Delayed reaction

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Last updated on June 24th, 2017 at 11:29 am

Nukes are quietly – also safely and cleanly – making a comeback:

After a hiatus of nearly three decades, nuclear energy is booming. Seventeen power companies in the U.S. are making plans to build more than 30 nuclear plants.

Support for nukes within the US has grown from 49 per cent to 64 per cent since 1983. Electricite de France is looking to up-nuke the UK:

EDF … has said it wants to build at least four nuclear plants in the United Kingdom.

Five nuclear plants are currently under construction in China, India and Iran; they could be followed by plants in Bulgaria, Morocco, Vietnam, Egypt and South Africa:

Thirty other nuclear plants are currently being built in 12 countries …

Australia should join this exciting global trend.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/30/2008 at 11:10 AM
    1. They’ve should have already been built.  The only reason they weren’t was because environmentalists, greens, liberals, leftists, and the Hollywood set were screaching that nuclear power would doom – DOOM !!!! – us.

      If we could have built nice safe nuclear power plants, all heavily regulated, greenhouse gasses would have been substantially reduced by now.  Plus utility prices, most influenced by the turbulent fluctuations of oil, natural gas, and coal, would have stayed low.

      IDIOTS !  All of them.

      Posted by wronwright on 2008 03 30 at 11:42 AM • permalink


    1. Seventeen power companies in the U.S. are making plans to build more than 30 nuclear plants.

      “Making plans” and constructing new nuke plants are two very different things. The leftist environmentalist wackos still have a lot of clout in the US. The chances of any nuclear power plants actually being built in the next decade are practically nil – we’re far more likely to see some older existing ones shut down.

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2008 03 30 at 11:47 AM • permalink


    1. I dunno, Spiny.  There’s some serious clout behind those plants, and it’s possible.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2008 03 30 at 11:50 AM • permalink


    1. Bring it on.  It can’t come soon enough, and the implications for the Middle East are huge.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2008 03 30 at 12:13 PM • permalink


    1. Yay!  I have many reasons to be in favor of widespread use of nuclear power, least of which is CO2 mitigation.  I think it’s a shame that the renaissance is “fueled” in part by fear of gorebal worming, but the realpolitics tell me that right now it’s the only way.

      Posted by reese on 2008 03 30 at 12:40 PM • permalink


    1. Something else that may have implications for the Middle East:

      Massive Oil Deposit Could Increase US reserves by 10x

      America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America’s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC’s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.

      Does anyone know if any of this is true, is it just an urban legend, or is someone in North Dakota trying to sell “drilling rights”? It would be great if it’s true, but a Google search leaves me with the impression of “pie in the sky”.

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2008 03 30 at 12:42 PM • permalink


    1. Expect Saudi money for Greens to fight nuclear power in the Courts.

      When Steve Emerson gets done with CAIR, maybe he’ll take a close look at the various Greens.

      Posted by Harry Bergeron on 2008 03 30 at 01:12 PM • permalink


    1. Ah, here is Rudd’s chance to really lead global opinion – he should immediately invest in this and begin installing mini nuclear reactors on every street!

      Posted by Ian Deans on 2008 03 30 at 03:30 PM • permalink


    1. Re: my off-topic #6

      Interesting blog entry on the Bakken oil deposits:

      Bakken and Torquay Formations – A Saudi Arabia of oil under Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Manitoba

      Maybe not so much “pie in the sky”. Cool.

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2008 03 30 at 04:05 PM • permalink


    1. Re the ND oil reservoir… I think the the endangered status of the North Dakota ice cockroach is gonna screw any plans in that regard, folks.

      Posted by Rod C on 2008 03 30 at 04:26 PM • permalink


    1. #8 Nuclear power for Oz..not in the lifetime of anyone here, sad to say.

      But given the immense success of the earth hour darkening, illuminated only by the archaic “candle”, expect the Dear Leader to set up a study group to report tomorrow on the potential for candle powered electricity generation.

