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Cost Skyrockets For United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project

TheRealHocusLocus Re: Thorium Sanity Clause (173 comments)

As for a "thorium breeder blanket" add-on to the Oak Ridge reactor, huh? The LFTR concept mixes thorium into the molten-salt stream, breeds it up to U-233 and then fissions it within a moderator to slow down the neutron flux. There is no separate blanket, it's all in one stream, salt, kickstarter fuel (U-233 or U-235/Pu-239), thorium and waste products all at 700 deg C and more,

There is no single LFTR concept. When you say there is no separate blanket you seem to be describing a one-fluid design. Weinberg's MSRE was never intended as such, it was a first stage in the development of a two-fluid Thorium breeder where a separate loop of fertile Thorium within the core breeds. The two-fluid design was envisioned by Weinberg as a best-fit solution to the management of long term waste products. I believe this is still true today.

When we scale massive I think a ~300 year waste storage is doable and worth doing.

Is that LFTR operating temperature of 700 C supposed to be a scare-figure? Are we comparing a fluid fuel technology that achieves its negative temperature coefficient of reactivity from its inherent design, where the heat-density variation of the fissile maintains this equilibrium -- with a water reactor model where sudden loss of coolant invites solid fuel temperatures to rise to 2200 C under explosive runaway conditions? Now that's a scare-figure.

The folks maintaining our water reactors have done a professional and stellar job to keep the water flowing all these years. I think it's time they deserve a break.

David LeBlanc gave a great little lecture on LFTR design topics at TEAC3 outlining the one vs. two fluid approach. In it he alludes to what LFTR designers call "the plumbing problem", in which ORNL's two-fluid design with its multiple tubes of fertile and fissile through the core promised to be a daunting challenge of engineering, thermal expansion at the various barriers being a wildcard that may affect the stable temperature coefficient they were striving for.

So LeBlanc has continued Weinberg's work by simplifying -- he envisions a "single tube within a tube" design where the ORNL's short and squat reactor with its many tubes in core becomes taller and thinner with a single barrier between fertile and fissile. If those illustrations leave you wanting more, here is a 2011 whitepaper that covers its advantages.

ORNL all but abandoned work on two fluids after Weinberg's time in what I see as a series of compromises where diminishing budget, increasing proliferation concern and (I'm being a bit brutal) obviously less concern about single fluid long-term waste products. Or (less brutal) perhaps they have an optimistic view that as we push into it we will become far more adept with transuranics.

In addition to a refined two-fluid design, LeBlanc is covering all the bases. He took the stage again in TEAC5 to promote the Denatured Molten Salt Reactor, which he hopes may be a 'best-fit LFTR' for now.

The problem is that so many things that seem to be best fits turn out to be compromises that entrench themselves, as have water reactors. My personal sympathies are with Kirk Sorensen in his quest to realize Weinberg's two-fluid LFTR idea with its LOW ~300 year waste impact -- I believe it may be a best-fit for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.

Until sustainable scalable fusion arrives and makes the heavens quake with the suddenness of its arrival, and makes the angels sing, at which time I will eat my hat.

Obligatory bump to the Thorium Alliance and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

about a week ago

Cost Skyrockets For United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project

TheRealHocusLocus Re: Thorium Sanity Clause (173 comments)

No "they" didn't have a LFTR reactor working in the 70s. Nobody's EVER had an LFTR working. There is no liquid-fluorine thorium Santa Claus, just a lot of grad student Powerpoint presentations.

Thank you for calling the Thorium hotline. YES THERE IS A THORIUM SANTA CLAUS! I've ridden on his sleigh, he even let me ring the jingle bells. Even if you are a sourpuss you are welcome to come along for a ride too: the Thorium Remix 2011. It's two hours long so bring some snacks.

I grew up amid Cold War fear and graduated to fossil fuel angst, coal concern. Then over the years I have witnessed a parade of 'renewable' wind and solar energy farm dreams where an absurd complexity of grid interconnect, tiny yields and moveable parts scales up to power -- a medieval society, maybe. A bad dream we should do the math and awaken from. So I resolved that our future should be nuclear... because modern civilization followed me home and I decided to keep it.

So it was with astonished relief that I learned that there was more than one way to do nuclear.

Dr. Alvin Weinberg PhD, one of the original patent holders of the Light Water reactor was slightly more than a graduate student. He was so obsessed with the idea that liquid fuels delivered greater safety and scalability, he sacrificed the remainder of his career in a vain attempt to convince the Navy (Rickover was running the show) to pursue liquid fuel and then, brazenly, went directly to the public -- a prominent scientist of the Atoms For Peace program warning about safety issues of water reactors was very embarassing. He soon lost the battle and his position as director at Oak Ridge.

I'm no diplomat apologist. I am pissed off by Admiral Rickover's lack of forward vision in 1973. With one phone call he could have prevented Weinberg's dismissal, preserved molten salt research and set human kind on a much better course.

There was a molten-salt reactor, a laboratory-scale device fuelled with U-233 and later U-235 in intermittent operation at Oak Ridge National Laboratories for a few years in the 1960s. It never used thorium and wouldn't have been any good if it had because it couldn't breed thorium up into U-233 to fission for energy.

Because the plumbing and the scale was wrong. They did not put a Thorium blanket around the test reactor because they already knew that Thorium breeding would work, and wanted direct access to the core to make neutron measurements. The ARE and MSRE were projects to prove that the chemistry could achieve criticality and remain stable... also refine the engineering.

In terms of ground covered between theory and finished commercial product, the 1965-1969 MSRE was an masterpiece 'hack' of high-tech (more chemistry than nuclear engineers were accustomed to) -- and low-tech (salt plug drain), delivered.

Anyone in any industry who makes such progress with a single experiment in so little time should feel rightfully proud.

There are also experiments going on to see how thorium works in regular light-water reactors. The physics says it will work, it's not as energetic as regular uranium fuels though. Baby steps baby steps.

Thorium as solid fuel in water reactors is 'several hundred years doomed' commercially. Uranium works better as a solid fuel and will not be scarce for awhile.

In regards to LFTR I respectfully think it's time to take big steps, big steps. As concerted an effort as those steps on the moon.

Corrosion schmoesion. We're not talking safety issues here in a system that carries high pressure, inherent steam and hydrogen explosion risk. LFTR will be just a bunch of standard bolt-together plumbing at normal atmospheric pressure. Replace and recycle everything every ten years until the corrosion issues are solved, if they arise.

Irony number one: in the extremely unlikely case that the molten salt plug fails, one could manually shut down a LFTR with a small explosive charge to blow the drain plug assembly apart, allowing the salts to drain naturally into the lower tank. Try suggesting that to the operator of a water reactor.

Irony number two: As to that complexity and cost of decommissioning the Molten Salt Experiment, ORNL just casked everything up, did not defuel the salts as Weinberg had suggested.

Obligatory bump to the Thorium Alliance and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

about a week ago

Cost Skyrockets For United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Should have gone with thorium (173 comments)

You think that a commercial scale Thorium reactor could be developed and built for $4B?

Because fusion is hard,
and LFTR is easy.

Comparatively speaking.

The second one would cost half as much. The 20th one might cost as much as an airplane.

And using closed cycle Brayton it could be sited anywhere, even far away from a major source of water. And as far away from people, who tend to congregate around water, as desired.

The present regulatory apparatus, which is wholly oriented to a solid fuel water reactor technology that carries risk of decay heat meltdown, steam and hydrogen explosion, large scale venting of radioactivity -- needs to be reevaluated and adjusted rationally for this technology -- which carries none of these risks.

With due and fond respect for the things that helped us become civilized people... it is time to end the age of steam and fossil fuel.

Obligatory bump to the Thorium Alliance and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

about a week ago

Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees

TheRealHocusLocus Cue the Unintended Consequences (112 comments)

This is not a rant on bioengineering per se. Humans deliberately producing Things with desirable traits is as old as rain. But when I see folks attempting to leverage marginally successful processes into solutions to Big Problems by reducing the margins... I have to take a step backwards to glimpse more of the picture.

If you are going to involve 'new' plants (or animals) in the production of energy, pause to think.

1. Energy required by humans is a monster growing exponentially. This monster EATS. This is inevitable. If you only have 1.3 children, someone else will have 4.3, if you conserve, they won't. Enforcement leads to conflict, escalation and war, the biggest energy waster of them all. So Big Problems must be eliminated, not achieved by legislation and (imagined) compliance.

2. The most cherished notions of sustainability and conservation involve taking a snapshot -- preserving Gaia as it exists today. In other words we are not obsessed with creating new forms of life because we are bored with the old ones. Though fluorescing pigs are really cool. Every little push for biofuels, even given 4x improvement in process efficiency, directly feeds the monster and his appetite is increasing too quickly.

(Such as the ongoing advance of the great Human Palm Oil Desert across Asia. This phenomenon permits Europeans to obtain diesel fuel and maintain their small tracts of land in pristine state, while the devastation wrought by Palm Oil monoculture remains comfortably distant.)

There is NO such thing as a sustainable biological source of energy on the scales we do and will consume it. Period. Advocates of biofuels imagine happy farmers that would be glad to drop what they are doing and make fuel inefficiently. And unused tracts of land, such as Brooklyn, in which these massive bio-chemical endeavors would reside. This is fantasy. There are only large scale Unintended Consequences down this path. And every corner of the Earth is now claimed and defended by people who would rather keep it as it is -- biologically.

3. There is only ONE source of energy that could scale quickly to power the grid, leaving hydrocarbons for fuel and chemical precursors (plastic, fertilizer) until their clean replacements arise. And eventually through separation of hydrogen from water and nitrogen from air, those too.

It's nuclear, and more specifically liquid fuel reactors.

4. Instead of BADLY transforming our biosphere with yet more engineered plant monocultures -- and if you thought food was intrusive wait 'till you run the numbers on energy -- energy production needs to become limitless, small, efficient, self contained, safe and clean.

Wouldn't you rather plant roses?
Obligatory bump to the Thorium Alliance and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

about two weeks ago

The 3D Economy — What Happens When Everyone Prints Their Own Shoes?

TheRealHocusLocus The Rise of the GLOP PODS, ugggh. (400 comments)

Okay so these thingies will be able to print anything, so what would the economy be like? Well you'd download the latest template from the Internet and when you start to print your printer says, "GLOP OUT". So you go down to your local GLOP POD store and purchase the glop pods you need. Because the Starter Pod that came with your printer was only 30% full (joke's on you!).

There are glop pods for EVERYTHING. Almost-metal, almost-plastic, almost-wood... items manufactured with these bear an uncanny resemblance to the materials for which they are named, but manage to have no redeeming materials-strength or durability advantages to the originals. But you made it yourself. And it only consumed half the GLOP POD. But they're cheaper by the dozen.

And the food! There are three types of glop food pods available: Strawberry, Broccoli and Steak. Oops, I just printed a shoe out of Steak! Ha ha. I just printed a plastic hamburger!

Why do I get the impression that hundreds of years of applied materials science, chemistry and the economy of scale in manufacturing 'durable' goods, is being frivolously marginalized, and that the folks who are most excited are those who envision themselves running a GLOP POD store?

I would use a 3D printer to construct simple, rectangular stackable enclosures in which I would re-mount the electronic innards of my routers, external hard disks and modems, to replace the oogly rounded ugly non-stackable JUNK plastic art deco shapes that are produced today that look like stupid alien egg sacs.

How's that for 'customization'? Hrrmph.

about three weeks ago

Iran Builds Mock-up of Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Tourism. (298 comments)

[movie] set

Looks like I was right.

