Book release notes, errata, corrections

The book will be a living document at least for a while. Corrections and suggestions for improvements, complaints about unclear  or unpersuasive passages, additional material, photos, or citations should be posted to this thread. As the book is modified, release notes and acknowledgements will be posted here.

47 thoughts on “Book release notes, errata, corrections”

  1. gkbweb

    On page 71 in the print version, the figure for LNT cancers should be 153, not 312.
    The 312 figure was based on the doses as estimated by Chen.
    The 153 is based on the doses as estimated by Hwang.
    Theis has been corrected in the website version.

  2. gkbweb

    On 2020/10/05, a new version of the book was uploaded.
    This version has better graphs and a host of other changes.
    If you want to be sure, you have the most recent version,
    check the page after the title page, and look for Version
    under the ISBN number. It should be /nfs/TC/gordian/vN.

  3. gkbweb

    Put Ted Rockwell’s chapter on LNT on the downloads page. This piece is not only must read for its cogent arguments against LNT, but also to the indifference/hostility that the nuclear complex showed towards his efforts.
    Rockwell was almost alone and he understood the reason why. By the 1980’s
    the US nuclear complex was more interested in grabbing taxpayer money to solve
    manufactured problems than in expanding nuclear power.

  4. I think you should end chapter 1 with a copy of Fig A.1: Resources per Terrawatt-hour, and a paragraph explaining that nuclear power has the lowest resource requirement of any sustainable energy source and and lowest impact on the environment of any energy source. That will smooth the transition from chapter 1 (about why we need more power) to the rest of the book (how to fix nuclear power).

    Also, maybe update the version of the same graph in the renewables chapter to include fossil gas (which requires much less material than any other), for completeness, but also it helps to explain why gas works so well with renewables.

  5. gkbweb

    Posted ” What should we do with barely with barely used nuclear fuel?”
    This note makes the argument for indefinite dry cask storage
    to allow our descendants to decide when and how much of this
    potentially valuable material to extract and reuse.

  6. rmrrmrm

    Text in this area co-mingles consumption and capacity units.
    Figure 1.3 and Page 22 “For example, one company, Swedish iron ore giant LKAB,
    estimates they will need 6.3 gigawatts (GW) to move their mining and steel making away from
    fossil fuel and coke.[93] 6.3 GW is one-third the current Swedish very high per capita electricity
    Does the steel plant require 6.3 GW of generating capacity (1.5 Palo Verdes) to replace burning coke? Is their annual energy budget 6.3 GWh? I can’t tell.

  7. 6.3 GW’s of power is correct. Guessing something like 50 TWh/year.
    Technical details on the Swedish HYBRIT process are scant.
    But the number appears to include both
    the power required to convert the iron ore into iron sponge
    and direct reduction of the iron sponge to steel.
    HYBRIT is a partnership between LKAB, the mining giant,
    and SSAB, the steel making giant. The book is a little misleading here.

  8. gkbweb

    Added a section on the Rockefeller Foundation’s role in funding
    research into genetic damage from radiation. Although it turned
    out the fears were unfounded, this was the real genesis of LNT.
    It’s also a fascinating story about how a combination of high minded concern
    about nuclear weapons and lust for grant money led to
    scientific misconduct and outright deception.

  9. gkbweb

    Amplified Rockefeller Foundation section with some recently found material.
    Added section on clever Columbia University experiments which
    contradict the single hit theory. A bunch of more minor changes.

  10. I just finished the book. It’s important and revolutionary—and will have very little impact. The problem is the writing. You’re an engineer, and write like one. That’s great for an academic paper, but not for a popular work meant to move opinion and public policy. You need to hire a professional writer to rewrite it from front to back—keeping the information and message, of course, but presenting it in a much more palatable way. This isn’t a matter of little fixes (like defining the specialized terms that keep popping up, like “casualty” and “dispatchable”). This needs a thorough going over, which is likely to take a reasonable sum of money.

    But I hope you do so, because the world needs this book.

    1. macquigg

      Do NOT rewrite this book. There are plenty of videos to move popular opinion, and even opinions of engineers like myself. A few months ago, I stumbled upon a video ten-years old of Kirk Sorensen explaining molten salt reactors. That knocked me loose from my anti-nuclear, but mostly inattentive attitude, and started a quest to learn more. After watching more videos and even digging into some physics, I saw the need for a comprehensive, well-sourced summary of what I had learned. This book is it. Anyone serious about the renaissance of nuclear power should read it. I still see a need for something shorter, peer-reviewed, and more accessible to the public (and perhaps some reporters who are ignoring nuclear while sounding the alarm on climate change). I’m thinking of a Wikipedia-style article, but without the mob-editing hassles. — David MacQuigg, Associate Editor, Citizendium

      1. gkbweb

        Thanks, David. Jim’s complaint was wounding . I try hard to not write
        like an engineer. But he’s right. The book is very uneven. Some parts
        are easily accessible. Other parts get deep into the weeds. I played
        with dumping some of the chapters, but then the full argument
        wasn’t there. Perhaps a MacKay style, pushing the more technical
        stuff into appendices, would have worked better. Anyway I encourage
        anybody who wants to extract and rearrange as they see fit.

        1. Roy Gardiner

          I can see both Jim and Mac’s points. Singing to the choir, the book is great. It summarises much of what we all have already read, and adds more data in new forms.

          But in my opinion it fails as a popular book, for being too technical and a bit highbrow for a normal reader. For instance, the word ‘casualty’ is used not to mean ‘someone harmed by war or accident’ but ‘incident’; this is not intuitive. Or, how many people know the meaning of the word ‘dirigisme’? I didn’t before reading, and I have a fair vocabulary.

          The problem IMO for nuclear is not technical. The case to me seems totally overwhelming. The problem is marketing. To state the case so simply and so interestingly that a normal person couldn’t fail to understand it, and would in fact read it. And then to make politicians take notice.

          I haven’t come across such a book yet; Dr Devanney’s book would be input to it. Incidentally, well done sir.

          And in answer to the obvious retort, No; I’m neither a good enough writer nor knowledgeable enough.

          1. gkbweb

            I hate the euphemism “accident” which implies an event
            that’s nobody’s fault. But changing “casualty” to “accident”
            and “dirigisme” to “direction” won’t solve the problem.

            How do you make the argument that just about everything
            you’ve been told about nuclear power, including by the
            nuclear power establishment, is wrong, without getting
            into the weeds? I don’t know, but it’s worth a try.


  11. dohadavey

    On page 224, last paragraph: “According to the M.I.T. paper, solar is cheaper than wind. So solar dominates their `zero’ carbon solutions, especially in their low cost scenarios. However, despite all the favorable assumptions, to get to `zero’ carbon in these scenarios for the New England grid requires about 5 times as much solar capacity as the peak load. They also need about 1 times as much wind
    capacity as the peak load.”

    I am thinking that the ‘1 times as much wind’ is supposed to be ’10’, or ’11’ (??) as the wording suggests a number higher than 1 was intended. Kind regards, Chris Davey

  12. Chris,
    The number as written is what MIT came up with.
    They needed 5x solar plus 1x wind, so overall
    W/S nameplate capacity was 6X the peak demand.
    Awkward use of the plural on my part.

  13. gkbweb

    Good question. I have not been able to track down the source
    of this figure. But I did spot check some of the numbers
    with other sources, and got reasonably good agreement.


  14. gkbweb

    Uploaded Version w9., July 12.
    Main change is a new section (5.5) applying SNT to Fukushima.
    Also extensive changes to Section 5.6. More evidence
    that the NCRP/ICRP massive changes in dose limits in the 1950’s
    were ALARA based targets, rather than harm based levels, Section 7.8.

    1. gkbweb


      No plans for Kindle or the like. Everything floating looked too difficult too implement, or at least more trouble than it was worth.

      The book is a work in progress. Reluctant to distribute the source at least
      until thing stabilize. Send me an email djw1 at, with what yr thinking.