      Posted by Rod C on 2008 03 30 at 04:31 PM • permalink


    1. Why would Australia want to build nuke plants?

      Yes, sure there’s a plentiful supply of Uranium in the Australian ground. But there’s also a plentiful supply of coal in that ground too.

      Nuclear won’t beat coal in price for a long time yet for Australia.

      So Tim, you turned green or something? Wanting Australia to make the environment fiendly decision instead of the economically sound one?

      Posted by sam on 2008 03 30 at 04:40 PM • permalink


    1. #12 Sam, nuclear is the economically sound one. Plus, it should shut up greenies about burning coal, it is perfectly safe as long as standards are maintained, and the plants are much more efficient than coal plants, thus requiring less of them.

      Posted by Ash_ on 2008 03 30 at 05:38 PM • permalink


    1. #12 Sam, there is a large lead time before the latest nuke plants could come online.
      Since you back the increased cost of coal and gas, how can you say nuclear won’t be cheaper as well as cleaner?
      Please be consistent, as people like you demand more investment to make wind and solar ‘efficient’.You have to hand it to the French [sometimes].  They don’t easily follow the herd of lemmings, except in regard to terrorism..
      Last time I was there, their diesel price was 20-25% cheaper than the more polluting gas.

      Posted by Barrie on 2008 03 30 at 06:19 PM • permalink


    1. There is an excellant paper on nuclear power.

      Posted by Franklin on 2008 03 30 at 07:02 PM • permalink


    1. Australia should join this exciting global trend.

      Well said, Sir Tim!

      Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2008 03 30 at 07:02 PM • permalink


    1. Labor has staked everything on unproven clean coal power to meet post Kyoto targets. Expect the Europeans in particular will argue that it doesn’t matter if CO2 emissions are captured or not, they are still being created and should be counted.

      With Labor signed on to the post-Kyoto CO2 cuts and locked into a no-nuclear policy, it will be in deep shit. The only thing that will save Labor is global warming being revealed as a scam. Watch the party decide around 2012 that on new evidence global warming isn’t as serious as claimed and is probably natural climatic variation anyway.

      Posted by Contrail on 2008 03 30 at 07:13 PM • permalink


    1. Yes there really is something exciting in thinking of ways to safely store radioactive waste with a half life longer then recorded human history.

      “In the half century of the nuclear age, the U.S. has accumulated some 30,000 metric tons of spent fuel rods from power reactors and another 380,000 cubic meters of high-level radioactive waste, a by-product of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.  None of these materials have found anything more than interim accomadation, despite decades of study and expenditures in the billions of dollars on research, development and storage,”  Chris G. Whipple, Can Nuclear Waste Be Stored at Yucca Mountain?  Scientific American, June, 1996

      For some further reading try.
      National Geographic

      Posted by philip on 2008 03 30 at 07:15 PM • permalink


    1. # 6 & 9; Spiny; peak oil is fraught with crap; Henry Geraedts, for instance, estimates oil reserves at between 12-16 trillion barrels; Richard Wakefield, on the other hand, has an estimate of 1,317.447 trillion; a huge difference. Personally, I can’t wait for a thorium powered jag.

      Posted by cohenite on 2008 03 30 at 07:24 PM • permalink


    1. #18,

      Intruder Alert!!!

      Posted by Pogria on 2008 03 30 at 08:31 PM • permalink


    1. It would be interesting to see if any are being based on graphite core/moderators – light water reactors are safer than houses – literally. Graphite ones are used to generate nuclear weapons grade material.

      Posted by Louis on 2008 03 30 at 08:36 PM • permalink


    1. #20 Vinnie again?

      Posted by stackja1945 on 2008 03 30 at 08:44 PM • permalink


    1. #22 Stack,

      when we get trolls, they often register multiple times so they can have a couple or three goes at gatecrashing the party.