For every 10 morbidly fascinating conspiracy theories, there is one possibility that is most likely, boring and correct.

about a month ago

Computer Spots Fakers Better Than People Do

TheRealHocusLocus Re:In 3 .. 2 .. 1 (62 comments)

They turned the dial on the Milgram Experiment up to 11. Or so it seems...

1. Please continue.
2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3, It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

I have programmed my talking alarm clock to say this.
Strong coffee with the consistency of pudding also helps.
The experiment goes ever on and on.

about a month ago

Creationists Demand Equal Airtime With 'Cosmos'

TheRealHocusLocus Re:What show did they watch? (667 comments)

But a least it gives some arguments for a compationate God, since s/he does not smite them in anger for keeping on telling him, her, it how to do its job...

That sentence blew the personal pronoun component of my cognitive language corpus straight out the side of my head. Two hose clamps and some duct tape later, I think it's still leaking.

You might want to bone up on the Wiki entries for Personal Pronoun, the Gender Specific Pronoun, Gender Neutral and Cult of Androgyny. Once you make your way through all that you'll know why gentlemen of refined wit and impeccable manners refrain from making remarks to anyone. About anything. We just stare and drool.

about a month ago

Damming News From Washington State

TheRealHocusLocus Re:WTF? The Infrastructure Nerd Challenge (168 comments)

infrastructure gobbles up a lot of money and its maintenance (or lack thereof) is a major issue in this country

You've nailed it. Infrastructure has become invisible, unlauded, boring. Infrastructure is the original stuff that matters.

Aside from entering some engineering field, there are ways that nerds can make a difference. Take this dam for example, clearly a certain level of routine surveillance had not been performed . If divers discover a 2 inch crack, could there have been a half inch or hairline crack some time ago? And could a more thorough use of remote imaging or even acoustic technology have spotted it? What if someone who reads Slashdot has an idea for some economical and effective way to inspect dams should contact Thomas Stredwick at PUD and offer expertise and propose such a method? At times history favors those who make those phone calls.

I define a 'nerd' as someone technologically aware who is capable, by the multidisciplinary nature of technology, of useful insight. The biggest problem with nerd-culture today in my opinion is that they tend to be observers who are not out there looking for problems to solve.

If you consider yourself to be tech-savvy in some field or are just interested in what problems are out there, check out the InnoCentive Challenges. These are a collection of problems to solve, big and little, that someone has documented and put up cash money to solve. Some of the challenges are interesting and very specific. For example, if you can propose a good way to Detect Protruding Nails in a Wooden Pallet that is going past on a conveyor belt, there might be $20,000 in it for you. Also lots of chemistry, medical materials science challenges.

Infrastructure should be a part of your child's exploration of the modern world. Underground by David Macaulay gives readers an introduction to utilities by presenting awesome ink drawings of incredible perspective and detail. As they start reading. Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape is the kind of book you want your children to grow up with and browse long before they understand all the words. Because great books about interesting things deliver the words to them.

I am an infrastructure maniac.

Obligatory bump to the Thorium Alliance and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

about a month and a half ago

VA Tech Experiment: Polar Vortex May Decimate D.C. Stinkbugs In 2014

TheRealHocusLocus Message RECEIVED. Help is on the way. (112 comments)

Replacement stinkbugs have been ordered and are on their way up through Florida's major I-95 and I-75 corridors. Thank you for selecting the two-day shipping option.

Add $5.75 to your order to qualify for free shipping, with your trial of Amazon Prime. With your Prime subscription your orders may qualify for additional bonus items such as 3, 5 and 7 year Cicadas and Party Fun Paks of dark crusty bastard fungus that will cover and consume everything.

