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* Posts by John Smith 19

9471 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

NASA chief: Earth is DOOMED if we spot a big asteroid at short notice

John Smith 19
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Acceptable losses?

This is truly an issue of global significance yet there appears to be no integrated planning across all space agencies

Would the loss of a city be acceptable? How much evacuation notice could such a system give?

BTW the "fire a big nuke at it" is a fail according to NASA studies.

IRL the discovery of a NEO on a collision course with Earth would play out like the first 20-30 minutes of Armageddon.

Then they all go home to die.

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Phone, internet corps SNUB US government's cybersecurity ABCs

John Smith 19
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Re: ISP's, Telco's and mobiles say "We're *special*"

"I'm not so sure what moiles are when they're at home"

They are a mis-spelling of mobiles for which I apologize.

"but if you actually look at the details, many of these "critical controls" are only relevant to enterprise networks "

Given most of a countries information travels over internet, landline or mobile phone networks I'd call them all ""enterprise."

I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding here.

Unlike gas, electricity and water networks there are two groups of users of the corporations computers.

Internal staff IE staff, who have some kind of job on the network.

Customers who do not but use them (but work through them) to talk to each other, web servers, other servers on the internet etc.

I would suggest that most of these rules apply to the the servers and PCs used by internal staff.

I'd suggest the computers they use and manage and the way they use them can be controlled.

As for the users, well how about ISPs opening an account with a minimal set of open sockets and notifying the customer by email when their machine wants to open non default sockets? Or how about an email on how many emails you sent this month.

I don't believe ISP's, telco's and mobile companies are that special and I do beleive they can do more to stop botnets generating the tidal wave of crap they do without DPI.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Astonishing, that the list of 20 controls was FOUO/Classified!

" They probably just didn't want to spend the money."

That's my instinct too.

But (correct me if I'm wrong) isn't most of this data automatically collectable through asset management and network management systems

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John Smith 19
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ISP's, Telco's and moiles say "We're *special*"

And indeed they are.

They are the global facilitators for the transmission and dissemination of spam and malware.

Now they can argue they are merely pipes like the US Mail. But that goes out the window if they do packet filtering (with or without DPI)

As for the rest of these recommendations how many of these shouldn't be SOP for all infrastructure.

Now the question is do they apply to company servers, PCs and mobiles or all devices on the network?

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SCADA honeypots attract swarm of international hackers

John Smith 19
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So there are people out there looking for these systems with the tools to do damage.

That on its own should be a big wake up call. to people who run SCADA systems.

People have taken the time and effort to develop exploits for those vulns.

Will it change anything?

Probably not. I fear it's only when Board level staff do time that maybe some of them will decide "Gee perhaps we ought to do something about this."

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Dear gov cyber-ninjas, try NOT to KILL PEOPLE. Love from the lawyers

John Smith 19
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A definition of war might be

Started by politicians

Fought by soldiers

Lost by civillians

By the way on this rule set the attack by the US and Israel using Stuxnet is "legal"

As would an Iranian cyber response targeted at say Hanford, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos or Dimona

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World's largest solar collection plant opened in Abu Dhabi

John Smith 19
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Flame

"Not sure I'm going to be very happy with that. Strikes me as an ideal idea for terrorist or rogue governments to point the nice beams elsewhere.."

It made a great plot device for a Ben Bova novel.

IRL it's b****it

JPL have been lead researchers on this and you can look up why the terrorist hijack idea is rubbish yourself.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Questions

"Surely heating water to drive the steam turbine would be more sensible? I assume that they could heat the water more easily than the oil."

No.

300c oil is a hot chip pan and is at normal atmospheric pressure (IE 1 atm) as it has not boiled (depending on the grade).

300c water is at 85 atmospheres pressure at that temperature. That raises the materials properties of the oil carrying tubes substantially. You can play with the numbers yourself.

http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/fluid.cgi?TLow=250&THigh=350&TInc=10&Applet=on&Digits=5&ID=C7732185&Action=Load&Type=SatP&TUnit=C&PUnit=MPa&DUnit=mol%2Fl&HUnit=kJ%2Fmol&WUnit=m%2Fs&VisUnit=uPa*s&STUnit=N%2Fm&RefState=DEF (caution needs Jave enabled).

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John Smith 19
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Good place. Not so good tech.

The EU has done quite a lot of work on solar thermal systems and this area and North Africa are the preferred locations.

Solar intensity can be 2x the average for Earth solar and its pretty constant day in day out.

But WTF is it with the hot oil. Most of the US pilot plans (and AFIK the Spanish ones) use reflectors to heat a central tower loaded with salt. (sort of similar tech to molten salt reactors but different chemical composition, like the one in the film Sahara).

Salt can run to 500c, which is just right to interface to use COTS steam turbine/generator tech, so no "topping up with natural gas (I'm guessing they use that rather than oil because they just burn it off otherwise?)

An interesting question is are the gaps between the reflectors as big as the reflectors themselves to allow swapping out if damage. A smarter replacement machine (like a narrow aisle stacker crack) could substantially reduce this.

People point out this is a solar thermal system, not a photovoltaic. Bottom line reflectors, being passive are cheap. Much cheaper than any Earth affordable PV grade. A poor thermal plant (like a gas, oil or coal fired power station) can get 30% efficiency easily 30% efficiency PV panels are top drawer tech. And remember (according to people who do combined PV/water heating panels) a 4c rise in PV temp -> 1% loss in conversion efficiency.

Something you might like to factor in if your planning a domestic array somewhere hot.

Thumbs up for someone putting such a plant in the right place.

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ARM head legs it from core body: CEO Warren East retires

John Smith 19
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Re: Something missing from this picture

"Thanks, but I think there's more to this than meets the eye so far."

What I've downplayed is the bill the foundry will charge you for the work.

I'd guess both ARM & and foundry will set one off charges and royalties based on projected volumes and the volume for such systems is just not that large.

That would include proving the chip design has the necessary radiation resistance, which AFAIK is not cheap either.

"although in at least one company I know of, they're now suggesting source-level testing is sufficient and that something like a change from 68K to PPC would therefore not need sw to be re-tested using the appropriate toolchain and binaries! Nothing could ever go wrong in the toolchain, could it)"

On the surface this looks reasonable because the software will run on the same hardware and only the code generators and debuggers are going to need to be different,right?

But IRL both of those are pretty big chunks of software in their own right and I doubt they will be alone.

The fail is strong with this idea.....

"I currently struggle to see why any clean sheet or new-generation design would want to be on anything other than ARM, w"

Agreed. The question is how often people have that opportunity.

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John Smith 19
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Re: ARM is everywhere, with or without Apple

"I haven't seen much sign of ARM in the "tough" end of embedded systems where mil-spec PowerPC and the like used to be fashionable. Is there a presence or are these folk just slow to catch up (for understandable reasons)?"

In the US historically the USAF 1750A architecture has been the one a lot of people used (I think it's still running most ULA launches) but the rad hard versions of a POWER PC are where they've gone.

In Europe they seem to prefer the SPARC architecture, also implemented in some rad process with majority voting registers. Sun wanted to get more mfg making SPARC chips so I think their licensing was pretty lenient.

As both processor have enough power to host linux implementation they can leverage the whole tool chain.

The bottom line is ARM could be an instruction set that was used in this market if a company that wanted to get into the business licensed the instruction set and found a foundry to do the rad hard implementation.

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Google Drive goes titsup for MILLIONS of users

John Smith 19
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Re: outage planning

"Ironically in some ways it can be quite rigid. Their infrastructure management is their SPoF."

A very good point.

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John Smith 19
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Joke

IT language translator

I say dumb terminal you say browser.

I say mainframe you say cloud services.

I say Z/OS you say WTF.

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John Smith 19
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The "cloud" Now you're offsite comms have become mission critical infrastructure as *well*.

Don't get me wrong. A properly engineered (and paid for) cloud infrastructure could be as reliable as a mainframe.

But despite the huge drop in what a MIPS of processing or a GB of storage cost it's not there yet.

The question is how long will it take to get there and, if you commit your business now what's the risk it'll get clobbered by an outage before your supplier reaches that level of reliability.

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Drilling into 3D printing: Gimmick, revolution or spooks' nightmare?

John Smith 19
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BTW Some US law student already has permission to try printing gun parts.

http://blackwaterusa.com/the-hype-oover-3d-printed-gun-parts

Seems to have a few more details than some.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Spooks' nightmare

"But it's hard to imagine why anyone in the USA would go to the trouble and expense of printing a gun when they seem to be pretty freely available for sale"

True, but Texas is a pretty long drive for some people (well you can't fly given what you're bringing back right)

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John Smith 19
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http://hackaday.com/2013/03/05/finally-a-machine-that-makes-cheap-3d-printer-filament/

This is very exciting. It begins the process of not just building the printers but also the infrastructure to

support the printers.

Still a long way to go before a printer can self duplicate (I know they can do a version of the structure. I mean the motors, drive screws etc).

But a good first move and like others, so simple once someone has worked out how.

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Software bug halts Curiosity: Nuke lab bot in safe mode

John Smith 19
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So *not* a buffer overflow error in fact.

IIRC All software updates to NASA probes (and everything from the early 70s onward has had them) are treated as potentially hostile.The name of the game is don't brick the processor. this gets tricky when some of the bits used to store the new program on board are stuck at 1 or 0, like Voyager.

Note this fault is more a case of a fail in the Earth based support software (of which there is a lot. If they did the same as the earlier rovers quite a lot of it is open source). There is no evidence of the software to drive the rover being faulty.

If they're following the sort of process used for the Shuttle software they have found the root cause, fixed it, located other instances of the pattern and fixed those. But there have been budget cuts......

Bottom line is the process caught it before any damage was done and they are still running.

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Infosec boffins meet to plan nuke plant hack response

John Smith 19
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America and Israel thought Stuxnet was a pretty good idea.

But then America also thought the Afghans were too stupid technologically challenged to read their (unencrypted) drone video feeds.

In mythology Nemesis punishes those who harbour false pride in their achievements.

Or to put it another way pay back will be a b**ch.

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Juniper goes skinny to pack routers into little racks

John Smith 19
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Holmes

Hardware companies accomodate *huge* existing infrastructure investments of their customers

What an astonishing concept.

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Caught on camera: Fujitsu touts anti-terrorist pulse-taking tech

John Smith 19
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Essex girls beware?

Title says it all.

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John Smith 19
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Re: New Airport Policy

"Attention all passengers:"

I think the term you are looking for is "suspects".

You just have not done anything yet.

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Microsoft issues manual on Brits to Cambridge exports

John Smith 19
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Re: you can keep the 'Have a Nice Day' meaningless words

"Norfolk : Too right. I live on Cambs/Norfolk border, worki in Cambridge (and did a log of growing up in Ely also). Pretty strange some of 'em up there"

That's what happens when daughters can't outrun their fathers. *

*Allegedly.

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John Smith 19
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Re: "Fish and chips, national dish mate."

Actually this might serve as suitable orientation material.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063534/?ref_=sr_1

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John Smith 19
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"The local ciders are worth drinking as well."

Indeed. A light mildly alcoholic form of fermented apple juice which you can drink all day without major effects.

Just popping down to the local A&E.

I think business is about to pick up.

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Britain's passport and ID service seeks facial recog tech suppliers

John Smith 19
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Big Brother

Re: Unfortunately, there are some are some counter-flows in UK government

"China, with blanket CCTV coverage, and minimal civil rights, with detailed ID cards with biometrics, still has trouble actually locating/tracking people. Identification technologies might be good in ideal circumstances but in real, every day life, there is, thankfully, much to be desired - .far too many false 'hits'"

You appear to think this is a defect of the system.

There seem plenty of (high level) UK civil servants who either don't understand this or do understand this and simply don't care. In their view better 99 innocents go in the bag than 1 guilty person escapes.

A view they share with some other historical figures.

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Downed US vuln catalog infected for at least TWO MONTHS

John Smith 19
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Re: I'm confused

"First, one must know to monitor outbound traffic, knowing what to look for."

Or hire someone who does. This sudden discovery seems like the result of a new set of eyes looking at the outgoing logs (for the first time ever?)

"Webservers do tend to send data out, kind of their job and all."

Primarily on (IIRC) port 80.

Not on anything else. so if there was any outbound traffic from other ports that should have raised flags much earlier.

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John Smith 19
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WTF?

I'm confused

Why was this application running on these servers?

And how did no one notice this outbound traffic for two months?

Just because you host your nations vulnerability database does not make you invulnerable.

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National Security Letters ruled unconstitutional

John Smith 19
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That's USA PATRIOT act

Just a reminder

"Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism"

Or perhaps the spy-on-whoever-we-damm-well-please act might be more accurate (but just a little more scary to people concerned with civil liberties).

A neat demonstration that when some a***wipe wraps themselves in the flag and starts talking about "patriotism" you'd better listen very carefully (and check the contents of your wallet) to find out what kind of snake oil they are peddling.

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John Smith 19
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Headmaster

Re: NSL's Hells's Bells?

"When speed traps were first introduced it was illegal to warn people about them (we didn't need anti-terrorist rules then) . So the AA came up with the idea that they would not salute if there a trap ahead - it was ruled that a passive signal was signalling the presence of a speed trap"

You're about 50 years too late.

That dates from the days when the UK speed limit was about 20mph. IE the early 1900s.

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Nelson Mandela's island prison hell to become game

John Smith 19
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Joke

Availability?

Free Nelson Mandelal

With every 10 packet tops.

