Twenty five years ago today, reactor 4 at the Chernobyl power plant exploded. It is still the worst nuclear accident in history. It also laid bare that the Soviet system had no regard for any sort of preparation, nor regard for human safety. They were more interested in keeping the veil of strength and achievement. The openness that was forced upon them in the aftermath eventually was used to illuminate the rest of the system.
Chernobyl has largely faded into the background, but the disaster is still there. About ten years ago there was work to mend the sarcophagus that had been hastily constructed. At that time, I was in college and I worked for a scientist who was developing robotics to go into the plant and map the remains. He felt that it was a moral imperative of technology to clean up, repair, and prevent the disasters that were caused by science and technology. Too many of us forge ahead in our fields with disregard or obliviousness to what it does or could leave behind in it’s wake. The Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents should serve as a reminder of the human toll that our hubris can be forced to pay. In the end, between nature and humanity, nature still has more power than we do.