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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Welcome to Yucca Mountain," by Jeff Wheelright. Discover, September 2002.

Wheelright reports that a governmental computer model has determined that YuccaMountain is a suitable repository for America's nuclear waste storage. Themodeling included data on weather, the geological components at all strata,potential for earthquakes or volcanoes, combined with the likelihood ofaccident, corroding containers and hazardous exposures, and what is known aboutthe properties of nuclear waste. But because the model--"equations andassumptions"--cannot predict with assurance the future (cannot control or knowall the variables, and cannot know the natural and material processes),political and scientific debate abounds. The author examines responses from thescientific community and lay public regarding the tests, computer modeling, andpossible short and long term environmental and health ramifications.

--- Annette Emerson

American Mathematical Society