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The Military Technology

Antineutrino Detection Is About To Change the Game In Nuclear Verification (thebulletin.org) 139

Lasrick writes: There may be a new option for the detection of illicit nuclear weapons programs worldwide: Antineutrino detection is an existing technology that, if political and diplomatic hurdles are overcome, could be put in place before the 10-year ban on Iranian enrichment R&D is lifted. Difficult to evade, antineutrino detection technology could allow the international community to reliably monitor a country's nuclear activities in real-time, potentially without setting foot in the country. Similar in cost and technological scale to the space-borne reconnaissance methods governments use for detection today, antineutrino detection could not only help identify undeclared nuclear reactors, but could monitor nuclear facilities and detonations throughout the Middle East and beyond.
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Antineutrino Detection Is About To Change the Game In Nuclear Verification

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  • So in essence, this new method would allow the existing superpowers to continue to keep their boots on the throats of developing countries who may want to pursue nuclear ambitions.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @02:21PM (#50719417)

      And how is that a bad thing?

      • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @05:16PM (#50720939) Journal
        Actually what the article talks about are short range detectors which only have a range of a few hundred kilometres. A better solution would be a huge, scalable detector, perhaps an extension of the south polar IceCube experiment to really low, MeV energies, which could have global reach. Not only would the facility be capable of detecting any nuclear reactor or weapon test anywhere on the planet but you could do some really amazing astro-particle physics with it. We expect to get the neutrino mass hierarchy from just dropping the energy threshold to ~1GeV with PINGU, with lower thresholds you might even be able to consider using neutrinos to do a sort of CT-scan of the planet (possible because while neutrinos rarely interact with matter, matter does affect how they oscillate - something called the MSW effect).

        Ultimately all such a facility does is prevent anyone from operating any nuclear reactor in secret. I would argue that this is not a bad thing at all. Countries can still develop and use nuclear power but they cannot do so without everyone knowing about it. It would also provide a completely impossible to defeat (short of sabotaging the detector) means of enforcing the nuclear test ban treaty.
        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          How would a single detector with global detection range let someone know that, say, Iran was running a secret nuclear reactor in some particular location it hadn't declared?

          • 3+ detectors would allow triangulation to identify locations?

            • You don't need triangulation. The direction of the neutrino determines the point on the Earth's surface it comes from. The possible range of heights is severely restricted and a negligible effect when trying to determine a country. However you might even be able to determine the distance the neutrino travelled if you measure the neutrino energies and then use oscillations.
          • How would a single detector with global detection range let someone know that, say, Iran was running a secret nuclear reactor in some particular location it hadn't declared?

            Non-chemical based neutrino detectors provide information about the direction of the neutrino which is detected. While this directionality is not perfect the more statistics you have the better the direction of the source can be determined. If you know the direction of the source then you know the country it is located in since all artificial sources are located, to a good approximation, on the Earth's surface. You might even be able to calculate the distance to the source if you know its energy spectrum b

    • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @02:45PM (#50719607)

      It sounds like you think that might be a bad thing....

      Only TWO weapons of this type have been used in war, by ONE country in ONE war which was over 70 years ago. We all know the affect this had, the loss of life it caused and the moral implications of having used the weapons. Why is it a bad thing to *limit* the number of countries which have the ability to cause such destruction? Especially in the case where the major countries that *have* such weapons have shown great restraint for nearly as long as the weapons have existed.

      Like it or not, there ARE crazies out there that wouldn't use the same logic in their moral and ethical views, but would gladly use such weapons to their advantage. It only makes sense to go to great pains to prohibit proliferation of such weapons for the good of all. It's not about keeping the lessor nations under control, but protecting the planet from those who don't hold the same value of life that prevents such weapons from being used now.

      • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @02:56PM (#50719707) Homepage Journal

        Why is it a bad thing to *limit* the number of countries which have the ability to cause such destruction? Especially in the case where the major countries that *have* such weapons have shown great restraint for nearly as long as the weapons have existed.

        When a country has nuclear weapons, the US stops meddling in its internal affairs and begins to treat it as an equal.

