[extropy-chat] Pre-singularity economics (was: MARS: Because it is hard)

Dan Clemmensen dgc at cox.net
Fri Apr 16 12:43:13 UTC 2004

Robert J. Bradbury wrote:

>On Thu, 15 Apr 2004, Dan Clemmensen wrote:
>>I don't think a new class of aircraft carrier, nuclear submarine, tank,
>>or fighter plane is going to help against Ossama Bin Laden.  These
>>systems require 10 or more years to develop.
>While the design might take 10 or more years this is a question of
>how many people you have doing the designs.  As far as the building
>goes, you may want to take a peek at:
>  Nanoassembly of an Aircraft Carrier
>  http://www.aeiveos.com/~bradbury/nanotech/Nanoassembly.html
>Given the right technology assembly is not a significant problem...
Two issues here. My original post specified that design might continue
but procurement and deployment are stupid.  The second issue is that
The technology that can build an aircraft carrier using nanotech also
renders an aircraft carrier obsolete.

>>Payback in 15 year or less? No. Put the money into computer and
>>nanotech. Then use nanotech to do fusion correctly. (And yes, nanotech
>>is very, very relevant to fusion.)
>Ok, my curiosity is raised.  Why do you think this is so?
>(There is a discussion in Nanosystems about radiation and Robert
>Freitas and I just had an email exchange about the hazards of
>radiation to nanotech.)  So thoughts on the topic are welcome.
Nanotech is the design of a system with atomic-scale precision. It is not
restricted to designing small devices: witness your aircraft carrier.
Nanotech permits us to build extremely precise beam colliders with
which we can collide protons or deuterons, or alpha particles with
near-perfect efficiency. The portions of such a device that are built
to atomic precision (and which are therefore radiation-sensitive) need
not be all that close to the radiation-emitting target area. The target
area can be surrounded by passive bulk radiation absorbers that
convert the radiation into thermal energy. These absorbers can be
continually replaced and remanufactured using nanotech or using
bulk machinery that is itself manufactured and remanufactured using
nanotech. The key point that makes this all energy-positive is the
extreme precision (and therefore high conversion efficiency) of the
beam steering.  I speculate that such a device might be 3m long
and weigh about 50kg, with output adjustable up to 50kw thermal.
With a (nanotech-built) turbine/generator system, this can deliver
heat, mechanical power, and electricity. With a (nanotech-built)
heat-driven cooler, it can provide refrigeration and cooling. In most
homes, most electricity goes to heating and cooling.

>>Oil shale, oil sands, tidal, large-scale solar, beamed power, new
>>nuclear designs. None of these has a 15-year payback. replicating or
>>refining an existing design may or may not.
>Dan, you may want to do some more study on this regarding nuclear
>designs.  There are a lot of them out there and some have actually
>been explored as prototypes.  Getting them through the government
>regulation bureaucracy I agree is a nightmare but that does not
>mean that we don't have better solutions than what we are now
>using.  Also tidal may have some hope.  I think I read something
>recently about the Scots planning on constructing a large system
>to harvest this energy.
>The French seem to have shown that if you focus on nuclear energy
>that you can make it work.
I went to Oak Ridge High School. My friend's parents were all nuclear 
I am very familiar with the tradeoffs. Nuclear fission is the most 
friendly and cost-effective practical energy source. Nuclear waste disposal
imposes a trivial environmental burden relative to disposal of the waste 
fossil fuels. However, Nuclear fission has a PR problem that we will not 
be able
to solve in time to get payback.

Sadly, the least disruptive alternative is to simply build more coal 
plants and
clean up the mess later.

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