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Comment Tritium is the big problem. (Score 1) 399

All of these designs are great... but sadly we are still lacking half of the fuel needed for any fusion roll-out. All of these designs require two different types of hydrogen isotopes as fuel deuterium and tritium. We have a practically unlimited amount of deuterium in the oceans but tritium must be manufactured by neutron capture from lithium.

And this is the problem, tritium has a half-life of 12 years. Itâ(TM)s radioactive, itâ(TM)s VERY difficult to contain. And we donâ(TM)t have enough to run power plants. Now itâ(TM)s possible to wrap the a fusion reactor with Lithium to be converted into Tritium. But the amount that can made in this manner is only slightly more than what is burned to generate the flux needed to convert Lithium.

I saw a projection assuming we had a functional 1GW fusion power plant today; and we loaded the ALL of the worlds supply of Tritium into that reactor we would have enough to Tritium run that single plant for about a year. And at the end of that year assuming a good conversion rate you would have about 125-150% of the Tritium you started with. This would prevent any large deployments of fusion plants. They concluded that even after 10 years you wouldnâ(TM)t have the Tritium for more than 10-15 1GW Power plants. Assuming that you would build additional plants once you had fuel for them.

Also, they concluded that itâ(TM)s was likely impossible for a Tritium fueled fusion plant to prevent significant leakage of Tritium. As Tritium is radioactive and easily incorporated in living tissue such a power plant would be violating current laws for Nuclear plants.

I am not saying that we shouldn't be working on fusion power. But we arenâ(TM)t going to have unlimited fusion power anytime soon...

Comment Re:Riiiiiight, because that's what this issue... (Score 1) 495

When talking about global warming, I tend to try to get people to not think about the results of global warming. It's the often sensationalized predictions that "deniers" have the most problem with... so I try to get the discussion away from the results of what global warming will do to just focus on what is causing CO2 to raise what if anything we can do about it...

And this where I feel that most "activists" really fall down. I don't know how many times I have had people tell me that we can just use solar power and wind power with electric cars we would beat global warming. Often they make it sound that the only reason we aren't already doing this is because of some evil corporation(bringing in another political aspect to the debate).

So for me the two camps both have big issues with not looking at facts... Deniers feel that we will have no consequences. The activists feel like we can do a few simple things to beat global warming and the "evil" deniers are the only people preventing us from doing those simple things.

Big facts tend to be glossed over by both sides. Personally I think the "activists" side is the worst offender in this case(I can hear people screaming at the screen now, hear me out!). It's rather easy for the "deniers" to say nothing will happen since climate is actually VERY difficult to predict. They can point correctly to the unexpected "Pause" in warming and to people "normalizing" past temperature data.

But "activists" so massively underestimate the scope of the problem that even though they point out over and over again that they have science on their side.

The big list of what I feel is often ignored is...

1. Population increases that will drive overall energy demands to 3-5 times current consumption.
2. Industrialization of India(2030's) and later Africa.
3. The continuing carbon-rich energy revolution involving fracking.
4. The massive amount of Methane Hydrates that may be(likely are) a viable energy source.

These issues together will likely fuel a large increase in CO2 emissions as time goes on... Even if the developed world implemented every possible efficiency gain and manages to fix the issues with renewable power generation(a big if). It's just not going to be enough to make the developed world carbon neutral. The developing world will more than offset any gains we make. Even if they do implement many of the same developments in their economies.

We will likely dig up and burn nearly every source of fossil fuel we can get our hands on. And there is alot of it still out there...

Sadly, we likely lost the war on Global Warming back in the 70-80's when China industrialized. Oil was too cheap to force innovation in renewable power. So all of China patterned itself like the developed world. While I do expect we will make great gain in renewable power in the developed world. I doubt that reaching carbon neutral is possible.

I won't be surprised if in 20-30 years this debate flips from "deniers" to "geoengineers" as the issues with global warming will be evident. And "activists" to "anti-geoengineers".

Comment Not enough Tirtium for any large scale usage. (Score 1) 315

Long story short, since tritium has only a half-life of 11 years and there is no natural source. These fusion reactors will need equal amounts of Tritium and Deuterium as fuel.

The good thing is that a fusion reactor can be jacketed in Lithium to create the needed Tritium. The bad news is that you can't really generate a whole lot of extra Tritium. Being really optimistic you might be able to generate about 50% more Tritium than you burn. In practice this could be as low at just a few single digit % more than you burn since we don't have any working fusion reactors.

