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Teen Builds Worknig Nuclear Fusion Reactor

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The Taylor Wilson story is shocking at just how poorly we are prepared to deal with this. Not amusing. Not an achievement. 

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13 minutes ago, Movable Ballast said:

Pretty awesome if you ask me. A huge achievement! Fusion is the answer to our global pollution problems. 

???

2018-ford-fusion-se-sedan-angular-front.png

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18 minutes ago, Movable Ballast said:

Pretty awesome if you ask me. A huge achievement! Fusion is the answer to our global pollution problems. 

It is, of course. Fortunately, it's also the current source of 99% of our energy use today, either stored fusion in the form of petro, wind, hydro, or in the form of primary collection. Solar.

There's no need to have a "point" source of fusion. That's an old paradigm. 

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2 hours ago, Movable Ballast said:

Pretty awesome if you ask me. A huge achievement! Fusion is the answer to our global pollution problems. 

Notice that he has to put in more energy than he gets back.  That's important.

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2 hours ago, Laker said:

Notice that he has to put in more energy than he gets back.  That's important.

Perpetual eMotion

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2 hours ago, Laker said:

Notice that he has to put in more energy than he gets back.  That's important.

sounds like my relationship with my ex. 

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Fake news!!!!!!  The kid is prob already working for the Norks.  PA I know, but i could not help myself.     

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59 minutes ago, mustang__1 said:

sounds like my relationship with my ex. 

Ok, that’s funny!

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1 hour ago, Rum Runner said:

Give the kid a Phd! Then sign him up to work for the US before the North Koreans hire him. 

he'll be sent to a think tank somewhere in the panhandle of Florida and be given unlimited  twizzlers  and grape soda and told to just do anything....but write that "anything " down.

 

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8 hours ago, Kent H said:

The Taylor Wilson story is shocking at just how poorly we are prepared to deal with this. Not amusing. Not an achievement. 

Huh?

It's a fusion reactor. Nothing too dangerous about it, it consumes more energy than it produces, as do all fusion reactors. He apparently did a good job on it, made it on a shoestring. A very, very basic fusion reactor would normally cost at least 10x what he spent on that one.

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2 minutes ago, mikewof said:

Huh?

It's a fusion reactor. Nothing too dangerous about it, it consumes more energy than it produces, as do all fusion reactors. He apparently did a good job on it, made it on a shoestring. A very, very basic fusion reactor would normally cost at least 10x what he spent on that one.

Child labor.....

 

 

(that's a joke for you humor-impaired!)

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3 hours ago, Laker said:

Notice that he has to put in more energy than he gets back.  That's important.

Yup. Fusion is a terrific physics demo, but there doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon with it that can produce more energy than it uses. It seems to butt against the nature of the Laws of Thermodynamics. The reason fission makes energy is because it goes "entropically downhill" from a more ordered to a less ordered system. But fusion goes uphill, from a less ordered system to a more ordered system. Thermodynamics won't let you get energy out of such a system, it requires energy to be put into it.

Anyway, it's a terrific achievement, ambitious and hard-working kid.

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4 minutes ago, mikewof said:

Yup. Fusion is a terrific physics demo, but there doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon with it that can produce more energy than it uses. It seems to butt against the nature of the Laws of Thermodynamics. The reason fission makes energy is because it goes "entropically downhill" from a more ordered to a less ordered system. But fusion goes uphill, from a less ordered system to a more ordered system. Thermodynamics won't let you get energy out of such a system, it requires energy to be put into it.

Anyway, it's a terrific achievement, ambitious and hard-working kid.

Wrong=o

The sun works just fine, thanks. We just need to capture more of it's energy. There's plenty around.

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8 minutes ago, Raz'r said:

Wrong=o

The sun works just fine, thanks. We just need to capture more of it's energy. There's plenty around.

Not wrong. The sun is gradually "using itself up." It radiates more energy than the process than feeds it. It's moving energy from a somewhat disordered system to a more ordered system by consuming energy in its mass. But yeah, more solar resources are okay with me. We might as well use them.

Here's a riddle ... there are only two forms of grid energy that aren't solar energy. One of them is nuclear, what's the other one?