      Posted by Pogria on 2008 03 30 at 08:47 PM • permalink


    1. Re #18, philip, there are several options.

      For example, new nuclear reactors could use a “pebble bed reactor” design.  This uses spherical pebbles made of pyrolytic graphite, which can can be separately encased in another material ( ceramics I do believe) for long term storage.

      If a conventional design is used, one proposal I’ve read of is to reprocess the rods into pellets, after extracting any usable materials, and encasing those in another ceramic.

      But the key point is to stop using “temporary” storage methods.  We’ve have functioning nuclear power plants for well over 50 years; the only reason that we lack a longterm storage solution is because no one will accept a single solution as “permanent”.

      So all of our “temporary” solutions are de facto permanent solutions though simple dithering by indecisive leaders pandering to greenies and people unfamiliar with radiation.

      And, by the way, that radioactive waste includes industrial and medical sources, where radioactive materials are critical for our civilization.  Ever get an x-ray from the dentist?

      I suggest that a series of band aid solutions is WORSE than a permanent solution.  SO it’s time to man up, and stop being afraid of that stuff; nuclear material is dangerous when concentrated.  Radiation, when dissipated, is not, it’s part of our natural environment.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2008 03 30 at 09:00 PM • permalink


    1. A “ps” to #24…..the concept of encasing nuclear waste in small, contained pellets, for long term storage far underground, is not a new one.  I don’t have a reference, but one of my college professors discussed this very concept when I was in college… the late 1970’s.

      So it ain’t new, and it ain’t rocket science.  It’s just a matter of backbone….or using more candles.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2008 03 30 at 09:03 PM • permalink


    1. #23 let’s party, party.

      Posted by stackja1945 on 2008 03 30 at 09:06 PM • permalink


    1. I live less than 50km from the Daya Bay nuclear power plant (located in Guangdong, just across the frontier from Hong Kong). And every day I wish there were 10 more just like it! And I wish all bulkers, tankers and other ships were nuclear powered, too. Then Hong Kong wouldn’t have air the colour of a bad sepia-toned photograph.

      Posted by Hanyu on 2008 03 30 at 09:11 PM • permalink


    1. Oh, and by the way, there are plans for around 50 more nuclear plants in China. And they will be built; no question.

      Posted by Hanyu on 2008 03 30 at 09:12 PM • permalink


    1. By my calculations, 50 1000 MW nuclear power plants in China would save 350 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year – not to mention the lives of hundreds of unfortunate Chinese coalminers.

      All of this seems like a lot of effort when all the Chinese really needed to do to reduce per capita emissions is to let citizens have more children.

      We, however, shall be turning our lights off for an hour every year and singing Khumbaya.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2008 03 30 at 09:40 PM • permalink


    1. Yes, sure there’s a plentiful supply of Uranium in the Australian ground. But there’s also a plentiful supply of coal in that ground too.

      Nuclear won’t beat coal in price for a long time yet for Australia.

      IMO: Use nuclear for electricity, and convert the coal to liquid fuels for vehicles. Or else just sell it to someone else like China…

      Posted by Nicholas on 2008 03 30 at 09:51 PM • permalink


    1. Yes there really is something exciting in thinking of ways to safely store radioactive waste with a half life longer then recorded human history.

      This comment reveals extreme ignorance.

      Firstly, logically, the most radioactive substances (i.e. those with the highest rate of decay) also decay the fastest. The stuff which has a half life of hundreds of thousands of years just isn’t that radioactive, or dangerous.

      Secondly, there is technology to use a reactor to transmute the substances with long half-lives into other substances with shorter half-lives.

      Thirdly, and relatedly, there is technology to “burn” the spent fuel in a fast reactor, recovering energy, and in the process generating new fuel from depleted uranium (U238 -> U235).

      So, the bottom line is, if you’re so worried about waste storage, we should just recycle it. I thought greenies were all in favour of recycling?