So even if we had a perfect, ready to use fusion reactor design today that was cheap, we wouldn't have the fuel to burn in more than a very limited number of plants. One projection I saw that given the lack of Tritium and the way that it would have to be generated, that if you used Fusion plants to self generate the Tritium, we can't expect more than about 30-50GW operating power plants before 2200. This is such a big problem that people worry about having enough Tritium for research with Nuclear fusion experiments.

To make matters worse... Tritium is very difficult to contain If you have a sealed steel tube filled with it, it will leak right out of the walls of the tube. In short, it's likely to present real problems with radioactive leaks. I remember reading a paper where they suggested that if we had deployed several hundred GW of fusion reactors we might be leaking radioactivity at a rate similar to having a Fukushima happening annually. And if we don't change the laws in allowed radioactivity being released from a Nuclear plant we would never be able to build a Fusion plant. As each Fusion plant would likely leak many times more radiation(via Tritium leaks) than is currently allowed.

It sucks, Fusion is really cool but for these reasons alone likely not to be a big producer of power anytime soon.

Comment Re:Probably not going to happen (Score 3, Interesting) 659

"Gridlock" isn't the issue here, the public isn't behind this action. It's looking increasingly likely that this resolution will be defeated in the Senate(which is controlled the Presidents party).

The House leadership has already said they will not bring a vote until after the Senate has voted. If the Senate votes "no" the House won't even bring this resolution up for a vote(as it will already be dead at that point).

Far from being "Gridlock" this is looking like this will be VERY direct action from the Congress. It just won't be what the President says that he wants. I do agree with you, his actions really suggests that he doesn't want to do this at all... and it's baffling to me why he would spend the political capital to try to push this issue when he really doesn't want to bomb them.

Comment Re:SDI's? (Score 3, Informative) 615

My understanding is that you are basically correct.

In-fact, one of the big points about the current anti-missile systems is that they do not have enough capacity to prevent strategic nuclear strikes from Russia or China. The goal is to make sure that they could always nuke us if they needed too. Which is a rather screwed up design feature; but it's understandable that we don't want to undermine their nuclear deterrence.

Comment Old School order (Score 1) 867

This is going to date me but...

sls --> Slackware --> Gentoo --> Centos

I started with sls in mid 92(I think it was the only distro at the time). After that I used Slackware until about three years ago. I started using Gentoo just because I liked the idea of having a system truly compiled for my current hardware. I recently switched to Centos on my server(not the desktop) because of stuff breaking when I did an update.

Comment Re:Except we may have just as much (Score 3, Informative) 227

Yeah, but we also have environmental regulations that make it VERY difficult(costly) extract the Rare Earth Elements. It's these environmental regulations that is the only reason that China is the leading producer of these elements. Getting this stuff out of the ore is a rather nasty processes which is expensive to do in the US.

Also until recently it was not clear it was worth extracting these elements. I know that there was a large mine that used to produce much of the worlds supply in the 80's-90's located in California. They shutdown because of the regulations and the fact that they couldn't compete with the low cost of stuff coming out of China. At that time it wasn't clear that these elements were that vital. Long term this action will cause other countries to re-open old mines or start extraction of new deposits. Rare-Earth deposits aren't really that rare it's the concentration of these elements in the "ore" that are low which is why they are called "rare".

This action by the Chinese has only caused people to start looking for new deposits and different methods of extraction. Last I heard, the Californian mine is in the process of being re-opened and should start producing in 2013.

Comment Re:Great... (Score 3, Interesting) 109

Basically everything you said is true.

The biggest advantage(and disadvantage) that I think they have from a political stand-point is the ability to make and then execute long term plans. It is something that is really missing with most of the democratic west. Granted, I don't think they always make good long term plans, heck often they do rather foolish things... but they can at least tackle problems that require long term solutions.

But I do think you are missing a one important point about China. You and I both agree that we wouldn't want to live with in dictatorship. But many Chinese feel that what they government has done has been for the best. Mainly due the the strength of the Chinese economy. While they do often fib on the exact numbers, it's impossible to discount that China has been growing the GDP at a rate of 10-15% per year for the last 20 years.

It's this fact more than any other that has won the hearts of the people in China. So much of the communist governments legitimacy is riding on ever increasing economic prosperity. If the economy faltered badly... who knows what would happen.