        • by rangek ( 16645 )

          When a country has nuclear weapons, the US stops meddling in its internal affairs and begins to treat it as an equal.

          Pakistan begs to differ.

          • When a country has nuclear weapons, the US stops meddling in its internal affairs and begins to treat it as an equal.

            Pakistan begs to differ.

            Well, aid to Pakistan has grown tremendously [cgdev.org] since acquiring nuclear weapons. It is not a strict cause-and-effect thing (initially aid dropped after its tests), but because it has nuclear weapons Pakistan cannot be allowed to become a "failed state". Before they went nuclear this was not so true. So, yes, nukes get Pakistan special treatment.

            • It's arguable that this is the reason NK is desperate to develop nukes.

              Iran has more than enough enriched uranium to build a few dozen weapons. It's quite clear they have no intention of doing so - and that's a MOSSAD assessment, not mine.

        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          Some countries do not deserve to be treated as equal, especially those with small populations whose leaders only want to destabilize the rest of the world at whatever cost (including the cost of his country's own citizens).

        • by ooshna ( 1654125 )

          Yeah I'm sure the world will be a safer place when NK gets their hands on real nukes.

          • Yeah I'm sure the world will be a safer place when NK gets their hands on real nukes.

            And Iran would still have it's democratically elected leader instead of enduring the Shah for 38 years.

            I'm not sure which is worse. You only have 1 example (NK) to show, but the US has toppled more than one leader and supported more than one brutal regime.

            It's a sort of "risk/reward" equation. How does one balance years of tyranny under a brutal regime against the bad actors?

            Also, NK might already have one, or likely they are on the verge of having one, which 'kinda makes your argument irrelevant.

            • by schnell ( 163007 )

              I'm not sure which is worse. You only have 1 example (NK) to show, but the US has toppled more than one leader and supported more than one brutal regime.

              So what? The Russians have toppled more than one leader and supported more than one brutal regime as well. So have the Brits, the French, the Saudis, the Chinese, the Italians, the Japanese, the Venezuelans, the Pakistanis, and the... well, I pretty much dare you to find a country that had any significant degree of wealth or power and didn't exercise it in promoting or dethroning dubiously moral leaders in other countries. Oh, shut up Switzerland, nobody cares about you.

              It's a sort of "risk/reward" equation. How does one balance years of tyranny under a brutal regime against the bad actors?

              If you're positing that every ten-cen

            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              by cold fjord ( 826450 )

              And Iran would still have it's democratically elected leader instead of enduring the Shah for 38 years.

              You're mistaken. Iran had no democracy when the Shah was restored to power. The Prime Minister had dissolved parliament, faked an election, and was ruling by decree. The Prime Minister also refused the traditional check on the power of a PM in a constitutional monarchy, the right of the monarch to dismiss the Prime Minister. No, you are quite mistaken. Iran's government was overthrown before the counter-coup that restore the Shah to power, and he reconstituted the government.

              The Mullahs have been far m

              • "Iran's government was overthrown before the counter-coup that restore the Shah to power"

                Look a little further behind the curtain and you'll see that both events were orchestrated by foreign powers.

                I'm not saying the mullahs or the shah are/were nice people, but the background is _always_ more complicated than it might appear at first glance.

                The current situation (until very recently) is that since the end of the cold war, spittle-flecked invective from Iran was useful for the USA govt to use as a bogeyman

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Nukes might have all the flash but make no mistake biological weapons are still by far the most dangerous and one warhead can have impact across the whole globe, not just at the point of impact. This detector just traces reactors and not existing weapons grade material nor it's transport from one location to another. So nothing about stealth cruise missiles tipped with nuclear weapons or cargo ships with them hidden on board and wandering suit case warheads and those three represent the greatest threat.

            T

        • Why is it a bad thing to *limit* the number of countries which have the ability to cause such destruction? Especially in the case where the major countries that *have* such weapons have shown great restraint for nearly as long as the weapons have existed.

