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Comment: Re:They can produce tritium at fission plants (Score 2) 305

by PvtVoid (#47708627) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Aren't uranium (as opposed to plutonium) bombs pretty bulky?

Not really. The critical mass for U235 is 50 kg or so, while for PU240 it's about 40 kg. Moreover, a U235 bomb is way easier to make, because it doesn't have a predetonation problem like plutonium. Just take two hunks of U235 and drive one into the other with an explosive charge. Bang. City gone. This was the way Little Boy worked. It was so simple they didn't even bother to test it before dropping it on Hiroshima. You can't do that with PU240: the neutrons get so thick as it nears criticality that it blows the charge apart in a sub-critical burst. This is why you have to use very sophisticated shaped charges to assure a perfectly spherical implosion.

PU240 is easier to produce. U235 is easier to build a bomb with. It has proved very fortunate for the world that these two things are true.

Comment: Re:Failure of the 20th-Century Environmental Movem (Score 1) 249

by PvtVoid (#47701923) Attached to: The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise

Erm, you are mixing up stuff.

The anti nuclear horde always pointed out that the current plants are not safe. (And on top of that they don't want new ones).

And now you try to use that as a stick against them?

The plants weren't unsafe when they were built. They are unsafe now because they are far beyond their design lifetime. We have better plant designs now. Why is this so hard to understand?

Comment: Re:Failure of the 20th-Century Environmental Movem (Score 1) 249

by PvtVoid (#47700187) Attached to: The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise

The ban on DDT, which you quote as a success story, is the main reason that malaria still kills millions today. Despite your defense of nuclear power, you still managed with that comment to jump onto the environmentalist propaganda bandwagon.

I am an environmentalist. Leftie as all hell, thank you very much.

With respect to DDT, I cited that deliberately, despite the fact that malaria does indeed take a huge human toll which could (in principle) be mitigated by widespread used of DDT. The problem is the tradeoff: Wholesale collapse of ecosystems is too high a price to pay for even millions of human lives, because the long-term result will be even more lives lost, and more suffering inflicted. The bacteria are going to win, eventually. Burning down our own house to prevent that is both futile and self-destructive.

Comment: Failure of the 20th-Century Environmental Movement (Score 5, Insightful) 249

by PvtVoid (#47697355) Attached to: The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise
For all of the laudable successes of the Environmental Movement in the late 20th Century (e.g. bans on DDT and chlorofluorocarbons, regulations to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions, habitat preservation), the anti-nuclear movement has to count as one of its great failures. These old plants are dangerous, and becoming increasingly so. Knee-jerk opposition to the construction of new nuclear facilities has made all of us less safe by encouraging obsolete plants (like Fukushima) to be patched together for another few decades because there is no alternative to meet power demand. Knee-jerk opposition to any waste respository has resulted in the highly dangerous on-site storage of spent fuel.

Environmental opposition to nuclear power has made nuclear power vastly more dangerous than it needs to be, which appears to be a deliberate strategy: if you are convinced beyond any reasoning that something is too dangerous to be used at all, then it becomes paradoxically sensible to work to make it as dangerous as possible so that other people will agree with your preconceived notions about the hazards. I'm not sure if this effect has a name yet. Proof by suicide?

Comment: An email is not a text. (Score 2) 232

by PvtVoid (#47695747) Attached to: Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It
This has to be the dumbest fucking idea I have ever heard of. If I tell the Post Office to hold my mail while I'm on vacation, I expect to get all of that mail delivered upon my return. Not thrown away.

An email is an electronic form of mail. It is asynchronous. You send it to somebody when you do not expect an immediate reply, but instead expect the recipient to read it as time permits, but within a reasonable time, and respond as appropriate. An OoO is an optional courtesy letting the sender know that a reply will be delayed more than a typical amount of time. (I pretty much never use them, instead just go through my outstanding email and respond when I am available.)

Something is seriously upside-down about the world when otherwise sane business people find it totally normal to never answer their phone (which is a synchronous form of communication) and communicate by trading voicemails, but at the same time expect instantaneous response to emails.

Comment: Carriers aren't the weak point (Score 4, Informative) 80

by PvtVoid (#47636911) Attached to: FCC Mandates Text-to-911 From All US Wireless Carriers
The problem is that local emergency infrastructure is incapable of handling the technology. Every call 911 from a cell phone, for example, in New York? You get sent to a centralized, state-wide call center, and the first thing they ask is: "What town are you in?" Then they manually route you to an emergency center nearby. They have no infrastructure to use the location info from your phone, despite the fact that it has been mandated in the cell phones themselves for many years. People have died because of this, but there is no funding to upgrade the system.

You can make the phones as high-tech as you wish, if you don't back it up with government funding for the corresponding infrastructure, it's completely useless.

Comment: Re:A little behind the times (Score 1) 315

by PvtVoid (#47627583) Attached to: Why the "NASA Tested Space Drive" Is Bad Science

If you see an obvious flaw in the full paper, please post it and I will publicize it.

I have a better idea: how about I ignore the whole sordid, over-hyped clusterfuck and go do something useful with my time? The Emfdrive company will go under like a submarine in short order, and we won't have to worry about them anyway.

Comment: Re:A little behind the times (Score 1) 315

by PvtVoid (#47627513) Attached to: Why the "NASA Tested Space Drive" Is Bad Science

In my opinion, you can't just say "this is obviously wrong."

Yes you can: it's obviously wrong. Read the paper from the inventors on how the engine is supposed to work. It's a series of novice-level mistakes about physical principles and mechanisms. The entire idea is completely fucking batshit from the very beginning. The very fact that somebody actually got funding to build one of these absurd snake-oil devices indicates very little except that something is very, very wrong with the funding process. NASA is infamous for this kind of loony bullshit, and they really need to stop. It makes them look like morons.

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