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Nobody Builds Reactors For Fun Anymore

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the try-turning-it-into-an-MMO dept.

Power 326

stox tips an article from Nobel Week Dialogue about the biggest problem of the nuclear power industry: it's not fun anymore. The author, Ashutosh Jogalekar, expands upon this quote from Freeman Dyson: "The fundamental problem of the nuclear industry is not reactor safety, not waste disposal, not the dangers of nuclear proliferation, real though all these problems are. The fundamental problem of the industry is that nobody any longer has any fun building reactors. Sometime between 1960 and 1970 the fun went out of the business. The adventurers, the experimenters, the inventors, were driven out, and the accountants and managers took control. The accountants and managers decided that it was not cost effective to let bright people play with weird reactors." Jogalekar adds, "For any technological development to be possible, the technology needs to drive itself with the fuel of Darwinian innovation. It needs to generate all possible ideas – including the weird ones – and then fish out the best while ruthlessly weeding out the worst. ... Nothing like this happened with nuclear power. It was a technology whose development was dictated by a few prominent government and military officials and large organizations and straitjacketed within narrow constraints. ... The result was that the field remained both scientifically narrow and expensive. Even today there are only a handful of companies building and operating most of the world's reactors. To reinvigorate the promise of nuclear power to provide cheap energy to the world and combat climate change, the field needs to be infused with the same entrepreneurial spirit that pervaded the TRIGA design team and the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs."

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Happy Saturday from The Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629595)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Slight change in title, if I may (5, Insightful)

tanujt (1909206) | about 10 months ago | (#45629611)

Nobody *does science* for fun anymore.

Where's the kaboom? (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#45629619)

There is supposed to be a big kaboom.

Re:Where's the kaboom? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629633)

I'm chewing on your ass like it's bubble gum! Like mere bubble gum! Howm tsk tsk! Howm tsk tsk! Howm tsk tsk! Howm tsk tsk!

Re:Where's the kaboom? (5, Funny)

Mashiki (184564) | about 10 months ago | (#45629873)

That's earth shattering kaboom, you insensitive clod. Now where's my illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629637)

How can they? Our STEM programs today like to drain all the creativity from their students. They're all aimed at creating lab drones who dream of being in charge. No one dreams of discovery anymore.

Yes, priorities are truly fucked nowadays. A Nobel to these folks is the ultimate line on a resume. Not a sign that they may have played some roll in the advancement of humankind.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629721)

I'm a chem researcher and I do science for fun. I don't give a crap about a Nobel or the advancement of humankind.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (2)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | about 10 months ago | (#45629821)

Am a bioengi and, a long time ago, I had to choose between what I will study in university, biology or mechanics... I chose biology because I wanted to have >fun tinkering with mechanical things... Looking at my biology/chemistry sets that I abandoned long ago, I think I made the right choice.

On whose planet? (3, Insightful)

duckintheface (710137) | about 10 months ago | (#45629879)

If the nuclear boys want to play with dangerous toys, they need to find a nice uninhabited planet to do it on. The innovation has been in wind, solar, geothermal, and even natural gas. Those guys are smart, they are having fun, and they do not destroy massive chunks of real estate.

Read the October 1986 issue of Scientific American to see what happens when guys having fun melt down a reactor.

Re:On whose planet? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45630167)

yeah, sure whatever

going all 'mother hen' on an industry because there 'might' be a problem, when decades of open air nuclear tests have not raised the radiation level above background, is the worst way to develop new technologies

Re:On whose planet? (4, Funny)

Cyberax (705495) | about 10 months ago | (#45630219)

they need to find a nice uninhabited planet to do it on

Don't worry, they're working on the 'uninhabited' part.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629959)

Well, good for you.

How much fun have you published?
How far did you take your education?
Where does your funding come from?
Where do you rate in your local hierarchy?
How many years have you been at this?

Are we on our honeymoon? Are we senile?
Are we naive? Are we in an unusual situation?

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (5, Informative)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 10 months ago | (#45629671)

Learning is slowly being made illegal and replaced with schooling.

Chemistry sets were effectively banned a long time ago as a side effect of the war on drugs.

Re: Slight change in title, if I may (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629781)

Whole physics and chem books have been outlawed due to forbidden knowledge about poisons, explosives and nuclear stuff.

I have old school books that would mark me as a terrorist nowadays.

It's a new dark ages of science. This time not caused by the catholic pedophiles but by the anal retentive governments and a retarded zero risk fetishism society.

Re: Slight change in title, if I may (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45630179)

if you own an industry that might get decimated by a new technology, it seems the easiest way to stay in business is to get a bunch of worry-worts stoked up on propaganda to outlaw the new technology

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (5, Insightful)

ridgecritter (934252) | about 10 months ago | (#45629857)

Completely agree. As a child, I learned a good deal about chemistry and explosives through DIY activities. Those childhood lessons (nobody got hurt) have gotten me some good jobs at major aerospace companies and at a space startup. A kid doing today what I did back when would be instantly jailed and put on the terr'ist list forever. Hell, I fear what would happen if DHS were to find my oxy/acetylene welding set in my home shop. Our increasingly Draconian restrictions are fencing off ever more sources of inspiration and creativity.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (2)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 10 months ago | (#45630037)

As a child, I learned a good deal about chemistry and explosives through DIY activities. Those childhood lessons (nobody got hurt) have gotten me some good jobs at major aerospace companies and at a space startup.

You and Gordon Moore [wired.com]

I don't know what to do except keep my passport up to date. Western civilization is slowly comitting suidice, on many fronts.

An A C Gilbert Chemistry Kickstarter Project (5, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 10 months ago | (#45630105)

Chemistry sets were effectively banned a long time ago as a side effect of the war on drugs.

This fully funded Kickstarter project is an authentic recreation of an A C Gilbert chemistry set from the 1920s to 1940s.

Chemical List Arranged in the order originally published by the A.C. Gilbert Company along with their item number and the 1936 pricing) [hms-beagle.com]

Heirloom Chemistry Set [kickstarter.com]

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about 10 months ago | (#45630199)

It had nothing to do with the war on drugs. The shifts came from consumer protection laws. A pre WWI set is a very dangerous toy by today's standards.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 10 months ago | (#45629733)

Adam and Jamie on mythbusters seem to have a blast, pun intended.

In seriousness, I disagree. At least not to the extent of nuclear physics. Look at DIY bio research. [kickstarter.com]

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 10 months ago | (#45629825)

"Don't try this at home" isn't fun. It's merely entertainment.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629757)

I do!

I'm researching the functional registration of joint parameters (axis of rotation, center, etc.) using a novel motion tracking technology that my advisor invented. I'm having a blast.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629791)

http://energyfromthorium.com/ This guy seems to be having fun, and is pushing nuke power far away from where the current mainstream folks hang out.

Re:Slight change in title, if I may (1, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about 10 months ago | (#45630065)

You got the hippy liberals who complain that you are hurting the environment or poisining the people or a shill to corporate culture.
You got the religious nut conservatives who will complain that your ideas go against God, ethiclly wrong, part of a plot from the government to take control over the populous.
We got Hollywood making scientists socially inept egg heads, used to fill plot holes with techno babble.
If we try to do science at home we get arrested for doing something that may be dangerious.

 

We are in decline (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629617)

"fun" is when a field is so new that the people working in it aren't jaded professionals. Once all is understood, this type of people is not desired in industry or government. You simply distill out the essence of the field, get the textbook companies to start selling the same information in different yearly editions and crank up the university system to create "information regurgitators". Then these people hire other zombies of the same ilk and there you go, in a few years you went from hobbyists, tinkerers and thinkers to "professional engineers" who work in little pre-fabricated silos and take their orders from MBAs and accountants who are in bed with the goverment.

Re:We are in decline (2)

jd (1658) | about 10 months ago | (#45629977)

The field goes on forever. The local bits are well-mapped, sure, but the outer edges are mostly blank spaces. And beyond? Just "Here be dragons" on the charts.

This is true for every discipline, be it science, the humanities or anything else. Schools teach kids to stay in the safe zones, where it is boring. I wouldn't call it safe, mistakes can and do kill people, but it is well-understood danger. There is no incentive amongst the beancounters to remove the dangers (it's costly, and besides, most of those killed are worryingly smart and might find New Stuff to think of) and there is no incentive within schools to push people out into the fringes (textbooks contain errors, especially creationist ones, so it has nothing to do with accurate information).

By the time a child is 16, they aught to have contributed one original idea in something. It is perfectly doable and would take away the fear of New Stuff.

What is the Half-Life of Human Fear of Nuclear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629635)

What is the Half-Life of Human Fear of Nuclear? Figure that number out; that will be when nuclear development becomes "fun" again.

My bet is this time is much longer than the half-life of plutonium (any isotope).

Re:What is the Half-Life of Human Fear of Nuclear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629845)

Nuclear is bad investment!

overregulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629645)

Thanks to overregulation of everything, nobody does anything for fun anymore.

