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Comment Re:Cue the flood... (Score 1, Interesting) 193

> why did early attempts at production of fusion power fail to work out

Largely due to unrealistic assumptions on the part of the researchers involved.

Are you familiar with the Lawson criterion? Probably. Are you familiar with WHY he wrote it? Probably not.

He wrote it because he was tired of seeing everyone in the field making utterly ridiculous estimates about performance. There are countless experiments where basic math suggested the system would not work, but they went ahead and built it anyway without bothering to check first. Google "astron". There was so much belief in the ultimate success that no one listened when someone said there were issues.

And that's in spite of one of those people being Teller himself. In 1953 he gave an impromptu talk about stability in magnetic confinement and how he felt that it was a *very* difficult problem and no one was really thinking about it seriously. So, of course, everyone went off and thought about it seriously, right? No, they went off and wrote hand-waving statements about why their particular machine didn't apply, which then failed in precisely the way he predicted.

Lawson was equally tired of this. He sat down to put real numbers to the problem. He started by considering the power input and outputs needed to have the reactor produce net energy, and then worked to find the conditions needed to make that happen. His paper, which you can read here:

(and it's very easy to read, so go ahead and do it) concludes "Even with the most optimistic possible assumptions it is evident that the conditions for the operation of a useful thermonuclear reactor are very severe". In case you don't recognize it, that's British humor: he's saying its almost impossible and everyone needs to stop and think seriously.

So, of course, no one did. They simply waved their hands some more and came up with reasons why they could reach these numbers, and the money kept coming. And coming, and coming. We're *sixty years later* now, Lawson has been dead almost a decade, and we're still trying. In that time we invented the IC, the internet, went to the moon, etc. At what point do you realize no one cares any more? Nuclear cars seemed like a good idea at one time too.

Enough already! The power companies have said they're not interested, how much money do we have to spend to change that?

Comment Re:Time Magazine recently on private plasma fusion (Score 1) 193

They are working on the wrong problem. The non-nuclear portion of the system costs more than a wind turbine of the same rating. You can improve the reactor all you want, but unless you make it negative dollars, you're still losing out to existing technologies.

Comment Let's score this (Score 4, Informative) 66

"some users were unable to verify the new certificates, and others could not even connect to the internet. In some cases the programs had to be reinstalled from scratch, deleting the user's existing settings."

Ok, let's look at this...

1) some users were unable to verify the new certificates

Sure, I buy that.

2) others could not even connect to the internet

I call BS, App certs do not have any use whatsoever in the TCP stack. I'm sure people had problems, but it wasn't due to this.

3) the programs had to be reinstalled from scratch, deleting the user's existing settings

I call BS on that too. The app settings are in a text file in the user directories, you can go and open them in your favorite text editor right now. Re-installing an app does not overwrite these settings, which is *the whole reason* they're done this way. It is possible that app did that, but that's a bug in the app and has nothing to do with certs.

Crappy reportage.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1, Troll) 166

> programmed for Windows / web / any operating system

I don't know, programming for Windows any time in the last 12 years has been pretty much flat. I could accuse you of being just as unfamiliar as the person you're replying too.

The web, sure, that's another matter. But then your argument boils down to "it's OK for programming on Android to be difficult, because it is on the web too". That's not much of an argument.

Comment Re: Why? (Score 2) 166

> iOS only captured 47.5 of 341.5 million in Q2 2015

That's an interesting graph for a number of reasons, but what caught my eye in particular is that the iOS and Android lines are an exact mirror image of each other. iOS clearly sells as a gift item, and its xmas-season upticks appear to cause an Android downturn.

And that actually doesn't make sense. If Android is the sort of go-to system for someone "just buying a phone", as opposed to "buying a present", I wouldn't think iOS sales would have any effect at all. After all, my phones have never demonstrated a tendency to die over the gifting season.

Of course that's IDC...

Comment One degree of separation (Score 3, Insightful) 197

A friend of my wife was personally effected by all of this. She researches epidemics and was going to present a paper [the details of which I will not specify]. However, all appearances at conferences for any reason had to be cleared by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). As there was an election taking place, the PMO couldn't be bothered reviewing anything, they were too busy with important stuff (you know, not epidemics). So she didn't get to go.

I can't imagine a more dystopian fiction. At least in 1984 they had a reason to spy on everyone, it was part of their basic philosophy. But in this case, the only reason for any of this was Harper's deathly fear of bad press. So everyone had to follow the Party Line, including people who's only affiliation with the party was getting funding from the government.

And, in the end, *that* was what led to their downfall. The constant repression of information and dissent, especially within his own party, was eventually too much for anyone to take. The mechanism they put in place to protect the PM from the planet was ultimately the very device that destroyed them.

This is not a "conservative" problem. Conservatives have been excellent communicators overall. Hell, Churchill *lived* for the debate, and I strongly suspect he deliberately let people talk about anything just so he could off a clever quip in response. This was an anomaly. Let's hope it does not happen again.

Comment Re:These people are nuts.... (Score 1) 85

> Fission does work, is safe, and we know how to use it.

Indeed. Except it costs five times as much to build a fission power plant than to build enough wind turbines to produce the same amount of energy. Indeed, the wind turbines will only operate 30% of the time. But means the wind turbines cost 3 / 5 times as much as the fission plant. And that's precisely why everyone is building wind turbines and practically no one is building fission plants.

And when I say "everyone" and "practically no one", I include the typical poster-children for nuclear - China is installing far more wind power (even CF adjusted) than nuclear. Over the last 25 years we've installed under 100 GW of fission, a period in which we installed 370 GW of wind, the vast majority of that in the last 5. At the current ~60 GW/year rates, the total yearly capacity (which includes CF) will surpass the entire nuclear fleet in three to five years.

It's done like dinner. Many of the larger companies in the space are abandoning it (like AECL and Babcock) or going bankrupt (like Westinghouse).

Now you're going to say something like "wind doesn't work all the time". Well that's the primary argument for space based solar too, but everyone here is panning it. Having worked in the power industry for a decade, let me tell you, no one actually cares. All they care about is CAPEX, ROI and LCoE. Quite the opposite, the main problem the industry talked about from about 1975 to 2005 was how to deal with peaking capacity, not the other way around. We have all the baseload we'll ever need already.

Comment Re:This has all been hashed out on /. before... (Score 1) 85

> a launched solar PV plant runs with 100% yield 24/7 the who,e year

And the exact same panels on the ground run at a relative 15 to 30% yield. So you might get three to six times as much energy by launching it into space. Yet that requires thousands of times more energy to launch.

A common /. meme is to complain about the patent system having allowed a bunch of "do it on a computer" BS, but this entire concept basically boils down to "do it in space" and the nerds who have never worked in the field all its a great idea. It's not.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito