This reminds me of the AI/ML hype.
But maybe not; that's a pretty direct statement. Certainly there were ideas to blow weapons up and then recover energy from the heated walls (often some kind of high heat capacity liquid).
“The earliest references to the use of nuclear explosions for power generation date to a meeting called by Edward Teller in 1957. Among the many topics covered, the group considered power generation by exploding 1 Mt bombs in a 1,000-foot (300 m) diameter steam-filled cavity dug in granite.
A series of 50-kiloton bombs would be dropped into the cavern and exploded to heat the water and create steam. The steam would then power a secondary cooling loop for power extraction using a steam turbine. Dropping about two bombs a day would cause the system to reach thermal equilibrium, allowing the continual extraction of about 2 GW of electrical power”
“Unlike most nuclear tests, which were focused on weapon development, Shot Gnome was designed to focus on scientific experiments:
- "Study the possibility of converting the heat produced by a nuclear explosion into steam for the production of electric power."“
Hopefully that will change soon, if/when tokamaks, inertial confinement, or some similar technique are able to produce a net gain in power; yet that would require a bunch of basic science problems to be resolved in plasma physics, materials science, etc.
It's true that placing a fusion bomb in a uranium case can massively boost the yield of any single explosive, and in a full fission-fusion-fission design a good half the energy can come from fission. It's not required to work though, a transparent casing can be chosen too, that's the whole concept behind neutron bombs and "low-yield" weapons after all. I'm no expert for sure, this is just my understanding from reading some of the archives and such, so I'd be curious to read any other sources you have.
Thank you in advance!
It seems to be generally accepted that 10Mt (two thirds) of the yield in Castle Bravo was indeed from fast fission of the tamper.
On the other hand, if primarily looking to maximize yield for cost, one can use U-238 instead - the higher energy neutrons from the D-T fusion will cause fission (although not a chain reaction) in the tamper as well.
Redwing Tewa / Bassoon Prime test achieved 5Mt with this change in the same the test series and the design was refined ultimately to the B-41 gravity bomb with 25Mt yield.
We know how to make devices with primarily fusion yield, it's more that they're not as effective as weapons.
I likes SciFi and at some point I fell on some really weird anthology of Soviet stories from the 50s.
I remember one of them was about time relativity, a cosmonaut went with a rocket close to the speed of light and when he came back, on Earth have passed hundreds of years... jolly joy perfect, because in the meantime communism has become a reality. You know, the idea was socialism is temporary and only a stepping stone towards communism.
Well that's one story.. another one was about using nuclear blasts to level mountains and transform them into fertile plains for growing crops. That has stuck me as particularly idiotic: what the heck people, what sort of crops? Radioactive ones? They didn't know about radioactivity in the 50s?
YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r6zcMl2Xmw
"God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands"
“The Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) is a proposed solution to the problem of rising ocean levels in Northern Europe. It would be a megaproject, involving the construction of two massive dams in the English Channel and the North Sea; the former between France and England, and the latter between Scotland and Norway.”
The authors know that plan is ‘a bit’ ambitious, though. That page continues:
“The concept was conceived by the oceanographers Sjoerd Groeskamp and Joakim Kjellsson. As of 2020, the scheme is largely a thought experiment intended to demonstrate the extreme cost of engineered solutions to the effects of climate change.”
The system cost $114 billion, equivalent to $521 billion in 2018.
Fortunately a combination of technical issues and coming-to-their-senses put paid to that idea. However we did end up having to accommodate the Dounreay nuclear facility located about 20 or so miles west. That site has had a well documented chequered history including the wholesale ruining of local beaches due to radioactive particle contamination.
It was about the location of Britain's nuclear bomb tests, considered by those at "Aldermaston, the secretive headquarters of the UK’s nuclear weapons programme."
"Incredibly, the iconic landmarks were only saved because scientist decreed the area was “too wet” to set off the explosion."
"The bomb test was eventually carried out in late 1953 at Emu Field, a desert area in South Australia."
Gain-of-function histological research a close second.
God willing, modern economic theory.
edit: Change tone to be less snarky/combative. It was unintentional if I came across as rude.
The policy could be updated "we will sell the creepiest of the creepiest data on you and your friends. Hell your friends don't even need to sign up." And it would hardly change usage patterns.
Cambridge was a tiny distraction of the week that had no lasting effects.
Economists and mathematicians will eventually have a conversation which upends all known slogans of economics, forming a new school. It happens every few decades.
The era of antibiotics is drawing to a close, as antibiotic resistance continues to grow. Meanwhile, phage therapy  is still being discovered but likely will give us a route to a kind of antibacterial and antibiotic therapy which is not as broad-spectrum as our existing drugs. Similarly, chemotherapy may give way to more targeted ways to deal with cancers, and eventually we might see some of these harsher treatments as akin to the overuse of radiotherapy during the era of radioactive quackery .
High fructose corn syrup may yet have its reckoning. Strangely, before 2020, this wouldn't have been thinkable, but we know from history that the Great Depression and World Wars changed the composition of dishes all around the world and even in industrialized recipes. The pandemic may yet change peoples' diets in ways which we won't understand for a decade or two, and the proper nutritional correction may take another few decades after that.