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New nuke could POWER WORLD UNTIL 2083

John Smith 19
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Re: As a few have said, there's nothing much new here....

"I've been seeing stuff like that for a good few years, John Smith, and as I said, it's more than a touch naive "

I cannot comment on the MIT groups work as I've not found enough details about it. However the report I referenced

http://moltensalt.org/references/static/downloads/pdf/TID-26156.pdf

Was prepared for Union Carbide Nuclear (the contractor who was running Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the early 1970s) by a group of relevant companies.

Ebasco Nuclear core design. Babcock & Wilcox Containment, heat exchangers, steam generators. Continental Oil. Chemical processing. Union Carbide Graphite tech. Cabot Corp Hastelloy N (radiation resistant superalloy grade) Byron Jackson Fused salt pumps.

I would not describe such a group as naive. I would say on the whole they were technically conservative. For example they were doubtful on the ability to seal large pieces of graphite from Xenon intrusion (which your mention of in situ grapite deposition suggests is no longer a problem). I think the SoP in pieces of high grade graphite has also improved considerably since then.

The chemical plant is described starting at page 169 of the document. Building a demo plant in the UK (which I suspect has never been done) sounds like a pretty good end of degree class project for Nuclear or Chemical Engineering.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Looks like an update to me, not new

"I think you're misunderstanding where Wigner energy comes from."

I'm not. Technically it's strain energy. I've had to break pieces of wire by repeatedly flexing them. With stiff coat hanger wire the heat nearly burnt my hands. Hence my comment about "relaxation."

My instinct was that the more perfect the atomic structure the more energy could be stored by the neutron induced distortions, hence my remark about single crystal Silicon.

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John Smith 19
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Re: But where's my "Mr Fusion" ?

It'll be here in about 10-20 years.

Same as it has been since the 50's

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John Smith 19
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Its real enemy.

Existing companies in the nuclear business make their money selling fuel elements , not reactors.

It's like Gillette with disposable head razors or the gun business with bullets, or even perhaps the printer business with cartridges.

A solution which eliminates the consumables is not in their interests.

There is very little detail on the concept or their Special Sauce (C Lewis Page) but I will wish them well.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Looks like an update to me, not new

"And the graphite energy storage issue (Wigner energy) isn't an issue if the reactor works at about about 300C"

So that should not be a problem.

On a side note Wigner energy (and the way it can be released) is a fascinating process. IIRC it allows the storage of fairly large amounts of heat energy in an inert solid that will not release it until raised above a threshold temperature and the heat is a relaxation effect, without any form of combustion.

My impression was the more perfect the solid the more heat you could store/release, making single crystal Silicon the ideal starting candidate.

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John Smith 19
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Re: As a few have said, there's nothing much new here....

Perhaps you might like to look at this

http://moltensalt.org/references/static/downloads/pdf/TID-26156.pdf

It describes in some detail an outline for a 1000MW(e) MSR including the real time chemical plant.

The real time chem plant is estimated at (roughly) a 15 foot high tower 4 feet in diameter (including the protactinium separator). It would therefor be feasible to build a redundant pair on site fairly easily. This is small by the standards of the bulk chemicals industry (or some branches of the fine chemicals industry).

"And don't be fooled by the fact that the fission products are removed from the reactor means that they're not a management challenge....True, it's a lot smaller than the volume in a cnvetional spent fuel pool - but much hotter!" If you mean temperature then it will cool much faster. If you mean radioactive IIRC their half lives are pretty short.

"All of which would be fine - but your working fluid is a highly radioactive molten halide salt at 500-600C. And the plant has to operate at pretty much the same levels of availability as the reactor itsself. designing and operating plant to achieve that is extremely hard - probably harder than desinging the reactor itself."

The design of equipment using molten salt is specialized but not uncommon. Aluminium separation cells use Floride salts and certain large electroplating cells also use molten salts.

"keeping a graphite core in useable condition in the core of an AGR is a sod of a job -" But this system is not gas cooled. I wonder if the high gas speed might have also been an issue? Neat trick with the Methane gas pyrolytic deposition BTW. I've heard of it on bench top rigs but not on a whole pile.

"What this things core graphite will be like, " Because the fuel is a liquid the moderator elements are much simpler (essentially rectangular pillars in the referenced report outline). Testing should be much simpler. There is also the point that not being intricately machined interlocking blocks they could be replaced by remote handling equipment (It may run hot in both senses of the word but an MSR is relatively low pressure) inserted through the ceiling. The massive improvement in computing resources available since the 1970s should make modelling core reactivity a much more accurate process than it was.

As for comparison well all working US reactors (AFAIK) are LWR, either pressurized or boiling water. They are therefor a known quantity.

