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back to article Chinese boffins build nuclear-powered deep-sea station

Not content with ambitious plans to dominate space exploration over the coming decades, China is also looking to master the ocean with the development of a deep-sea station which could be its first step towards large-scale underwater mining. Plans for the nuclear powered mobile deep-sea station were unveiled earlier this year by …

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Meh

and this is for...

... sustainably improving humankind's individual and social quality of life? ...or covering the material costs of an consumerist/expansionist ideology at the expense of the only world we've got?

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It'll go horribly wrong...

...but they will deny it for months if not years and won't give a sh*t.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It'll go horribly wrong...

Like the US Space Shuttle?

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The last remaining domain

We have managed to pollute the land, the air and the space with our presence, so now we move into the last remaining sanctuary, the sea.

There really is no end to human destruction and it is always for some impossible dream of "making things better for everyone".

It's about time we stopped "moving forward" and took a step back, looked at the mess we have made, cleaned it up and then started living truly sustainable lives and not the corporate, "I want it know", lifestyles that we are permanently presented.

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Re: The last remaining domain

I kuite koknkur with your sekntimeknts, Khaptaikn, my Khaptaikn.

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Re: The last remaining domain

You are welKome, kind sir.

I will kontinually kontribute kountless komments for your komfort and konnaisance.

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Re: The last remaining domain

Surely you meaknt '... kokntiknually kokntribute koukntless kommeknts ... koknknaisaknce' ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The last remaining domain

What did you seriously think would happen:

a) That we'd temper our greed, big business and government would stop looking for cheap solutions, and we'd start considering paying 20% more for stuff that comes from ethical and renewable sources.

b) We'd spend the tens of billions and effort on massive amounts of new-tech research to solve our energy problems with serious investment in fusion and other next-generation technologies.

c) We'd just take the short cut of raping places we've never raped before, and carry on regardless. And we'd conveniently ignore all those agreements not to mine the crap out of environmentally protected areas, because it's the cheapest, easiest option.

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Re: The last remaining domain

I think you'll find we've been polluting the sea for quite some time already...

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Re: The last remaining domain

So you want to go back to the dark ages then? A sustainable life means being supplied with the food and materials needed to stay alive. If you only grow your own food then it only needs one small disaster (just like the recent floods) and you end up starving. Being able to source food from all over the world means that no one is at the mercy of nature again. Growing your own food is fine if you don't want to do anything else. Its a very labour intensive task which means that you can't go an work in the factory making tractors that make it easier for others to grow food.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The last remaining domain

"It's about time we stopped "moving forward" and took a step back, looked at the mess we have made, cleaned it up and then started living truly sustainable lives"

Out of curiosity, what level of technology/development are you thinking of to give a "sustainable" level? Hunter-gatherer, medieval, modern?

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Re: The last remaining domain

""What did you seriously think would happen:

a) That we'd blitherblitherdrool

b) We'd spend blitherblitherdrool

c) We'd just take blitherblitherdrool"

What's this "we", capitalist running dog?

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Re: The last remaining domain

I'm thinking the development of a good single malt as the cut-off.

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Re: ...what level of technology/development

I suspect the poster might consider Neanderthal as the appropriate level.

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Re: ...what level of technology/development

Hey, stop dissing the Neanderthals, you specist bastard!

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Good for them

To above: stop bleating about polluting Gaia and other such hippy shit. We need "stuff" and more specifically (as the article says) China needs energy. Without a reliable gas supply they will continue to build their marvellous coal fired stations which you all think are bad as well.

And the bottom of the ocean is pretty much dead to anything other than bacteria (at least - the proper deep ocean, not the edges of continental shelves). The occasional Polykete Worm maybe.

On a geeky note, this is really cool. If they can pull this off (which they probably can) then it is likely the first step in proper underwater habitation & exploitation. Hopefully it would allow us to start draining the South Atlantic of oil around the Falklands and really piss off the Argies.

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Re: Good for them

We only "need stuff" because the population is increasing at a rate which the earth can't sustain. And I believe that we have already passed the sustainability limit which means that the problems will truly start coming to light.

Obvioulsy you are quite happy to exacerbate the situation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good for them

"We need "stuff""

No, we really don't. Not as much as we think we need. I haven't had a new car for ten years, a phone for three, or a PC for five, and guess what: My life is just as good as yours. An awful lot of the 'stuff' we buy is only bought because we're brainwashed into believing that we need it.

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Go

Re: Good for them

Ah, yes. Yuri Bezmenov was saying this back in 1983. As he once recounted of the greed for consumption that is readily fostered in peoples' minds as part of Leftism, "As we say in the USSR, 'If the Sahara Desert ever becomes a Communist state, there will be a shortage of sand.'"

Personally, I thought Dr. Seuss summed it up nicely with "The Lorax" - an excellent book with a poignant lesson, which the current generation would do well to review. Those who obsess over the latest tech fad - without any kind of thought as to the real costs - are no better than those who bought the Once-ler's Thneeds.

The environment is not just something that tree-huggers obsess about. It is what keeps us alive! That is always worth respecting.

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Boffin

Re: Good for them

How many nuclear submarines are already dissolving at the bottom of the ocean? Some with a full complement of ICBM warheads? Quite a few that are known to have been lost, and probably rather more that still haven't been disclosed.

Actually there's no nuclear explosion risk, and probably very little radiation risk. There's next to no circulation between the deep ocean and the surface, and a helluva lot of water to dilute the radioactives in. I doubt that this Chinese project adds significantly to that risk, even should the worst happen. Hasn't the worst already happened at least twice, at Chernobyl and in Japan? With less actual harm than the normal operation of coal-fired power stations, even ignoring their CO2 output?

The oceans are salty because they contain most of the sodium that's been released from rock over three billion years of plate tectonics. They're naturally mildly radioactive, for the same reason with respect to Uranium.

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Re: Good for them

well, technically it's also what is killing us... there's plenty of all natural things that has been trying to off us since we got up on two legs.. predators, diseases, climate, natural disasters.. we're only here because we adapted and learned to fight it... the other side of the coin. The enviroment is like a set of really really abusive parents, we couldn't live without it but it's not like its really trying very hard to keep us alive either.

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Re: Good for them

You might not need stuff, but there are quite a few people living on this planet who don't enjoy your decadent western lifestyle and really could do with things. You know, those people you see on your digital 3D LCD TV who don't have twitter accounts, are still awaiting their first general purpose computing device and could do with a bit of help in the medicine/food production/general survival department.

We could :

a) Tell them to stop having so many children.

b) Decline to offer assistance and help in improving their circumstances, thereby limiting population growth naturally.

c) Keep bunging aid, so that they are forever dependant on the largesse of richer countries and tied to doing our bidding

d) Give them the opportunity to grow and prosper through free trade, and take a chance that they wish to acquire the trappings of a successful modern economy.

Seems like China has tried a and is now applying d, so "stuff" has to be made from "something" which has to be obtained from "somewhere", and if it's not from corrupt African dictators then the sea bed seems like a valid option.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good for them

"You might not need stuff, but there are quite a few people living on this planet who don't enjoy your decadent western lifestyle and really could do with things. You know, those people you see on your digital 3D LCD TV who don't have twitter accounts, are still awaiting their first general purpose computing device and could do with a bit of help in the medicine/food production/general survival department."

I don't own a TV, either... but that aside, *We* - the people reading this article and responsible for most of the damage - don't 'need stuff' as much as we think we do. The demands of the third world for 'essentials' are trivial in terms of consumption, compared to ours. Fresh water, medicine and basic food for the year have far less impact than a new car and a house full of gadgets.

I vote for 'a', so long as we extend it to ourselves as well. If every family on Earth had only one child, for two generations, we'd pretty much solve most of the problems of over-consumption, and those alive would then merely have to clean up the mess we left behind.