  15. gkbweb

    Version wB posted on 2021-09-04. Major changes to Chapters 4 and 5.
    New analyses of the Lost Life Expectancy due to radiation
    at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Changed the SNT “repair period”
    from a month to a week, bringing the legal repair period more in line
    with the actual. More emphasis on dose rate and less on LNT.
    In particular, see the new Table 4.17. Recommendation that
    we go back to the pre-1950 NCRP/ICRP tolerance dose
    of 1 mSv/day as a regulatory harm limit. Many smaller changes.

  16. gkbweb

    Version wD posted 2021-10-02. Important fix to
    SNT calc of Lost Life Expectancy at Fukushima.

    New sections on INWORKS study, buffer zones,
    and the lousy contractor argument.

    More emphasis on daily dose rates, less on annual/monthly.

  17. ccf149

    When I began to download the Gordian Knot book, it initially failed, generating the following message:
    “File not downloaded: Potential Security Risk
    The file used an insecure connection. It may be corrupted or tampered with during the download process.
    You can search for an alternate download source or try again later.”

    I was unable to cut-and-paste the original message, so I re-typed it above. My typed version might differ slightly from the original.

    My system uses Windows 10 and a Mozilla browser. I use the standard antivirus program built into Window 10 and also MalwareBytes premium. I’m not sure exactly where this message is being generated, but I suspect it is from the browser. It only shows up when I mouse-left-click the download status icon (sort of a down-pointing arrow) in the upper portion of the browser screen (and then ask for more information on why the download failed).

    I took the additional step of authorizing the download and now seem to have the book downloaded OK (but haven’t started reading it yet).

    For a test, I tried to download a few other files from your site. The Fukushima file downloaded without a hitch, but the others seemed to pause, giving the same warning is described above.

    It occurred to me that this might be related to something called (I believe) something like an SSL certificate. The company hosting my personal web site bugs me about this occasionally (but I’ve never made the effort to learn how to obtain one and install it). I wondered if I would get the same message if I tried to download an item from my own web site ( I tried that as a test. I was able to download a jpg image from my own site (not a pdf). Not sure if that proves anything, since my computer may somehow recognize “it’s own” stuff — or maybe be suspicious of only certain files types.

    Thanks for providing this book.

    I learned about your book (and web site) from the December 2021 issue of “Nuclear News” magazine.

  18. thomasathorne

    Hi, I really enjoyed reading the book and think it is an important message, wish there were more people thinking along these lines!

    I wanted to point out what I think may be a small inaccuracy: in the section on Fukushima Tritium (11.5.3) you say that the beta decay of Tritium is less energetic than a cathode ray tube electron. Do you have a reference for this? The Tritium beta’s energy averages 5.7 keV, this is easy to look up and uncontroversial. It’s harder to know exactly what a CRT electron energy would be. However, I’d be surprised if a typical CRT used over 5700 volts, and the brief google search I did suggested that 450 eV was a rough energy per electron.

  19. gkbweb


    Cant pretend to be an expert on antique TV’s but the sources I looked at
    claim the old TV’s used more than 20,000 V. For example, the always accurate Wikipedia says 21 to 24 kV for black and white and 24 to 32 kV for color.
    Can you point me to your source? 5.7 keV is the correct ave for tritium.


    1. thomasathorne

      Hi Jack,
      Thanks for your reply and sorry I didn’t see it until just now. You’re right, I think I should have tried a bit harder to find an accurate estimate for the TV—the short search I did turned up an estimate of 450 volts but I now realise this wasn’t actually for a television, but rather a crt used in a lecture demonstration of some kind. Sorry, a bit lazy on my part!
      Best wishes,

  20. engineerpoet38215

    I just finished the main portion of revision wN. I found a bunch of typos, which I regrettably failed to keep notes on.

    Something you can fix pretty easily are recurrent grammatical errors. You have a habit of beginning sentences with “And”, which is a conjunction and should follow a comma, not a full stop. Either deletion or a global search and replace with “Also,” (including the comma and case-matched) would be appropriate.

    Something else that’s annoying is the employment of what looks like double em-dashes. I don’t know if it’s my reader or not, but on my screen these are so light that they’re practically invisible. Text should be BLACK, #000. It’s not like anyone’s screen is going to run out of toner.

    Anyway, just some notes from another inveterate writer.

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