Also the nuclear industry is small and struggling. Open-source may enable collaboration on a new level that could be really exciting.
Th problem so far is that the nuclear industry is really secretive. We like to think we have the best design, and all other designs are goofy. We like to patent things and protect secrets. The nuclear industry started in secrecy, developed in secrecy, and still has a lot of it.
But it's struggling so much with cheap natural gas and popular intermittent renewables that it's kind of a do or die situation. Open source is a brilliant step.
All that said, reactor projects don't run themselves. Transatomic shut down and open-sourced their design. For it to go anywhere, it needs dozens of well-funded or otherwise highly engaged people managing the project. Nuclear builds are about as complex as projects come and simply open sourcing it won't go far. So the next step here is for the nukes to agree on a particular open source design, fill in a business plan, and start going. In any case it's exciting times.
This is precisely the condition much of the software industry was in, when Stallman came up with Free Software. You could s/nuclear/software/ and the above would have been mostly true. So maybe Open Source is what's needed here.
The fools. The mad fools.
No one care about software. It is bill gate who start the commericalism and the availability of cheap pc that start it all.
What stallman did was to point to the importance of licensing scheme for the cooperation to work. Linus chose the license to avoid unix and minix issue.
It's the same thing which has happened for engineered artifacts such as 3d printers.
A world where the nuclear industry has a common best Practice design for each reactor, overseen by a steering committee of experts ala the Linux kernel, could actually lead to some progress and allow building some coherent and verifiable narratives about safety.
This actually seems like a good opportunity to use patents. Something like "we integrate your patented idea in our open-source design as long as you agree in writing to give anyone interested a licence at reasonable terms as specified below". Of course this has to be done carefully but has the potential to finance research and promote the exchange of ideas (exactly what the patent system was originally conceived for).
Why is that a problem? Do you want to make it easier for countries to figure out how to build nuclear bombs? Generally I'm a big fan of open source and so on, but when it comes to nuclear or dangerous biological agents, I prefer having these things locked away really well.
A reactor design doesn't get you anywhere meaningfully closer to building a bomb.
There is a real reason Israel bombed Syria as soon as they got convincing evidence Assad was building a secret reactor.
But a directory tree full of PDF files is still less than compelling.
It’s something akin to a public domain screenplay.
Okay, we have a script. Now what?
- From 75X electricity per ton of uranium all the way down to 2X
- No longer re-using spent fuel
What happened? And are the competing startups using molten salt doing any better?
Other MSR startups are doing fine. Elysium, Moltex, and Terrapower's MSR actually are fast reactors. Terrestrial Energy and Thorcon aren't making those claims in the first place. Terrestrial Energy especially is making great progress with regulators.
As said above, the chance of a meltdown is slim as sodium is a solid at room temp, therefore you don't have to worry about it ever boiling off. It would have prevented a Fukushima type meltdown, but sodium is extremely reactive and had the sodium touched water, you would have had huge explosions. Their test loop in Argonne had to go through extreme welding checks to prevent possible humidity from getting in. Salt also has better heat transfer properties than water. Interestingly, research in this area really stagnated, and its only recently gotten attention. The US went all in on water due to the nuclear navy.
The open-sourced design uses molten salt, which is the very stable stuff you probably have in a shaker on your kitchen table.
FLiBe is more corrosive to steel but there are advanced alloys that withstand it fairly well.
Another approach is to use a modular design that makes it easy to replace parts before they corrode too much. Thorcon and Terrestrial Energy use small reactor cores that get replaced every few years.
It's also really easy to halt meltdowns - since the fuel and coolant are a big liquid glob, you can have thermal plugs that will melt above a certain temperature and drain the coolant+fuel into tubes small enough that, even when the small tubes are full, the coolant+fuel in the tubes is below critical mass and the reaction stops. It fails safe and is immune to mechanical failure, unlike control rods in current reactor designs that have to be moved in and out.
A pipe leak in the reactor itself doesn't create a lot of gas. It's molten salt at atmospheric pressure. It drips out and solidifies as it cools. An advantage of MSRs is that the troublesome fission products (like iodine, cesium, and strontium) don't leak out as gases, like they do from conventional reactor cores; instead they are chemically bound in the salt.
It’s another issue that feels like the answer involves new materials that have a much longer life in situ, so that the inevitable maintence is infrequent. It’s a very promising technology, but it isn’t mature yet.
Terrestrial Energy and Thorcon use small sealed reactor cores that get replaced every few years.
Moltex uses a pool design, where everything is immersed from above in a pool of coolant salt, and can be pulled out and replaced as necessary. The actual fuel is isolated in vertical rods.
At least three companies use chloride salts. According to a presenter from Elysium, in the absence of water the chloride salt is less corrosive to stainless steel than water is.
I certainly agree that the technology isn't mature, since we don't have any production reactors yet. But we're making good progress, especially in Canada where regulation of new nuclear technology is more rational than in the U.S.
On the other hand, working with a big pool of radioactive liquid that will literally explode and catch fire if it comes in contact with water and still catches fire if it comes in contact with air may also be ... challenging.
The lack of any sort of driver for chemical explosions is one of the advantages of molten salt reactors over light water reactors, in which the water can split into oxygen and hydrogen and cause explosions (as we saw at Fukushima).
Do you have any examples of liquid-fueled reactors using NaK?
Some MSR companies are working on fast reactors using chloride salts, including Moltex, Elysium, and Terrapower (in a project separate from their better-known sodium-cooled fast reactor).
