to a wide range of sensor technologies to look for signs of whether a nuclear explosion has taken place. At the same time, other role-players representing the state under inspection will try to put them off their scent.

The aim of this elaborate exercise, as science writer Edwin Cartlidge explains in this month's Physics World, is to prepare for the on-site inspections foreseen under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Opened for signature in 1996, this agreement bans all signatory nations from carrying out nuclear tests anywhere on Earth or in space.

The CTBT has been signed by more than 180 nations to date, but to become legally binding all 44 countries that possessed nuclear technology in 1996 must sign it and then ratify it, which typically means that their parliaments must approve it in a vote. However, eight of those countries, including North Korea and the US, have still to do so.

... more about:
»CTBTO »IMS »IOP »Physics »evidence »gases »phenomena »simulated »technologies »waves

Until the CTBT gets the backing of all the relevant nations, scientists cannot perform the final and crucial part of the verification regime specified in the treaty: on-site inspection, which would be invoked following initial evidence of any nuclear testing provided by a global network of sensors known as the International Monitoring System (IMS).

In the article, Cartlidge explains in more detail the role that the IMS's 279 facilities currently play in detecting four types of physical phenomena than can provide evidence of a nuclear explosion having taken place.

Data produced by measuring these phenomena – seismic waves, radioactive nuclei, underwater sound waves and infrasonic waves – are continually sent in near real-time to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna, Austria, where they are pieced together and used to look for any suspicious or unnatural events.

"Unfortunately, the evidence from the IMS is not always enough to convince signatories of the CTBT that a nuclear test has taken place. The network did not, for example, detect any radionuclides following a test North Korea carried out in 2009, and it was nearly two months before stations in Japan and Russia picked up radioactive noble gases after [North Korea's] 2013 test," Cartlidge writes.

Once the experts arrive at the roughly 1000 km2 of mountainous desert and scrubland in Jordan, they will have access to almost all of the sensor technologies available to them under the terms of the CTBT, including ultraviolet light to search for vehicle tracks in the dirt, infrared radiation to hunt down the exact point of any possible explosion, and noble-gas detection systems to measure the telltale gases xenon and argon.

"While the treaty remains on hold, CTBTO scientists will continue to refine and test their monitoring techniques, ensuring that they are as ready as they can be should they finally be called upon to investigate what could be the explosion of a real nuclear weapon. "The exercise in Jordan should provide a stern test of that preparedness," Cartlidge concludes.

Also in this issue:

  • Pointless or profound? -- The search for "sterile" neutrinos
  • The ultimate job -- What it really takes to be CERN boss
  • Cosmic discovery -- How Einstein studied the steady state
###

Please mention Physics World as the source of these items and, if publishing online, please include a hyperlink to: http://physicsworld.com

Notes for editors:

1. Physics World is the international monthly magazine published by the Institute of Physics. For further information or details of its editorial programme, please contact the editor, Dr Matin Durrani, tel +44 (0)117 930 1002. The magazine's website physicsworld.com is updated regularly and contains daily physics news and regular audio and video content. Visit http://physicsworld.com.

2. For copies of the articles reviewed here contact Mike Bishop, IOP Publishing Senior Press Officer, tel: +44 (0)11 7930 1032, e-mail: michael.bishop@iop.org

3. The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications.

In September 2013, we launched our first fundraising campaign. Our campaign, Opportunity Physics, offers you the chance to support the work that we do.

Michael Bishop | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: CTBTO IMS IOP Physics evidence gases phenomena simulated technologies waves

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole
22.02.2018 | Royal Astronomical Society

nachricht UMass Amherst physicists contribute to dark matter detector success
22.02.2018 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>