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Tiny robots to invade nuclear power stations!

View of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in north San Diego County on March 15, 2011.

Jeff Donn, a national writer at the Associated Press, recently published a year-long investigation of America's aging nuclear power infrastructure.

"These plants are like the equipment on your car in many ways, and nuclear plans aren't that different; nuclear plants rust, corrode, gunk builds up," he said. "Parts subjected to radiation turn brittle. So this has been continuing problem as these nuclear plants have gotten older."

Donn says most plants in this country are 20 to 40 years old. He obtained internal industry documents that highlight the growing security concerns about the aging infrastructure.

"The industry really acknowledges openly in these internal documents that we can't really fully inspect all this underground equipment and piping," he said.

A team of graduate students from MIT including Ian Rust and Ani Mazumdar may have a solution: tiny robots tough and nimble enough to swim through radioactive waste water looking for leaks.

Also on the program, new software that's meant to help us humans figure out which online consumer reviews are fake.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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