Russia's Self-Contained Nuclear Lighthouses

During the days of the former Soviet Union, the government decided to build autonomous lighthouses on the Northern coast of the country. Often hundreds of miles from the nearest villages and towns, they needed an independent power source.


(Russia's Self-Contained Nuclear Lighthouses)

After reviewing different ideas on how to make them work for a years without service and any external power supply, Soviet engineers decided to implement atomic energy to power up those structures.

So, special lightweight small atomic reactors were produced in limited series to be delivered to the Polar Circle lands and to be installed on the lighthouses. Those small reactors could work in the independent mode for years and didn’t require any human interference, so it was very handy in the situation like this. It was a kind of robot-lighthouse which counted itself the time of the year and the length of the daylight, turned on its lights when it was needed and sent radio signals to near by ships to warn them on their journey. It all looks like ran out the sci-fi book pages, but so they were.

These structures today lie abandoned, the technicians needed to service them were no longer trained and the factories that produced parts were halted when the USSR fell; eventually, the lighthouse mechanisms failed.

Then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the unattended automatic lighthouses did it job for some time, but after some time they collapsed too. Mostly as a result of the hunt for the metals like copper and other stuff which were performed by the looters. They didn’t care or maybe even didn’t know the meaning of the “Radioactive Danger” sign and ignored them, breaking in and destroying the equipment. It sounds creepy but they broke into the reactors too causing all the structures to become radioactively polluted.


(Polluted, radioactive interior)

I thought about several well-known sf writers when I read this story. In his 1982 novel Friday, Robert Heinlein describes shipstones, which were completely sealed power sources that (depending on size) could power a house, a ship or a city for decades at a time.

I also thought about how the fall of an empire caused similar problems in a fictional work, namely Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy. Hober Mallow, Trader, had this conversation with a tech-man about the power stations under his care:

"And all those generators are in your hands?"

"Every one," said the tech-man, with more than a touch of complacency.

"And if they break down?"

The tech-man shook his head indignantly. "They don't break down. They never break down. They were built for eternity."

"Eternity is a long time. Just suppose-"

"It is unscientific to suppose meaningless cases."

"All right. Suppose I were to blast a vital part into nothingness? ...Suppose I fuse a vital connection, or smash a quartz D-tube."

"Well, then," shouted the tech-man, furiously, "you would be killed."

"Yes, I know that," Mallow was shouting, too, "but what about the generator" Could you repair it?"

"Sir," the tech-man howled his words, "...Now get out!"

Via English Russia.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/22/2013)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

DARPA's Virtual Caves Explored By Virtual Robots
'If there's anything in here worth looking at, these pups'll find it.' - Ridley Scott, 2012.

Samsung Gets Transparent Smartphone Patent
The Transparency of Things to Come

Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...' - Philip Frances Nowlan, 1928.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'

Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?

PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'

Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room — set up.'

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'

Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Comercial Airlock 'Bishop' Now On ISS
'They put the bones and the glass can that had contained the soup into the double-doored partition or vestibule...'

Space Station Could Use Some Martian Sawgrass
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?'

ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
'A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker...'

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.