This comment will not be saved until you click the Submit button below.

Prove yourself: CAPTCHA?! Now this post isn't fun anymore.

money... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629647)

Nuclear development was driven by basically limitless funding by the military, now that the military have all the bang they need they don't care about nuclear development

The money is not coming back (0, Troll)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about 10 months ago | (#45629717)

Even with reduced regulation industry isn't going to put up the money for researchers to have fun and experiment with nuclear energy. The momentum in the prices for PV are just too scary, if that carries on nuclear is just one major breakthrough in energy storage away from obsolescence ... in a field where billions are spare change and commercialization takes decades.

Nuclear is a gamble only governments would take and most governments are strapped for cash.

Re:The money is not coming back (1)

dj245 (732906) | about 10 months ago | (#45630153)

Even with reduced regulation industry isn't going to put up the money for researchers to have fun and experiment with nuclear energy. The momentum in the prices for PV are just too scary, if that carries on nuclear is just one major breakthrough in energy storage away from obsolescence ... in a field where billions are spare change and commercialization takes decades.

Nuclear is a gamble only governments would take and most governments are strapped for cash.

It isn't a gamble, it is a hedge. Nobody knows for sure what the future will bring. To say that we will in 20 years we will use only natural gas, wind, and solar is a fool's bet. Betting on "future magic solution" is even worse. Planning now for a diversified energy mix in the future isn't just a good idea, it is the safest idea.

Not true (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 10 months ago | (#45629649)

It is loads of fun. Until the FBI beats down the door because you have radioactive material. Oh wait. They mean professionally.

What would you expect? (3, Interesting)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45629653)

Once they "perfected" the technology, and how to harness the power, why would there still be as many "developers? That's the whole point of developing, isn't it, to maintain a steady efficient process by which power can be "cheaply" bought?

Of course there should still be fine-tuning of the process, but the man-power needed has been quite reduced.

Re:What would you expect? (5, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | about 10 months ago | (#45629695)

There's still one nuclear reactor technology they haven't actually scaled up yet: the molten-salt reactor, where the nuclear fuel is dissolved in molten fluoride salts. Alvin Weinberg's experimental reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory was only a small 5 MW unit that actually ran successfully but was shelved because it couldn't produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

I'd like to see someone scale up MSR technology as a technology demonstrator to prove it can work to generate large amounts of electricity, at least in the 85 to 100 MW range. If they can do that, that could mean we can get far safer nuclear power plants, especially since shutting down the reactor is very easy to do (just drain the liquid nuclear fuel from the reactor) and it only generates a very small amount of radioactive waste, waste that has a radioactive half-life of around 300 years.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 10 months ago | (#45629817)

especially since shutting down the reactor is very easy to do (just drain the liquid nuclear fuel from the reactor)

But is that actually easy to do?
Is that something that can be reliably done if there was an earthquake? If the pumps were damaged?

If it's trivial, even in the most extraordinary circumstances, by all means go for it. But practical safety matters more than theoretical safety.

Re:What would you expect? (5, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 10 months ago | (#45629863)

Yes.
The design uses a "salt" plug that is cooled. Cooling shuts off the plug melts and the fuel drains into a tank that lacks a moderator so the reaction stops. There is no water to boil and fuel is already melted. It will then cool and solidifies.

As long as you have gravity then you are good. Now if all of a sudden gravity stops working then we have much bigger problems.

Re:What would you expect? (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45630123)

Now if all of a sudden gravity stops working then we have much bigger problems.

You haven't thought this through. If gravity stops working, we might have a nuclear accident, but you'll be able to avoid it by jumping off into space. Problem solved. Ergo MSR's are safe even if gravity stops working. Besides, without an atmosphere, who'll care?

Re:What would you expect? (2)

ahodgson (74077) | about 10 months ago | (#45630201)

If gravity stops, you won't have to jump. Your inertia from the Earth's rotation will take care of things.

Re:What would you expect? (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45629933)

The LFTR [wikipedia.org] (and other MSR's [wikipedia.org] ) are passively safe. You can shut down all the cooling pumps, etc. and it will not be a hazard. Had these been the reactors used at Fukushima, there would have been no problem. Also, LFTR's can be air-cooled. Without the need for cooling water there is no reason to build these things near vulnerable coastlines. It would also avoid a lot of site selection and thermal pollution issues. Maybe we should build reactors out in the desert, but where are you going to get the cooling water? Currently you're limited to locations next to major rivers or lakes.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

Sique (173459) | about 10 months ago | (#45630141)

There are many more passively safe designs. The reactor at one of the universities I was inscribed had pellets made from vinyl mixed with fissionable material in a certain ratio. Whenever the reactor overheated, the thermal expansion of the hot vinyl pellets made the reactor sub-critical, and it shot itself down.