That is why the news from China isn't all that good. Most of the talk for the last few years has been about the "soft landing" that the Chinese Economy will soon make. It's just not possible for them to keep growing the way they have. It's much easier to grow a small economy than it is grow a large one. Most people expect that the "soft landing" will be a general slowing of the GDP growth rate to between 7-8%.

But over the last few months it's starting to become clear that China isn't getting a soft landing. As you point-out official numbers have been downright faked in the past. But metrics do exist that outsiders can look at and that have been reliable; for instance growth of electricity usage. In the past electricity use has closely followed the GDP. But it has basically been flat over the last 3 months. Other items point to a "hard landing" in China.

It's possible that this will all come to nothing and they won't slow that much... but I feel that long-term they can't have the massive corruption and mis-management if they don't also have the hugh GDP growth. I don't think the people would be nearly as happy with the government if they were frequently dipping into recession and had boughs of high unemployment like most other established economies. While also seeing the massive government corruption and mismanagement. Such periods of slow growth and recession are inevitable in the future even if they don't happen over the short-term.

Comment Re:Still using 1920x1440 CRT (Score 1) 565

You may not actually be seeing all of those pixels on your old Crt. Before I switched to LCD's in the early 2000's I had a 21inch Hitachi CRT. One of the big features of the CRT was that it actually had enough pixel elements(low enough pixel pitch) to actually truly display 1600x1200.

It was possible to drive it to 2048x1536 resolutions but the grill just didn't have the elements to show all of those pixels. Most of the other competing 21inch monitors at the time did not have a low enough pixel pitch.

Now the interesting thing... your irreplaceable 23 inch monitor if it has a pixel pitch of at least .25mm is likely displaying at 100Dpi. Matching the dpi that this page was complaining about. Given that a 23 inch monitor was really high end, you likely have enough pixel elements to see 100 Dpi. But it's something to keep in mind

Comment My Day Job. (Score 5, Informative) 140

Ok first thing first, I work for ImageStream as the Technical Support manager. So I might have a slightly biased viewpoint when it comes to the place I have been working for the last 16 years... But we have been doing Linux Based networking for the last 14 years.

What the OP wants to do is rather difficult for a few reasons. First, after shipping thousands of Linux based routers I can tell you that redundant power supplies that fit into standard PC hardware have a much higher failure rate than a standard Power Supply. Granted, if you have a failure you still have a functional power supply(which is now working twice as hard and is even more likely to fail).

Second, standard PC hardware just doesn't support multiple redundant components. Sure you can get redundant power supplies, but redundant buses or Cpu's your talking different about a totally different class of hardware(see below).

Third, If you truly have an Enterprise application, and your asking about hardware to support your application you are already in over your head. Sorry it's just the truth. The OP is talking about building a custom solution for a mission critical application and they have to ask on slashdot about hardware solutions. What happens when(not if) the OP has a problem. The real reason that many people buy our(ImageStream's) hardware is for the support. If something doesn't work they don't have try and troubleshoot a strange Pci bus condition or an obscure Linux Kernel issue that you only see when you have +5,000 networking interfaces in a system. It's one thing if your a Google and you want to build something that just doesn't exist like the OpenFlow switches they are using in their Gscale network. But for a normal organization you are going to spend money and time to develop your custom solution and in the end if anything doesn't work, you will spend more time fixing it.

Now if the OP still wants to do this... I would look at an ATCA (AdvancedTCA ) chassis. You can get support for a redundant dual loop back plane, multiple CPU cards, redundant power supplies and in most cases a out of band management module for the chassis. But this is VERY costly hardware. If your not budgeting at least $20k in hardware your likely not going to end-up with anything that had real redundancy.

Comment Re:Enjoy your delusion (Score 3, Informative) 414

S3 storage for 5TB isn't what I would call cheap. We are talking about $580/Month(or almost $7k per year). For that amount of money, you could buy a new set of 5TB worth of hard drives each month and then ship them to a remote location and pocket about $200 a month in savings.

Not a perfect solution(no online access) but I think it underscores just how costly S3 still is for large amounts of data. If you are talking about a few hundred GB of data, S3 storage is cheaper(and better) than anything you could reasonably do yourself. But once you scale up the usage... Heck, you could buy and colo a remote server and ship drives back and forth for less than what S3 would cost...

"Love your country but never trust its government." -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania