Understanding the mechanisms of a nuclear power plant and why it’s so easy for things to go awry takes a bit of dedication to figuring out the way plants are designed. While a few years old, this educational video game seems timely, as it demands of you to do precisely what officials in Fukushima, Japan, are desperately trying to achieve right now: run your own nuclear power plant and keep it from melting down.
The game, created by Geoffrey Noles, has a simple enough premise: keep a nuclear power plant running day by day generating as much electricity as possible without melting down. You can run it at low speed and risk regular blackouts, or keep the fires burning hot enough to melt. The game, of course, gets interesting once you have to actually contain the chain reactions, but usually by then it’s too late. It even has a “difficult” setting in which the plant you’re running is rusty and prone to overheating (and, yes, rickety plants run in real life. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant didn’t stop producing electricity until the year 2000. The game is a stark reminder of how quickly nuclear accidents can occur in a vacuum– add a couple of earthquakes and a tsunami and the situation seems near impossible, though, fortunately, the situation in Fukushima, Japan seems to be in the process of being handled as well as can be expected. Or at least better than the way I handled my last round of “Nuclear Power Plant.”
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