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Power Hardware

Bill Gates To Develop a Revolutionary Nuclear Reactor With Korea 413

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft founder Bill Gates has pledged to develop with Korea a revolutionary nuclear reactor that will leave far less radioactive waste than existing ones. Gates invested US$35 million in a nuclear-power venture company TerraPower in 2010. TerraPower is led by John Gilleland. It was formed from an effort initiated in 2007 by Nathan Myhrvold's company, Intellectual Ventures. The company includes expert staff and individual consultants who have worked for some of the most prestigious nuclear laboratories and engineering companies in the world." You may remember that Gates worked with China to build a reactor late last year.
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Bill Gates To Develop a Revolutionary Nuclear Reactor With Korea

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  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:34AM (#41053821)
    I assume US regulation is far too extreme to pursue such ventures. Gates can get more bang for his buck in a country where it doesn't take 20 years just to get approval to move forward.
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:34AM (#41053829)
    I really appreciate that someone is working on advancing nuclear energy. Oil and gas are fine for now, but eventually we will need reliable non-oil/gas based energy solution. I believe nuclear, once sufficiently mature, could be that alternative.
  • by Yosho ( 135835 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:35AM (#41053837)

    I mean, we can probably guess which Korea they're referring to here, but last time I checked, they hadn't been reunified yet. I really hope that Bill Gates isn't building a nuclear reactor for North Korea.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:36AM (#41053863)
    A lot of people would just sit on their fortunes (Warren Buffet) or piss it away on political bullshit (Koch brothers). I know a lot of the crowd here is anti-Microsoft, but it's nice to see Bill Gates doing something with his hoard and something halfway-geeky to boot!
  • develop? Unlikely. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:37AM (#41053873)

    We know how this guy operates. He'll buy something already developed, and slap his name on it.

  • Re:Now I'm scared (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:41AM (#41053915)

    Honestly, when was the last time you got a blue screen of death? Honestly?

    I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy - well no, come to think of it, I don't hate them anymore, they're like the nasty grandmother who's gotten old and invalid and you feel vaguely sorry for now - but quite frankly they've gotten good at making stable operating systems.

    Old BSOD statements are getting really old and stale now...

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:45AM (#41053977)
    Nuclear power is not only necessary, it is unavoidable, although it may be possible to avoid it in some places, for some time.
  • Re:My God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:45AM (#41053979)

    Microsoft is working together with the North Koreans to kill us all! Give all my moneys to DHS and TSA!

    South Korea.

    South - good.
    North - US says they I bad, I really don't know for sure though.

  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @09:49AM (#41054037)

    Show me a single Solar Salt Thermal plant running in production. Or even one that is almost in production, running anywhere near the power capacities of even these 'little' nuclear power plants. (let alone the Gigawatts of some of the big boys)

    BTW, your "only 400 billion" is a bit crazy.. The US has around 100 Reactors producing about 1/3 of our nations power. At an average replacement cost of about $2billion (each) last I heard. So for that same money, you could move 2/3 of the US to nuclear.. and the land mass used to generate it would be significantly smaller.

    There is no single solution, and I wish people would stop claiming there is.. Moving all of any country to any single power source is plain foolishness.. its going to take a mix of wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, wave power, etc to properly diversify and meet the power needs.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:10AM (#41054271)
    What would China look like today if they had the Clean Air and Water Act? They would still be a land composed of 99% rural peasants starving and scraping away at the land. You can't support environmental regulation until you have an industrial base. Nevermind the amount of regulation on the nuclear industry, which is so severe that nothing can be done at all, except for concentration of more and more nuclear waste on site until something goes *pop* and everybody dies. Thanks regulation!
  • Re:My God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aqualung812 ( 959532 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:15AM (#41054327)

    When your country name has "democratic" in it, you can usually count on that not actually being the case:

    -Democratic Republic of the Congo (non-functioning government)
    -Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Communist)
    -People's Democratic Republic of Laos (Communist)

  • Re:My God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:43AM (#41054669)

    Once you get into total war, there is no moral high ground. Just be glad your side won and move on.

  • Re:My God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Teun ( 17872 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:47AM (#41054705) Homepage
    But is a general rule good enough when the subject includes a nuclear reactor AND Bill Gates?
  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:50AM (#41054737) Journal
    South Korea is officially at war with a country that owns nuclear weapons. There are racks of gas masks in subways in Seoul in case of surprise chemical attack and Kim's artillery pieces are at 10 km of its center (well within range). I think that the remote possibility of a slight nuclear pollution is less of a concern for them, yes. When you are used to live with shells pointed at one minute from your head, people who say that nuclear reactors are an intolerable risk seem a little over-the -top.
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:53AM (#41054773) Journal
    MS sniping? The involvement of Intellectual Ventures, a scumbag patent troll, is far more interesting. IV distinguish themselves by not just buying up patent portfolios, but also assembling think tanks to come up with the next obvious human activity "but on the internet" or "but with 1 click" to lay claim to. In this case however, it seems they are funding some actual, practical research.

