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Comment The MSR is the way to go. (Score 1) 266

I think in the end, what will happen is that we'll end up choosing molten-salt reactors fueled by thorium-232 dissolved in molten fluoride salts as fuel--the so-called liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR).

The advantages to LFTR's are numerous:

1. Thorium-232 is as common in the soil as elemental Lead--indeed, one of the huge problems with rare-Earth element mining is figuring out how to get rid of the thorium. Suddenly, all that thorium is in high demand for nuclear reactor fuel.
2. LFTR's can even use re-processed uranium-235 fuel rods and plutonium-239/241 from dismantled nuclear weapons dissolved in molten fluoride salts as fuel, making it a very viable way to get rid of a huge current nuclear waste problem.
3. You don't need expensive pressurized reactor vessels.
4. The reactor size can be scaled from 40 megawatts to over 1,000 megawatts power output. That means they could be used for powering installations as small as computer server farms all the way up to powering whole cities, and they can generate power 24 hours a day constantly.
5. Because the fuel is in liquid form in the reactor, there is no such thing as a reactor meltdown if the coolant is cut off for any reason.
6. A SCRAM emergency shutdown of the reactor is dumping the liquid fuel out of the reactor quickly, a lot easier to do than the complex safety systems found in today's uranium-fueled reactors.
7. Using closed-loop Brayton turbines to generate power, you eliminate the enormously expensive need for big cooling towers or locating the reactor near a large source of water.
8. The amount of radioactive waste generated is tiny compared to uranium-fueled reactors, and that waste has a radioactive half-life of under 320 years, which means really cheap nuclear waste disposal using disused salt mines or salt domes (if the nuclear medicine industry doesn't grab it first!).

Note that scientists think that the Moon and even Mars may have large quantities of thorium-232 that could be mined. As such, we may enough thorium-232 to power LFTR's for potentially _tens_ of thousands of years at current power consumption rates.

Comment Re:Just don't IoT (Score 1) 39

As long as there is zero accountability, there is zero reason to do anything about it.

Whether a company does anything that cuts into their bottom line is similar to whether they break a law: What does it cost to do it vs. how likely is it to happen and what does it cost if if happens. If either of the latter two (usually the last one) is zero, it will not happen.

Comment Re:Things are looking up (Score 1) 120

Things were great in early 1914 too.

* We've lost privacy.
* We've lost 12 minutes per hour of our entertainment to advertising.
* The quality of fruits and vegetables are down for most people.
* There's a growing set of food intolerance diseases- most likely due to issues with the food.
* If we have another widespread war- it's going to be fast and horrific compared earlier wars.
* If we have another financial panic get thru- it's going to be worse than the great depression.
* If a terrorist group gets hold of increasingly cheap bioweapons, it could end human civilization.
* If automation proceeds as expected- our current economic system breaks down as over half the population loses the ability to trade their time and labor for products.

A lot of plates are spinning. We might pull it off. Or things could fall apart astonishingly fast.

We could have had a war break out with Russia just last week via Turkey. And we would have been pulled into it by treaties- just as happened in world war one.

Generally- I agree we are doing better- but things are much more "brittle" than they used to be. We've reduced redundancy and if things go badly over a large area, it will impact ability to get food and power to a lot more people.

So... as the guy falling past the 6th floor window said.... "So far so good!"

Comment Re:Not replaced: serial and parallel ports. (Score 5, Interesting) 165

Yup, pretty much this.

It's trivial to implement a serial connection in a microcontroller. All you need is a level shifter like the dime-for-dozen MAX232 and you're set. For USB, this requires a lot more implementation overhead (not to mention getting a genuine UID if you want to ship it), and literally EVERYONE who has ever even dabbled in microcontroller programming knows how to deal with a MAX232. Pushing information down the serial line is like the Hello World of microcontroller tinkering.

That's why you can still get PCI-E serial controller rather cheaply. And, lo and behold, almost all of them contain some variant of the MAX232.

Comment Home (Score 1) 120

Your perception of how good or bad the world is probably depends most on what's going on inside your home and inside your head.

Despite bad things that happen (which is nothing new, of course) the world is definitely on the good side of the bell curve. Positively above average. Maybe it's the proximity to Thanksgiving, with my family around me and everybody healthy and the Bears beating the Packers, but I feel pretty good about the world now. I can feel pain from all the bad things in the world, have those things diminish me as they do everyone, and still feel like the world is a pretty good place.

It is easier to change the specification to fit the program than vice versa.