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Oldest Human Genome Reveals When Our Ancestors Mixed With Neanderthals

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Oh no you di'int! (126 comments)

Jean Auel's work is literate smut. It's just a Stone Age bodice-ripper. Don't make me quote-mine for proof.

Calling it a 'bodice ripper' is obscene.

Earth's Children series comprises six books, ~1.8 million words altogether.

In Clan of the Cave Bear There is brutal sex without consent. It occurs within the context of a culture that does not require a woman's consent, which is how Auel chose to portray the Neanderthals --- yet it is clear that among the clan brutality is not tolerated. This is essential to the story... and a series of encounters between Jondalar and Ayla appearing throughout the books that are as sensual and vivid as one might expect of a young couple in love, sex done 'right'. The scenes are described in extravagant (if you hate sex you might prefer 'lurid') detail. Auel's writing style is strained a bit during these sex passages only in that there are some repeated words and phrases, the cutest of which is the use of the word nodule.

But the lovers are soon satiated and the story moves on, just as it does in real life. It does not detract in the slightest from the series. Do not expect a 'did this, said this' style where the characters' minds are opaque and clumsily presented. Auel is a masterful writer who jumps skillfully between expressed inner thought, dialogue, and the senses.

But her portrayal of Earth's primordial landscapes and the journey/adventure is the real treasure one will find in these books. An avid reader not only sees through the characters' eyes, even down to the minutiae of making camp, it becomes possible to place yourself there, so well is it described. I loved the way Tolkien describes Ithilien and always wanted to tarry awhile without a burdensome ring quest. For me, Earth's Children recaptured that feeling.

I do not hesitate to recommend these books to any child who is old enough to read them, even the unpleasant explicit content within 'Cave Bear'. We do not live in a perfect world where there is no need to learn of such things, and that book portrays brutish and bully behavior in its complete context of the character's jealousy and malice. Many might consider these to be 'adult' themes, but my position is that they are just themes that children are sure to encounter in their lives. There is no 'right time' to introduce kids to these things only a 'right way'. The author neither glorifies nor apologizes for them. Books like these help prepare children for life.

Sorry to bore you. Back to the sex. Here is a Google search for "Ayla's nodule for your enjoyment and titillation. Now get off my lawn.


Oldest Human Genome Reveals When Our Ancestors Mixed With Neanderthals

TheRealHocusLocus Yes, we are descended from Durc! (126 comments)

We've got to stop with the Neanderthal nonsense...

Right we do. There are just a few pieces of evidence now, but it may be that Neanderthal is actually a distant race that falls within our human specie. If their whole genome diverged from the branch of modern humans ~600,000YA and yet --- if there is additional evidence of interbreeding up to ~50,000YA, and humans from ~50,000YA could interbreed with us today (which I believe is true) --- then I consider it extremely likely that a Neanderthal could breed with a modern human.

And give your children superpowers like X-ray vision.

This is vindication for Jean Auel, whose Earth's Children series of books has popularized this exciting idea for generations of children. As a lay author she has been the lightning-rod target of those who disagree with the hypothesis, and at times her literary critics have even betrayed a tone of indulgent arrogance that just might have been a glimmer of the old Darwinian stuffed shirts, who banished Neanderthal from the human family early on by some of the characteristics that (merely) differentiate races existing today. Central to all of this goofy criticism is the Ayla's hybrid child Durc.

I highly recommend Earth's Children books to all. They are on par with Tolkien in their use of descriptive language, the central characters portray a series of actual humans over time who have made technological discoveries over time. The books are especially fit for children as they imagine the rich and viable human society that we know must have existed long ago, dispelling the silly myths that what we would recognize as civilization is merely a few thousand years old.

2 days ago

NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Monte Carlo Gender Selection of qualified peopl (396 comments)

I was rushed for time when I wrote that, it didn't come off too well. What I had in mind was from a future where people are being chosen for long term assignments such as a grand tour of the solar system (and part two), extended Mars mission -- or colonization -- where there are qualified volunteers of both genders. There's a lot more to this than sexual liaisons or pair bonding.

The Sex Differences in Psychology is a good read on what has been observed by experiment, there's some physiology in there too. And with any 'delicate' topic, the Wiki talk page for it shows an interesting struggle to identify and manage bias for a topic that is so rich with historical flavor it has its own category of humor.

But a most fascinating tangent from the Wiki page is this recent study Widespread sex differences in gene expression and splicing in the adult human brain (Trabzuni et. al 2013), showing "that sex differences in gene expression and splicing are widespread in adult human brain, being detectable in all major brain regions and involving 2.5% of all expressed genes."

Sequencing inherited genes has taught us that there's no more than ~0.5% variance among the races of the world. We have leveraged the smallness of that number into a scientifically based bias against racism and prejudice which we apply to classic arguments of "nature vs. nurture?" to stack the deck against "nature" when debating things like intelligence and ability.

This is good. This ~0.5% figure gives us a hard baseline for "humanness" superior to that applied by Phrenologists and early Darwinians. If I have inherited a certain gene that affects skull shape or skin color or susceptibility to a disease, I can expect a noble society NOT to apply judgment from it of inherent ability or potential.

So what about that ~2.5% difference in gene expression between male and female brains? "We are not alone." I mean that in the full Close Encounters aliens-are-among us sense, because when discussing sex-triggered gene expression we're firmly in "nature" territory. Science reveals the existence of an intelligent (yet 'alien') species on this planet. And even though your genes are expressed differently, you both fall within the ~0.5% genetic baseline.

This means "including women equally" in everything that matters in a direct or Monte Carlo 50/50 ratio or a process is NOT like that "gotta strive to ensure that all races are represented" thing. The human race is a successful species because of this working partnership. It is a successful one and we ignore or diminish it at our great peril.

By peril I mean that any enterprise without equal genders by default is ahuman. Not 'inhuman' with its connotation of injustice. Ahuman is "not us", creepy, weird, uncanny valley. I propose the gender coin toss+'merit' --- and not just 'merit' (plus equal action political metric) --- as a way to statistically implement what is our intrinsic nature, impose a system that can be agreed upon that eases us into gender parity as the likely default, but yet does what nature does --- when the toss weighs heavily to one side something new is tried.

Because there may be dynamics of gender interaction (not sex) that are not just necessary to evolve. By excluding gender at times through history we may have been losing ground.

For something completely different, see Women: How do they do it?

3 days ago

NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

TheRealHocusLocus Monte Carlo Gender Selection of qualified people (396 comments)

Get everyone to agree that gender's a 'thang', same gender crews, or seriously imbalanced ratio for an extended mission is an unnatural and cruel idea.

Therefore in deference to human nature, a coin toss for gender of each position is performed as the positions are filled.

Mandating equal number of each invites trouble, if a greater portion of applicants are one gender, it injects the meme among the most arrogant of 'which' particular minority gender positions were filled by the 'least' qualified. An equal gender mission also carries another cruel twist: once monogamous pairs form there is unspoken expectation among those remaining that they too will pair up, and the diminishing possibilities lead to a choice-drama. Tabloid fixation on this formula (by participants and those on Earth) would is an unnecessary distraction.

By going coin toss, the mission is guaranteed to result in a mix of humans that everyone can agree is not the direct result of some manipulative policy, prejudice or conspiracy. It would give the participants freedom to form their own bonds (or not) without the sense that they are playing out some 'experiment'.

3 days ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Fission is Dead (218 comments)

Canada is hard at work with Thorium molten salt reactors, its greatest simplification, a K.I.S.S. variant of LFTR, the DMSR. Terrestrial Energy Inc, or look up Dr. David LeBlanc.

Here's a Dr. LeBlanc at TEAC5 2013 describing his denatured reactor concept. And an interview on DMSR and the "tube within a tube" simplification of the original reactor experiments, more video links at the end of the interview. He is projecting ~35 metric tons per GWe year, one-sixth of what is used by a pressurized water reactor.

more idealistic LFTR proponents like Dr. Kirk Sorensen

I get that vibe too. As Dr. Sorensen tells it, he learned the deep details of molten salt experiments from a dusty old book. Imagine that --- you make your way through the modern world with a sense of confidence that everything that is worth knowing is part of the curriculum you have been taught --- or at least, there are experts out there, young like yourself, who grasp these things. And then one day you open this dusty yellowed old book and start to glimpse a future, a great future, that could have been but never was. You're asking yourself, why? And you research it further to discover that the rest of the story is kept in a file drawer somewhere, and those who worked on it are now in their 80s and 90s. And they're bitter.

If that happened to me it would be a moving experience. It would shake any confidence I had that our survival as a species was in any way 'assured'. It would coalesce into a keen sense of desperation to carry on this work, realize the dream Weinberg laid out.

Sorensen tells the story so well I actually experienced a touch of it myself. That is why I'd like to see nuclear technology brought up to date and applied so we might have a smooth (and fun!) transition from the age of fossil and steam to something better, and have tons of surplus energy to play with. The DMSR might be a commercial success first, but I believe "Captain Kirk" deserves the chance to realize the two-fluid reactor.

Because the greatest tragedy of all would be if this LFTR renaissance fades and is some day placed into a dusty digital archive, and some keen young student discovers it and finds Dr. Sorensen a bitter old man.

5 days ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Pure FUD from from a known renewable troll... (218 comments)

Hey look, I'm a "known renewable troll". Yay, I'm famous!

Pleased to meet ya. Famous myself, though I hardly ever get a -1 Troll. Usually it's an -1 Overrated, which is what meta-mods use when they don't like your face. I have an ugly face.

> First of all, LCoE ignores the cost of integrating intermittent wind and solar into the grid
Which is why everyone is building wind and not nuclear, I guess.

Beg to differ here. The real reason we've been building out so much utility-wind these last decades is not that it is a workable solution (never was)... it's not that the folks doing it haven't gotten around to running the numbers yet (some have, that's why natural gas plant manufacturers are the real winners)... it's not even that fossil companies actively support these renewable options because they do not pose any kind of threat (so much for conspiracy theory, it's plain conspiracy fact)... it's simply because nuclear has been kept off the table by a social phenomenon of fear that became rooted in the 'environmentalist' demographic, and that group has been steering the ship. I describe the genesis of this in this adjacent post. Chernobyl may have stirred it further but the fear was already entrenched by 1980.

I believe there will be a time --- soon --- when the emerging generation takes the reins and examines the gigawatt-year track record nuclear plants have demonstrated, even with 'old' designs. If Stewart Brand, a founder of the environmental movement, can re-think this fear, why cannot others? If demonstrated wind output on the grid has taught me anything, it is that you will probably never see a windmill produced by a factory that is powered by windmills. Our fixation with wind has produced some great strides in compact Neodymium designs (Tesla would be proud!) but it has delayed us at a crucial time.

> Read about ThorCon [] for what is possible
A device designed by a guy with exactly zero experience in reactor design, worked on as a home project? Right, ok.

Jack Devanney's summary and his slide show prepared for the 3rd Annual Workshop on Accelerator-Driven Sub-Critical Systems & Thorium Utilization, which is fancy speak for 'nuclear furnace'.

This approach is brilliant and deserves more than a one liner --- whether you have the time to work your way through this 69 page summary or not. I have, and though I've never designed a nuclear reactor either, I have boned up on LFTR tech and will try to do it justice...

I can see that he has tacked the heat expansion problems in the reactor head-on by doing something that only a designer of naval ships (and not conventional reactors) might think of --- shrugging off the problem entirely by suspending components. [p.18] "Almost all the vertical expansion is downward. The drain line is hung from the PHX to Pot line and has no direct physical connection to the Can. So this vertical movement is unrestricted and the drain line at Can temperature is free to expand independently of the primary loop."

He's abandoning the Holy Grail of breeding, striving to leverage the proven portions of salt technology into a system that can be built and scale today. [p.16] "ThorCon is a thorium converter, not a breeder. ThorCon requires periodic additions of ïssile fuel. And the ïrst generation ThorCon is not a particularly eïfcient converter. Only about 25% of its power comes from converting thorium to 233U. ThorCon derives its ability to produce power cheaply not from its use of thorium, but from all the other advantages of liquid fuel."

He points out that the FLiBe salts necessary for many LFTR designs are in short supply and current methods for production are not up to the task. [p.16] "The one salt design requires nearly continuous, complex chemical processing of a very hot, extremely radioactive fuel salt. This process has not yet been fully demonstrated even at laboratory scale. Both concepts need highly enriched 7Li which doesnâ(TM)t exist in anything like the quantities required." So --- even though I personally would rather see the two-fluid LFTR as envisioned by Weinberg come into being, I must yield to this important point. This "amateur" has brought up a topic that is not often discussed, even among die-hard Thorium designers and advocates.

Each unit is actually pair of reactors, and his design allows for one of them to be on quiescent cool-down awaiting replacement/refurbishment. Instead of envisioning some periodic shutdown of the reactor or replacement of parts "as-needed" --- who and how are parts going to be inspected in such a hostile environment? --- his whole approach calls for the units to be swapped out on a regular basis, on a time table more often than materials would degrade. Again, this is an example of simple genius at work, under-thinking as opposed to over-thinking. Of course, implied here is the its placement in a shielding container and safe transport to a facility devoted to the inspection and refit of these units. Which simplifies things quite a bit, and guards against the worse aspects of human nature: staffing nuclear plants with competent operators rather than materials engineers who are faced with making progressively difficult judgement calls.

He wants to build these on ocean-going ships. I'm kinda leery about that, but no big deal. If I can afford one of his nuke plant ships some day, I'd just dig a ship shaped hole in the ground and drop it in.

The money quote: [p.3] "Assuming rational regulation, ThorCon can produce reliable, carbon free, electricity at between 3 and 5 cents per kWh depending on scale."

He just presented the idea at the conference in Virginia on October 15th. I wonder how it turned out.

So what is delivered by these compromises? More waste than the legendary Weinberg reactor, but with poroper recycling far less than light water reactors produce. Virtually zero danger of another Fukunobyl. A build-out of base load that would make dreams such as electric transport feasible. Breaking free of fossil fuel. The raw energy to sequester as much CO2 from the atmosphere as you feel is necessary (make carbon based liquid fuel from it and you achieve break-even). And ultimately, survival of the our modern age as it evolves into something even better, not worse.

5 days ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Fission is Dead (218 comments)

It is easy enough to get a big public outcry for any new nuclear plant, irrespective of its safety.

Yes including pro bono activists who will provide materials, come to your town and help organize opposition. It was not always this way.

First an interesting side trip. Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring introduced Americans to the vision of a dead planet, but it was actually Paul Ehrlich's 1968 book The Population Bomb that really set the stage for doomsday thinking. This bestseller (200 million copies) was not for everyone, but the predictions were vivid and awful. In hindsight, it grossly underestimated our ability to scale agriculture and feed more people over time, and (foolishly) exaggerated the scenario where so-called '3rd world' women living in poverty and hunger will persist in having 5+ children. Hans Rosling demonstrates nicely that it is excess child mortality (not family beliefs) that contributes to this, and once health improves women desire (on average 2-3.5) children.

But if you're an American intellectual in 1968, you would have gotten a sense of foreboding that people would soon overrun the Earth. Mostly dem Indiaafricachina people

In 1972 the UN Club of Rome commissioned a report from MIT, "Limits to Growth" (full text). It sold 12 million copies in 37 languages. This is an amazing piece of work, one of the first uses of computerized models. In it some of the doomsday assumptions made in Population Bomb was deftly woven with projections of food and energy resources to create projections. It also was the first popularized presentation that CO2 would directly increase global temperature.

The Internet has a lot of tinfoil crap floating around about Club of Rome (and yes they are creepy) but it helps rationally not think of Limits to Growth as some secret Illuminati document. It was merely a widely bestselling book at the time. It even "recommended" the adoption of nuclear energy.

I put recommended in scare-quotes because that's exactly what they did. Let's all turn to page 73. Nuclear will solve CO2... that's great. But then they launch into a warning about waste heat from nuclear plants disrupting aquatic life, which is a purely local and manageable phenomenon, why nuclear plants are sited on rivers not lakes. Swans love it. They then go full frontal thermodynamics on cities themselves as emitters of heat, as if we're living in a Dyson Sphere and this is something we should be worrying about today Interspersed with graphs of ever-escalating nuclear waste. Which --- according to a propaganda rule I call "The Frightened Animals of Bambi's Forest Flee In Terror" -- could never be somehow contained, burned completely, or managed properly (by default!). A bit on industrial and municipal pollution, lead is mentioned, glad that shit was stopped, then... we're off into a evisceration of DDT. Yes, even modern agriculture ills.

It's easy to imagine a young ~35 Jane Fonda scared to death by all this. You have to realize that the popular doomsday bestseller with its Malthusian warnings is a relatively recent phenomenon. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries industrial progress yielded direct and awe-inspiring improvements to life. Go ahead, flick a light on and run water from the tap, flush the toilet. I'll wait. By 1970 in the US this blessed infrastructure had become all but transparent.

Leaving us the time and luxury to live in the present. And develop new ideas such as the ugly brand of environmentalism that fails to "run the numbers" or imagines fewer people (job wanted: future Pol Pots) ... and would seek to reduce our modern quality of life, or divert us from innovation and species-evolution. When applied it can be a really malicious idea.

But for many, dissatisfaction with Viet Nam and the government, the dreary looming threat of nuclear war and (unfairly, by association) a growing distrust in the Cold War's nephew, the civilian nuclear program --- reflected a general unease with atoms.

Interesting times. Take a look at this fascinating historic Shah of Iran advertisement for the US nuclear industry and try to fit it into the context of the early 1970s. The 1973 oil embargo shocked the US into realizing that the golden age of endless sweet crude beginning in the 50s was in twilight. Our support for Israel in the Yom Kipper War pissed off the arabs, and in a bold move as sudden as the Israel's war they imposed an embargo. Oil quadrupled from $3 to $12/bbl in six months. Too many Americans in power failed to recognize that the landscape had changed, and instead turned to Israel and the CIA (covertly) and said "Hey! Aren't you supposed to be managing these guys?" That shit continues to this day. The Shah was an 'ally' yet his popularity suffered greatly when he told the New York Times, "You [Western nations] increased the price of wheat you sell us by 300%, and the same for sugar and cement...; You buy our crude oil and sell it back to us, refined as petrochemicals, at a hundred times the price you've paid to us...; It's only fair that, from now on, you should pay more for oil. Let's say ten times more." This in a time when North America was tapped out (pre-frack) and Middle East oil kept everything rolling. When every day people started running the numbers to imagine what might happen with a '10x increase' they freaked.

So the Shah of Iran was no longer to be the poster boy of the US nuclear industry, and that clear and simple message of post-petroleum survival was lost in the noise of rising political and Cold War lunacy.

While the US was busy proliferating is nuclear arsenal to greater heights, Jimmy Carter halted fuel reprocessing in 1977 for 'proliferation concerns'. So instead of building one (maybe two!) reprocessing plants and watching them closely, we have spent fuel in more than a hundred pools across the US which just sit there, we watch them closely. The government's halt of reprocessing and failure to deliver, as promised, safe off-plant storage is just two of the ways the nuclear industry has been fucked. Way to go.

Then the infamous one-two punch: the release of Jane Fonda's film China Syndrome on March 16, 1979 and while it was still in the theaters, Three Mile Island partial core meltdown Almost overnight a rally cry that had been heard before grew louder, people calling for the immediate end of nuclear energy. It did not help that immediately after Three Mile Island, even before the investigation concluded, the nuclear industry emitted misleading statements and outright lies that claimed nuclear power carried no risk.

It's been 34 years of mostly pain for the nuclear industry. Ironically, as a stellar safety record of disaster avoidance proceeds and the gigawatt-years mount, nuclear electricity exceeds 20% in some states, silly and mean people think it's fun to dis nuclear energy and the folks who keep it running. When I catch a snip of Homer Simpson these days I think to myself, there are real people behind this thing and it's just not funny anymore, even if it ever was.

Never mind the Population Bomb, the Nuclear Bomb or the CO2 Bomb. If our modern technology fails and people die en mass it would more likely be something like this, without the happy ending. In place of that silly cyber-attack substitute something more likely and really boring, like a climate event, continent-wide hard freeze during a brutal Winter, small asteroid impact or supervolcano ash.

Once we lose roads and railroads we lose the coal plants, and the grid. Natural gas distribution would fragment then cease, windmills and solar not even worth mentioning. The only lights in the darkness would be nuclear power plants, with months or years of fuel on hand. Did you know... near a nuclear power plant you can raise a serious crop of fish year-round? It's not "Limits to Growth", and the middlemen who want a piece of your pie to manage it. It's a limit of imagination. We need to fight it.

By the way: remember that Plymouth nuclear plant that was mentioned in the Shah of Iran ad? It's still going, generating ~14% of Massachusetts' electricity. Fish love it. Sometimes the good guys win.

about a week ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Big LFTR Problems: To safe, and too cheap. (218 comments)

That's why LFTR may never find a good backer -- unless we can find a billionaire willing to fund the development on a lark (and to save mankind from our own greed/hatred).

It would take two or more celebrity billionaires coming together who are polar opposites (green+oil, democrat+republican, penguin+polar bear, etc.) coming together and shaking hands under a Thorium banner. It's for the grandchildren, but also good for business. The only 'sustainable' form of wealth creation is to introducing something completely new that changes the game --- by lowering the personal and corporate cost of living.

Meltdowns at the recent 2014 Thorium Energy Conference

John Kutsch is positively ape-shit about lack of support for the S.2006 Thorium Bill

He's Mad As Fucking Hell And Not Going To Take It Anymore (with bonus luddite doofus footage)

Jim Kennedy is absolutely bleedin' outraged that DOD is 'blocking' the Thorium Bill and handing over rare earth production, parts to China like fucktard traitorous pussies

Cavan Stone is excited about Bismth-213 for cancer treatment, also in a blather over S.2006's stall in Congress

Fascinating new topic this year, Andrew Dodson (BS EE, going for Master's in Power Distribution) is tearing out his beard about grid instability
But also choleric, fuming about the ridiculous current state of things

All in all it's a great time to be stark raving monkey fuck for Thorium energy.
We are completely surrounded by fools -- they cannot possibly escape now.