      Posted by Nicholas on 2008 03 30 at 09:54 PM • permalink


    1. Sorry that should be U238 -> U239 -> PU239 (I believe). The fast reactor manufactures plutonium, not uranium, which can be mixed in with fresh uranium fuel and used in slow reactors.

      Posted by Nicholas on 2008 03 30 at 09:56 PM • permalink


    1. #14, when did I back the increased cost of coal and gas?

      As a matter of fact I do think coal and gas prices will increase in the short term, but I think the prices of nuclear fuel will as well. We’re in an inflationary period (well the US is, and it’s exporting it) so I expect all commodities to increase in price – but that’s hardly “backing” it, since I think it’s a bad thing caused by bad policies…

      And when did you imagine me asking for more investment in solar or wind power?

      Oh I see “like you”, tarring me with some imagined brush because I happen to think that for Australia coal is cheaper than nuclear, because there’s so much of it just sitting there asking to be dug up and burnt.

      I’d prefer nukes since they do make for much cleaner air, but I’m not quite as big a communist as you as to think that business should do something other than what will make more money (or that the government should be involved at all)…

      Posted by sam on 2008 03 30 at 10:06 PM • permalink


    1. On the subject of half lives, bananas contain small amounts of radioactive potassium k-40 with a half life of 1,260,000,000 years.

      There are indeed many exciting ways to store this particular radio-active element involving everything from banana smoothies to delicious fresh-from-the-oven banana cake.

      Human bodies contain a range of radio-active elements (including uranium), which explains why, when calculating your natural radiation dose, you will need to take into account whether or not you are sleeping with another person.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2008 03 30 at 10:13 PM • permalink


    1. #34 – They must be those crazy Jew poisoned bananas. Identifiable by their glow in the dark tip.

      Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2008 03 30 at 10:20 PM • permalink


    1. #34 another giveaway for the Jew-poisoned banana variety are the ones with a bend.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2008 03 30 at 10:26 PM • permalink


    1. Whitlam was the last Labor P.M. to see the value in uranium mining and nuclear power though he wanted to nationalise it.

      Posted by watty on 2008 03 30 at 10:26 PM • permalink


    1. For some further reading try.
      National Geographic
      I just read it for the pictures of bare-breasted native girls

      Posted by cuckoo on 2008 03 30 at 11:14 PM • permalink


    1. #38 I believe you.

      Posted by watty on 2008 03 31 at 12:45 AM • permalink


    1. Let’s send Kevni07 to have a little chat with them about the error of their ways. That should stop them in their tracks.  No nukes, no coal, no (insert).  Sigh.

      Posted by Cashew on 2008 03 31 at 01:19 AM • permalink


    1. #34 MM

      I’ve always been partial to banana cream pie.

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2008 03 31 at 02:03 AM • permalink


    1. #24 Genuine Jeff:

      ““temporary” solutions are de facto permanent solutions though simple dithering by indecisive leaders “

      That’s it in a nutshell. The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named Bureaucrium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312.

      These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.

      Since it has no electrons, Bureaucrium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Bureaucrium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second.

      Bureaucrium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places.

      Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization.

      Research at other laboratories indicates that Bureaucrium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities.

      Scientists point out that Bureaucrium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate.

      Attempts are being made to determine how Bureaucrium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2008 03 31 at 02:21 AM • permalink


    1. #42 MF

      LMAO! Bureaucrium. That’s perfect.

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2008 03 31 at 02:48 AM • permalink


    1. #31 & 32; nicholas; a thorium reactor would utilise plutonium and nuclear waste as fuel, so the issue of half lives and dangerous waste would be largely mitigated; the fact that neither the greens or the pollies are talking about this is amazing; well, mildly surprising; actually, it’s perfectly understandable; they’ll all a pack of zombies; radioactive ones.

      Posted by cohenite on 2008 03 31 at 03:28 AM • permalink


    1. #42 MF brilliant!
      Not to forget the Rudd-class ME2 gluon … with twice the spin, producing characteristics not unlike teflon.