Our children may be sincere about dealing with climate change. If so, then they may fly less, shrink standing armies, forbid the import/export of oil, drive less, set the thermostat a couple degrees hotter, or take many other relatively minor changes to parts of society which we usually imagine not changing at all.
Indeed they may. And we can either teach them to encourage it or ignore them and not even do that small part.
The essential main problem with the planetary model is in the word "planetes" or "wanderer"; electrons are not exactly point charges whizzing about the nucleus at high speed (although they kind of are, because of gold's color and other properties) but more like smeared-out across an orbital. Think of soft electron-butter being spread by a galactic butter knife.
It would be sad if their reaction is this pathetic. We need much more drastic changes than that right now, let alone 18 years from now.
The thermostat matters fuck-all compared to modernizing the insulation and getting renewable power to the house.
Really it sounds more like some ploy to keep America using less oil, without outright saying that, and, well... the idea must date to before we became one of the top producers in the world. I guess it could work for Europeans if they’re really, really willing to suffer for it (and it does spite Russia, which isn’t nothing in terms of European geopolitics)
I understand what you're reading into, but the main reasons to limit oil exports and imports are simpler than that. First, as you say, the USA is a massive oil producer. We compete directly with OPEC. We are also one of the largest oil consumers. Unsurprisingly, politicians like Bernie therefore have reasoned that it would be a sane protectionist and mercantile move to limit oil exports, keeping USA oil in the USA and thus limiting the need for oil imports. It's just cheaper that way; while not all oil is alike, crude oil is fungible enough to make this feasible.
Also like you say, spiting Russia is important, although OPEC may fall apart before too long. There's a lot of handwaving here and anything could happen.
If it really was cheaper that way, there would be no need to intervene.
But maybe some of the expense is caused by regulations which don't make sense. Could I get you to consider repealing the Jones Act so that it's legal to ship oil between different ports in the US using tankers? (Technically it doesn't make the tankers illegal on the face of it. It just requires them to be US built, owned, and crewed by citizens, like all other use of boats in the US. There are no tankers built in the US today; there aren't many boats built at all. Puerto Rico and Hawaii suffer in particular as a result must import key supplies from outside the US.) Yeah, you'd still be burning oil to move oil, but it's not like sending it in trains and pipelines is free either.
Once we are 50 years in the future I think both of these will be regarded as stupid/backward.
“Daddy, why do we live under water if we breathe air?”
“Darling, it’s just because of natural variability.”
Governments are testing how many idiotic rules can they make us follow, preparing for the switch from democracy to surveillance-based totalitarism.
The actual mortality rates are not enough to justify all those limitations - most people infected by coronavirus don't even have any symptoms, majority of those who have symptoms will get through them as they would through a normal flu. If anything, we should order the old people (say 70+) to stay home, as they seem to be the only real risk group.
Getting there is the easy part. Building a self-sustaining ecology on Mars is harder - much harder. And if you look into the research, you'll see there's much less than you'd think.
Also read an essay where the author claims the biggest mistake of the last 10,000 years was basing our food crops on grasses.
Guns, Germs, and Steel goes into this a great deal and the conclusion there is that in many ways precursors to today’s wheat is the miracle that gave birth to modern civilization.
Potential alternatives would need to provide similar nutrition (esp protein), be easily amenable to “naturally” providing selective breeding for choice traits, be easy to sow and harvest for hunter gatherers to become farmers, and be resilient enough to provide a model for civilizations around the globe.
What I remember is the advantage of grasses is as annuals you can selectively breed productive strains quickly. And that's true of other annual crops. Downside is they require a lot of nutrients and water because the whole plant needs to regrow from seed every year and they have shallow roots.
That leads to energy and environmentally damaging agriculture.
Potential solution is perennial shrubs and trees. Perennials have deeper roots and require less water and fertilizer. And don't require the land to be plowed every year.
The latter is a real problem. People talk about global warming, less well known is the world is very quickly losing topsoil.
I'm soooo hoping that CRIPSR and the like help out with cancer and other diseases that use chemo as treatment.
Seriously, fuck cancer.
Edit: I don't like the phrasing I used in this first paragraph. To be more clear: The fact that the government publically funds an effort to teach children to examine the government's official declarations, question their authorities, and study the power structures which control them, is a surprising success of critical theory.
Phrenology is roundly countered by basic genetics; pedigree collapse directly implies that humanity forms one single race. Similarly, we have studied skulls enough to be confident that phrenology has no predictive power. What sorts of similar "showstopper" evidence do you have against critical theory?
The best criticisms against critical theory are listed on Wikipedia , but I don't think that you are talking about either of them. (Those criticisms are that critical theory is insufficiently Marxist, and that it lacks praxis.)
Critical theory is not critical thinking
> The best criticisms against critical theory are listed on Wikipedia
That's quite a bold claim, how often are the best criticisms of anything listed on Wikipedia?
