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Comment Re:Nuclear research needed! (Score 5, Interesting) 330

Your "easily" is still considerably more difficult than producing weapons grade materials the old fashioned way, so how does it matter? The fuel salt in a molten salt reactor is the safest place for any materials that pose a proliferation threat. It is both thermally and radiologically very hot, and confined to a chemical processing hot cell or the reactor itself, which makes it rather difficult to walk off with. Little of the thorium ends up as Np-237 in the first place, and it doesn't stop there--the reactor will turn it into Pu-238 and so on.

The standard LFTR design does not have the facilities to separate the Np-237 which comes out of the fuel salt with along with UF6, and goes right back into the core. A thermal breeder using the thorium fuel cycle has a very small margin for neutron loss, and if the fissile is diverted, the reactor will stop. Extra care will need to be taken with machines configured to produce Pu-238, but even that poses a significant challenge for diversion, and similarly will not go unnoticed.

Furthermore, this is the machine which is capable of making every nation on earth energy independent, and ending essentially all resource conflict. Once a nation has that, there is little motivation to produce bombs and risk losing it. There is also the fact that reactors provide the only means of destroying weapons grade materials, and provide abundant energy as a byproduct. Obstructing nuclear energy prevents that from ever happening, and will pose a substantially greater risk.

Comment Re:Think I've heard this one before (Score 1) 262

If nuclear policy had favored the sane approach, opposition would have had much less to work with. Scaling up a submarine reactor was a terrible idea, and the accident scenarios that have since played out were forewarned. When the inventor of the technology is firmly opposed, and advancing another option, a sensible person might give it some thought. Instead they fired Alvin Weinberg, for daring to voice safety concerns. Fortunately, even if nuclear technology is 50 years behind, it is still the most capable low-carbon energy source, and also the one with the greatest realizable potential for improvement.

While nuclear started off on the wrong foot, the larger problem was that it was facing very powerful entrenched interests. Along with the obvious measures to shape public opinion and policy, they also sponsored the dishonest "research" that formed the basis of nuclear regulation which persists today. They even funded early “environmental” organizations, to embed an anti-nuclear tenet at the core of “green” values, which sadly still takes precedence over decarbonization.

Driverless cars will face much less opposition though, since they are competing with people and displacing jobs. Great for owners of large businesses involving transportation and such. Good for everyone else too, but the ever increasing scarcity of productive jobs needs addressing. The gains of productivity should benefit everyone, not just a handful of owners. It is also crucial to keep in mind that while energy is the foundation of all prosperity, it will never again be a high-margin product and so offers little incentive to invest in production of it. That also needs to change, even if it means diverting a massive chunk of the defense budget to building reactors. Interestingly, that would be a much better return on investment for national security as well.

Comment Re:Nuclear (Score 1) 275

Hear, hear. The people telling you that "It's better to switch to a diet of energy conservation, efficiency, and renewables" are completely out of touch with reality. While the first world is busy sprinkling their landscapes with renewables and prematurely shutting down nuclear plants, the global share of clean energy is actually declining, and the reason is quite simple: growth. Before advocating unrealistic solutions based on ideology, please educate yourself.

There are already billions doing without, burning dung and wood just to survive; telling them that they can't have a better life is insulting. The developing world will choose the most economical option, and today that is coal. They desperately need cheap, abundant, and reliable energy to build out infrastructure and industry. It is our job to push technology, as only a better option will dissuade them from realizing the mountain of coal plants currently on the drawing board. Once built, they will continue to burn coal for the next 40-60 years.

Molten salt reactors were proven 50 years ago, and can solve the problems facing conventional nuclear. The primary obstacles are political in nature, and while it will require courage, they can be overcome. There are dozens of companies trying to push nuclear forward, but they are mired in overzealous regulations and unfair policies distorting the market in favor of renewables only and not clean energy in general. In reality, these policies lock in fossil fuel backup, which will remain the bulk of generation. Only when reactors are rolling off of assembly lines, do we have any hope of truly closing the book on fossil fuels. Until then, it is foolish to leave any effective clean energy options off the table.

(Also note: the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is an anti-nuclear organization; leading climate scientists, among others who genuinely care about the environment, do not exclude options based on the "green" ideology.)

Comment Mature technology like solar and wind... (Score 1) 259

Solar and wind can't survive without subsidies, government mandates and market intervention giving them priority on the grid. Per unit of energy produced, they receive outrageously lavish subsidies, and their preferential treatment is pushing all reliable generators out of the market, not just nuclear. It is the pinnacle of hypocrisy to criticize nuclear, which receives virtually no help. Nuclear advocates don’t even want subsidies; they want a fair marketplace and rational technology-neutral regulation. Go ahead: eliminate all subsidies. Technologies with real potential don’t need subsidies, only an environment free of insurmountable obstacles.

Why should nuclear bear the considerable cost of integrating unreliable and destabilizing energy sources into the grid? Shifting the cost onto a competing clean energy source is extremely unfair, and nuclear itself is far from mature. Conventional reactors don't even scratch the surface of the design space, and the nuclear supply chain and construction industries have wasted away. If ever there were a technology deserving of subsidies, this is it. In terms of fuel efficiency and waste production, the potential improvements are more than a hundred-fold, and these can be realized in a LFTR, with unparalleled economics, safety, and a minimal environmental footprint.

After decades of intense investment, renewables still contribute very little in terms of useful energy or avoided CO2 emissions. What they have achieved is sharply increasing energy costs wherever deployed. Proponents trumpet their supposed low cost, but experience tells another story. Germany has some of the highest electricity rates, and far from decarbonizing, they are constructing new coal plants. Even the Germans are correcting course now, and people should confirm the facts and reflect on them. Sadly, when faced with facts and reason, the human instinct is to doubled down on stupid, so it will require effort.

Comment A secure architecture&OS would be more economi (Score 2) 184

x86 and systems based on it are hopeless from a security perspective, and that is even before considering the ticking time bomb that is Intel's Management Engine. It will be exploited eventually, and it would be surprising if the NSA wasn't already compelling Intel to backdoor it.

See the Mill security architecture, for an example of how a clever architecture can eliminate the bulk of common exploit vectors, and require little more than a recompile. It isn't the only option, but I highlight the Mill because it is a fascinating and novel architecture which also addresses many other long-standing issues with conventional systems. The security mechanisms also enable performant microkernels to be built, and protection between applications and libraries.

Operating systems will require work to take advantage of the protection features, but that will benefit everyone and be well worth the investment. This is the kind of "cyber" initiative I would like to see, rather than the focus on offensive capabilities. The latter poses a direct conflict of interest with securing systems, and ensures that adversaries will stock vulnerabilities rather than share and fix them.

Comment Free-form code is too often a mess... (Score 1) 391

Expanded tabs are a waste of space. The reasonable solution is using tabs for leading indent, and space otherwise. Tabs provide proper semantic meaning for indent, allowing editors to respect user preference.

Fundamentally though, the question shouldn't even need to be considered. Code is necessarily structured and should have a canonical format, enforced by a tool like gofmt, which makes mechanical transformations of code much simpler. The amount of time wasted on formatting, both for writing and reading code is absurd.

I'll even suggest that a free-form text editor is an annoyingly primitive tool for programming. Given a suitable language and a canonical representation of the code, a contextually aware coding environment with full knowledge of the syntax could allow a significantly better development experience.

Comment QoS and net neutrality are the same issue... (Score 1) 66

What you have just described gives an artificial advantage (or disadvantage in the case of bittorrent) to managed protocols, discouraging innovation. A neutral network should not discriminate based on packet contents whatsoever. It is fundamentally impossible to fairly classify traffic, because there will always be unknown traffic and lack of agreement on priorities. In some cases, encryption may even prevent classification; why should those packets suffer? The only place where QoS is both functional and useful is on a customers own connection, where they set priorities among their own traffic.

Beyond that, an ISP has no business discriminating based on address or packet contents. The moment that is allowed, ISPs game the system. As seen, they invest in smart hardware capable of culling unwanted traffic rather than adding capacity, which inevitably results in a more congested network. This devalues the network for all non-priority traffic. There is exactly one good solution: add more capacity when necessary. This is the simplest, least expensive, and perfectly fair. It also ensures that there will be an excess of capacity available for innovative new protocols and uses.

Comment Re:Vote for Jill Stein and Gary. (Score 1) 528

A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for continued support of "green" energy fantasy. Her anti-nuclear position is proof that she is either deluded, or doesn't give a damn about the environment. Either way, she will support the endless and enormous subsidies for renewables, which ultimately provide very little energy and big problems for maintaining a reliable grid. It is time to cut all energy subsidies and let the CO2-free options compete on merit alone, and encourage affordable and reliable energy.

As disgusted as I am by both Trump and Clinton, at least the GOP platform is pro-nuclear and even encourages energy from thorium and development of advanced reactors. It also encourages fossil fuels which is unfortunate, but still better than the "green" position which will plunge us into energy poverty. At least it is more honest and direct, rather than green-washing the expansion of inefficient natural gas turbines required to support unreliable wind and solar energy. Incidentally, without the requirement to support renewables, more efficient gas turbines can be used, which would be even more environmentally friendly than running the inefficient renewable/gas combination, and do so at considerably lower cost.

Comment Vortex Engine (Score 1) 39

As cool as a clean burning column of fire is, a vortex engine looks like a more practical use of the phenomenon. The idea is to capture the energy of a rising warm air column as in a solar updraft tower, though without needing to construct a tower. It also offers the potential to replace cooling towers, and extract energy from the significant amount of "waste" heat available at thermal or nuclear plants. (That heat need not be wasted, and can also be used for cogeneration. The higher temperature heat produced by advanced reactors like LFTR or other MSRs can also drive industrial processes including desalination, production of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels and ammonia, etc.)

Also see the atmospheric vortex engine.

Comment Re:So what? Radiophobia is the problem, not radiat (Score 3, Informative) 140

Uranium mining is in the noise of todays mining activities, and would remain so even if we stopped mining coal. It can also be extracted directly from seawater, and from rare earth mine tailings which also contain thorium. Nuclear fuel is so energy dense that you barely need any at all; the worlds entire yearly energy demand could be met with byproducts from a single small rare earth mine. The tremendous energy density also puts the cost of the fuel in the noise, and even seawater extraction wouldn't impact energy costs more than a fraction of a cent per kWh.

To mention something so insignificant, you are either ignorant or drinking the green kool-aid. A hell of a lot more mining is needed for wind turbines and solar panels, and neither are remotely environmentally friendly to produce in the quantities needed. Nor do renewables replace fossil fuels, because they are not reliable.

Comment So what? Radiophobia is the problem, not radiation (Score 3, Informative) 140

Radiation killed about 50 at Chernobyl, and none at Fukushima and Three Mile Island. Meanwhile, pollution from burning fossil fuels causes millions of premature deaths every year. Even with a meltdown every year, nuclear would be a vast improvement if it replaced burning of fossil fuels, and incidents are increasingly unlikely with modern reactors, should people let us build them. (If one is objective, nuclear would even reduce loss of life over installation and maintenance of wind and solar generators, and at far less cost.)

The truth is, radiation is typically harmless, and can even be used to improve health. The body has repair mechanisms which routinely deal with an enormously greater amount of chemical damage from oxygen and such. It takes a whole lot of radiation to have any negative health effects, and current regulatory limits are based on bad science funded by fossil fuel interests.

People have been deceived for more than half a century, and mainstream “environmental” organizations such as Greenpeace, Friends of Earth, Sierra Club, NRDC, etc. continue the effort, often funded by those same interests. If you are genuinely concerned about the environment and climate change, look to ecological conservation groups and leading climate scientists, which uniformly support nuclear. It is the only option which is scalable to global needs and also has the smallest environmental footprint.

Learn more about radiation from Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information, or see the articles tagged LNT and Health Effects.

Comment Re:Ontario is a model of clean energy... (Score 1) 327

Certainly, but hydro resources are typically maxed out or nonexistent throughout most of the world. Existing systems aside, dams also have a significant negative impact on ecosystems and expansion should be avoided where possible.

Nuclear on the other hand, can be deployed virtually anywhere on a very small footprint with minimal resources, and enables stable and low cost electricity for 60+ years. There are a number of other countries that employ nuclear at a large scale to nearly eliminate fossil fueled generation. France was 80% nuclear at one point, before EU renewable targets started dragging them backward. There are no examples of large scale renewable deployments that actually deliver upon the promises, nor does the data provide any realistic expectation that it is even remotely possible.

Comment Ontario is a model of clean energy... (Score 1) 327

See the real time data for how Ontario achieves this. In 2015, they produced 90% of their energy from non-fossil sources. (60% nuclear + 24% hydro)

"It is increasingly plausible to foresee a future in which cheap renewable electricity becomes the world's primary power source and fossil fuels are relegated to a minority status," reads the conclusion of the 32-page document, produced by Policy Horizons Canada.

This is total BS; even with immense investment the world over, wind and solar haven't even made a dent in fossil fuel consumption. If anything, they cement the position of fossil fuels required for backing up their intermittent and unreliable power. See a short video about the reality of Germany's wind and solar, or one of the many articles about Germany's return to coal for providing reliable power. Their attempt to phase out nuclear has been a very expensive failure, and only succeeded in ramping coal consumption, including construction of new plants.

"It's absolutely not pie in the sky," said Michal Moore from the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy. "These folks are being realistic -- they may not be popular, but they're being realistic."

Notice the need to reaffirm their nonsense not once, but three times. The data does not support their position, so they continue to repeat the lie. Sadly, this often works.

Comment Camless? Try valveless with OPOC engines... (Score 1) 383

Opposed Piston Opposed Cylinder engines have two pairs of pistons facing one another, each in a cylinder on opposite sides of the crankshaft. There is no cylinder head, just a ring of ports for intake and exhaust in the cylinder walls near where the pistons bottom out. With a slight timing offset, the exhaust ports will open before the intake ports. It is a fascinating design, simple and elegant, with very few moving parts and a high power density. The engine is completely balanced, and all of the linear forces cancel, leaving little load on the bearings, just torque. There are other interesting concepts out there, but this one is actually being mass produced today.

Electric cars are certainly attractive, but the reality is that hydrocarbon fuels are going nowhere. The energy density and flexibility are simply too great, and we have an immense amount of infrastructure and equipment that make use of them. The fastest way to a greener world isn't through electric cars, but rather synthetic carbon-neutral fuels, which can be efficiently produced using heat from nuclear reactors. Nuclear Ammonia is particularly interesting, because the feedstocks are readily available from air and water. Other replacement fuels can also be synthesized, but extracting carbon from air or water will add to the cost.

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