Playlist of all TEAC6 conference videos so far (includes all above)

Profanity used for entertainment purposes only. Management regrets any inconvenience experienced by those with delicate sensibilities.

about a week ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:This sounds like a fanboy cheerleading (218 comments)

Well you can keep on being a fan boy and a cheerleader all you want

Thanks kindly. !! Back by popular demand !!


It's fun to discuss nuclear energy on Slashdot ... sometimes you just have to point things out point by point ... some confuse Weinberg's '300 year best-fit for waste' two fluid design for other single fluid designs ... or using solid fuel Thorium, which is pointless so long as uranium is available ... yes it's full of dangerous glop, but it is useful and happy glop ... yes, I think a LFTR could be developed and built within $4B ... every path to biofuels leads to scorched-earth disaster, Thorium energy gives us the surplus to generate synfuels ... a move to LFTR may be the only way to preserve modern society in the face of disaster (volcanism, Maunder minimum) ... utility-scale so-called 'renewables' non-solutions have a gazillion points of failure, gigawatt LFTR plants few, and it is my belief they will save NOT fail us ... aside from your own yard or roof, solar and wind are losers ... with LFTR surplus we could begin making diesel and fertilizer ... do it for the children ... and you my friend -- you would look especially good in space ... an Admiral Rickover fact check (severe tire damage) ... LNT (linear no threshhold) needs re-examination ... no I'm not risk adverse, just risk conscious ... one must sift past the fear-hype, especially regards Fukushima ... a look at Electricity in the Time of Cholera ... on the new coal powered IBM Power8 chips ... Thorium lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help.

Think of me as the Trix Rabbit of Thorium.

Please see Thorium Remix and my own letters on energy,
  To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
  To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate
Also of interest, Faulkner [2005]: Electric Pipelines for North American Power Grid Efficiency Security

about a week ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Fission is Dead (218 comments)

Well said. Let me risk '-1 Troll' moderation too by saying I agree with almost all of your points.

The problem isn't the disaster but rather Linear no threshold radiation cancer models which were created by deeply anti nuclear weapon scientists desperate to instill fear on governments undergoing nuclear weapons tests.

The Linear no-threshold model needs to be reevaluated, especially the way it is used in statistical tomfoolery to establish a "integer death count" for extremely large populations from doses that can be lost in the noise of background radiation... the official explanation is they were applying the Precautionary Principle to something for which they had no hard data. Some references and angles to LNT in this previous post.

The problem is that the Precautionary Principle requires no cost, courage or conviction to apply, so it will inevitably be used for a mix of pure-caution and evil-manipulative purposes. Anyone who applies it is indemnified from risk. It leads into zero-tolerance policy, codified aversion to risk taking (which has often been the evolutionary and technological jumpstart of the human race). It's one of those features of the human psyche that is also an exploitable bug.

Before I post this I'd better check with my insurance company, it may affect the premiums. Actually the rules may change, I really shouldn't, so I won't. vv[n9v9n[[9[[0n cat on keyboa;klkrd iopw;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

about a week ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:We need Nuclear here! Fission and fusion. (218 comments)

I sincerely hope that the fusion plants can be built here.

Congratulations on achieving ~22% nuclear electricity in July 2014.

My state of no-nuke Oklahoma is powered by natural gas and coal (which arrives by train), considers itself a nexus of wind power but after decades of investment, hundreds of turbines and probably much more money spent --- net generation of mostly-wind ~809GWh for July is still less than the ~855GWh that would have been generated that month by the single two-reactor Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant. That is... if it had not been the only nuclear plant in the United States cancelled after construction began, in 1982.

Oklahoma sits on the border of the three North American grid interconnects. I have been trying to convince the powers that be and Halliburton Corporate to embrace molten salt research, to no avail so far.

about a week ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Fission is Dead (218 comments)

So far every "inherently impossible" to meltdown design has been proven to be susceptible.

Liquid fuels are already 'melted' while in operation, but I do catch your drift, as in runaway catastrophe.

Meltdown with atmospheric release of radioactivity is possible where decay heat comes into contact with water (hydrogen, Fukushima) or graphite (Chernobyl). While the danger of graphite ignition pebble reactors has been posed and disputed, they punt by saying, we'll keep a runaway pebbl;e reactor it contained and starved of oxygen (via inert gas) and it won't be a problem.

My worst case scenario is worse than theirs. My LFTR-killer event involves an explosion powerful enough to destroy the containment vessel and building, in the rain. It would be an awful mess. But the salts would merely solidify and remain bound to the heavy elements mixed in, and aside from some steam which would be barely radioactive (because they only react with water slowly) there would be no need to evacuate the day care center over the ridge as the cleanup begins.

So a LFTR 'disaster' is merely a local mishap. To solve the world's energy problems one could not hope for better.The Thorium video describes the failures at Chernobyl and especially Fukushima in greater detail.

about a week ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:One small problem (218 comments)

History has shown (most recently with the baby boomers) that humans don't handle abundance so well.

I've got great news! Abundance, especially abundant energy and grid electricity, really works!

Take a look at Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - BBC Four to see the interplay of "wealth" and life expectancy over time. In case you're wondering why the life bubble for China took a sudden dive in 1959, that was Chairman Mao. Let's not do that again.

Which leads into Hans Rosling's Child Mortailty, Family Planning & the Environment where it is revealed that in a progressively 'modern' world with low child mortality and family planning (by whatever means) women choose to have fewer children. The United States has achieved a fertility rate matching the replacement rate. To me this means that despite any political, ideological or religious mandates, folks with access to all the modern inconveniences are (naturally) gravitating towards a more stable population. If we could find a way to share our present level of infrastructure with the whole world in a clean and sustainable way, the greatest potential 'threat' of abundance, an over-abundance of people, would be pushed years into the future.