Sadly though, this reactor had a designed power output of 3 Watts, while the whole thing was about 30 meters high and had 3.5 meters in diameter.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 10 months ago | (#45630205)

You typically need cooling water to efficiently generate electricity, no matter what source of heat is used to drive the boilers. You have to be able to condense the steam coming from the turbines to create a near vacuum, which requires a vast heat sink. That's why coal-fired stations are also often put next to rivers or lakes.

Re:What would you expect? (4, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | about 10 months ago | (#45629855)

The molten-salt reactor could have produced weapons-grade plutonium (just add U-238 and continuously extract Pu-239 from the molten salt flow) but by the time it was up and running the US had as much plutonium as it wanted or needed for its thousands of in-service nuclear warheads, created in purpose-built breeder reactors running in Hanford and elsewhere in the 50s and early 60s.

As for "just drain(ing) the liquid nuclear fuel from the reactor" then what? How do you clean it up afterwards? You can't just leave it there. Mop and buckets, or a big sponge?

Going back to the original article there are some fun things folks have been doing recently with experimental reactors but the usual result has been expensive messes that are difficult to clean up afterwards. Commercial breeder reactors, for example, most of which have been shut down as either uneconomic or easily broken (or both). Gas-cooled pebble-bed designs; the Germans are still waiting for the radioactivity in their one to decay sufficiently so they can finally defuel it, including all the bits of fuel pebbles that fractured and jammed the mechanisms. It's been 25 years now and counting. Gas-cooled graphite-moderated son-of-Magnox designs like the British AGRs have high thermal efficiency but fuel is cheap and they were expensive to build and operate so the extra efficiency didn't help them proliferate in the world markets. We'll pass quickly over the RMBK-4 graphite moderator designs... CANDUs are doing quite well in some markets but they're expensive for the amount of generating capacity they provide and heavy water reactors present all sorts of proliferation risks. The Russians are doing some interesting things with compact fast-spectrum reactors which have very high burnup rates, effectively closed-cycle breeders with a possible sideline in isotopic waste destruction but they are very very experimental -- liquid sodium coolant, say no more.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

domatic (1128127) | about 10 months ago | (#45629881)

The reactors can be designed to drain into multiple tanks of subcritical mass. Furthermore, the drain plug can be designed such that if the fuel temperature exceeds x amount it melts and allows the fuel to drain.

OP wasn't talking about pouring them out on the ground.

Re:What would you expect? (3, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | about 10 months ago | (#45630031)

Then what? The reactor operators can't just leave this mindbogglingly-radioactive boiling-hot slurry in those tanks, they have to clean it up. How do they intend to do so? It will be a requirement of the licencing of such a reactor design that they have plans and procedures ready if it ever does and equipment on standby just in case. "...and then a miracle occurs." is not going to pass scrutiny anywhere in the modern world's nuclear regulatory environment.

BTW the dump tanks don't need to be of sub-critical volume -- in fact they can't be. The molten salt stream carrying the fissionable materials only goes critical when it passes through the carbon moderator in the reactor core. Outside that core no fission can occur unless something goes really badly wrong and moderating material gets mixed into the molten salt stream (say if the graphite moderator core gets badly damaged) at which point you really don't want to be within a thousand miles downwind of this "safe" reactor -- one of the commonly posited cost-saving points of molten salt reactors is that like the Soviet RMBK-4s they don't need an expensive containment structure because they're "safe". Honest.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45630111)

Presumably the same way they got the shit INTO the reactor in the first place.

They can fix the problem that caused the shutdown, replace the plug, and pump the shit back into the core.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 10 months ago | (#45629885)

it couldn't produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

That sounds more like a feature than a bug.

Re:What would you expect? (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#45629711)

But the technology hasn't been perfected yet! (I can tell because it's almost 30 years since Back to the Future and I still can't buy any plutonium at the corner drugstore.)

Re:What would you expect? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45629953)

Arrrgh! That's what Dr. Brown thought in 1955! Watch the rest of the movie. By 1985 he knew that you'd have to obtain it from other sources. By 2015 you could just buy a Mr. Fusion. As little over two years tops (worst case being the end of 2015) and we'll be set - at least so long as we can maintain an adequate supply of banana peels.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | about 10 months ago | (#45629831)

But the technology hasn't been "perfected" yet, of course. Using terrorist-target fuels and generating kilo-year-toxic waste really kills the attraction. So much so that you need military-grade oversight and liability limited by law in order to enable it. Somehow though, this is considered acceptable, and the industry is stuck there.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 10 months ago | (#45629871)

Nuclear power is by no means "perfected", there are reactors using fuels other than uranium, molten salt reactors, pebble bed reactors and all kinds of other reactors that have thus far either existed only as tiny demonstration plants (and, if they are any good, need to be improved so they can be used at full scale for electricity generation) or as plans in a lab somewhere (in which case they need to be tried out as experiments to see if they work)

Not to mention designs like breeder reactors and fuel reprocessing that would be a great way to get rid of a lot of that nuclear waste sitting around the place waiting for the politicians to agree on a location for long term storage. And you can overcome the irrational fear about "nuclear weapons proliferation" that comes with reprocessing by making sure the reactors, storage sites and reprocessing facilities have enough guys with really big guns to stop anyone stealing the waste. (or you can modify things so that weapons-grade material is never generated in the first place)

There is no reason to keep building the same reactor designs that were being built in the 70s when there are newer safer better designs out there.

Re:What would you expect? (1)

Sique (173459) | about 10 months ago | (#45630157)

And how do you make sure that no one of the guys with the really big guns is in league with the enemy? Basicly your idea of safe containment of dangerous materials is to surround it with dangerous people. Doesn't seem to be a good idea in the long run.

Get fusion going asap! (1, Troll)

evanh (627108) | about 10 months ago | (#45629659)

Start having fun with fusion reactors, is what I'd say.

Re:Get fusion going asap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629701)

And be sued into oblivion by the nuclear fission industry? Why bother?

Goodbye Low Hanging Fruit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629661)

That's the trouble with any kind of research - fun to start with in a fresh new field, lots of exploring to do, lots of easy low hanging fruit to gather. Later on though it gets harder to get new results and the going gets more difficult. Eventually it becomes a tedious grind with diminishing returns. So it goes.

Re:Goodbye Low Hanging Fruit (2)

jd (1658) | about 10 months ago | (#45630081)

The outer limits of knowledge will always be filled with low-hanging fruit. It is only perceived as difficult because it's at the outer limits. Maybe if they'd called it the Twilight Zone instead it would have helped. The diminishing returns is only true if you scour the same patch of ground time and time again, working towards completeness within some minute specific topic. You will never reach 100% completion and some problems are so specific that they are better solved "just in time" rather than in advance then forgotten.

Don't people need to understand all the details before they can get to the outer edges? No, not really. The number line is a special case of an infinite group, but it can be mastered by any five year old. By age six, in Britain, most kids will have plotted graphs, worked on Venn diagrams and set theory, and learned that you can transform one operation into one or more others (eg: multiply = multiple adds). By seven, they'll probably have done mappings from one group into another.

If you can comprehend an "add one machine" that takes an input and adds one, then you can comprehend a machine where you pass in the value and a mapping. it's exactly the same, except you don't have to remember what adding is, or even what one is.

So you can jump a decade, by skipping specific transforms and jumping straight to the abstract and a bunch of lookup table.

Taylor's Nuke Site (2)

theodp (442580) | about 10 months ago | (#45629665)

Taylor Wilson [time.com] : "At 14, Taylor Wilson became the youngest person ever to build a working nuclear fission reactor-and he did it in his parents' garage. Since then, Wilson has invented a low-cost radiation detector for use in counterterrorism, conducted research on medical isotopes for cancer treatment and become one of the foremost proponents of using nuclear power to safely meet the world's energy needs." Taylor's Nuke Site [sciradioactive.com]

Not real research (2, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 10 months ago | (#45629755)

Since then, Wilson has [...] conducted research on medical isotopes for cancer treatment...

As impressive as his site is, that's not real research.

Real research [wordpress.com] is only done by professionals who have (or are pursuing) an advanced degree, with the backing of a university or government-funded research facility. There are no "gentleman" scientists [wikipedia.org] any more, and there are no contemporary examples of real science done by 'regular folks.

This issue was addressed in an article from a couple of days ago. Haven't you been listening?

Re:Not real research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629779)

Real research [wordpress.com] is only done by professionals who have (or are pursuing) an advanced degree, with the backing of a university or government-funded research facility.

Exactly. Anything else isn't True Research. Those paperless losers need to learn their place.

Re:Not real research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629915)

Research in Practice...! or...R&D!

Re:Not real research (4, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 10 months ago | (#45630017)

I'm assuming you're being sarcastic, but the fact is that because as a species we've been systematically looking into the unknowns for a few hundred years now, there's not very much low-hanging fruit left. You do certainly hear stories about some teenager discovering something really cool, and that's great and should be encouraged and celebrated. But the fact of the matter is that most scientists (let alone the average public) won't do much more than add a tiny bit of knowledge to some very specific field. We're past the days where you could invent powered, controlled flight in a garage, in the same way the Wright brothers were past the days where you could invent calculus, and so on. Science is like a tree, and if you're lucky you might discover the next level in the tree - but the nodes are smaller.

And that's great! The reason it's so hard to discover new things is because we know so much now, and the stuff we know we don't know requires building huge rings under Europe, or launching satellites, or building telescopes that cover entire deserts or something. Basically, we're advancing as a species. But yeah, the size of discoveries nowadays do tend to be proportional to resources.

Re:Not real research (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45630147)

There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.

-- Lord Kelvin, 1900

Re:Taylor's Nuke Site (3, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about 10 months ago | (#45629805)

no, he did not make a fission reactor. he made a fusor with a variation on design that many other people have done. which is impressive but not relevant to this article of fission reactors

So what? (1)

hubang (692671) | about 10 months ago | (#45629677)

It's a mature technology, and once the newness wore off, it's not a very sexy one. Most research reactors (including the ones at both the Universities I attended) are basically just big tubs of water. And further, they can't really "do" anything.

Who needs a hobby that'll bring the cops, battering down your door? [cnet.co.uk]

But if you must build one, check out page 31 [chrispennello.com]

Re:So what? (1)

dj245 (732906) | about 10 months ago | (#45630183)

It's a mature technology, and once the newness wore off, it's not a very sexy one. Most research reactors (including the ones at both the Universities I attended) are basically just big tubs of water. And further, they can't really "do" anything.

I like it that way. Keeps out the riffraff looking for a quick path to a good salary. Look at what happened to IT (90's boom) and more recently Lawyers in the US. There is also a glut of accountants but the tax code gets bigger every year so that isn't a problem- yet.

Also the same with Federal policies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629681)

State level policies allow 50 different ideas and experiments that can be learned from and improved upon. Federal leaves you with one near unchangable policy.

Re:Also the same with Federal policies (1)

ze_jua (910531) | about 10 months ago | (#45629707)

Lol

Your conclusion argues with your premiss. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 10 months ago | (#45629685)

the field needs to be infused with the same entrepreneurial spirit that Scientists are not entrepreneurial. Accountants and managers can be. Per your premiss, " The accountants and managers decided that it was not cost effective to let bright people play with weird reactors.", the field needs to be infused with scientific spirit.

Re:Your conclusion argues with your premiss. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629759)

The word is PREMISE, you semi literate fucktard.

Re:Your conclusion argues with your premiss. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629919)

No, he got it right; he's saying the premise was a pre-op transgender.

On the moon maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629699)

Please go have fun with nuclear reactors. And please do have this kind of pleasure and excitement where you won't be able to do too much harm when the experiments do not turn out to have quite as merry consequences as was intended.

And for those that would like safe and clean power, please have fun engineering geothermal boreholes that go as deep into the mantle as possible, i.e. reaching for the core-mantle boundary.

Re:On the moon maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629753)

You are not allowed to leave the Earth, citizen. Now keep paying your taxes and don't question your government's financial interest in preventing you from leaving.

You've just hit on something. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629739)

You've just hit on the major problem with ALL corporations today. They are run by accountants, attorneys, HR, and pussy managers that bow to their control. When is the last time someone was hired without their involvement? 1930? This is why nothing can get done anymore. A bunch of peon wannabes in one of those departments think they run the show. It's high time CEOs, boards of directors, and other higher ups grow a pair, that includes you ladies, and tell these people, "NO, this is what we are going to do, NO we need to hire this person right now, not next month, now!" You can be diplomatic as you want but you need to put your foot. You work for me. If you don't like it, GTFO! These people need to understand they do not run the business. Until that happens you company is doomed to failure.

Re: You've just hit on something. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629899)

As a lawyer...even we are beholden to the zombie MBA plague. "If you can measure it you can manage it" isn't a way to deal with the law or run a court system, but damned if the MBAs won't attempt it anyway.

Re: You've just hit on something. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45630019)

"If you can measure it you can manage it"

That actually makes sense. The problem is that they can't measure many of the most important things. and they either ignore the factor (just ignore inconvenient aspects of reality) or pretend they can measure it using some BS metric.

A sign that Einstein had in his office read:

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

I dare say the man had some knowledge of meaningful measurements, and was reputed to be rather bright.

P.S. That line shouldn't be attributed to Einstein. He obviously liked it, but didn't coin it.

Innovation (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45629743)

It was a technology whose development was dictated by a few prominent government and military officials and large organizations...

Funny how patent reform took so long because of that exact description of the individuals involved, and how copyright mutated from being a public service to a industrial weapon to be used on one's business enemies. And all in the name of innovation. And now here we stand again, wondering why America can't innovate, why China is catching up and kicking our ass in more and more areas every year, and yet the thought never occurs: Maybe we need to burn the mansions to the ground, round up and execute the lawyers, and redistribute the wealth so that America returns its promise of the American Dream to its people, now long-held in forced captivity out of fear of terrorists, foreign powers, domestic powers, and in fact every fear to be popularized has been met with the exact same response: Giving the wealthy more money.

We've dug our own graves. Either we lay down in it in dignified prose, or we throw the people who demanded we dig down those holes instead. But don't think for a second this is a problem unique to the nuclear industry.

Show me someone building an airplane. Oh sorry, you need an FAA license for that... and they're talking about even taking away our toy airplanes because they can be turned into drones. How about a rocket? Ha ha, here's a form from the BATF for your background check to own "personal explosive devices". Flying car? Forget it... you can't even build a regular car in your garage now without running afoul of regulations. The only Big Thing to come out of this country in the last forty years that Joe Average had any hope of penetrating this hopelessly dense bureaucracy was the internet... and look how quickly patent and copyright law mutated to repress any attempt at innovation there. Now we're weaving digital restrictions into the very fabric of the network, building in kill switches, and militarizing it.

You want a solution? I got one: Round up all the rich people, shove them in trains, and ship them to concentration camps, and don't let them leave until every penny has been squeezed out of them. Yeah, it's the same thing the Nazis did. Yeah, I'm going there. Because they did manage to do one thing for Germany: It got them out from under the foot of other countries who were sucking their economy dry from WWI and preventing any industrialization. And then Hitler came along and he gave Germany everything he promised: A strong economy, everyone back to work, and independence. Of course, there was a catch...

But I welcome anyone to put a serious alternative on the table for how you can combat wealth inequity on a scale not seen since the industrialization of this country, and at current rates in a few decades will have us sliding backwards into wealth inequity rates not seen since the Dark Ages. I can think of precious few examples in human history where the poor numbered so many and the rich, through peaceful means, gave up their wealth. It is, traditionally, a very bloody affair.

Re:Innovation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629839)

A pro-Nazi post, on slashdot, with your own account name on it?
Are you out of your damn mind?

Expect to be investigated by the authorities.

Re:Innovation (1)

Pharoah_69 (2866937) | about 10 months ago | (#45629893)

not unless Odin has something to say about it. We'll see what happens. No one is safe.

Re:Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629911)

It's called freedom of speech, idiot.

Re:Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45630103)

Freedom of speech???

NSA, anyone...

Re:Innovation (2)

MrKaos (858439) | about 10 months ago | (#45629853)

I can think of precious few examples in human history where the poor numbered so many and the rich, through peaceful means, gave up their wealth. It is, traditionally, a very bloody affair.

Well that is the cost of apathy. At least the US is safe even if it is insecure. Benjamin Franklin would be proud.

Re:Innovation (1)

WittyName (615844) | about 10 months ago | (#45630091)

..
sorry, modded you redundant, was aiming for insightful.

America centric.. (3, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | about 10 months ago | (#45629785)

I expect the innovators will move on to more friendly climates. My dad taught me to never count the US out - you guys have the best of everything and the worst of everything. Nowhere else produces more nobel prize winners.. or more criminals.

I wonder if that time is coming to an end.

Nuclear energy is too important. Renewables are a joke. It's low quality, low density power from a thermodynamic standpoint. We're either going to burn every bit of carbon and then go nuclear, or go nuclear. Either way, we have to master this technology, and we (humans) will. The only question is what happens between now and then.

Myself, I'm going to encourage my kids to learn Chinese. Sigh.

Re:America centric.. (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#45630077)

Renewables are a joke.

The joke is thinking that digging up a bunch of stuff and burning it when it's not necessary is a good idea. So what if you have to make hay while the sun shines?

Re:America centric.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45630087)

I wonder why so many people believe nuclear is the solution and that "renewables" are a joke?
Of course, from the point of view of physics, nuclear appears to be a solution for our energy problems. At first glance. Even at second glance. But if you dig deeper, nuclear has many problems. A lot of them could probably be solved with more engineering and research. But you have to realize that the true reason a lot of research programs have been stopped is not that the "fun" was lost, but that nuclear research is just incredible expensive and at some point it became clear that many promising ideas would still need a huge amount of money to ever become practical (always with the risk that there might be problems which can not be solved in an economical way). In contrast, renewables made a lot of progress in recent years with serious, but still reasonable investments. To me it seems much more worthwhile to develop renewables and more energy-efficient technology.

Re:America centric.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45630125)

God in 70-80's everybody use o learn japanese . Japan was defined as economical miracle. Look where is now.
There is no unlimited development. It's impossible. as long as we're tied to earth, contradicts all natural laws.
So please understand China sooner or later will hit another wall. Is just the balance between world economical powers that matter.
Leave the kids alone or why don't you teach them also russian ,hindi or portugese ?

Which is why (1)

koan (80826) | about 10 months ago | (#45629795)

Anyone with the bean counter gene should be ruthlessly culled from the gene pool.

go raise your own financing (1)

alen (225700) | about 10 months ago | (#45629799)

write up a business plan based on your design and go find some investors and a place to build the reactor. maybe start by building it in your backyard so that if an accident happens you only kill your family

Re:go raise your own financing (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45630159)

Isn't that how CERN is funded?

PhreakNIC: World's Smallest Fusion Reactor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629803)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC2gDuoiCLc

I was at this talk, and there _IS_ research being done into reactors, just that it isn't that common.

Iran isn't fun anymore either... (1, Funny)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 10 months ago | (#45629807)

...it must be their nuclear program.

Mortgaged-backed securities used to be fun too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629813)

That industry drew in all the adventurers and high rollers and people with math Ph.Ds willing to work 24x7x365 hatching crazy schemes.

Then the banks crashed and took down the world economy with it.

just not true (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 10 months ago | (#45629815)

there are some impressive generation III+ and IV reactor designs, and other smarter countries than the USA are pursuing them though the designs done in USA

Darwinian Evolution and Nuclear Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45629847)

These do not sound like a safe combination.

The industry wants expensive Nuclear Power (5, Interesting)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 10 months ago | (#45629883)

It's interesting the bait model employed today by GE and Westinghouse.
They sell reactors at essentially cost price, then overcharge for the nuclear fuel.
They have zero interest in reactors that use liquid fuel, since there's almost no money to be made in the fuel.
Specially reactors that can run on cheap thorium (LFTR-Salt cooled), waste from water nuclear reactors, plutonium (IFR-Sodium cooled).
If they have something interesting, they are waiting for a big govt handout to actually start it (GE-Hitachi S-PRISM).

And govt aren't helping either... S-PRISM promisses to extract 100x more energy from uranium than water cooled/moderated reactors, theoretically they're also a solution to the nuclear waste storage problem. But if it really were that great (with no hidden catch), then why shouldn't GE take one or two billion out of their huge cash reserves and make it happen quickly ?

That's the final point, those huge corporations always have some hidden poop hidden in the thing. Like the true cost of water nuclear plants considering there's no standardized nuclear fuel market (GE fuel can't be used in Westinghouse plants and vice-versa).

Re:The industry wants expensive Nuclear Power (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#45630069)

S-PRISM is sodium cooled. Maybe that's the hidden poop. A great choice for a reactor coolant is obviously one that reacts violently with water, and for good measure produces hydrogen in the process.

We're having fun at my secret laboratory... (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 10 months ago | (#45629971)

We're having fun in Vermont and people in our town are convinced we're building a nuclear reactor up here on Sugar Mountain... I try not to straighten out the rumor mill. Besides, we're almost done.

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2009/11/01/outer-wall-forms-up/ [sugarmtnfarm.com]

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2011/08/25/three-phase-power/comment-page-1/#comment-9690 [sugarmtnfarm.com]

yes and no (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 10 months ago | (#45630021)

More innovation - yes. But please not the hacker spirit of Silicon Valley.

You see, if your website is full of holes, that's bad for your company. But if your nuclear reactor is full of holes, that's bad for everyone.

Koch bros disenchantment (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 10 months ago | (#45630047)

I suspect as any industry becomes entrenched, it destroys competition.
Apparently the Koch Bros are still pissed at what Carnegie did to their father who came up with a more cost-effective way of refining petroleum and then was locked out of the market.

HackerNews on this too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45630129)

HackerNews has a discussion thread about this as well

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