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Power Science

Thorium, the Next Nuclear Fuel? 710

mrshermanoaks writes "When the choices for developing nuclear energy were being made, we went with uranium because it had the byproduct of producing plutonium that could be weaponized. But thorium is safer and easier to work with, and may cause a lot fewer headaches. 'It's abundant — the US has at least 175,000 tons of the stuff — and doesn't require costly processing. It is also extraordinarily efficient as a nuclear fuel. As it decays in a reactor core, its byproducts produce more neutrons per collision than conventional fuel. The more neutrons per collision, the more energy generated, the less total fuel consumed, and the less radioactive nastiness left behind. Even better, Weinberg realized that you could use thorium in an entirely new kind of reactor, one that would have zero risk of meltdown. The design is based on the lab's finding that thorium dissolves in hot liquid fluoride salts. This fission soup is poured into tubes in the core of the reactor, where the nuclear chain reaction — the billiard balls colliding — happens. The system makes the reactor self-regulating: When the soup gets too hot it expands and flows out of the tubes — slowing fission and eliminating the possibility of another Chernobyl. Any actinide can work in this method, but thorium is particularly well suited because it is so efficient at the high temperatures at which fission occurs in the soup.' So why are we not building these reactors?"
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Thorium, the Next Nuclear Fuel?

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  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Broken scope ( 973885 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:02PM (#30622798) Homepage

    Because a number of groups with rather different goals have one thing in common.

    Sustainable nuclear power is a threat to their pocketbooks.

  • zero-risk? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by reub2000 ( 705806 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:07PM (#30622876)
    How many times have we designed things that are supposed to be unsinkable or infallible and then had them sink or fail? If there is a radioactive material being used in the plant, then there is a chance that some of it will leak out.
  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enry ( 630 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:07PM (#30622878) Journal

    - 1/2 the country doesn't believe what scientists tell them: evolution, global warming, birth control/STDs. Why believe them now?

    - No new nuclear plants have been built in 30-ish years.

    - uranium was thought to be pretty much endless, so why do more research into thorium? (yes, U is getting in short supply now)

    - nuclear power still has the stigma of 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl attached to it. It'll be tough to get public opinion on that changed, especially with advances in fuel cell and solar technologies

  • Gimmick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:08PM (#30622894)

    On the one hand, modern uranium reactors (pebble bed, or even well-made light water reactors) are perfectly safe. Using thorium instead is at best a minor improvement.

    On the other hand, if using a different fuel convinces members of the general public that nuclear power is safe, and allows the construction of new facilities in less than a decade, that's great, and worth it even if thorium is slightly inferior as a fuel. In short, it can be a PR win.

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:14PM (#30622958)

    And how many genuinely foolproof and fail-safe machines do you use every day without noticing, because they work so well?

    We can build nuclear reactors that are safe, and we don't need thorium to do it. We can build inherently safe [] nuclear reactors today using a variety of techniques. (See "void coefficient []".)

    But like I said above, if using thorium leads to new public acceptance of nuclear power, it's a win regardless of its technical merits.

  • Re:Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:14PM (#30622964) Homepage

    Japan, Canada, South Korea

    Those certainly use their own tech in nuclear reactors, they actually build them instead of contracting out. But don't have any bombs.

    Ukraine is also an interesting example. Not sure how much of a nuclear power plant they can build domestically, but certainly quite a bit...and they had 5000 warheads when the USSR dissolved. Got rid of all of them.

  • Re:Gimmick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rehnberg ( 1618505 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:19PM (#30623018)

    and worth it even if thorium is slightly inferior as a fuel. In short, it can be a PR win.

    Based on the article, I'm not sure that thorium is an inferior fuel. At the very least, it seems more efficient and more abundant, as well as less dangerous than uranium. To me, that's more important than raw power output, especially given that thorium cannot be weaponized.

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:21PM (#30623038) Homepage

    I prefer small chance of it leaking out (which happened only once) more than the routine of "leaking" it out into biosphere on a daily basis, in the amounts no nuclear power plant will match. As do coal-fired plants.

  • by dfay ( 75405 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:24PM (#30623068)

    According to this [] (see the section called "Fuel cycle concerns"), because there is no need to refine the Thorium fuel, which is the stage where the nuclear power companies currently make their money, they would need to change their business model to cope. We all know how much companies like to do that.

