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Back in the 50s, nuclear was being treated as the magic that would solve all energy problems. There were ideas for making fission cars, trains, planes, etc. But since then, civilization has only benefited from nuclear reactors via power plants, naval ships, RTGs, and depending on how you see it, bombs. The magic of nuclear fission never provided the complete revolution it was setup to do. Just as we weren't responsible enough to plan for fission's partial failure back then, we are not able to envision the same partial failure with solar and wind. Fusion is the only thing I can think of that still has a chance to be the magic it is hyped to be. But that is only because its another 50 years away. And that is just too late to stop climate change in its accelerating state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Nucleon

https://www.ans.org/news/article-109/army-offroad-nuclear-tr...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_NB-36H




The problem with nuclear is the slow iteration speed and extreme cost of failure.

Those are not good properties if you want to push technology forward quickly. The great thing about solar and wind is that we can iterate very quickly and catastrophic failure costs are nearly non-existent.

Nuclear still has great potential but the costs are just too high (and maybe they should be).


Why do you need high iteration speed? Nuclear is pretty safe as it is. Chernobyl was using reactors that were obsolete in 1986. Fukushima was pretty fucked up in having the generators below sea level, but the result of that was 6 people got cancer.


Fukushima may not have caused much loss of life, but you also need to consider the economic damage.

Natural disasters, terrorism, and unanticipated design flaws (generators below sea level) are important considerations. Those add costs that aren't always accounted for.


Yes, exactly, consider the economic damage of NOT building nuclear plants and allowing the climate to continue to change! Surely that's a higher economic damage than that caused by Fukushima+Chernobyl.


Anyone who argue against nuclear while failing to acknowledge the issues of solar and wind, which are 10 times more problematic, can't be truthful.

Unless we enter a _major_ era of degrowth there is no way we'll get out of fossil fuels without nuclear.


What are the 10x more problematic issues with solar and wind?


Briefly: solar and wind energy requires sun or wind and tons of space relative to fossil/nuclear. Not every place has those.

"A reality check on renewables" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0W1ZZYIV8o


I think fusion is a lot closer than 50 years away.

We should know without a doubt whether it is workable by 2050, perhaps before then.

I strongly recommend the book "The Future of Fusion Energy"[1] as a good summary of the current state of the field. It's written by two fusion researchers and is legit (I have a Master's in Physics myself and almost did a Plasma Physics PhD so I am somewhat familiar with the field).

The book isn't dry either, it's honestly one of the best books I've read in years.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Future-Fusion-Energy-Jason-Parisi/dp/...


"It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter, will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours, as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age." - Lewis Strauss, chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission 1954

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_cheap_to_meter


Fusion is not magic at all. It will most likely be a fairly expensive source of power. You might not need to spend a lot on fuel, but building large, technically very advanced installations is expensive.




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