Hope this makes you feel better. Be fruitful and multiply 2.33 times.

about a week ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Fission is Dead (218 comments)

What the hell is with the random prepper "saying"? How the fuck does that relate to the rest of TFS?

If you are having difficulty understanding the concept that one must always have a backup plan or spare tool on hand in order to ensure survival... then perhaps you should not be discussing nuclear technology.

Some of the nuance was lost when my submission was edited for the front page. It ended like this,

[referring to the two videos] "Four hours well spent. Saving humanity is worth having at least two eggs in the basket."

about a week ago

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

TheRealHocusLocus Re:This sounds like a fanboy cheerleading (218 comments)

This sounds like a fanboy cheerleading. Nothing really informative here just someone saying I support this.

TL;DW eh? Glad you picked up the subtle nuance. When did 'fanboy cheerleading' become an insult? Were your comic book heroes aloof and distant, battling enthusiasm everywhere with snide epithets and apathy-vision?

I'm just glad that the late Dr. Bussard's lecture made it once again onto a Slashdot page. And Thorium Remix for the first time ever. Everyone needs to look into these topics. With attention always on the new even if it is short on substance, hard lectures are always is good to find.

Dr. Brussard was close to seeing the level of Polywell confinement that had eluded him for so many years realized. But in his lecture you will also hear his disappointment at lack of funding for his approach -- he who had championed the Tokamak and helped secure its development could not find support in his twilight years for his own subsequent design. That is why the 2006 Google talk is so important, it should remind us that what may be the right path is often a lonely one. If Polywell pans out, isn't it a shame that Dr. Bussard will not see it.

How similar that is to the tale of Dr. Alvin Weinberg, one of the original inventors of the light water reactor who later became convinced there was a better way, fissile in molten salts at normal atmospheric pressure. He literally pursued it to the end --- his own career's end --- and molten salts were abandoned for no good reason. Thorium Remix tells it better than I.

And thanks to the AC who goes on about commas,,,,,, it really helps.

about a week ago

Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Why Is This Still A Thing? (986 comments)

There is even less chance of Rossi having developed a cold fusion device than there is of Moller successfully building an actual flying car.

Ha ha he he ho ho. Moller does really great brochure. I had a couple of them for years, even made a poster from the pictures. A friend had unsuccessfully tried to gather for a $100k 'pre-order reservation'. At the time I had a strong feeling probably held by many here on fusion... it really should work. Just around the corner... The part within us all that holds on to the dream. "The musicians were poised with their instruments. They were ready to go. It would only be a few seconds now, I wrote."

These days I I've let go of the Moller car and keep arms' length on fusion because because fusion is hard and LFTR is easy and the human race doesn't need to over complicate things when faced with existential threat...

Having exhausted my supply of patience and wit I just agitate, cantankerously.

about two weeks ago

Z Machine Makes Progress Toward Nuclear Fusion

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Actually its Republicrats that kill Nuclear ... (151 comments)

Democrats do this to appease their brand of science deniers, the far left environmentalists who oppose everything and anything nuclear. Note that not all environmentalists are of this type, some are even former deniers who decided to listen to what actual physicists say rather than what far left environmentalist leaders say on the topic of physics.

And Republicans nee 'conservatives' kill Nuclear because despite a ~2.5:1 ratio of conservatives over liberals in super-PAC contributions, which I equate to be what these billionaires consider to be "disposable income"... it is evident that the people they trust to advise them are failing to suggest investments in commercial nuclear technologies, both legacy and new. Perhaps they don't give a hoot about their grandchildren. Perhaps they see the span of fossil fuel decline (amid increasing energy demand) as a time of financial opportunity, and a renaissance of nuclear energy would interfere with vested interests. Perhaps they do not consider the inevitability of global war to secure resources to be a personal expense. Whatever the reason -- I am more likely to believe it is they who could save us, especially if it comes down to investment strategy. Because their position on nuclear energy would be based more on potential reward and applied risk -- especially the lower risks of Molten Salts and other nuclear approaches -- rather than fear.

Virtually limitless energy from a small Thorium mining footprint, ~300 year storage of waste is the best workable idea we have come up with. At present the stall of progress in nuclear energy is a bi-partisan disgrace, an affront to the whole human race.

about two weeks ago

Z Machine Makes Progress Toward Nuclear Fusion

TheRealHocusLocus Re: visualizations and lists of whirled peas (151 comments)

Why? It is Darwin time. Let the fittest survive and the first to die to get a unit in her name, according to the old custom.

Here is a map of intelligent civilizations who have successfully reproduced (by experiment in the laboratory) the conditions for creating Gamma Ray Bursts. No one knows whether this map is up to date or even functional because it requires the installation of Microsoft Silverlight, which is only used by Netflix users who would rather watch movies than ping the dying remnants of failed civilizations. Our knowledge of Gamma Ray Bursts is incomplete because astrophysicists have devoted far more time to avoiding Silverlight, which they consider to be a greater danger to life here on Earth.

Here is the list of successful lab experiments observed to date. Due to obvious Y2K errors in the naming convention of GRBs attempts to collate this data over the centuries have been unsuccessful, leading to time paradoxes and fistfights.

The light curves of GRB events ech contain a complex pulse-coded message placed there by the Grand Architect that says in effect, "Whatever you do... don't do this." While the signals have not been decoded, their diversity suggests that there are a number of things that one just should not do. Except for plot on the bottom right which cannot be right, I did that in High School.