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Stuff

We do need stuff. And it's not gadgets like PCs and cars and phones every other year. You might not need a new phone for years, but there are plenty of other people who need a phone every five years or longer. That's what drives the requirement to make stuff. And stuff is more than just a few gimmicky gadgets. We need stuff like fridges and cookers, trucks to move materials around, cars to move people to work, electricity to allow us to stay up late rather than go to bed when the sun sets, tractors to help grow more food, test tubes to find new drugs. Those are all stuff and important stuff too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stuff

We do need stuff. It's just that we need a lot less of it than we're told.

Mr. Medieval Ploughman didn't buy a new bucket every year when the old one was still working, just because the new one has 12 rivets instead of 10. We have been suckered by people who make money out of us buying crap that we need to buy more crap in order to be happy/cool/get sex/whatever.

400 pound is not a sensible amount for people on less than 20k to be spending on a phone *every year*.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good for them

""We need "stuff""

No, we really don't. Not as much as we think we need. I haven't had a new car for ten years, a phone for three, or a PC for five, and guess what: My life is just as good as yours. An awful lot of the 'stuff' we buy is only bought because we're brainwashed into believing that we need it."

A PC, (presumably) a cellular phone, and a personal motor vehicle? That's a lot of stuff for someone who's coming off all preachy about brainwashed-consumerism. If it's ever appropriate to draw a line in the sand, it's statistically improbable, if rather convenient, that exactly where you personally happen to be standing right now is the proper place to do so. (That's besides the fact that your 10-year-old car is likely much more wasteful than my '09.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good for them

"A PC, (presumably) a cellular phone, and a personal motor vehicle? That's a lot of stuff for someone who's coming off all preachy about brainwashed-consumerism... (That's besides the fact that your 10-year-old car is likely much more wasteful than my '09."

It's a six year old PC that was going in the skip at work, an 8 year old phone (which was my old work phone), and a 35 Year old Landrover, which might suck more fuel than your '09, but I'll bet you any money that it's used a total of resources in its cranky old way than the value of fuel and materials put into building however many cars you've owned in 35 years.

My own lifestyle is still far more comfortable than it needs to be or is 'fair' though: I have potable running water and free healthcare, which makes me very lucky. You can carry on criticising my own lifestyle if you like (because personal attacks totally devalue my argument...), but it doesn't change the fact that we are grotesquely rampant consumers who do not need *half* the shit we buy.

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Anonymous Coward

Useful definitions

ADJECTIVE Dependent - relying on something

NOUN Dependant - a person who depends on something, e.g. your children

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Anonymous Coward

Uhm...

I'm concerned that China's economic pressures will result in far-less-stringent safety oversight of the construction and maintenance of these reactors than is prudent.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Uhm...

Then you should be even more concerned about the Chinese nuclear submarines already in use.

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WTF?

Re: Uhm...

Good point. If they're happy with nuclear tech then why not knock this underwater bollocks on the head and build some reactors on land. They could use them to drive turbines 'n stuff. Get some leccy without the oil they were going to look for.

Or have I missed something?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Uhm...

"Or have I missed something?"

Yes; you have.

Unless you haven't heard, China have built a rather large dam. Quite a few of them really. I believe they plan to get something like 80% of power for hydo sources, and thus don't *need* any of those pricey nuclear reactor things for power.

Oil is something that they can sell to other people, though. If the West is stupid enough to still be over-dependent on it and they produce it, they'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

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Holmes

Re: Uhm...

Are they not already laughing all the way to the bank?

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On the plus side....

Evil supervillains will now be able to pick up an underwater lair off the shelf, without having to go through all that planning permission palaver.

But one the negative side, has anyone thought how this might affect undewater denizens such as Cthulhu ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: On the plus side....

hopefully Cthulhu will purge their side of the world before he gets to us, giving us a few months left yet.

Its even possible he'll get lost and fall off the bottom before he gets here, which would be nice.

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Alien

Re: On the plus side....

I'm sure the Chinese signed up to the benthic treaty with azorean blue hades just like the rest of us did. Cthulhu's nap will not be disturbed.

