I'm viewing nuclear power right now, coming in through my window from a big fusion generator located 93 million miles away. Too bad it's non-renewable and destined to flame out, but I think it's good enough for me and my offspring. Ultimately the source of all useful energy on the planet traces back to nuclear power - we just need to be smart about how we use it.
Yes, yes, and I suppose we should move Christmas day because of recent historical evidence regarding the date of Jesus of Nazareth's birth?
History is much more legend than fact - no matter how hard the people who have the facts try to change that.
Rolling back to the idea that one man can screw things up - 7th grade history classes often credit the Roman Emperors with having total control over the empire, and having mismanaged it into oblivion. Personally, I think this stems from personal fantasies of the 7th grade history teachers imagining they have control of their whole classroom.
Sorry, been too many decades since my ancient history classes (can you imagine the early 80s!) - Google informs me that was thinking of Nero.
O.K. - but who was playing his fiddle while Rome burned?
Obviously, where we are today is never the product of one person's decisions, the current conditions in the U.S.A are in large part thanks to pre-colonial English monarchs and their policies, but often one man is handed the blame or praise for terrible or great things that happened on their watch.
Ah, the classical solution to pollution: dilution.
The world is a really big place, we'd be better off with a global nuclear waste dump the size of Utah than we are currently with the products of fossil fuel combustion in the atmosphere. Of course, Utah residents would disagree, but if you churned up the unwanted radioactives into cement at a "safe" concentration, whatever that is, started laying a 6' thick layer of the stuff at the center of the biggest non-draining desert in the state, it would be a very long time before anybody outside the state had anything to worry about. You could even pour another 6' thick layer of non-radioactive concrete underneath and on-top. Sounds extravagant, until you look at what's happened to West Virginia in the pursuit of coal.
one man's decision could potentially destroy most of civilization.
I hope that isn't as true as Hollywood makes it out to be. Multiple authentication requirements, etc. are hopefully even stronger than they claimed they were _before_ Dr. Strangelove was released.
Turning back to antiquity, wasn't it Caesar who essentially tanked Rome? Though, "we" (civilization) will be taking the barbarians down hard with us if the nuclear option gets out of control.
Problem #1: that's how the French do it.
Problem #2: TMI - Never Again! - NIMBY!!!
Problem #3: Greenpeace & the like, no they're not a big force, but in the 51-49 world of red-blue U.S. politics, they're just big enough to make any new nuclear projects a political liability.
Diversity is strength, we should have many sources of power, but I do think that keeping our existing nuke plants running past 2x their original design lifetimes while making it virtually impossible to construct new plants with fundamentally improved designs is a special form of insanity that only a democratic political system like ours can manage to sustain for as long as we have.
The nuclear waste problem is not yet solved - though I'm not very impressed with how we're dealing with coal-ash or atmospheric emissions of sulfur, mercury, etc., either. With all that desert, you would think that a site as, or more, suitable than Yucca Mountain could be identified, but no matter where you go, there's always somebody screaming Not In My Backyard...
I don't know how outrageous the 20th was - look at the wars, plagues and general cocked-uppedness of the 19th, 18th, and 17th. The only reason antiquity doesn't seem as bad is because we've got lousy records of it.
Supply and demand works, even (and especially) on the international weapons market.
Personally, I don't care how efficient the process was or wasn't, I'm just pleased that the uranium delivered (and will continue to deliver for some time) its energy in a controlled fashion via the electrical grid, instead of all at once with a hydrogen jacket around it.
As far as I'm concerned, this was a "disarming the BOMB" program, any side effects that generated electricity, at any cost, are a bonus.
When a 10kg ingot of titanium is shot out of a solar powered linear accelerator on the moon and strategically lands in your bedroom, your surviving friends and relatives will understand the value of mining on the moon.
Dunno, I think a nice dust ring would look pretty cool around the moon....
From the same article: "Supplies of pure titanium are rare", and at $9/lb, it is over 10x the price of Aluminum. http://www.metalprices.com/p/TitaniumFreeChart
Relative value for strength (weight of an aluminum frame vs weight of an equivalently strong titanium frame) is left as an exercise for the bored...
That's a lot of time you're talking about. Government has already shown a lot of trust in private enterprise, do you think 50 years ago we would have let private companies develop high lift capacity ICBMs? Who knows where this will go in the future, during the American Revolution privateers and pirates wielded significant naval power, that's not really the case anymore. I suppose the big question is when will militarization of space start happening (on a significant scale beyond "intelligence gathering.") When that race starts, things will change a lot.
Claiming the moon is going to be a lot like claiming North America was 400 years ago... you have to do more than plant a flag to hold territory, you'll have to be making some kind of productive use of the land to hold that claim, and there's a whole lot of moon to go around at the moment.
As long as the US-China economies are significantly interdependent, neither is likely to do anything arbitrary and capricious like claim the whole moon and start destroying any enterprises from "the other side" based there. And, until somebody gets a true self-replicating lunar mining machine working, we should be able to both find worthwhile dirt to dig in without getting in each other's way.