Trip to Sziget Festival

11.-15.08.2010, Budapest, Hungary

If you ever wondered what is the Hungarian word for “Island” it is quite easy. Just say “Sziget” and all Hungarians will know what you are thinking about, but not only Hungarians, also Dutch, Germans, French, Irish, Romanians, etc. This Hungarian word for island is probably popular only because of the huge Sziget festival that is held each year in Budapest, and, as you probably assume, it is located on the big island.

As a member of the Czech Young Generation, I was sent to Budapest with a free ticket for Sziget festival (which, of course, I accepted with gratitude) in order to support our colleagues and friends from the Hungarian Young Generation. Purpose of my trip was to help them in educating festival visitors in nuclear energy, fission, fusion and nuclear technology and industry. Also, this was one easy and elegant way to promote nuclear industry and technology in the world, since many foreigners are visiting Sziget music festival. To be honest, at the beginning I was a little bit skeptic about this plan since I though not many young people will like to hear about atoms, reactions and technology during the summer and vacation period, but to my big surprise, totally opposite happened.

People firstly entered in our “Nuclear Tent” in Sziget festival with the face showing their respect to nuclear field but also showing skepticism and uncertainty. Through numerous discussions, short lectures, pictures, diagrams and brochures, around 15 young professionals were trying for 4 days to explain to the others how nuclear fission and fusion work. After short explanations, all the visitors did the 3 pages-long “nuclear test” which was available in the Hungarian, English, German, Russian and French languages. I thought many of them will run away when I offer them the “nuclear test” but on contrary most of them were willing to check their knowledge. Also, after finishing the test everybody could get special fusion gifts, such as pans, postcards, stickers, balloons, t-shirts, bags, etc.

Generally, after I had checked many nuclear tests, I can make some conclusions: from my point of view, many people simply mix fusion with fission, they even think that some NPPs work on fusion reaction (also few visitors repeated that NPP is ran on nuclear explosion!); they express great worry about nuclear radioactive waste and, surely, they have no idea about all the advantages that nuclear energy offers (for example, they think gas and oil power plants do not emit greenhouse gases while nuclear does!). On the other hand, people are generally familiar with the basic characteristics of the radioactive waste and the plans for the final disposal and repository of this waste (even though some of them think that RadWast can be stored under water). People also have relatively low knowledge about fusion program, they think fusion has something to do with uranium, and they have no information weather their country is included in fusion program at all. They consider wind and water as the best renewable energy option to replace nuclear power plants, if necessary, and are also willing to discuss their opinion with us while trying to understand the biggest advantages of nuclear energy. I hope that more conclusions will be made by the Hungarian Young Generation since they decided to evaluate all the tests once again and make some general conclusions about public opinion. These results can be essential when considering building a new NPP in Hungary and in improving the knowledge of the public about nuclear energy.

During my free time on 12th of August I went for a short visit to the research reactor at the Technical University. Reactor itself has an untypical building (reminding me on a UFO :-) and is situated at the university site. Reactor uses fuel rods with a magnesium uranium powder inside as a fuel and it has a maximal power of 200 kW. Reflector of neutrons is graphite and moderator light water. Since 1972 (when reactor started the operation) it changed only one fuel element (suspected to be damaged). This is due to a low reactor power and total reactor utilization since it is mainly used for education and training of university students.

One thing that I noticed during my short stay with the members of the Hungarian Young Generation is that just few percent of them actually studied nuclear engineering, or nuclear physics. Most of them come from totally different fields, such as mechanical engineering, or theoretical physics, mathematics, informatics, etc. I think that CYG can also focus in the future to enlarge the number of members in other fields and among people who have respect to nuclear energy and who are somehow interested in this promising field but are not actually affiliated with it. Also, in the future, it would be great to organize some kind of a “nuclear tent” in the Czech Republic, as a part of some festival, concert or any other activity that can bring young people together who are willing to hear something about nuclear physics, energy and technology.

Marija Miletić, sekce mladých ČNS

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