    So, you combine the politicians' lack of desire to risk being associated with nuclear power, and the entrenched industry's lack of interest in the business model, and it's suddenly easy to explain.

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:31PM (#30623144) Homepage

    How many times have we designed things that are supposed to be unsinkable or infallible and then had them sink or fail? If there is a radioactive material being used in the plant, then there is a chance that some of it will leak out.

    See, it's fucking dimwits like you that talk about 7-sigma [] events as if they're 3-sigma events that keep us using fucking coal, with its 100% probability of continuously releasing radioactive materials into the atmosphere. Get a fucking education, or failing that, go die in a fucking fire, you goddamn Luddite.

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:46PM (#30623302)

    Um, I'm no mathematician, but there have been several hundred reactors built (maybe even a few thousand), and at least 2 have failed to some extent (TMI & Chernoble), which seems to put it right around 3 sigma... a 7-sigma event would only happen once for every 390,600,000,000 reactors.

    I'm with you on the problems of coal, and I think nuclear is much better, but let's get real here - it's nowhere near 7 sigma.

  • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:49PM (#30623330)

    Such reactors may be less dangerous and the may produce less radioactive waste. But even though. They still produce radioactive waste, which we cannot handle. And it uses still a extremely limited resource. We will eat up the reserves in no time. And it would be again a centralized energy production. We want a decentralized energy production to become independent from big energy companies and to produce the energy more safely. And a large number of small generators are much less vulnerable to a total loss than one big one. Big technology is bad technology.

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:53PM (#30623368)

    And how many genuinely foolproof and fail-safe machines do you use every day without noticing, because they work so well?

    0. None. Zip. Zilch. There's no such thing as something that's genuinely foolproof and can't fail. Everyone knows this, so if they continue to say that there's no risk at all with this design, then the public's going to call bullshit on it. It'd be much better to say that it's more safe or less risky than other design types and avoid making everyone think of what the titanic would have been like in nuclear reactor form.

  • Re:Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:58PM (#30623424) Homepage

    So still no explanation as to why no common use of Thorium reactors.

    Same reason we don't use hemp paper [], and why anyone thinking we'll move away from oil based cars before the famine starts is fooling themselves.

    The existing corporate status quo makes money doing it this way, and they won't change unless made to (by, say, running out of uranium or oil or what have you).

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:59PM (#30623434)

    Sure, there's a chance of failure in every system, but good design can reduce it to an acceptable level. There's chance in everything: you could walk outside and be struck dead my a freak meteor.

    As for the Titantic: how many passenger liner disasters have there been since her sinking?

  • Re:Cost (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@ g m a> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:02PM (#30623488) Homepage

    Plutonium fears from breeder reactors and the green movement in the 60/70's with their irrational fear of "OMG NUCLAEAR!!!111"(yes I spelled that wrong on purpose). Accidents with things like the sodium reactor in Japan, and so on just give them more fearmongering tools. Instead of "we need to make sure this doesn't happen again, what went wrong and how do we make sure it doesn't happen again." That's why we're 30 years behind the times, and why the US has no functional breeders, and why you're just starting to use MOX again, and why you ship plutonium to Canada, Japan and S.Korea for us to make the fuel for our own reactors.

    I realize that people are going to get pissy as I've now blamed the entire environmentalist green movement, reality is that's why there haven't been any new reactors built in the US. You need oh 100 easy, you needed 50 new ones to be under construction 20yrs ago. Even Japan and Canada have a projected timelines for new reactors into 2065 and where/when they'll be built to deal with electrical generation.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:08PM (#30623562) Journal

    Sustainable nuclear power is... oxymoron. There's only so much Thorium in the world.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:13PM (#30623634)

    Hey! Guess what? Everything is finite. What do you think you build solar panels and wind turbines from, pot smoke?

  • Re:Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by naasking ( 94116 ) <naasking@gmail . c om> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:13PM (#30623636) Homepage

    A heavy water reactor is the anti-thesis of the salt-based Thorium reactors.

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:20PM (#30623712) Homepage

    Oil is the primary energy source, mostly due to cars and trucks and such, but coal and natural gas (combined) power just as much, and the US has lots of both. In a bad enough oil crisis, the US could ramp up coal production and convert cars (and furnaces) to run off of compressed natural gas (which is common enough in niche markets, mostly big fleets).