A copy of this order has been sent to your email address but the stinkbugs will probably arrive first.

about 2 months ago

Atlas of US Historical Geography Digitized

TheRealHocusLocus TWO 21st century public domain distribution models (24 comments)

Project 'A'
1. scan/digitize and 'snap' maps to geo coords and add markup
2. create website using active server scripts and HTML/js for drag/zoom navigation
3. release to the world with great fanfare
4. site is slashdotted, then eventually settles down to several terabytes/mo bandwidth
5. one year in, site is on the radar of cost/benefit analysis as an escalating expense
6. two years in, routine site changes break the atlas with few to mourn it (and,or) the bean counters pull the plug on it

Project 'B'
1. just scan maps in high res, don't bother to 'snap' because they are not to be used for navigational porpoises. Embed them in low-loss huge PDF.
2. place the entire package on the BitTorrent network with the University committed to keeping a perpetual seed online
3. build a static website giving a low-res 'taste' of the product, instructing students on how to set up BitTorrent and explaining the advantages to human civilization if you obtain and browse your own local copy, and many people all over keep an archive of this this precious historical work.
4. ten years later, there are several thousand copies of the work stored on several continents, ten seeds online (including the University who never experienced any serious bandwidth inconvenience) and the walls of many places are adorned with countless prints of these maps.

I'm all for pointy and clicky forms of ENTERTAINMENT, but for the same purposes as is served by a library, Project B looks like a really sound endeavor.

about 2 months ago

Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

TheRealHocusLocus Re:quiter than expected but not quiet (320 comments)

The sun may have fewer sunspots than expected for this time in the cycle, but it still has more spots than it did during the last minimum.

Going by a straight count of visible spots has served us pretty well since people started spotting spots. But while lots 'o spots have been spotted the magnetic flux and general energy release has been spotty. For another metric look at this comparison of spot-count to magnetic field data. Also see this solar slump article by Anthony Watts, and look for "pores" in the comments. The criteria for identifying spots is changing in ways that might overstate the count as compared with previous observational methods. Adjustment is inevitable -- we are using a sunspot count in historical record spanning the era of the naked eye right through improved optics to the whole-spectrum imaging of today.

about 2 months ago

Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

TheRealHocusLocus Cloud & Cosmic Ray connection (320 comments)

I would like to point out a theory where a solar lull also results in lower global temperatures -- in a way that may be complementary with the UV-centric approach taken in TA... Svensmark's theories on cosmic rays and their effect on cloud formation. See this documentary Svensmark: The Cloud Mystery. Radiation-seeded cloud formation was first observed by Charles Thomson Rees Wilson in 1896. In BBC: Connections, Death In The Morning (index to 38:15) James Burke describes the events that led to WIlson's great invention, the cloud chamber. I highly recommend the entire Connections series, especially the original first season which begins with "The Trigger Effect".

On clouds... another Good Watch is the BBC documentary on the phenomenon of Global Dimming, especially its opening minutes where David Travis of the University of Wisconsin measured a 1 degree C change in temperature ranges in the days following 9/11, when all aircraft in the US were grounded. This (shocking!) correlation, that could only be ascribed to a particular human activity -- a lack of contrail cloud seeding -- reminds us that our contribution to climate might far exceed pure-chemical CO2 causation.

On clouds... while researching contrails years ago I had a true what-the-fuck moment to see that NASA had also noticed significant human triggered cirrus cloud formation but managed to leverage the presence of cirrus (Minnis et. al) into a net warming effect. This has led to extraordinary ideas like enlarging ice crystal size in cirrus by seeding to 'reduce' this 'warming' effect. I am old school and any claim that increased clouds (of any kind) are net-warming and not net-cooling is an extraordinary claim and should be confirmed by an extraordinary level of proof, not just computer energy-budget models of incoming versus outgoing long-wave radiation. And I'm glad to see that the cirrus net effect is not yet decided by everyone.

On survival during the coming solar minimum... those jolly old River Thames Frost Fairs look like a a real tonne of funne, but faced with the likelihood of global cooling it behooves us to fast-track the development of Thorium based energy. Because MSR/Thorium is the answer for both Global Warming and Global Cooling. I am generally behooved these days.

Also... the timely development of molten salt reactors and supplying the globe with cheaper grid-energy would improve the human race. It would help to offset the effect of driving on women's pelvises by relief from washing clothes by hand.

Obligatory bump to the Thorium Alliance and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

about 2 months ago

Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

TheRealHocusLocus Re:Not the sun (320 comments)

We are stardust, man.

I sit in my cubicle, here on the motherworld.
When I die, they will put me in a box
and dispose of it in the cold ground.
And in all the million ages to come,
I will never breathe, or laugh, or twitch again.
So won't you run and play with me here
among the teeming mass of humanity?
The universe has spared us this moment.

~~Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

about 2 months ago

Researchers: Global Risk of Supervolcano Eruption Greater Than Previously Though

TheRealHocusLocus Re:I'm having trouble with the unit of measure (325 comments)

If the super volcano were a Twinky, how big would it be?

According to this reputable source, the volume of a Twinkie is ~140 milliliters and the volume of the goo inside is 42.8 ml or ~30.5% of its total volume.

If Yellowstone's magma chamber is its goo and its volume is 200 cubic kilometers (low estimate), then the Yellowstone Twinkie itself would have a volume of ~656 cubic kilometers. If Twikie's W:L:H dimensions follow the ratio 15:39:11 then the Twinkie would be ~18.2 kilometers on its longest side, or 716,535 inches.

But supervolcanic calderas tend to form in roundish not Twinkie shapes, so it would be best to use the circular Ding Dong or its ellipsoidal counterpart, the Long Dong.

about 3 months ago

Researchers: Global Risk of Supervolcano Eruption Greater Than Previously Though

TheRealHocusLocus My Yellowstone plan: Thorium energy & buried g (325 comments)

People must take precautions to avoid breathing ash. While even wet cotton can help, the use of respirators is recommended because the finest particles can be as small as 10 microns.

While dry ash is not conductive, even a small amount of moisture produces a paste that is conductive enough to cause high voltage flash-overs. Tall pylons with ceramic insulators may manage to stay clean but electrical substations where ash can form piles, are especially vulnerable.

And if insulators accumulate ash after a rain or already have ice on them it's pretty much flash-pow grid down.

BBC did a great two hour docudrama depicting possible effects, Supervolcano [2006] along with a companion program Supervolcano.The Truth About Yellowstone

Beyond the ash fall there are long-term climate concerns. There have been two major eruptions that have affected climate severely in the Northern Hemisphere with a clear historical record, Tambora (1815) and Krakatoa (535AD). I cover these in this recent Slashdot post.

My plan, and I am being pretty annoying about it in the hope that it becomes everyone's plan -- is to fast-track the two-fluid Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor to commercial deployment in North America AS SOON AS IS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, specifically the 1GW unit design with multiple on-site units sharing core salt reprocessing infrastructure -- that is a best-fit for our base load grid supply. These plants would deliver an unprecedented level of safety even if they are modularly constructed and mass-produced, will continue to operate even if rail or roads are damaged, and can store years of fuel on-site.

In short, a best hope for survival under many disaster scenarios, both natural and man-made.

The electrical grid is more of a problem since its points of failure cover a wide area and the vulnerability extends to the transformers in your neighborhood. For the grid I advocate a build-out of buried High Voltage DC conduits to interface between the three major North American interconnects, and to progressively deliver bridge junctions that can route around regional failures.

In short, we should be powering up new base load energy and building cross-country energy pipelines -- in addition to oil pipelines.

Re-tooling the grid will take much more time and capital than the deployment of LFTR but it is no less important. One of the advantages to LFTR is that it need not be sited near a large source of coolant water, so (unlike water reactors) there is NO region of North America that cannot accommodate this technology, and these plants can be built as far away from population centers as desired.

But it cannot and will not happen without your help.

See my letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

And see the fascinating Thorium Remix 2011 presentation.

Also, here is an excellent overview on HVDC pipelines: Roger W. Faulkner [2005]: Electric Pipelines for North American Power Grid Efficiency Security

about 3 months ago



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

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about 4 months 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 5 months 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 6 months 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  |  about 7 months ago

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  |  1 year,23 days

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

TheRealHocusLocus TheRealHocusLocus writes  |  about a year 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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