Because the characteristics of celestial GRBs mimic the explosion of fission bombs, these bursts are Nature's Way to push paranoid little civilizations over the edge to go full-out on one another during nuclear adolescence. There is a reality show out there that showcases one of these every week with a laugh track dropped in at every retaliatory response, rousing applause at the end.

Let me check, maybe it's on Netflix...

about two weeks ago

Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Prying my Recreation from my cold dead hands (652 comments)

That is because when you plea to the modern world at large to consume less energy, you are asking people to die. [corrected link]

Oops, I intended to link to the entire Connections episode S01E01 "The Trigger Effect" [1978]. It is one of the finest hours ever produced for television, and it accurately portrays the entire world's dependence on modern technology.

Modern thinkers often feel empowered to detach massive surplus energy from the 'things' it has made possible. For example --- imagining an African clinic with a tiny but comfortable bit of energy available --- and (somehow) stocked with antibiotics and modern machines. It is a grossly distorted, even malevolent vision.

There is no rolling back from the goal of delivering a level of world energy per capita equal to its most voracious users. It will not work now that the world has glimpsed its effect, and some are in possession of it. Not even a little bit.

about three weeks ago



Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's do both, smartly

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a week ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none" which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent hello again, still making progress reminder — I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a ground swell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" Do you think fusion is 'the' solution, and yields 'no' radioactive waste?

All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were '100% clean'. I think that a low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.

Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. Because LFTR is a sure thing. It is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. Yes those are my opinions, but I've been looking into this for awhile. There is plenty of cross-over, LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR. Four hours well spent. Saving humanity is worth having at least two eggs in the basket."

A Cyber 'Cold War'? Let the new generation opt out now!

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about three weeks ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "So here we go. The New York Times is quoting "people briefed on the matter" who allege that the JP Moprgan data thieves "are thought to be operating from Russia and appear to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government". This becomes a front page item on the Times. Drudge Report dipped into their stock photo bin and plopped a huge Putin photo, one of those pensive ones like he's hiding something.

I remember a time when a respectable news source would be reluctant to take such a claim to the front page on an unnamed single source, let alone tossing out those "loose connections". And of course the Sanctions are brought in, it could be an act of "retaliation"... in case you didn't know. My bullshit detector is going off. I've seen the former Soviet Union evolve into an amazingly diverse culture that is well reprresented on the Internet. This culture has grown alongside our own and runs the gamut of characters: tirelessly brilliant open source software developers, fine commercial products, basement kiddles from script to l33t, and yes — even groups affiliated with organized crime syndicates. This is no surprise and these exist in the US. Ask your local bank what card skimmers are. Are we ready to go full-political on this computer security issue, where who and where diddit is more important than how to lock it down? If Joe Smart from Nashville owns a Russian bank would we expect to see a pensive Obama photo in the Moscow Times?

Let us stay this madness. How do you Slashdotters feel about these growing 'tensions' and what can we do to help bring some moderate balance to the table? And my Russian friends, how do you feel about being implicated thus? Are you all KGB agents? You can speak up, we're all alone here. Signed: been through one Cold War and don't want another."

Link to Original Source

The Rise of Wagnerian Science [corr]

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a month ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Just encountered Negative Results are Disappearing from Most Disciplines and Countries [2011] from master lexicographer Daniele Fanelli, whose 2009 work on scientific misconduct was covered on Slashdot. He finds "the proportion of papers that, having declared to have tested a hypothesis, reported a full or partial support has grown by more than 20% between 1990 and 2007." Does this mean that as a species, we are becoming better at guessing — or are there other forces at work?

One thing that jumped at me in Fanelli's paper [Fig 3, p7] was the smoothness of this progression for the US authors, as compared with other countries. Richard Feynman noted "The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's most interesting." Are we seeking those things? Newton was almost right. Bereft of rigorous testing to invalidate popular hypotheses, would we be likely to notice "negative results" such as the disparities that led into quantum mechanics, today? Or would they be swept under the rug of selective funding and implied consensus?

Years ago when listening to The Ring I found myself switching the turntable to 78rpm to complete the Cycle in a few hours — its musical sentiment was soo obvious and I "see" where it was going. Science should embody more Contrapunctus, a fugue where negative and positive entwine in a thoughtful dance. Writing this summary I must endeavor not to relate this to climate science. Oops."

Link to Original Source

The Rise of Wagnerian Science

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a month ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Just encountered Negative Results are Disappearing from Most Disciplines and Countries [2011] from master lexicographer Daniele Fanelli, whose 2009 work on scientific misconduct was covered on Slashdot. She finds "the proportion of papers that, having declared to have tested a hypothesis, reported a full or partial support has grown by more than 20% between 1990 and 2007." Does this mean that as a species, we are becoming better at guessing — or are there other forces at work?

One thing that jumped at me in Fanelli's paper [Fig 3, p7] was the smoothness of this progression for the US authors, as compared with other countries. Richard Feynman noted "The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's most interesting." Are we seeking those things? Newton was almost right. Bereft of rigorous testing to invalidate popular hypotheses, would we be likely to notice "negative results" such as the disparities that led into quantum mechanics, today? Or would they be swept under the rug of selective funding and implied consensus?

Years ago when listening to The Ring I found myself switching the turntable to 78rpm to complete the Cycle in a few hours — its musical sentiment was soo obvious and I "see" where it was going. Science should embody more Contrapunctus, a fugue where negative and positive entwine in a thoughtful dance. Writing this summary I must endeavor not to relate this to climate science. Oops."

Link to Original Source

Death to the Trapezoid.. Small aggravations and big 'fails'

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told-- just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle! So... since we're on roll here... how many other tiny annoyances that lead to big fails are out there?"