          When a country has nuclear weapons, the US stops meddling in its internal affairs and begins to treat it as an equal.

          There are counterexamples both directions.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by cold fjord ( 826450 )

          When a country has nuclear weapons, the US stops meddling in its internal affairs and begins to treat it as an equal.

          So your thinking is that the USSR/Russia, UK, US, and China didn't/don't meddle with each other?

          You think India, Pakistan, and China (with a little help from North Korea) will be an "island of stability" and peace, and a lack of meddling? Has North Korea grown more peaceful since obtaining nuclear weapons? (Maybe they'll demonstrate their commitment to peace the next time they launch missiles OVER Japan.)

          You want to be "equal" with North Korea, a country that has starved millions of its people that it cou

          • "A country that makes no secret about its genocidal desires against Israel"

            They also say "death to america" when they mean "american foreign policy" - a bit like Krushev's "We will bury you" speech was actually "invaders come and invaders go, we buried their dead when they left and we will bury yours when you leave too"

            Israel is the greatest destabilising influence in the middle east and it's a nation that was ESTABLISHED via terrorism. Look up the illustrious history of Begin and Meyer (amongst others) som

        • Why is it a bad thing to *limit* the number of countries which have the ability to cause such destruction? Especially in the case where the major countries that *have* such weapons have shown great restraint for nearly as long as the weapons have existed.

          When a country has nuclear weapons, the US stops meddling in its internal affairs and begins to treat it as an equal.

          Until some dictator ruler decides that he can strike first and win.

      • Only TWO weapons of this type have been used in war, by ONE country in ONE war which was over 70 years ago. We all know the affect this had, the loss of life it caused and the moral implications of having used the weapons. Why is it a bad thing to *limit* the number of countries which have the ability to cause such destruction? Especially in the case where the major countries that *have* such weapons have shown great restraint for nearly as long as the weapons have existed. Like it or not, there ARE crazie

        • That is some Game of Thrones level of hypocrisy right there.

          O'vey.... You cannot seriously be comparing world history with a made for TV weekly drama. You know those things you see on TV are mostly fiction right?

          I'm not arguing the decision to drop the two bombs on Japan here, I'm saying that SINCE those events the world's holders of nuclear weapons have shown much restraint by not doing it again. We've come close, but the moral and ethical issues prevented the use of nuclear weapons so far, largely because despite our differences, we share a value for human life

        • That is some Game of Thrones level of hypocrisy right there.

          You will be far better informed, and probably wiser, if you watch these instead of or in addition to GoT. This is where most of Europe was, and where the world was heading. It can still head in that direction, and that is far, far, far more linkely than the imaginary peace and love of a Star Trek world.

          The Soviet Story [youtube.com]
          A Portrait of Stalin: Secret Police [youtube.com]

          The Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, Cambodia, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Viet Nam, much of Africa and other places were in the grip

    • You say that as if it's a bad thing. We can't put the nuclear genie back in the bottle but we certainly shouldn't be spreading the nuclear bomb technology everywhere. I understand it's hypocritical but it's not like the U.S. relies upon the nuclear bomb to threaten countries such as Iran or China; our military already gets the job done.

    • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @02:51PM (#50719657) Homepage
      1) Right now the US is the only real SuperPower - No other country, including China and Russia has the navy or airforce to stand up to the US in a full on war, except for nuclear power. Correction 1. Change the word "Superpowers" to "nuclear powers".

      2) Keeping other countries from developing nuclear power is not a 'boot on the throat' A boot to the throat is both a threat to continued existence (breathing) and economic growth. Correction #2. change "boot to throat" to handcuffing their military ambitions.

      3) The nuclear countries are not united, as can be seen by Russia's attack of US funded Syrians, and by China's continued support of North Korea. The idea that "they" do anything together is ignorant to say the least. The few people that US, Russia and China agree to threaten are extremely bad actors that no sane person would trust.

      4) How much did you get paid to spread this disinformation? Or are you simply free-lancing for the terrorists?

      • Looking at things from a purely selfish standpoint as an American I absolutely support a policy of denying additional foreign powers entry into the nuclear arms club while actively maintaining our own stock pile of weapons and ability to strike.

