The MIT nuclear reactor tour was a great way to see first hand how nuclear energy was produced and what the process was. Although I was a bit confused, the tour throughout helped to clear this up a bit as our leader led us through the different parts of the reactor. Seeing the machines up close and hearing how they operated was a surreal experience, and a little bit scary. However, it made me feel better that the lab is used only for research and not to generate power. Still, walking into the reactor was intimidating and I felt worried. Perhaps this was because the facility was locked down with a lot of security, and had to have prior personal information about us if we were to enter the facility. When we were checked in we were given a device that monitored radiation called an embitter. We were instructed to carry this on us at all times and to leave our cellphones and other personal belongings in a room outside of the reactor. This was a bit alarming to me, and made me realize how seriously the production of nuclear energy needed to be taken. It made the experience very real for me.
I thought it was really interesting how they were able to add things directly to the reactor to see the reaction as it seems very beneficial to the facility’s research. Furthermore, the fact that they used to use the reactor to treat cancer patients was very intriguing and good to hear. I was eager to learn more about the process and disappointed to hear that although it was very effective, they had stopped treating patients due to cost. When we went downstairs in the reactor, we got to see where the patients were treated, which was a bit spooky, but also very cool! This was probably the most interesting part of the tour for me because it was a real life application of the things we were learning about nuclear energy in class!