Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Geek humor, Google, and nukes

TechCrunch speculates on visions of mass distraction

Nuclear futuristic visionNo friends, Google is not building a nuclear reactor. TechCrunch, a technology blog with enormous readership, has an April Fools joke on its site today.

In it the blog offers readers a scenario where Google plans to acquire a secret uranium enrichment technology to fuel “small, mobile, and highly efficient nuclear reactors.”

The intent is to portray the mandarins in Mountainview as being sufficiently competitive relative to Bill Gates and his work on a new nuclear reactor that they are planning a similar technology development push.

The language of the blog post is suitably over-the-top, and so much so, that even an official of our acquaintance at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission pronounced it to be a hoax. Regardless, it is good, green fun. Enjoy.

Terrapower says no deal with Toshiba

deal_or_no_dealDespite a raft of trade press and mainstream media reports that Toshiba was shopping a deal with Terrapower, the nuclear energy R&D outfit funded by Bill Gates’ foundation, the firm now denies it.

In a press release, Terrapower says it has not entered into agreements with any companies to build or operate the Traveling Wave Reactor.

Nathan Myhrvold, founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures explained, “The TWR is in the research and development phase. These information-gathering meetings are part of our efforts to learn from existing technologies and the best engineering practices worldwide,” he said.

It looks like news about the company’s “information-gathering meetings” got too much spin. In my growing up days, we used to call that “gyroscopic instability caused by a low center of gravity.”

This blog questioned the basis for such a deal in a post earlier this week. It was pointed out there are significant differences between the design concept for the Traveling Wave Reactor and Toshiba’s sodium cooled design.

The problem with the denial from Intellectual Ventures is that the story made the Financial Times in London. The newspaper reported Bill Gates personally visited Toshiba’s R&D facilities in Yokohama, Japan, last November to learn about their work on small reactors.

For its part, Toshiba told the FT that the discussions were preliminary and have so far involved only an exchange of information.

# # #

1 comment:

SteveK9 said...

Nathan Myhrvold's projects at Microsoft never left the R&D phase. The TWR may have the same fate.