The real problem is that companies in this business make money selling the nuclear fuel elements and as I have jokingly suggested in the past these reactors reduce the fueling problem to using a shovel.

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John Smith 19
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Re: "Silly name"??

Well with just a bit of work I think WOWSR would have been possible.

<sigh>

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John Smith 19
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Re: connected to a drain plug of salt that has been frozen solid

"Or to put it another way, salt."

This has been a regular part of MSR designs. To remain solid the plug has to be actively cooled.

So a power failure to the support systems (as happened at Fukushima) goes like this.

Power fails.

Plug melts

Reactor contents spread out in holding tank and go sub critical and await collection and remelting. Massive increase in surface area allows heat to be taken away through conduction and (thermal) radiation.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Thorium

"has a chemical processing plant in the fuel loop too although you could probably just adjust the mix and store the reprocessed waste like we do now."

Not so. The loop is to extract certain poisons from the salt which kill the reaction. Before its development you needed 2 layers of different salt mix which had to remain remain separate. The chem plant makes it run with 1 mix. It was a breakthrough in making the molten salt reactor concept viable.

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CCTV hack takes casino for $33 MILLION in poker losses

John Smith 19
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Obvious when you think about it.

Using the casino's own security system to watch the other players cards.

Obvious really.

I'll suggest the reallytricky bit is passing the information back to the player.

NFC anyone? It's (allegedly) been done before.

I'm fairly sure this will come under "mechanical assistance" of the player.

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Reader slain? 'Even the Google apologists on G+ are p****d off'

John Smith 19
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I know a few bars like that.

They don't have a doorman.

The regulars handle their own security.

They don't call the police.

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UK cops, boffins to crack out war plan against cyber-crims

John Smith 19
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Holmes

" and will now wage war on gangs raiding Brits' online accounts."

Perhaps starting with the scum at Monster.com who "improved" the UK job search site into (by all accounts) a grossly insecure PoS.

We might proceed onto the Universal orifice portal site which appears to be a way for UK subjects to get their contacts from HMG without needing an email address, handy for a vast swath of people who don't in fact need an email address (unless they feel the need to twee "Under Victoria Viaduct trying not to freeze to death in cardboard box").

Except it's not.

Icon demonstrates my view. Somewhat behinds the times?

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Who's riddling Windows PCs with gaping holes? It's your crApps

John Smith 19
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I'm amazed "how to create security holes" is not a part of *every* CS course.

Because it seems to be one thing developers across the industry manage quite well.

You've got to wonder, is it them? Is it the pressure to produce something now? Or are the vulns in the libraries their using that are not being fixed?

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Crack Bombe squad dismantles Reg encryption in an hour

John Smith 19
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Joke

And of course the INtelligence services have always supported "gender preference diversity"

Even when it was illegal in British society.

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Euro satellite ‘heard’ Japanese megaquake in SPACE

John Smith 19
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Re: Another Thing Found...

"Another thing found by another of the Earth sensor satellites (sorry, forgot which one) was that the ground temperature rose above normal just before the earthquake occurred.

Rather obvious once you think about it.

So it appears we can, now, indeed predict earthquakes. At least a few minutes before they happen. And if you happen to have a satellite overhead."

For large populations that's not really going to be enough. However if the area can be narrowed then locally mounted IR sensors (or probes stuck in the ground) can trigger an alarm. It's a limited capability but may make a difference long term.

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Micro-drum acts as quantum memory

John Smith 19
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Re: Quantum Geek Talk

<long instructive post>

And this is why Eadon remains off my ignored commentards list.

For now.

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Ten serious sci-fi films for the sentient fan

John Smith 19
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Meh

Re: Sunshine...?

"and it perfectly generated willful suspension of disbelief, "

Sorry but a space the size of a soccer stadium depressurising through a door sized hole won't evacuate in 8 hours. WTF

Like the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves (who sounds like an alien anyway), great imagery but not enough plot.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Wot, no Avatar?

"I couldn't believe it was him when I saw Forbidden Planet. first film I saw with Leslie Nielson in was Airplane, then all the comedy offerings he was in over time, Police Squad, Naked Gun etc. I thought comic roles was all he'd done, shame, Forbidden Planet is cool."

He was also in the original version of the Mel Gibson film "Ransom."

I think he plays the role taken by Gary Sinise.

The first film I saw him in was a TV movie from the 70s as a disgraced US Army office planning a large military payroll robbery. For me all the comedy stuff came later.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Wot, no Avatar?

"Avatar - Dances with Aliens ..."

I think the less kind version was "Dances with smurfs"

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