      Posted by egg_ on 2008 03 31 at 04:07 AM • permalink


    1. I want Australia to lead the world in nuclear powered whaling ships and whaling stations.

      Posted by Penguin on 2008 03 31 at 04:22 AM • permalink


    1. Really want to safely dispose of nuclear waste? Use homeopathy. Take one pound of radioactive waste and mix it with one pound of dirt. Take that and divide it into two one pound blocks. Mix each with a pound of dirt. Continue until the ratio is one part radioactive waste to 99 parts inert dirt. If you’re really cautious you could make the ultimate ration 1 in 999, but it would take more time and effort.

      As an alternative, dump it all in one of the Pacific Ocean trenches. The great bulk of it will get caught in the mantle, and the vanishingly small amount that makes it back to the surface will only do so after millions of years. Now a horse aint likely to learn how to talk in a year’s time, but in a few million years who knows what our descendants will be capable of.

      Posted by mythusmage on 2008 03 31 at 05:07 AM • permalink


    1. In all seriousness, dumping nuclear waste in the ocean would probably be no big deal. Water is a great shield for radioactivity, which is why the sinking of the nuclear submarine the Kirsk created no serious environmental hazard.

      Like the rest of the world, sea water is already full of radioactive elements, like uranium.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2008 03 31 at 05:31 AM • permalink


    1. #42 MentalFloss


      I wonder if we could convince the greenies that Bureaucrium threatens Gaia. No need to tell them what this element does – for them the activism is reason enough. If we have to give them any explanation at some point we can just lie and tell them that Bureaucrium creates wealth – that should get any self-respecting greenie slavering.

      Posted by Toiling Mass on 2008 03 31 at 05:34 AM • permalink


    1. The sensible solution to used fuel rods is to reprocess them as this significantly reduces the amount of material that needs to be stored. Unfortunately the US does not do any reprocessing in an attempt (failed) to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Yes, I know there are treaty obligations etc, etc. Europe does reprocessing (especially France).

      Posted by FreddyFrog on 2008 03 31 at 05:42 AM • permalink


    1. #35 The next time some young musician says ‘old man what should I call my band’ Instead of looking really dumb, I’m going to say without blinking, ‘why not Jew Poisoned Bananas’. Then if he/she asks where did I get that from, I’ll say ‘infidel tiger’. That’ll impress them.

      Posted by mehaul on 2008 03 31 at 05:56 AM • permalink


    1. #34 MM
      Glow-in-the-dark ‘nanas in pyjamas?

      Posted by egg_ on 2008 03 31 at 06:06 AM • permalink


    1. Phillip. See there are some serious minds here who have challenged your cliche crap. I await your original responses. Please don’t refer.

      I won’t be holding my breath.

      Posted by mehaul on 2008 03 31 at 06:27 AM • permalink


    1. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it impossible to “produce” radioactive waste? Isn’t the stuff already naturally radioactive and by processing it we concentrate the radioactive bits? Then we use up some of the radioactivity to produce energy and then dispose of the remaining radioactive bits? So as waste they’re just more concentrated than they were when in the ground? (Actual amount of radioactivity is decreased though – great selling point!)

      Maybe this is what mythusmage at #47 is getting at. You can return them to original lower concentration by diluting. Energy provided – damage to environment zero.

      Posted by Zuzzy on 2008 03 31 at 06:42 AM • permalink


    1. Don’t forget that Finland  is building a new sophisticated nuke power plant as we speak.

      The EPR is the only third-generation reactor currently under construction in the world.

      Sounds interesting.

      Posted by Mikael on 2008 03 31 at 06:49 AM • permalink


    1. Turn one of the space shuttles into a garbage scow.  Load it with spent waste, boost into orbit, and punt it toward the sun.  Return to earth.  Reload.  Repeat.

