The perenial "Nuclear Power Plant" example
Posted Oct 13, 2004 15:56 UTC (Wed) by AJWM
In reply to: The perenial "Nuclear Power Plant" example
Parent article: Approaches to realtime Linux
Nothing in a nuclear power plant is dependant on microsecond timing. Ultimately, nuke plants are mechanically controlled -- control rods slide in and out, coolant pumps and valves actuated, etc. and mechanical devices (at least, those big enough to see) just don't react that precisely.
Nuclear plants were operating years before we had solid-state computers, let alone ones with even microsecond cycle times.
The timing in a nuclear bomb is that critical, actually more so, to ensure that the compression wave from the triggering explosives is precisely shaped so as to uniformly squeeze the fissionable material -- an asymmetrical push will let material spew out before the reaction builds to a peak and you get some kind of fizzle yield (worst case the fissionable just melts itself). The reaction is sensitive to surface area to volume ratios (too much area and too many neutrons escape rather than hitting other U or Pu nuclei).
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