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:22PM (#30623736)

    North Korea has nukes, and we leave them alone.

    Nah. It's because Seoul (with 25% of ROK's population) is 30km from the DMZ, which means that it's within reach of large artillery and MLRS/Katyusha rockets.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:24PM (#30623762)
    You have to also see it from the side of everyone else who isn't Iran. You have an unstable country, a country where protesters are routinely shot. A president that many disagree with both his policies and question if he was really elected. And who in the world would trust a leader who says these quotes...

    They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets. The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets, (it) deals very severely with those who deny this myth but does not do anything to those who deny God, religion, and the prophet.

    Basically, he denies that the holocaust happened. And attacks those who have tolerance of religion or the lack of.

    Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? You should know that this slogan, this goal, can certainly be achieved.

    Basically, not only does he think Israel doesn't have the right to exist, but apparently neither does America.

    In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. [...] In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have this.

    And he not only denies gay rights, but denies that there were even homosexuals in Iran. Even America didn't deny the fact there were black people who were being oppressed. Some might have said that they weren't being oppressed but no one would be as stupid as to say that there is no such thing as black people.

    So in light of a politically unstable region, a leader who has made stupid and dangerous comments, how can we say letting them have nuclear power/weapons is a good thing? If Iran wants nuclear power, how about they let the developed nations build and supervise the infrastructure until Iran becomes stable?

  • Re:Cost (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mikkeles ( 698461 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:36PM (#30623888)

    'Because everyone that has nuclear reactors also builds bombs...'

    In this case, one can't blame Canada!

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:36PM (#30623894) Journal
    What the Chernobyl exclusion zone demonstrates is that from the animals POV, humans are worse than a nuclear disaster.
  • by Nexus7 ( 2919 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:37PM (#30623904)

    How exactly did Israel suffer and how exactly are they accountable, any more than Iran? They weren't accountable when they got nukes, and once they did, they became even less so. They ensure Palestine is essentially a ghetto without real blowback. Nukes gave them the same non-accountability and irresponsibility than Pakistan got with their nukes.

    I'm no fan of the Iranian govt, but neither am I of the Israeli one. Instead of teetering on edge all the time about when Israel is going to attack Iran's wannabe nuke facilities with rockets, I'd rather they have MAD. Actually I'd rather there were a regulated peace, but no one (and I mean the US govt here) wants that, apparently.

    By the way, it's irrelevant how many allies it has "in that part" of the world. They have the only ally that counts.

  • Re:Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:37PM (#30623906) Homepage

    What type of nuclear reactor to use it completely unrelated to what fuel to use to power cars.

    You aren't going to stick a nuclear reactor in the trunk, and how the grid gets its electricity has no impact on electric cars either.

    My point is there is an existing system that involves large amounts of profit in doing it the old way, and the people making said profit have no reason to foster change just because science said so. In fact, given the dismal state of the US education and patent systems, companies often can actively push back by simply hiring, destroying, or buying out people with new ideas.

    Look at digital music, for example -- we had to drag the music industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and they only came along after they had time to get their lawyers and executives to put down their clay tablets and abacuses long enough to think up some admittedly pretty innovative ways of screwing the rest of us over.

    I guess a more succinct way to put it is that corporations have used profit to make science and progress their bitch this past century, and I see no reason why this won't continue going forward.

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:41PM (#30623954)

    "Killed almost nobody"

    I guess that's not as big deal unless you are one of those almost nobodies.

    That anyone can defend Hamas, et al is just stupefying.

  • Re:Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:49PM (#30624038)

    Because everyone that has nuclear reactors also builds bombs, so they go hand in hand, and cost less in the short run.

    No. South Korea, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, have nuclear reactors and do not have nuclear weapons. This is not by any means an exhaustive list either.

    You do not need nuclear reactors to make nuclear weapons. You can make nuclear fission weapons by using U-235 or Plutonium. If you have a centrifuge cascade like Iran does, or some other means to separate fuel, you can make U-235 weapons without owning a single nuclear reactor. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Little Boy) was of this type.

  • by Tellarin ( 444097 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:51PM (#30624066) Homepage Journal

    While I can see the validity of your main point about Iran being "unstable" and not democratic, the way you present your argument has at least two deep flaws.

    You have to also see it from the side of everyone else who isn't Iran.

    Like every other country in the region that is not Israel? Are they as concerned as the west about Iran's nuclear program? What about their opinion on the fact that Israel secretly produced nuclear weapons and still has them?

    And he not only denies gay rights, but denies that there were even homosexuals in Iran. Even America didn't deny the fact there were black people who were being oppressed. Some might have said that they weren't being oppressed but no one would be as stupid as to say that there is no such thing as black people.

    Denying human rights to anyone is unacceptable. And of course denying the existence of people with different sexual orientations, when it is a well know fact of life, is stupid. But your analogy is simply wrong. One of the reasons why no one who practiced slavery (or oppressed black people) would deny their existence was simply because they treated black people as less than people. In their view, they were not equals.

    Ah, BTW, a country leader making stupid and dangerous comments is in no way an Iranian privilege.

  • 'heat'? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FatSean ( 18753 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:53PM (#30624106) Homepage Journal

    What 'heat' other than strongly worded letters did the State of Isreal take in response to their Gaza attacks?

    They're not even part of the Non-proliferation treaty. Your assertations need citations.

  • Re:why bother (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DamonHD ( 794830 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:58PM (#30624166) Homepage

    I'm hugely in favour of solar and wind power, but evidently you need to understand "intermittency" and "storage" a little better. Like what keeps the lights on after 5 cold still cloudy mid-winter days...



  • by AigariusDebian ( 721386 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:11PM (#30624314) Homepage

    US will veto anything that tries to punish Israel on the world stage, so no - Israel has no accountability. Most countries would have been taken over by NATO Peace keeper forces decades ago for all the crap that Israel does.

  • by rhakka ( 224319 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:14PM (#30624336)

    and nobody who wants to die rises through a power structure to lead a nation.

    Only people who like, and want, power get there. they do not want their power base to evaporate, nor do they want to die.

    You are never going to have to worry about a national suicide bombing.

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kymermosst ( 33885 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:22PM (#30624432) Journal

    And how many genuinely foolproof and fail-safe machines do you use every day without noticing, because they work so well?

    0. None. Zip. Zilch. There's no such thing as something that's genuinely foolproof and can't fail.

    "Fail-safe" does not mean "free from failure". Fail-safe means that when said machine fails, it always fails in such a way that minimizes harm to equipment and operators.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:41PM (#30624588) Journal

    From your link:

    "Thus the world's present measured resources of uranium (5.5 Mt) in the cost category somewhat below present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for over 80 years"

    "This is in fact suggested in the IAEA-NEA figures if those covering estimates of all conventional resources are considered - 10.5 million tonnes (beyond the 5.5 Mt known economic resources), which takes us to over 200 years' supply at today's rate of consumption"

    80-200 years at current consumption rates isn't very long IMO.

    1) If the USA and China replace all their coal and fossil fuel power plants with uranium nuclear reactors, that 200 years is going to be a lot shorter. And you'd have to start figuring out how to get more uranium in fancier ways. Saying that there must be other sources doesn't make it so. It's far from the old days of oil where it was just gushing out when you dig a hole.

    As it is, my reading of the article sure doesn't give me much confidence that "Peak Uranium" would be that far away.

    2) There seems to be only one company in the whole world that can build a reactor containment vessel in a single piece (to reduce risk of radiation leaks), and it's already build at max capacity (four per year). []

    3) After spending lots of money, resources and time on building reactors and the super expensive tools to build the parts to build them, and you hit "Peak Uranium" within 100 years, it might not be really worth it. Might be better to look for something else to bet big on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:44PM (#30624630)

    based on information that has been brought forward by a few different sources, it's safe to assume that Israel has had possession of nukes as far back as the 70s.

    yet... you haven't heard anything about israel testing them, or threatening anyone with using them.

    You should listen more closly to Iran leader rehetoric. They see israel as an offshoot of the US, NOT THE OTHER WAY ARROUND. they publicly refare to the US is "the big Satan" while Israeli is only the "The Little Satan".

    If you think that Iran, with it's current regime, is a threat to Israel alone. I have a few bridges to sell you.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:47PM (#30624662)

    Nice selective reading.

    Thus the world's present measured resources of uranium (5.5 Mt) in the cost category somewhat below present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for over 80 years

    That's actually amazingly good. Consider 1) we're likely to explore for more reserves as we deplete current ones (and that we've done very little exploration so far), 2) nuclear fuel is such a small part of a reactor's operating budget that its price can increase tenfold with no impact on price of electricity at the meter, we're in good shape.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @03:01PM (#30624784) Homepage Journal

    Posting anonymously because it's bull. 200 years to peak oil there? Maybe if they don't sell any.

    This isn't flamebait at all. None other than Dick Cheney was running around telling everyone who would listen that there was a huge production problem in the middle east. He had a great quote to sum it, something like, "If the Saudi's have so much more oil, they would have to be finding other fields like Gawar, and they haven't been". In fact, he calculated out how many Gawar size mega fields anybody would have to find, simply to meet existing demand, and they aren't out there.

    Suddenly we find the USA sitting in Iraq, for what reason? The whole Bush administration's energy policy was essentially to get the dibs on the last remaining oil taps in the world, its own coastlines, interior, and in Iraq, essentially to buy time for its other plan of shoveling money at alternative energy projects would kick in.

  • by dheltzel ( 558802 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @03:22PM (#30624992)

    While you have a good point, the situation now is that one country has an established capability and the other is building that capability and engaging in hostile rhetoric at the same time. That seems suicidal to me. I fully expect that one day, Israel will get scared and make a first strike on Iran, and since they will only get one shot (due to the public outcry from the rest of the world), it will be a definitive attack. It would be hard for any thinking person to say that Iran didn't bring that on themselves, but I would grieve for the many in Iran who are made to suffer because of the stupidity of their leaders.

    It seems almost a certainty to me that the Middle East will erupt in a nuclear war at some point. No one there is willing to compromise and they all think that they have the moral high ground, a very dangerous opinion for political leaders to have.

  • Re:zero-risk? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @03:37PM (#30625156)

    Gee, if you're so easy to scare, try this out: Building industrial-scale photovoltaic installations might raise the albedo of the Earth so much that it will disrupt climate patterns and kill you with lightning. That's totally possible. I'm sure you can come up with your own nightmare scenarios for any reasonable technology.

    But you know what scares me? The fossil-fuel-burning status quo, which is what your dumb fears are (perhaps unintentionally) perpetuating.

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @03:38PM (#30625168)

    I believe that Hamas and their buddies have much more responsibility for civilian deaths than does Israel.

    When you launch attacks from occupied civilian dwellings, you have to expect to be hit back. They deliberately put their civilian population in jeopardy and then whine about civilian casualties.

  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:03PM (#30627152)

    I'm trying to not be offensive but your viewpoint has left me incredulous! How do you say the things you do, which are in direct contradiction to well known and cited information, WITHOUT CITATION and then get modded to +5 insightful?

    Because on slashdot, anything critical of Israel automatically gets modded up. It doesn't matter if it's sourced, or if it's accurate, or even if it's internally consistent. As long as you complain about Israel, you're guaranteed mod points.

  • Re:Cost (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SirWinston ( 54399 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:35PM (#30627444)

    But that would take large capital investment of hundreds of millions if not billions in R&D, production of new facilities, etc., which would decrease short-term profit statements--and executives want to avoid decreases in profit statements at all costs so they can keep stock prices as inflated as possible, and milk their yearly bonuses. The current corporate structure punishes good long-term planning and rewards short-term profitability, so it's not surprising that no one's interested in innovating if it costs too much in the here-and-now to build increased profitability in the distant tomorrow.

    Hell, one of the first things "forward-looking" executives do when they get into power is cut short-term costs by any means necessary, even if it means crippling the entire company's future by, for example, spinning-off the expensive R&D operations which have kept the company innovating into new companies so their budget gets off your books. Cf. "Agilent" and "Lucent"--after being spun off, their parent companies stagnated grossly, with the venerated HP a shell of its old self and the "original" AT&T imploding through corporate greed and stupidity with SBC buying up a relatively-empty husk. Oh, and in the process AT&T bought Olivetti Research Laboratory, "Europe's leading communications engineering research laboratory," only to shutter it 3 years later to save money. Corporate asshats at work.

    Remember all those financial wizards who melted down the whole economy by discovering new ways to make a quick buck, at the expense of--well, the whole country? How many of them are in the unemployment line now, and how many are still making millions? Yep, thought so. Those car-maker execs who failed to innovate and took the whole American auto industry from best-in-the-world to also-rans--how many of them are collecting unemployment alongside the factory workers they put out of work? Yep, thought so. A few of the top execs lose their jobs whenever big corporations get run into the ground, but they always [golden-] parachute into a new company right quickly.

