Science: Learning How to Run a Nuke

Technicians are taught to prepare for—and avert—the worst

By the Nuclear Regulatory Commission 's reckoning, some of the responsibility for the near miss at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear plant lay with control-room personnel: they were not able to cope with a crisis. Just how should reactor operators learn their jobs? To find out, TIME Correspondent Peter Staler visited a nuclear training school near Chicago, where emergencies are programmed into the curriculum. His report:

Since 8 a.m., Paul Higginbotham, 32, a fiercely mustached Kentuckian, and Michael Helton, 28, a stocky Ohioan, have been...

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