High temperature is a property of all MSRs I know of and does have some advantages, including better thermodynamic efficiency and usefulness for process heat.
In 2018 the company announced that it would be winding down and open source its intellectual property. The company discovered that in 2016 it had made errors in its early analysis and realised that the design couldn't consume nuclear waste. 
There could be a movement to give patents a much better name and work as intended for the public good, unlikely as it sounds.
Patents, on the contrary, specifically deprive the general public of rights they otherwise enjoy, granting a monopoly on them to the "inventor" (or rather the assignee), in exchange, as you note, for publication. They do, as you say, have one thing in common with open source, but in their principal characteristics, they are precisely the opposite of open source, both in theory and in practice.
> Caldera Announces Open Source for DOS.
> Individuals can use OpenDOS source for personal use at no cost.
> Individuals and organizations desiring to commercially redistribute
> Caldera OpenDOS must acquire a license with an associated small fee.
 Usage w/ the quoted text http://www.xent.com/FoRK-archive/fall96/0269.html
 Source for it being the earliest known use https://hyperlogos.org/article/Who-Invented-Term-Open-Source
 Strictly speaking I mean earliest known use related to software, the term open source goes way back to at least 1685 https://books.google.ca/books?id=eY5mAAAAcAAJ&printsec=front...
So, no, I don't agree that it was "a term that was already in use". When Eric circulated the mail to get support from free-software leaders to change the name from "free software" to "open source", I read it, I read the generally positive responses, and I read Stallman's furious response, which I believe was the next day. I don't recall anyone claiming the term was "already in use". And I was an administrator of FoRK a few years after that message was posted; my first post was probably http://www.xent.com/FoRK-archive/nov98/0351.html. So I'm not just trying to reconstruct the history based on fragmentary documents. I also have my own memories.
We also have this graph, which shows pretty conclusively that the term appeared suddenly in 1998 after Chris Peterson invented it: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=open+source+so...
You can see from https://www.google.com/search?q=%22open%20source%20software%... that the supposed uses of the term around 1980 that appear in the graph are entirely due to documents Google has misdated.
Patents and "open source" (whatever your definition) share some goals. Specifically, to get design details published in a way accessible to the public. Both patents and OSI Open Source restrict freedoms, but in different ways.
I strongly disagree with this. Open source is a commonly used term; if there is disagreement in it's meaning then that issue has to be resolved first, otherwise what are you even discussing?
If you wish to take your attitude IMO you either have to first demonstrate that your definition of "Open Source" is either the one that should be used, or avoid using the term entirely and talk on neutral terms.
You are attempting to claim that it's possible to have a neutral position on "open source" when your own position is in fact highly opinionated. Commenters are absolutely right to question whether your definition is appropriate or not.
>Allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space; not closed or blocked.
>exposed to the air or to view; not covered. "an open fire burned in the grate"
>having no enclosing or confining barrier : accessible on all or nearly all sides
>not restricted to a particular group or category of participants
"open source" taken literally only means that the source code is available to view. The adjective open doesn't seem to lend itself to anything more than that.
Getting back to the original point I was trying to make instead of unproductive defining, an original purpose of patents was to OPEN design specifications for inventions to the public instead of everything being kept as closely protected corporate secrets.
> "open source" taken literally only means that the source code is available to view
Why is the literal meaning relevant? Language doesn't work that way. Do shitstorms have to refer to literal fecal weather patterns?
Hackernews is frequented by professional software engineers and "Open Source" is a commonly used term in that industry. Using the dictionary definition of the words composing that terms is irrelevant. What is relevant is how the term is commonly employed in industry. Your approach only makes sense if we are talking about some sort of newly coined phrase. Open Source software has existed in industry for decades and has an understood meaning.
Generally speaking, a professional software engineer will refer to something as Open Source if the source code can be both read and reused in some context. If you believe that in the tech industry it is commonly used by professionals in a different way I'd like to hear your evidence.
Aside from the issue of passing off whatever sad scam you're wanting to pass off as "open source" in order to take advantage of the goodwill earned by genuine open source, it is entirely and transparently false to claim that "OSI Open Source restrict[s] freedoms." Copyright, patent, and trade secret laws restrict freedoms; open source just gives some of them back.
I can't say this is 100% true.
OSI licenses divide into two camps, usually called "permissive" and "copyleft". Even permissive licenses usually restrict the freedom to publish the source without the author's name, which is, while trivial, a restriction nonetheless.
But copyleft licenses restrict the ability to modify the source without publishing your modifications. This is indeed a significant restriction of freedom, and why the BSD/MIT/etc camp are called "permissive", because copyleft is less permissive.
I prefer the permissive licenses for this very reason, although I'm not opposed to using or contributing to GPL-licensed code.
Now, you may say that the freedom hereby restricted is justly restricted, as we justly restrict the freedom to, say, put chalk in milk. I find it more consistent to reject the restrictions of copyright entirely rather than exploit them to force sharing; after all, the only way to use the clause in GPL requiring source sharing is to pursue satisfaction through the court system.
One thing on which I'm sure we can agree: both of these camps are producing open source software, and 'source available' is an entirely separate state of affairs which cannot be included.
Everything following the word "provided" in GPLv3 limits user freedoms.
Maybe you should care less about being "right" and more about understanding your interlocutors. In this instance you haven't achieved either goal.