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Comment Re:Wind energy is such shit (Score 1) 311

That is a reasonable argument, but consider that a nuclear plant is closer to 8 acres per GW, and that is 1GW 95% of the time, not some pitiful fraction of renewable nameplate capacity. Together, these factors give nuclear a footprint many thousands of times less than renewables. Please, let us not pave the world to harvest the sparse energy of wind and the sun, when there are better alternatives.

Once one considers the resources that wind and solar require, including land, materials, and the fossil fuels to produce them, the only reasonable conclusion is that they are an environmental travesty. Beyond the thousands of tons of concrete, steel, and rare earths required for each unit, there are vast expanses of land which must be razed to make way for access roads and power transmission infrastructure out to the middle of nowhere. (Which will be poorly utilized because of the low capacity factor, and not economically viable.) One can appreciate how fruitless and ludicrous this exercise is with only a bit of math, or by objectively viewing the results of the "progress" to date. See The Renewables Future – A Summary of Findings.

Comment Re:The oceans have radically changed before ... (Score 4, Insightful) 417

For those who don't read the article:

“The level of CaCO3 saturation would decrease by 50 percent or more, and colder oceans would become corrosive to CaCO3 shells,” Taro said. Plus, the last time the oceans got this acidic this fast, 96 percent of marine life went extinct.

Once it gets acidic enough the plankton are done for, and they compromise the base of the food chain in the ocean. Yanking that out kills just about everything else, save a handful of species like jellyfish. The many humans who depend on the ocean for food will also be troubled to say the least. This really isn't an academic matter about what is normal or changing; this issue is both more urgent and far more serious than any expected effects of global warming.

The science is rock solid and very simple, and the historical record leaves no room for misinterpretation. What CO2 we put into the air, ends up in the ocean, and we can project the acidity like clockwork merely using the record of the carbon we dump into the air each year. By 2100 it will already be too late; we need to begin addressing this before 2050, and in earnest. It is difficult, but not impossible with a rapid expansion in nuclear power, but no other source can scale fast enough.

"Environmentalists" fighting tooth and nail to dismantle carbon-free nuclear generation, and insisting that we can decarbonize with renewables alone will doom the oceans if they have their way. If you are supporting anti-nuclear organizations like Friends of the Earth, Green Peace, or the Sierra Club, please think about just how foolish their priorities are before the challenges we face. Consider Ecomodernism for a perspective that values preserving the environment, rather than adhering to a rigid and ineffective ideology.

Acidification, Climate & Energy is a talk given by Dr. Alex Cannara at TEAC7, and it outlines the staggering extent of the problem, and how we can begin to address it. Dr. Cannara has also given a number of other talks on the subject, and searching for "ocean acidification" on youtube will keep one busy for hours. Incidentally, addressing ocean acidification will also resolve global warming, particulate pollution, energy poverty, and population growth as welcome side effects. It all begins with rational energy policy though, and discarding the notion that we can afford to rule out our most powerful carbon-free energy source.

Comment Re:8 years, and still stuck at 2-4 cores... (Score 1) 98

You missed the part about minimum; it is meaningless if Intel offers some hideously expensive outlier part. Granted, there are some six core variants which cost less, but they are still expensive 130-140W LGA2011 parts. The mainstream is still stuck squarely with 2-4 cores. Two cores in 2015 is pitiful.

Comment Re:Moor? (Score 1) 179

More importantly, it is byte addressable and doesn't require any of the block erase nonsense of NAND. There is no window during which some (possibly old) data or even the entire device becomes corrupted because of a power loss during a read-modify-(erase)-write cycle. It would be genuinely good if such reliability became a standard feature.

Comment Blame NAND Flash Memory... (Score 1) 184

While an apology is due, this sort of problem is inevitable given the nature of the technology. TRIM on NAND is a crutch for a technology that is poorly suited to data storage. Transforming NAND into a usable storage device requires heroic efforts on the part of the vendor, and it is hard to blame them for the bugs. Likewise, it is hard to blame Linux developers for their heroic efforts to work around the extensive deficiencies of NAND flash. Trusting in cheap commodity devices that don't even claim to protect against power loss is ill-advised.

Using TRIM as a band-aid for the performance woes of over-filled NAND devices is just asking for trouble. It has long been known that filling up filesystems leads to terrible performance, and the same applies to NAND drives. It is irresponsible of the vendors to provision the drives with insufficient reserved space, but one can compensate by setting aside an empty partition covering 5% of the space. It is much safer to disable TRIM and under-provision the drive, and it achieves the same effect of limiting write-amplification, without having to worry about bugs trimming away live data.

The only place were TRIM really makes sense is in the context of virtualization. Recovering space in sparse virtual disk images has real benefit, and operating system vendors have a lot more incentive and ability to make it work properly.

Comment Re:Everything has consequences (Score 3, Interesting) 105

2. is the renewable option, which is worse than doing nothing as it has large ecological and economic impact for virtually no benefit.
3. may be necessary at some point for things like ocean acidification, but doesn't solve the fundamental energy problem.

However, limiting oneself to three unworkable options isn't productive, so let's introduce another:

4. the nuclear option; ie. doing something which actually works. The BRIC countries are already embracing this one.

I prefer 4, as it provides reliable carbon neutral energy with minimal environmental footprint. Density is key, in energy as well as other human endeavors. I refer people to An Ecomodernist Manifesto for the motivations. Those who truly value the environment and prosperity of humans should read that. The end goal is well within reach, but indulging in the "green" fantasy won't lead us there.

Comment Re:Energy in perspective (Score 1) 116

...and it will be depleted if we continue to pump it out of the ground. We need a sustainable and carbon-neutral replacement, and synthetic carbon-neutral fuels can be created with nuclear heat. Today, ammonia is produced using natural gas as a feedstock, but it can also be created with nuclear heat. With abundant energy, most anything can be produced, and LNG is no exception.

Either way it would be better to look for alternatives, rather than heating our homes and producing fertilizer with something that is both running out and increasing in price. That is idiotic.

Comment Energy in perspective (Score 1) 116

This ship is a marvel, and showcases the truly impressive capabilities of modern shipbuilding industry. What isn’t mentioned, but is equally impressive, is the rate at which such shipyards can turn out new ships, and the surprisingly low cost. However, one can’t help but lament that this capability isn’t being used to produce ThorCon reactors, instead of draining resources for a quick profit. (Do have a look at the white paper, it provides fascinating perspective.)

This LNG ship extracts and condenses 3.6 million tonnes of natural gas per year, with an energy density of 55.5 MJ/kg, giving:

        3.6e6 tonnes/year * 1e3 kg/tonne * 55.5 MJ/kg = 199.8e9 MJ/year
        or 199.8e9 MJ/year * MWh/3600 MJ * TWh/1e6MWh = 55.5 TWh/year

This yearly energy content represents a continuous power output of:

        199.8e9 MJ/year * GJ/1e3 MJ * year/(365.2425*24*3600)s = 6.33 GW

That is the equivalent of a few large power plants. In the scheme of global energy requirements though, it barely registers: world energy consumption in 2008 was 143,851 TWh.

Now, given the energy density of Uranium/Thorium at 80e6 MJ/kg, the energy contained within that 3.6 million tonnes of LNG could instead be derived from:

        199.8e9 MJ/year * kg/80e6 MJ * tonne/1e3 kg = 2.5 tonnes (of U or Th)

That is a rather small number, but lets put it in terms of volume. With Uranium at 1.5e9 MJ/L, or Thorium at 9.3e8 MJ/L, that amounts to roughly the size of a yoga ball:

          U: 199.8e9 MJ * L/1.5e9 MJ = 133L (sphere of radius 32cm)
        Th: 199.8e9 MJ * L/9.3e8 MJ = 215L (sphere of radius 37cm)

The fun part happens when you scale it back up to the global energy consumption of 143,851 TWh, and it translates to a meager 6500 tonnes per year, capable of replacing the billions of tons of fossil fuels we consume today. Even with projected growth, global energy demands could still be satisfied by a single mine, to say nothing of the billions of tons of uranium available in seawater. Before that is necessary, the tens of thousands of tons of so-called “nuclear waste” can be consumed, as they still contain ~95% of the original energy content.

Comment Should have been 64-bit from the start... (Score 3, Interesting) 67

If only Apple had postponed the Intel transition for about 6 months, their machines and software could have been 64-bit across the line, and this mess would have been avoided completely. Instead, we are eight years into yet another transition, with plenty of legacy 32-bit software out there, any of which require an entire duplicate set of shared libraries to be loaded.

Comment Re:I thought rare earths were not that rare (Score 1) 62

They are producing ore, which is then shipped to their facilities in China for processing. Is that really progress?

Molycorp reopened the mine, and then bought Neo Material Technologies for its processing capabilities:

But the deal also paves the way for Molycorp to ship minerals from its California mine to the Chinese operations of a Neo Material arm called Magnequench, in a reminder of how much technological rare-earth capability resides in China.

Comment Of course, when biomass is considered "renewable" (Score 0) 169

When renewable advocates boast about energy production, the numbers are inevitable inflated by huge amounts of biomass, or meaningless capacity numbers which do not represent actual energy delivered. Leveling forests to burn for fuel is not environmentally friendly, and not even carbon neutral on the time scales that matter. In some cases, forests are pelletized and shipped over seas, making the carbon impact even worse than burning coal. Unfortunately, aside from hydro, it is the only renewable that is reliable, and thus forms an integral part of "renewable" plans. More typically though, coal and gas take up the slack.

Read more about Australia specifically, or bioenergy in general. Sadly there is only one form of clean energy that is environmentally friendly and scalable, and the renewable fanatics will have nothing to do with it, instead promoting a world of poverty and mass environmental devastation. While solar and wind have their place, it would be much more effective to complement them with nuclear instead.

Comment Re:Expert?? (Score 1) 442

Not at all. It just requires enough smart equipment to cope with whatever the variation in supply is. Even on an entirely renewable grid there will still be a lot of base load available, from non-intermittent sources like hydro and from the minimum output of variable sources like wind. If you have enough turbines the wind is always blowing somewhere, and the overall output of the entire fleet never drops below some predictable level.

There is a lot of industrial equipment and processes that requires a constant source of power. Moreover, even if some can cope with the variability, the economics often fail when capital intensive facilities are sitting idle 2/3rds of the time. The wind is also calm for weeks at a time over large regions, requiring either 100% backup or storage; the idea that we can satisfy our needs by shuffling renewable energy around that isn't available through a grid that doesn't exist is pure fantasy.

Also note that he isn't say "no storage", just no grid level storage. House pack batteries and EVs, even small local pumped storage will be available.

I'm not saying this is a desirable state of affairs, merely possible. In practice it would make a lot of sense to have grid level storage.

How many people are likely to use their hideously expensive vehicle battery in this way when it severely shortens its life? It also suffers the same problem as "smart equipment"; we can't afford to toss out and replace every last piece of technology.

The only realistic way of curbing our CO2 and other pollution is to produce carbon neutral fuels for existing engines, and clean energy for our existing grid. Only nuclear is capable of providing the reliable and affordable energy necessary to cleanly power modern civilization. Otherwise we will be lucky to keep the lights on at night while the remainder of our industry departs for China. More likely though, we will continue leveling mountains for coal as the true believers refuse to let go of their fantasy.

Comment Re:The question should be, what is causing delays? (Score 1) 142

Do you have a citation for this "environmental damage"? Real damage, not caused by nuclear weapons manufacturing, and not the "OMG, three atoms of tritium escaped, we're all going to die!" sort of "damage".

The costs of the plants are a matter of record, so have a look. The NRC opened the door for litigation, and otherwise mired the nuclear industry. The AEC was an effective regulatory agency with an excellent safety record and reasonable costs. Under the NRC, costs skyrocketed and a number of reactors were even partially built yet never operated. Abundant examples are no further than your nearest search engine.

Comment Re:The question should be, what is causing delays? (Score 1) 142

True, but the idea behind the combined operation license was to allow construction and operation to continue while license issues are litigated. The delays in plant Vogtle and in SC are from the challenges with actually building the plant since much of the equipment has never been built before so they must building, testing, and constructing while they are trying to create a commercial plant on a tight schedule.

While there are very real concerns about the lack of construction experience as well as longer term engineering and operational support, these delays seem to be self inflicted, from issues with concrete pours to assuming brand new designs can be built on a very tight schedule where many of the components have never been built or used before.

Read more about the the Vogtle rebar issue. It is not fair to dismiss it as self-inflicted, when the regulator insists upon perfection and is unresponsive to circumstances. The rebar was installed to current building standards, rather than those in place when the design was approved. It was a small deviation and eventually the NRC allowed it with minor modifications. The problem is that such a minor issue can introduce a 6+ month delay when interaction with the NRC are required.

Regulations should be focused on safe designs, not on libraries of paperwork certifying safety. It is silly to require an N-stamp on every last nut and bolt (even in non-safety related systems) rather than using off the shelf parts where suitable. Certificates can be forged, and even if they are genuine, nothing is perfect. Safe designs make allowances for imperfect materials. Such a “cost is no object” approach is not useful in the real world, The oppressive regulatory regime only mires any progress and ensure that we are burdened with ancient, yet "approved" designs.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal

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