    Sniping aside, I'd be more interested in someone making a bid to develop a practical Thorium based MSR. This SFR reactor is supposedly an advanced gen IV design. How safe are these things considered to be?
  • Re:My God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by secondhand_Buddah ( 906643 ) <secondhand.buddah @ g m> on Monday August 20, 2012 @11:03AM (#41054881) Homepage Journal
    Democracy is a political system. Communism is a financial system
  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @11:23AM (#41055135)

    Yes it does use hydro. But try to site a new dam for a hydroelectric power plant.

    I find it hypocritical for the environmental movement to cite hydro-electric as an example of successful renewable energy in support of non hydro renewables when they've historically fought any new dams tooth and nail.

  • Re:My God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lister king of smeg ( 2481612 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @01:13PM (#41056541)

    No genocide is when you try to systematically kill of a whole racial ethnic, or religious/political group. What happened in WWII against the people of japan was not genocide. We were at war and during war some civilians will died. that is the nature, unfortunately, of war. The US never tried to kill japans entire populous. We fought them until they surrendered. (If we had not the would have gone right back on the offensive.) Then we rebuilt their country. Had we been engaging in genocide we would not have stopped killing them. If you want to know what genocide is look at the other side of the war what happened in the Philippians and Manchuria. Or look over in Europe where the Germans most definitely pursued genocide killing any and all jews, roma, poles, gays, masons, J.W.'s, soviets, and serbs.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Monday August 20, 2012 @01:24PM (#41056729) Homepage Journal

    The point about Japan is that people were saying we would go back to the stone age without nuclear, but that didn't happen. In fact there has been a bit of a boost due to people buying new energy efficient appliances to help reduce power consumption. Remember that threat of rolling blackouts this summer? It was removed because people met the challenges, all without reverting to an agrarian society or even reducing their quality of life in any measurable way.

    I remember that even months after most Japanese reactors were offline there was a story on /. about more European countries deciding to go nuclear free. Some comment about them going back to the stone age was modded +5 informative. Well, that guy and everyone who modded him up has been proven wrong. I'm not saying it hasn't had an affect on Japan, a big affect, but it wasn't the cataclysmic disaster many predicted.

    Now, given a decade or two to slowly reduce dependency and move to non-nuclear sources like other countries are I'd argue that not only will there be little or no pain, there will be huge gains as well. Japan in particular is blessed with more than enough renewable energy for the entire country, it just needs to be tapped and the nuclear industry is very powerful.

  • Actual communism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coyote_oww ( 749758 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @01:31PM (#41056821)

    There are working communes around in North America. The ones I know of are small (1000 or so), and religiously conservative, high trust groups. Transparency is high, leadership is a calling (and more work than non-leadership, with few/no perks).

    Personally, I think the size is a key issue, because the small size (and transparency) enable trust. Lack of trust is the big fail in communism. If your going to all share alike, you have to have some confidence that everyone else is contributing their best efforts, or your going to slack off yourself. Someone sees you slacking, and slacks (a little more?) themselves - its a downward spiral. The only way to combat the race to the bottom is to reform or boot the slackers. The key piece here is that slackers can't hide.

  • by jpmorgan ( 517966 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @05:07PM (#41059677) Homepage

    That's how communism fails in small groups, but do you really think the Soviet Union's economy collapsed because they were all lazy?

    No, the real reason why communism fails in large scale is because it doesn't have a good decision making mechanism. A successful economy is an efficient economy: efficiency frees up resources to be used for other purposes. The capitalist system is one in which major decisions are made on a financial and monetary basis, i.e., the value and costs of any action can be quantified.

    In any sort of command economy, there are political considerations; there are many examples of the Soviet Union making desperately bad economic decisions for political reasons. But there is a greater problem: under communism, optimal decision making is an intractable problem. The economic decision problem grows exponentially with population size.

    But what about capitalism? Under capitalism the decision about whether, for example, to shut down a factory for upgrades and maintenance is economic, not political. But more importantly, financial markets operate as a clever information summarization mechanism which reduce the decision problem from exponential to polynomial.

    No, communism doesn't fail because people are lazy. Communism fails because running an advanced society is - like most human endeavours - a lot harder than it looks. The devil is in the details, and oh boy are there a lot of details when you're trying to satisfy the needs of a hundred million people. A small fact that most political philosphers overlook.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers