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Comment Re:Arthur C. was right again... (Score 1) 144 should check out the NAIC study on the space elevator, it is an equally interesting read.

Are we 50 years after everyone stops laughing yet?

It is an interesting read, and this study shows that material strength is required that does not exist in any prospective nanotube material. Their design requires operating at 50% of the theoretical limit of nanotube strength. This level of performance will never be achieved in any substantial cable.

Right now, after 30 years of work, 1 mm long nanotube cable samples just barely break 1% of the theoretical strength. Increase strength 50 times, length of a factor 40 billion, and cross section by a factor of a million, and you are there.

People are going to be laughing for a long, long time yet.

Comment Re:How does space elevator save energy? (Score 1) 144

I hope everyone notes though: energy cost $80/kg, launch cost (at least) $18,000/kg.

Talking about "energy costs" shows rank amateurism when talking about space flight. Virtually the entire cost is the flight hardware and ground support infrastructure. Energy costs aren't even rounding error on those.

Comment Re:Technology has nothing to do with it (Score 1) 224

Employers just don't invest in employees like they used to.

Well to that I took the advice of one of my former, now retired by choice at an early age coworkers, take every dime you can from the company. 401k put in the maximum amount they will match employee share matching plan, put in as much as they will match chance for training or conferences, take it all business travel, take it vacation, take it but carry over as much as you can tuition reimbursement, get that advanced degree Even if your employer doesn't offer all of those options take what ever they do and make use of it.

Maybe we should enroll in their defined benefit pension plan also.

I don't know if you have looked at the job market lately, and what employers are doing - but "matching" exists at a token level is it exists at all. Instead of tuition reimbursement we have extremely low (or zero) pay, no security internships for those already with degrees. Training? It is so amusing.

Comment Re:Change is inevitable (Score 3, Interesting) 224

It means you have absolutely no security. No benefits, no paid time off, etc. None of this is conducive to a proper work/life balance. This is fine when you are single and have a safety net to fall back on. But that doesn't work when hard times hit and you have no net and/or you have a family.

And of course the U.S. has the stingiest safety net in the modern world. Which the right wing is convinced is far, far too generous and must be slashed deeply.

We are heading for a 21st Century Dickensian society. The life span of the lower economic ladders (not the poor), who are taking the brunt of this brave new world of gig work, and suffering from the "safety net", is already dropping - an end to 2 centuries of improvement in living conditions.

Comment Re: At what point do we reevaluate the position (Score 2) 224

Believing capitalism should be regulated doesn't make you a socialist

Wanting to alter capitalism into a more "humane" form through regulation is pretty much the definition of socialist, at least as commonly used today.

Which means that "socialist" has completely changed its meaning, and has nothing to at all to do with socialism. Right.

In other news war is now peace.

Newspeak is just a way of lying. The Soviets, Nazis and other fascists mastered this, and it worked pretty well for them. The American political right has adopted this lesson of history, so vividly described by Orwell.

Comment Re: At what point do we reevaluate the position (Score 4, Informative) 224

How about you keep your work output and pay your expenses, I keep my work output and pay my expenses? That way we don't have to shuffle people's money around and worry about fairness.

Because then you have a fragmented, private insurance system attempting to dump risks and costs on externalities, which shuffles peoples money around. And when that happens you have to pay double for your health care. I am sure you love being overcharged 100%, because FREEDOM!

Also, clearly the decline in lifespan for lower end of the Middle Class (not the poor), a unique event for any advanced country, due to high medical costs is just hunky-dory with you. Watching your less well off fellow Americans (remember that old idea, civic-mindedness?) die young is terrific because FREEDOM!

Comment Re:Waste processing is solvable. (Score 3, Insightful) 351

> After a few years cooling in a pond

They were doing exactly that in Fukushima but a tsunami arrived. It could be an earthquake or a tornado in the USA, instead.

> keep the spent fuel rods in above-ground 10 ton concrete casks permanently

Those could be stolen for making a dirty bomb or a plane or a meteorite or space junk could fall onto them, during the hundreds of years required for 10x half-life storage or the above mentioned hurricane or earthquake could happen.

Smart to post as an AC, since you are pulling objections out of your nether regions.

Fukushima is a good example of where to never to site any nuclear facility whatsoever. The cooling ponds were a trivial problem compared the reactor units that were breached. In a non-insane site they are fine.

But objecting to the cooling ponds is a complete red herring - fuel is only held in ponds for a few years. We are discussing the problem of long term storage.

Clearly you know nothing at all about the characteristics of concrete fuel casks. Or tornados, or earthquakes, or hurricanes, or plane crashes, or space junk, or meteorites, for that matter. None of these are going to breach a storage cask - even a one in a thousand year meteor strike like Tunguska would not breach one, even if it happened to just hit that exact spot.

And even if you did breach one, the fuel is in solid intact rods of metal encased uranium oxide. Radiation is not going to go flying out everywhere.

Successfully stealing rods to make a dirty bomb is a bit of a problem too. Medical radiation sources are much easier to get and actually more dangerous as dirty bombs. I don't see radiation treatment in medicine going away.

Comment Re:"Failed" push for renewables? (Score 2) 351

I was reading an article about how the closing of reactors in California has lead to coal based power plants, and not wind or solar, stepping in to fill the breach.

Link to the article you read? From all sources I have seen the replacement power for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shutdown was from natural gas power plants. The lifecycle carbon emissions for gas is about half that of coal, and other pollutants far less than that.

Currently (2014) wind and solar provide 11.8% of California's (in state) electricity (12.3% if you include energy import across state lines). They were only 3.7% and 5% in 2010, thus increasing 3 times and 2.5 times in just four years (this is all actual production, not "capacity"). The added production in those 4 years is more than the output of San Onofre, so although they were not the source of the drop-in power replacement for San Onofre, over 4 years they did replace its net annual production and more, and are continuing to grow quickly. If they add the same capacity over the next four years they will produce more power for California than nuclear power ever did.

The regular nuclear power industry, using enriched uranium fuel and light water moderator/coolant, but presumably with advanced designs, will recover 20 years before any commercial thorium reactors are built. If you ever want to see an operating LFTR you should be rooting for the construction of existing designs.

Comment Re:"Failed" push for renewables? (Score 1) 351

Try reading the exchange again, oh AC.

ka9dgx claimed that "uranium fueled reactors" cannot use uranium oxide fuel (believing apparently, that all of them are using uranium metal fuel - e.g. his concern about the fuel "oxidizing").

In fact all commercial reactors (which are all "uranium fueled") use nothing but uranium oxide fuel - his assertion that this was a deficiency in uranium fueled reactors was simply false.

Your response reads as a non-sequitur.

Comment Re:Waste processing is solvable. (Score 3, Informative) 351

We already have a solution for nuclear waste - the one we are currently using by default. After a few years cooling in a pond simply keep the spent fuel rods in above-ground 10 ton concrete casks permanently. Currently the casks are kept on the reactor site, but it would be better to move them to a few remote central sites for long term monitoring (in the U.S. the Chiricahua Apache have suggested their reservation as such a storage site).

The fuel rods are perfectly stable in the casks for thousands of years.

Also, if we should ever desire to reprocess them (currently a fantastically uneconomic idea) they would be easy to retrieve.

That this is not being treated as a final storage solution is due to political, not technological issues.

Adapt. Enjoy. Survive.