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Comment Re: The most fundamental problem is not the cost.. (Score 4, Informative) 354

> Breeder reactors could burn up all that waste.

Breeder reactors could burn up *some* of that waste, which is, I'll admit, an advantage. However, in order to do so they need a core fueled by weapons grade material, and the economics are complete pants. The cost of the fuel for the core is higher than the value of the electricity, so the breeder operates at a loss. That's fine, depending on the value of the waste you transmute, but to date the people who have a say have said "no".

Here's a paper on a related concept that covers the economic issues:

It's mostly on the fission-fusion hybrid, but the equations work for any breeder design, including thorium.

Comment Good luck with that (Score 4, Insightful) 354

"But after years of cost overruns"

Stop there. This is the #1 reason for the failure of nuclear. The *average* cost overrun was over 2x. Once you factored that in, the cost benefits promised simply disappeared.

When this happened with the first generation reactors, they said those designs sucked, we know how to fix them, and that will be generation 2. When the exact same thing happened with with the gen 2 reactors, they said those designs sucked, and designed generation 3 reactors. And then we started to build those designs...

"According to Thiel, a new generation of American nuclear scientists has produced designs for better reactors. Crucially, these new designs may finally overcome the most fundamental obstacle to the success of nuclear power: high cost."

Yeah, except we're building a couple of these, and they immediately went over budget and continue to do so:

When faced with problems like these, the "new generation" said those designs sucked, we know how to fix them, and that will be "new nuclear". And those designs exist only on paper, and offer no reasonable explanation while they will break the 50 year cycle of suck.

The basic problem isn't nuclear, it's big. Big projects go over just as often as little projects, but when they do the magnitude is larger and people notice. A million $1000 cost overruns isn't news, but one $1 billion overrun is, as the articles above note. And, sadly, nuclear needs to be big. Don't believe the hype from the small modular people, the concept is inherently flawed and thats why all the big companies dumped their design efforts and the only people still supporting them are two people and a dog shops.

Submission + - We Need a New Atomic Age writes: Peter Thiel writes in the NYT that what’s especially strange about the failed push for renewables is that we already had a practical plan back in the 1960s to become fully carbon-free without any need of wind or solar: nuclear power. "But after years of cost overruns, technical challenges and the bizarre coincidence of an accident at Three Mile Island and the 1979 release of the Hollywood horror movie “The China Syndrome,” about a hundred proposed reactors were canceled," says Thiel. "If we had kept building, our power grid could have been carbon-free years ago. Instead, we went in reverse."

According to Thiel, a new generation of American nuclear scientists has produced designs for better reactors. Crucially, these new designs may finally overcome the most fundamental obstacle to the success of nuclear power: high cost. Designs using molten salt, alternative fuels and small modular reactors have all attracted interest not just from academics but also from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists like me ready to put money behind nuclear power. However, none of these new designs can benefit the real world without a path to regulatory approval, and today’s regulations are tailored for traditional reactors, making it almost impossible to commercialize new ones. "Both the right’s fear of government and the left’s fear of technology have jointly stunted our nuclear energy policy," concludes Thiel. "supporting nuclear power with more than words is the litmus test for seriousness about climate change. Like Nixon’s going to China, this is something only Mr. Obama can do. If this president clears the path for a new atomic age, American scientists are ready to build it."

Submission + - 13 Impressive Statistics on User Experience (

workintransit writes: Infinite scrolling can lower your bounce rate.’s bounce rate dropped 15 percentage points after they adopted continuous scroll. / revenues jumped 35% after they listened to their community and incorporated suggestions into their homepage redesign. / Choosing a specific blue over some other hues amounted to an additional $80 million in annual revenue for Bing.

Submission + - Finnish IT Retailer Reveals Most Returned Products

jones_supa writes: The largest computer gear retailer in Finland,, has unveiled top 20 lists of most returned and most serviced equipment in 2015 (Google translation). To offer an alternative to Black Friday, the company is going with a theme called "Sustainable Christmas". They want to guide shoppers to make good choices, as product returns always create extra burden for the distribution chain. Is there anything that catches your eye in the lists, or something else that you would like to warn about?

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.

The first version always gets thrown away.