        In fact nukes are pretty much the only weapons system I am completely okay with the Federal government having all to itself as using even the small ones in sort of domestic conflict either between Feds and the States or government in the more general sense against th

        • It means if we ever did see another Great War style conflict no nation, even the other large nuclear powers, can threaten our home land.

          That was actually an important motivation of many of the scientists who promoted nuclear research in the 1920s and 1930s - they'd just witnessed a devastating war of attrition, and thought that nuclear weapons would not only make this kind of war obsolete, they'd make the entire concept of war between nuclear-armed nations unthinkable. It's important to remember that Hiros

      • "China's continued support of North Korea"

        China is the first port of call for several tens of millions of NK refugees should the NK government collapse. They don't have the infgrastructure to cope with that and they know it.

        Chinese support of NK is mostly grudging and they've cut off oil/electricity feeds for months at a time to make a point to KJI - unfortunately the result was that the leadership simply hunkered down with what they could lay their hands on and let the general populace starve, so the chine

    • Hah, can't fool me, Gaddafi.

      To most, allowing any developing country to pursue nuclear ambitions is the "absurd" (as the "just anyone, or just any country") of the reduction of a less nutty argument.
    • So in essence, this new method would allow the existing superpowers to continue to keep their boots on the throats of developing countries who may want to pursue nuclear ambitions.

      I am fine with that. There are programs for peaceful nuclear power, and no need for domestic purification capability.

      I am more than fine, I am completely on board disallowing any non-free country from doing this, your raging nationalism, a tool of dictators, included.

    • Except nuclear power isn't all that great compared to other technologies any longer. Nuclear power has always been quite expensive, but beneficial in that it's much safer and cleaner than fossil fuel alternatives. But now we have even better alternatives, primarily wind and solar power. There just isn't much good reason to pursue nuclear fission as a power source any longer.

      Now, if by "nuclear ambitions" you mean weapons, well, nobody should have nuclear weapons. We should be pressuring nations to destr

      • by jmr0ec ( 991136 )

        Except nuclear power isn't all that great compared to other technologies any longer. Nuclear power has always been quite expensive, but beneficial in that it's much safer and cleaner than fossil fuel alternatives. But now we have even better alternatives, primarily wind and solar power. There just isn't much good reason to pursue nuclear fission as a power source any longer.

        Now, if by "nuclear ambitions" you mean weapons, well, nobody should have nuclear weapons. We should be pressuring nations to destroy their nuclear arsenals, not advocating that more nations build them.

        The sun does not always shine, nor does the wind always blow.

        And do you have any idea how much energy and toxic materials it takes to make your 'clean' solar panels? Cadmium is not a fun metal to manufacture stuff from, nor is Arsenic, and both are used in semiconductor solar cells. As for the amount of energy needed to make all those cells, on average, the energy returned on energy invested (EROEI), which is the ratio of the amount of energy generated vs the amount of energy needed to manufacture and ma

        • Current average cost of nuclear power is about 0.76 cents per kWh. For solar, it's about 0.17 cents per kWh (naturally this varies based upon solar conditions, but most developing nations have very good solar conditions). The cost of solar is still dropping. Yes, solar has some other added costs, but it's got quite a lot of headroom compared to nuclear.
          • by jmr0ec ( 991136 )

            Current average cost of nuclear power is about 0.76 cents per kWh. For solar, it's about 0.17 cents per kWh (naturally this varies based upon solar conditions, but most developing nations have very good solar conditions). The cost of solar is still dropping. Yes, solar has some other added costs, but it's got quite a lot of headroom compared to nuclear.

            I question your figure on cost per kWh of nuclear power, according to a recent DoE paper, the average cost of nuclear power generation in the US in 2012 was $.03/kWh .