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The purpose of worship....

The whole point of devotedly worshipping Cthulhu is the hope that when he does arise he eats me first......

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Black Helicopters

Maybe

They're after the other half of K-129

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technical

it has puzzled me,

technicaly, we can build large pressure containers to hold nuclear reactors,

is not under water pressure vessel 'just' a big version of the same ?

the small vessles we currently have for sub sea are limited , by the fact they have to fit on a ship, or are to be stealthy.

If you can build BIG, with lots of concrete, how hard can it be to build a container that can sit at any depth ?

its not like you have to fly it into space, it can float .

Look at the size of the big oil rigs, instead of building tall, make stong,

...

think BIG.

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Re: technical

Pressure increases by 1 atmosphere for every 10m of depth. Say 5,000m for the Abyssal Plain... That's 500 Atmospheres of pressure. That is rather a lot. It's no mean feat of engineering.

And why do you want it big? Minerals at those depths are in nodes rather than deep-mined, I believe. You need a rig that you can move around.

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Re: technical

.. aren't they quite different sets of pressure vessels?

A nuclear reactor has high internal pressure and low external, a submersible is the reverse. Quite different engineering challenges. Eg, a bottle holding a fizzy drink can withstand quite high internal pressure, but its is very easily crushed by external pressure.

Conversely, I would fully expect a submarine with high internal pressure when put in space to pop like a balloon.

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Re: technical

Right, but what if you put a high-internal-pressure environment, like a reactor, in a high-external-pressure environment, like the deep sea? Wouln't it be easier to maintain since there should be less pressure differential (which is the real challenge of pressure containment--vast DIFFERENCES rather than the pressures in and of themselves)?

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Hey! There's a whole 7/10 of the world we haven't exploited yet.

Underwater castles for everyone! :D

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Alien

The Abyss!!!!

Oh no,.... the Chinese will meet the Aliens first.

They'll probably sell them a load of their stockpile of rare-earth minerals in return for super-tech.

@a_mu

There is a big difference between a 160bar Pressurised Water Reactor and the 350+bar needed at 2 miles deep. What's worse is that the PWR is surrounded by 4metre thick concrete and NEVER has to move whilst under pressure. Finally, the PWR is pressurised inside so the steel of the vessel is in TENSION. Steel is very good in tension, but less good in compression, which it will experience on the ocean floor.

Concrete is VERY good in compression but is brittle, VERY heavy and a bitch to work with under pressure.

So, perhaps it's possible to build a 2 mile deep base, but to make it even marginally mobile will be extremely difficult.

Concerning the moral implications of it all, that's why I don't have kids.

Too many people on Earth already.

The only fix for "global warming" is LESS PEOPLE.

Try telling that to the next hippy that preaches at you for not recycling your soft drinks can.

Bloody hypocrites!

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Re: The Abyss!!!!

I think the powers that be are planning to correct that little problem of "too many humans", with the next world war. Whether or not you have kids will matter not one jot at this point, I think.

What is hard for me is finding a nice way to explain this to my brother and sister- both of whom are parents. One day, you're wearing a tin-foil hat. The next day, your food stores are a target for those who did not prepare and got caught thinking that the next meal would always be waiting for them in the local supermarket.

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So they're building quite a small nuclear submarine?

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Bloody good idea

About time the human race got serious about exploring and exploiting the mineral and other resources under the oceans.

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South African and American mining companies are already doing this.

Here's one: http://www.nautilusminerals.com/s/Home.asp

Notice that this outfit is smart enouigh not to insist upon a human presence at their underwater sites.

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Chinese Laundry?

SCORPION STARE to ready status in anticipation of BENTHIC TREATY implications. How will BLUE HADES respond?

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Holmes

The Laundry!!

You know and I know that CASE GREEN NIGHTMARE makes all such worries irrelevant.

Now please stop this discussion. It's very hard to make a Hand of Glory when you keep interrupting.

Now, has anyone seen my fishing line?

Yes, the stuff that looks like a shriveled intestinal tract.

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