      Posted by SSG Pooh on 2008 03 31 at 07:28 AM • permalink


    1. Bureaucrium is also known as “Administratium”, thus setting up another “aluminum/aluminium” argument.

      Research into the properties of administratium continues. In several experiments it has been bombarded with funding; thus excited, anything from one to all (depending on the intensity of the irradiation) of the assistant neutrons are promoted to neutron and the other particles similarly excited, with the deficit in assistant vice neutrons made up by conversion of morons (which are abundant in Nature) to N<sub>AV</sub>. Surprisingly enough, this latter reaction requires almost no energy.

      The result, of course, is from one to 125 new atoms of administratium, which are free to poison any reaction in the vicinity.


      Posted by Ric Locke on 2008 03 31 at 10:27 AM • permalink


    1. There are indeed many exciting ways to store this particular radio-active element involving everything from banana smoothies to delicious fresh-from-the-oven banana cake.

      I’ll sequester that!

      Posted by Achillea on 2008 03 31 at 02:11 PM • permalink


    1. #57 In the interest of full disclosure, I should have noted above that I adapted “Bureaucrium” from a joke I read years ago at this site.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2008 03 31 at 08:45 PM • permalink


    1. MentalFloss…..BRILLIANT!!!  I salute you.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2008 03 31 at 09:22 PM • permalink


    1. Re #54, Zuzzy, you are right, up to a point.  IIRC, the problem two fold.

      First, the material is radioactive enough to be hazardous, but not radioactive enough to be useful.

      Second, radioactive elements decay into other elements that don’t have the right properties to sustain a nuclear reaction.  Else while, we could re-process some rocks for the radioactive bits (much of Washington DC has a slightly higher than normal background radiation thanks to the profusion of granite and marble).

      So, in general, recycling radioactive waste can only go so far.  Eventually, you wind up with something that must be disposed of.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2008 03 31 at 09:27 PM • permalink


    1. MentalFloss, ya done good…again…thank you!

      I was going to comment that this all looks like Greek to me, but I am surprised to see I really do have some small understanding of what y’all are saying. I guess age has its benefits…

      Posted by KC on 2008 03 31 at 10:09 PM • permalink


    1. Zussy, the thing is, Uranium isn’t terribly radioactive unless you concentrate it into a lump. This is because it has a low rate of natural decay, but when concentrated it features chain reactions which increase the radioactivity. That’s also what makes it work so well in bombs – you don’t want a bomb to have a high level of natural decay or else (1) it goes bad too quickly (2) when you set it off, you want it to go off all at once, and this is hard if it’s naturally decaying already.

      When Uranium/Plutonium/Thorium/whatever is “burned” in a reactor it results in new elements being formed – the decay products. Some of these DO have a high rate of natural decay. They also tend to emit different types of particles at different energy levels.

      However, as pointed out, these elements can be transmuted again into something safer in various ways – neutron bombardment, typically. A fast reactor can do this I believe.

      JeffS – yes, you can’t recycle everything, but I’m told what’s left at the end of the process is pretty tiny. A few kg per reactor per year maybe. Disposing of such a small amount properly (diluting it, etc.) is not such a big deal.

      Posted by Nicholas on 2008 03 31 at 10:39 PM • permalink


    1. Mental Floss
      You have carefully avoided explaining how Bu 312 can be accommodated by the Standard Model.Just asking. 1Cheers

      Posted by J.M. Heinrichs on 2008 03 31 at 11:18 PM • permalink


    1. #64 JMH, I’ll get back to you on that as soon as I install that last “unconventional” superconductor under the floor to complete the Large Hadron Collider I’m building out in the shed…

      (sub rosa, I think the CP violation will come out on top, strangely charming bottoms not withstanding)

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2008 04 01 at 01:05 AM • permalink


  1. One the subject of the high cost of developing nuclear power plants, it should be noted that most of the cost isn’t in engineering, it’s tied to the regulatory process that precedes turning the first shovel of dirt.

    Posted by steveH on 2008 04 01 at 02:11 PM • permalink