    The whole corporate system is FUBAR, and I have to blame it on globalization--which pushes governments to deregulate lest multinationals scale back in-country operations for laxer overseas venues. So no, no one will willingly invest hundreds of millions to billions to get "4x more product from the same ammount of raw material" and "re[duce] production cost per product unit, increase margin and make a step ahead from competitors" if they can make more short-term profit by business as usual.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:41PM (#30627506) Journal

    It's overwhelmingly Israel that's doing the killing. It's over 100:1.

    It's a very well known technique of dealing with casualties in Arab-Israeli conflicts: do not differentiate them into military and civilians. Because if you do, turns out that vast majority of Arab casualties are armed militants.

    At that point, the proportion actually makes sense: you have a ragtag, badly armed and badly trained army with virtually no strategic command going against one of the best-trained and best-equipped armies in the world. Of course the casualty rate is going to be insane!

    But guess what? If you don't pick a fight with a well-armed guy who minds his own business, you don't get to be beaten into bloody pulp as an outcome.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:57PM (#30627638) Homepage Journal

    Ah, yes, the old "war for oil" idiocy again. Only in the mind of a blithering moron would it make more sense to spend trillions invading a foreign nation instead

    It's not just about getting oil for ourselves, its being able to control it for everyone else. It's also about using up someone else's oil before taking desperation measures for our own.

  • by nadaou ( 535365 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:09PM (#30627732) Homepage

    Propaganda > Science

    yeah, but science has a much longer half-life.

  • by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:12PM (#30627756) Homepage

    Well, if we didn't invade Iraq for its oil, what, exactly, did we invade it for? I mean, if you scoff at the "war for oil", argument, surely you'll scoff at the "they had Weapons of Mass Destruction", argument, which is even more patently false than the first one.

  • by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:29PM (#30627880) Homepage

    War is not a game. You can't launch attacks from civilian buildings and then complain about "fairness" or "proportionality" when those buildings get bombed.

    In my opinion, the methods the Palestinians are employing are all wrong. As long as they continue armed struggle, they cannot win against the overwhelming military advantage that Israel enjoys. However, if they leverage their advantage in birthrate, and simply stage lots of sit-ins, eventually they will break the Israeli civilian population's will. After all, no democracy has successfully crushed a non-violent protest movement. As long as there is even a token level of violence from the opposition, the leadership can use it as a fig leaf to justify a response (no matter how severe - look at Haditha). However, if the opposition is completely non-violent, there isn't anything that the leadership can use to hide the depravity of their actions.

    Just as with the Indian independence struggle, the Palestinians will only succeed when they renounce violence.

  • Re:Gimmick (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JetTredmont ( 886910 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @10:14PM (#30628510) Homepage

    I think the main argument against Thorium is that it isn't Uranium. While that may seem specious, the argument has some merit: we have a large body of knowledge in dealing with Uranium. We'll end up finding issues with large-scale Thorium reactors, just as we did when going from Uranium prototypes to large-scale Gen-2 reactors in the 1950s.

    Of course, the other potential problem is the geographic dispersion of the mineral. Australia and India are the big winners there, although with the US coming in fourth (after Norway) so far as we know today, it's a bit better distribution than we have with oil (Uranium leaves the US as #8 in the world, but Canada is #1 by a long shot, and I think the US is more comfortable with that than with India in a similar position). Of course, the problem with this is that it's really a big unknown because we haven't really been looking for it.

    Not to say we shouldn't do it, given all the benefits. But let's not fool ourselves into believing that it's a so-obvious-we-should-have-done-it-yesterday solution.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @10:20PM (#30628536) Journal

    The carbon footprint of making one 60m high wind turbine is approximately the same as the carbon footprint said wind turbine will save in fossil fuel in its lifetime.


  • by dave87656 ( 1179347 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:46AM (#30630220)

    You dont seriously believe we spent billions invading Iraq to bring democracy to the Middle East?

    Especially since the other countries who are our "friends" in the region aren't exactly democracies (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, etc). Of course, when they are our friends, we call them Monarchies and when they are our enemies we call them dictatorships.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's