The Dismantling of POTS: bold move or grave error?

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "The FCC is drafting rules to formalize the process of transition of "last-mile" subscriber circuits to digital IP-based data streams. The move is lauded by AT&T Chairman Tom Wheeler who claims that significant resources are spent to maintain 'legacy' POTS service, though some 100 million still use it. POTS, or 'Plain Old Telephone Service' is the analog standard that allows the use of simple unpowered phone devices on the wire, with the phone company supplying ring and talk voltage. I cannot fault progress, in fact I'm part of the problem: I gave up my dial tone a couple years ago because I needed cell and could not afford to keep both. But what concerns me is, are we poised to dismantle systems that are capable of standing alone to keep communities and regions 'in-touch' with each other, in favor of systems that rely on centralized (and distant) points of failure? Despite its analog limitations POTS switches have enforced the use of hard-coded local exchanges and equipment that will faithfully complete local calls even if its network connections are down. But do these IP phones deliver the same promise? For that matter, is any single local cell tower isolated from its parent network of use to anyone at all? I have had a difficult time finding answers to this question, and would love savvy /. folks to weigh in: In a disaster that isolates the community from outside or partitions the country's connectivity — aside from local Plain Old Telephone Service, how many IP and cell phones would continue to function? Are we setting ourselves up for a 'fail'?"

If ONLY Compact Flourescernt Bulbs are lighting this room, right now...

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "POLL IDEA

* They better for me AND I want to threaten everyone to use them with a stick
* Illumination is BETTER than incandescent bulbs
* No difference, who cares
* Illumination is WORSE than incandescent bulbs
* Worse for me AND I want to break them all with a stick
* Naver mind this bulb business, I just want to use the stick
* Disqualified: I have an incandescent desk lamp, I am blind or all my bulbs have burned out"

Breakthrough: Manned Space Travel Achieved Using 40-Year Old Technology

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  1 year,27 days

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Paul Rosenberg has uncovered some surprising new evidence that manned space travel is not only possible, it has actually been achieved using decades-old technology. Some 40 years in the making, a tale too amazing to remain untold. With a few quaint photographs he asks, could we build this? The answer is no. Or is it? It is uplifting to read that "Productive humans have been delegated to mute observance as their hard-earned surplus is syphoned off to capital cities, where it is sanctimoniously poured down a sewer of cultured dependencies and endless wars..." for it must take something really compelling to prevent us from reaching the stars, and he has nailed it. This essay makes the case that the headliner of 2052 may well be: Breakthrough: Manned Space Travel Achieved Using 80-Year Old Technology. I can hardly wait! Down with robots."
Link to Original Source

The future of energy must be crowdsourced, needs your help

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year and a half ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "It wants to power our grid — completely. It wants to eat our existing nuclear waste, all of it. It does not want to explode or release radioactivity via steam or overpressure. Oil companies are trying to make you fear it (duh). The Big Nuclear Industry will not touch it because it eats anything, and they cannot lock you in to a solid fuel contract. Environmentalists are still confusing it with 'traditional' melt boom irradiate nuclear power technology. Kirk Sorensen wants to tell you about it. TFA is two hours long but there is not a idle moment in here, it's a mini physics course in itself. This is all about keeping the lights on, surviving the Winter, keeping our technological lead."
Link to Original Source

How 'hackable' is EAS? This just in: Zombie acopalypse in Montanna

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year and a half ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "Perhaps uncoincidentally with the Walking Dead's return on AMC, unknown persons have managed to inject a fake EAS (Emergency Alert System) message into the stream of KRTV in Great Falls, Montana. From CONELRAD [1951-1963] to EBS [1963-1997] to modern EAS, the US has had infrastructure in place for an attention signal to alert a hierarchical network of broadcast stations. In 1979 I conducted weekly EBS tests at a small FM station which always required direct operator action. But now so many stations run unattended, it is surprising incidents like this do not happen more often. But this begs the age old question: how could you secure such a network without introducing excessive complexity, reducing reliability?"
Link to Original Source

Only two real challenges face us today, besides restraint (for comment)

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 2 years ago

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "There are only two real challenges to face in this world.

There is only only one doomsday scenario that requires us to come together and take action to ensure our survival: to deploy technology that can identify, then divert or destroy asteroids on a course to impact our planet.

There is only one actual piece of social engineering that needs to occur to ensure our survival: to marginalize the opposition to nuclear energy and to build and scale up efficient and safe modern designs to completely power our electric grids with enough surplus energy for electric ground transportation, trains, cars and trucks. To gather and store the nuclear waste responsibly until breeder technology matures. The developing world wants electric grids (not our charity dollars), in the developed world the grids are the only thing between us and the dark ages. Coal, oil and gas harm the environment and their depletion curves yield a perpetual resource war and eventual doom. Disaster-hardened underground nuclear reactors hold the ONLY real promise we have for continued existence in the style to which we are accustomed.

That's it. Only two challenges. All the rest are matters that may be solved with restraint.

This practice of taking issues such as violence and war or drug abuse or overpopulation, and treating them as 'disasters' and not issues of restraint — worries me. It is a grave mental disorder to portray them as anything more than they are, simple issues of personal restraint.

John Galt's motor does not exist. Fusion even if it proves possible will not be scalable soon enough. Hydrogen is a great fuel for transportation but it requires energy for harvest. Nuclear fission is the *only* energy source that could keep us alive through a long dark winter so it must be pursued — until it is perfected, to the exclusion of everything else.

In other words, GROW UP humanity, this little recess from technological innovation while we burn off the oil and turn away from danger in the sky, is over. It's time to get back to work."


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