> What sorts of similar "showstopper" evidence do you have against critical theory
Well, it is explicitly not concerned with evidence, the thing you are attempting to appeal to in this question.
Hacker News calls upon us to assume good faith, so I'll stop here.
Typically, we refute philosophical positions by some sort of evidence. Without evidence, there's only opinions, and those are cheap and limitless. Indeed, in this very thread, basically all of the links and evidence have come from only one side. The only claims you've made with any substance are about phrenology and "millenials" in "institutions". I tackled the former; the latter is easily handled by remembering that critical theory started as an academic endeavor, and never really has been foreign to higher education. Although, as I describe this latter position, I'm reminded of the belief in the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory. I don't know why people believe this; Marxists are pretty open about studying labor and power, and the fact that critical theory is a decades-long multidisciplinary research movement rather than a single meeting would suggest that it is not hiding some cryptic agenda.
It sounds like you think that critical theory ought not exist at all, but we would have to remove an entire score of history and philosophy from our discourse in order to do so; you'd have to prevent the First World War somehow. See  for a reasonable introduction to the Frankfurt School and critical theory. You might also like the second and third videos from the playlist .
Now that the reproducibility crisis is shining light on this modern tea leave reading, hopefully the groundwork is being laid for overhauls of these fields.
Ford even created a concept car called the Nucleon as a demonstration of what a nuclear powered car would look like.
Of course today there are literal nuclear-powered cars all over the place. They're electric cars charged by nearby nuclear power stations. But I guess that's semantics.
Those space reactors are indeed awesome. Nuclear has a rich future in space in almost all possible scenarios where humans continue to exist.
All I know as a 10 year old boy when I asked about what would happen in an auto accident to the cars reactor they didn't have a very good answer.
Movie about a nuclear powered bus.
This  Document goes into all the details of what else they wanted to do.
I think it would be a great idea to use nukes for construction, if only it wasn't for all that pesky radiation. I can only imagine how often we'd be using them for mining and what-not.
Apparently, they intended to use such nuclear explosions across the whole country, but they learned quickly. What's even more interesting, they had a bio lab that would add new aquatic species into the atomic lake (as Lake Chagan is known to locals) and see what happens. Most of them died, some of them had mutated across several generations, including "positive" mutations, like increased size.
Source (in Russian): https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B5%D0%BA...
Sedan Crater: 390 m (1,280 ft) across an 98 m (320 ft) deep
I was under the impression the Sedan Crater was the largest manmade crater, but Lake Chagan seems to win by a hair. I'm surprised I never heard of Lake Chagan before.
If you used a pure fusion bomb to dig out a harbor, much of the the rock and soil the bomb threw into the air would be radioactive.
Indeed, even fallout of nuclear weapons of the scale required for engineering project is overstated. Hiroshima, despite receiving much more fallout that a pure-fusion weapon of the same yield, became habitable quite rapidly thereafter.
Another possible design could be to encase the pure fusion weapon in water, absorbing most of the neutrons and turning them into pressure and heat.
While on the other side of the US at the same time, they were leaving time capsules (which may explain global or atmospheric changes over the decades). Its strange hearing it in their own words.
Neutron flux is radiation, so things exposed to it are (ir)radiated.
It also induces radioactivity, which is probably the actual concern with (ir)radiated material.
OTOH, the actual reaction products themselves aren't radioactive, unlike fission reactions.
How far does radiation penetrate through rock? Some YouTube video virtually demonstrated using regolith as automated 3D printed habitat above ground structure protection from radiation in a place with no ionosphere.
Thus, Project Plowshare, in which we investigated using nukes to create harbors, dig mines, etc.
Let this serve as a reminder to exercise a degree of caution with any revolutionarily new technology, lest you look a catastrophic moron in the eyes of history. :)
Marie Curie died in 1934. And there was that little experiment in Japan in 1945 that was 13 years old by the time this Alaska thing was being discussed
And Operation Plowshare didn’t end until the 1970s.
I think everyone knew very well about radiation risks in the 1950s.
For example, you can visit the Trinity test site with no protective equipment, and the glass the ground turned into isn't incredibly radioactive. Compare to the area around Chernobyl's reactor #4.
I have to ask gramps for the truth.
9/11 was 19 years ago which killed "only" a few thousand yet the event's influence is still felt. In fact, we still feel WW2's influence today. Or the influence of the US civil war if I look at current conflicts :/.
Fun pic of it here: https://twitter.com/whatisnuclear/status/1107498549074264065...
Source: This 370-page book called Plowshare; a selected, annotated bibliography of the civil, industrial, and scientific uses for nuclear explosions, compiled by Robert G. West [and] Robert C. Kelly.
That's arguably untrue. Nuclear bombs were secretly placed under several high profile US skyscrapers for eventual demolition. Chicago Sears Tower, World Trade Towers 1 + 2 and such. Times were different then.
How exactly is the State not evil?
There are/were Aboriginal/Indigenous  people there for millennia and they knew that, then again that didn't stop them from destroying the lives of the People of the Marshall Islands , either with this headlong pursuit to use this technology if given the chance.