            But having said that you kind of missed the point. Everyone says that solar is so clean because it does not pollute at the point of generation, but you really have to look at all of the costs involved, not just the money, and the fact is that manufacture of solar cells is a very dirty and energy intensive procedure. Add the fact that solar

            • Realistically, it will be a combination of renewables. Solar and wind will be the biggest components, but there are other options as well.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well, not really. Currently there are two ways to stop a country from developing nuclear weapons: prevent it from obtaining the necessary uranium, or prevent it from obtaining the equipment it needs to process that uranium. Together these measures are highly effective at preventing the vast majority of countries from obtaining the stockpiles of enriched uranium they need to build a crude but effective gun type warhead.

      The exception is when you have a country like Iran that (a) can dig uranium out of its o

    • Just how will antineutrino detection differentiate between the 5% pure uranium used in electricity generation and the 80% pure which is weapons grade also wont the neutrino club (People who successfully build a Tesla fusion reactor in their basement/kitchen) confuse the shuddering fuck out of this.
      • People who successfully build a Tesla fusion reactor in their basement/kitchen ...

        I think you mean neutron here, not (anti) neutrino.

        Just how will antineutrino detection differentiate between the 5% pure uranium used in electricity generation and the 80% pure which is weapons grade ...

        The nuclear fuel only gives off copious neutrinos/anti-neutrinos when reactions are taking place, not when at rest, so detecting a rogue bomb isn't the point of the exercise. The point is to more accurately detect nuclear fiss

    • ...is with a good guy with a nuke.

    • Nuclear weapons perhaps, and only if they're using conventional means towards them.

      There's no need to enrich uranium to make LFTR systems and the USA was actively researching thorium-based weaponry before it got its uranium ones going (the research stopped as it did for LFTRs, because the USA could only afford to research one line of promise. Once uranium bombs and uranium submarine reactors got going, interest in thorium ceased - which is a shame because it's like never graduating from germanium to silicon

  • The Dead Past (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @02:22PM (#50719427)
    Reminds me of the story by Isaac Asimov named "The Dead Past." A machine is invented that can see into the past using neutrinos. The government runs a huge version trying to look into the past. One man discovers that a very simple version can be made, and is being covered up by the government. He later realizes that there is a very good reason for this. The past includes one second ago, and the machine basically allows you to spy on anyone at any time. By releasing the plans, he eliminated any kind of privacy.
    • A machine is invented that can see into the past using neutrinos. The government runs a huge version trying to look into the past. One man discovers that a very simple version can be made...

      Indeed a very simple version can be made. Get a light-tight bag and stick it over your head (just make sure you can breath somehow though). You now have an accurate view of the past as seen by neutrinos given that they almost never interact with matter and not at all with light. I guess this was part of Asimov's success: as a chemist he would never let physics get in the way of a good story!

    • by doug141 ( 863552 )

      If you liked that, try The Light of Other Days. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • ...the Middle East and beyond...

    Really, why single out the middle east, to what purpose?

    • Because Iran is in the middle east and there is legitimate concern that they will abuse the enrichment ban being lifted to build a nuclear arsenal. Other than North Korea, which we already know has nuclear weapon capabilities of some sort, what other countries are pursuing this?
      • Pakistan, a Muslim country much poorer and more unstable than Iran, has had nukes since 1999. That was the country hosting Osama bin Ladin before his (alleged) death, I might add.

        The only nuclear power in the Middle East has been and is Israel, a country than is not party to the NPT and still refuses to acknowledge its arsenal publicly. We have no official alliance with Israel and they have never shed blood alongside Americans in any war that I have heard of.

        Bibi has babbling on about Iran becoming a nucl

        • 1979 was a long time ago, before many of us (myself included) were ever born. Let's get over it already.

          Some of us (myself included) campaigned and marched against the Shah of Iran in 1979. Many of the Iranians that we stood with in those times were subsequently exterminated by the oppressive regime which took control after the Iranian revolution. The fight for Freedom isn't something you 'get over already.'

        • That was the country hosting Osama bin Ladin before his (alleged) death, I might add.
          Why do you add stuff, that is wrong?

          Osama was hiding there and not a guest. Just like the terrorist who where hiding in Germany before they attacked the twin towers.

    • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

      The middle East has the highest concentration of bat-shit crazy Islamic extremists that wants to end the Western world in as terrifying way possible.

      Sure there's millions of peaceful Muslims, but they are silent in stopping their brethren and are irrelevant to the argument.

    • by necro81 ( 917438 )
      Because The U.S. and Iran just entered into an anti-nuclear agreement, and this detector technology will be important for verifying Iran's compliance. Specifically, verifying that they are not developing a plutonium fuel cycle.

      Sure, it can (and probably should) be used elsewhere, but the contemporaneous motivation is Iran. The article makes this clear but, this being slashdot, I guess no one bothered to read it.
  • TFA seems to read as an attempt to encourage the building of neutrino observatories in various countries (such as, oh say, Iran) as much as a call for their use to monitor reactor activity at mid-field distances (10s of km.)

    Far-field observatories (100s of km) could be built today but are expensive. Mid-field observatories would need to be built within a country to be close enough to monitor a reactor, but (the author argues) they provide prestige to the country that hosts the observatory.

    I like neutrino ob

    • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @02:49PM (#50719645)

      No not stupid at all, earth naturally produces 99 percent of antineutrinos detected while manmade sources 1 percent. Earth is the "noise" and reactors are pure 100% signal. distribution of spectrum of those particles (energy per particle) tells what proportion originated in plutonium vs. uranium fission.

      • Thanks for the info.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        How exactly would that work? Antineutrinos from beta decay aren't fixed energy - the ratio of the non-gamma decay energy that goes to the electron versus the amount that goes to the antineutrino can range from 0% to 100%. There's a particular average for each radioisotope, but if you detect a particular energy antineutrino, that doesn't tell you what emitted it.

        Unless I'm missing something...

        • Yes the spectrum is continuous but the curve (and peak) of energy vs. probability is shifted a little for each element.

          • also should add almost all natural antineutrinos come from thorium-232 and u-238, the other major source being K-40 which is not detectable as the energy is too low to make inverse beta event. Since curve for U-238 is "to the right" of the thorium one there are thus antineutrinos energetic enough to rule out thorium being source.

      • ... earth naturally produces 99 percent of antineutrinos detected ...

        Doesn't the sun contribute a much larger neutrino flux than radioisotopes in the earth?

  • by MancunianMaskMan ( 701642 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @02:43PM (#50719591)
    So this means we will learn that Israel "officially" has nuclear bombs?
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Not really. What this shows is operating reactors and detonations. Materials stockpiles don't show up. And even if we can see a reactor, we can't tell the difference between research, power production and plutonium production. We'd still have to do in-person inspections to see if materials were being refined to weapons grade concentrations.

      What it does reveal is the operation of undeclared reactors. So we know where to send the inspectors. But if a country hasn't signed the NPT, we have no grounds for an i

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        If they're detecting antineutrinos from beta decay then material stockpiles should certainly show up. Tritium beta decays with a relatively short half life and has a characteristically weak decay. 240Pu (contaminant in 239Pu) spontaneous fission will create daughter products that undergo beta decay.

  • by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @02:56PM (#50719709)

    You'll overload the detector.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Could this technology be used to detect nuclear submarines ?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Immerman ( 2627577 )

      Sure, assuming you mean nuclear-powered submarines, and the technology is sufficiently refined. I'm not 100% certain on the properties of neutrinos versus antineutrinos (nor their detectors), but where neutrinos are concerned:

      Pretty much every nuclear reaction releases neutrinos (and presumably antineutrinos), and nothing stops a significant percentage of them - as I recall a neutrino has something like a 50/50 chance of penetrating a light-year of lead. Build an omnidirectional neutrino detector with suf

      • Two things to clear you up:
        1. Like you mention, neutrinos don't interact very well with barionic matter. That includes the detectors, so any signal will be very, very weak. Probably on the order of one detection per hour, or days. So long as the nuclear sub continues moving, it could not be detected at that temporal resolution.
        2. Nuclear reactors cannot be shut off and on in real-time. Once the control rods are in, the reaction slows down but the fissile products continue to decay for days or weeks. This
        • 1) A fair point. Can't say I know enough of the details to confirm or deny - the devil would be in the details, and "sufficiently sensitive"
          might call for something rivaling the Earth itself in size.

          2) That varies quite a bit with reactor design, and it's even quite possible that someone gets a viable fusion reactor operating before we get a sufficiently sensitive detector, and those will likely be "switchable". Regardless, I'm guessing that the neutrino flux released from a fully damped reactor wi

          • Unless normal operating flux was very easily detected I suspect that many reactors could fall to "effectively impossible to locate" flux levels within a matter of hours - fast enough to offer a wide range of strategic options, if not so many tactical ones.

            This might work. If the sub is content to stay in one place (I don't know if that is possible, I'm infantry not navy) and it doesn't need the reactor at full power for locomotion, then perhaps strategically sitting on the edge of the continental shelf for a few weeks under reduced power might hide it. But that narrows considerably the area that hunter subs could search for it, and I'd be sure worried about removing the control rods 300m under the surface!

            • Well, obviously you'd want a reactor designed to be reliably power-cycled, the current ones are probably a bit lacking in that department.

              You'd also probably end up having a substantial secondary power supply for such maneuvers - possibly fuel-cell or some other technology that would provide a decent range while maintaining the traditional stealthy benefits of a nuclear submarine.

              You also wouldn't need to stay in one place even when powered down - the ocean is constantly moving and a neutrally-buoyant sub c

        • Ships have not vented steam overboard since about 1890. (Except for the whistle.) 8-)

          And military subs don't vent -anything-.

          • Ships have not vented steam overboard since about 1890. (Except for the whistle.) 8-)

            And military subs don't vent -anything-.

            Thank you, I did not know that. As I mentioned before, I'm not navy!

            • Thank you, I did not know that. As I mentioned before, I'm not navy!

              That's ok, I was...

              But it's still a good question about detecting submarines. A country that tried a "sneak attack" could not take them out if they can't find them. So if they can be detected quickly, it could make the whole world less safe.

              But it sounds like it is not as fast as that. 8-)

    • Could this technology be used to detect nuclear submarines ?

      To some degree yes. The question is with what directional precision and at a useful range? The problem with nuclear submarines on patrol is being able to tell exactly where they are in near real time ("localizing"), otherwise the information is not of great use.

      Here is a paper [hawaii.edu] that discusses the potential of a gigantic world-wide neutrino detection system. It states:

      A 100 MWt marine reactor would contribute about one sigma to the world total nue-bar count rate at 1000 km range in two days and would thus be

  • AGM2015: Antineutrino Global Map 2015 [nature.com] in Scientific Reports (Nature).
    Google Maps showing neutrino sources [googleapis.com].
    You can even see the Iranian reactor at Bushehr [wikipedia.org].
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      That map is amazing. It almost looks too good - I hope that they didn't just "cheat" and mark known nuclear reactors.

  • IEEE Spectrum also had an article on this topic last month: link [ieee.org]
    • An interesting paragraph in this story:

      However, on 28 May, the U.S. Energy Department informed researchers that it would not fund the project. “This was disappointing and somewhat surprising to me personally, given the current importance of nonproliferation detection to our current national interest,” says Bob Svoboda, a University of California, Davis, physicist and co-spokesperson for the project.

      One wonders the DOE finds this technology a little too good for some reason...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Except, it wouldn't matter.. the US won't live up to its treaty obligations even when it can no longer pretend they have none.

  • If this keeps the termite-mound nanny states the ability to detect 'inappropriately enriched uranium' and keep their mitts out of everyone's business, then it looks like modern particle physics will finally begin to pay its dues to mankind.

    But that's a big IF. More likely this is yet another layer of useless technology that doesn't build or create anything, useless in the end because its global coverage would not become complete without bankrupting us all, and practical countermeasures may exist. The kind t

  • This year's underhanded C coding challenge deals with nuclear warhead identification: http://www.underhanded-c.org/_... [underhanded-c.org]

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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