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55 minutes ago, mikewof said:

Not wrong. The sun is gradually "using itself up." It radiates more energy than the process than feeds it. It's moving energy from a somewhat disordered system to a more ordered system by consuming energy in its mass. But yeah, more solar resources are okay with me. We might as well use them.

Here's a riddle ... there are only two forms of grid energy that aren't solar energy. One of them is nuclear, what's the other one?

Geothermal

but - you could say that was ALSO solar, just not from Sol. From one or more predecessors...

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2 hours ago, Raz'r said:

Geothermal

but - you could say that was ALSO solar, just not from Sol. From one or more predecessors...

Not geothermal. Because the reason the earth has thermal energy in its core is due to the sun's gravitational lock ... wait, you wrote that.

But yeah, not geothermal.

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Fuck this thread took a turn for the worse

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2 hours ago, mikewof said:

Not geothermal. Because the reason the earth has thermal energy in its core is due to the sun's gravitational lock ... wait, you wrote that.

But yeah, not geothermal.

I thought the heat in there was uranium decay?

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2 hours ago, VWAP said:

Fuck this thread took a turn for the worse

Yah, but it'll be okay again when you leave and get back to your day job of jacking off stevedores.

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11 minutes ago, mikewof said:

Yah, but it'll be okay again when you leave and get back to your day job of jacking off stevedores.

Thanks for proving my point

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54 minutes ago, Raz'r said:

I thought the heat in there was uranium decay?

There isn't enough decay to account for that much heat so close to the surface. There is the heat from the core, but that's spherically stratified and it contributes weakly in the lower density crust. The heat in the light continental crust apparently comes from the subduction of the basalt under it. And that heat seems to be the solar gain that isn't reflected off of the ocean surface, so that the increasing salinity with depth draws the heat down due to the entropic gradient and transfers some energy to the basalt. The thermocline reverses at about 3000 feet, and then the temperature stays roughly constant to about 13,000 feet, even as the salinity increases, which is the increasing energy with depth. So it seems it's largely a surface effect. The Earth's core does seem to be cooling slightly, but the magnetic pole reversal evidence in the basalt over the last few million years suggest that it's cooling far, far more slowly than the heat in the continental crust could account.

Anyway, before VWAP gets his/her panties in a twist over not being able to handle discourse not covered in his fraternity prep meeting, the other grid-scale energy source that isn't solar is tidal/marine hydrokinetic ... the energy from that comes from the decay of the Earth-Moon gravitational potential.

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On 2/20/2019 at 5:24 PM, mikewof said:

Yup. Fusion is a terrific physics demo, but there doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon with it that can produce more energy than it uses. It seems to butt against the nature of the Laws of Thermodynamics. The reason fission makes energy is because it goes "entropically downhill" from a more ordered to a less ordered system. But fusion goes uphill, from a less ordered system to a more ordered system. Thermodynamics won't let you get energy out of such a system, it requires energy to be put into it.

Anyway, it's a terrific achievement, ambitious and hard-working kid.

If that's the case does our Sun have an extension cord somewhere that we haven't noticed? 

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13 minutes ago, 4ktsb said:

If that's the case does our Sun have an extension cord somewhere that we haven't noticed? 

I get all my household power from that extension cord. You?

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On 2/20/2019 at 9:48 PM, mustang__1 said:

sounds like my relationship with my ex. 

You actually found a girl shorter than you are!!!!!????  Amazing!

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Just now, Ed Lada said:

You actually found a girl shorter than you are!!!!!????  Amazing!

why don't you go a suck a tapered shit. 

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3 minutes ago, mustang__1 said:

why don't you go a suck a tapered shit. 

You short fuckers can get awfully testy.  

It isn't your fault you got screwed in the genes department, lighten up Frances.

So how short was she?

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Just now, Ed Lada said:

You short fuckers can get awfully testy.  

It isn't your fault you got screwed in the genes department, lighten up Frances.

So how short was she?

you'd be testy too if your testes hit the ground everytime you stood up. 

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36 minutes ago, 4ktsb said:

If that's the case does our Sun have an extension cord somewhere that we haven't noticed? 

Why do you assume that the sun produces more energy than it fuses in converting mass to energy?

The sun is gradually burning itself out for our benefit.

Not to get into anyone else's shitfling, but the tapered shit thing is legendary ... you want the person to suck on shit, but you still like them enough to not want it to put too much stress on their jaw.

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8 minutes ago, mustang__1 said:

you'd be testy too if your testes hit the ground everytime you stood up. 

I'm almost 6' 6" and it happens to me all of the time.  I feel your pain.

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23 minutes ago, mikewof said:

Why do you assume that the sun produces more energy than it fuses in converting mass to energy?

The sun is gradually burning itself out for our benefit.

I don't get your point. 

Yes, the sun is consuming it's own hydrogen and will eventually burn out, but there is no outside power source.  This is similar to the fusion reactor goal of delivering more power than it takes to run the thing.  Other than the Hydrogen bomb, I don't think we're there yet, but when we do get there the reaction will definitely consume the Hydrogen fuel, and waste some percentage of the latent energy in the process.  I suppose we should also factor in the power needed to collect that Hydrogen fuel (and other associated power costs) before we declare a fusion reactor generator as being net energy-positive.

In all these cases entropy will have the last laugh, but that's just the universe for you.

And that boy in the OP?  I'm sure that his goal was not to build a power source.  It was essentially a science project. Just creating fusion, while hardly new, requires no small amount of effort.

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9 hours ago, valis said:

I don't get your point. 

Yes, the sun is consuming it's own hydrogen and will eventually burn out, but there is no outside power source.  This is similar to the fusion reactor goal of delivering more power than it takes to run the thing.  Other than the Hydrogen bomb, I don't think we're there yet, but when we do get there the reaction will definitely consume the Hydrogen fuel, and waste some percentage of the latent energy in the process.  I suppose we should also factor in the power needed to collect that Hydrogen fuel (and other associated power costs) before we declare a fusion reactor generator as being net energy-positive.

In all these cases entropy will have the last laugh, but that's just the universe for you.

And that boy in the OP?  I'm sure that his goal was not to build a power source.  It was essentially a science project. Just creating fusion, while hardly new, requires no small amount of effort.

It seems there is no outside power source, the power source is apparently mostly internal, it was stored with the sun on its creation. But there apparently is some outside power added to the sun, in the form of its absorption of very short wavelength cosmic gamma rays. I have no idea what percentage, it's probably not that much given how far we are from the center of our galaxy.

My point is that -- in my opinion -- fusion will never produce more energy than in consumes, either in the sun or in the lab, because of the nature of entropy. The sun and the scientist are taking a relatively disordered system of simple atoms, or even protons, and then fusing them together to make something more ordered ... helium. Thermodynamics tells us that it takes energy to make order out of disorder.

We might have this idea that it's possible because of fission, which produces more energy than it consumes. But fission is the opposite ... it takes heavy, ordered atoms and makes a disorganized, highly entropic mess, which then gives us energy. And in a sense, these highly ordered heavy atoms are just stored energy, probably left over from much heavier cosmic rays. It's kind of form of fossil fuel, except that it's energy stored from the galaxy rather than from the sun.

The hydrogen bomb didn't produce more energy than it consumed either. All of that "ordering" we did to make the bomb, the production of the tritium and the deuterium took energy, or used stored energy. You're right, Entropy always wins in the end!

And yes, the boy in the OP did an excellent job.

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43 minutes ago, mikewof said:

My point is that -- in my opinion -- fusion will never produce more energy than in consumes, either in the sun or in the lab, because of the nature of entropy. The sun and the scientist are taking a relatively disordered system of simple atoms, or even protons, and then fusing them together to make something more ordered ... helium. Thermodynamics tells us that it takes energy to make order out of disorder.

I'm no physicist, but this seems wrong.  The sun *is* producing heat and light and all sorts of other radiation.  In the process it is consuming fuel (H), and it will eventually cool down and die (yes, the fossil fuel analogy is appropriate).  But in the mean time, it is giving off power, and a good thing for us.

Are you saying that the fusion energy projects are doomed from the start by the insurmountable energy expense of producing the fuel and containment?  I find that hard to believe -- a lot of good scientists seem to think otherwise.

I was once given an investment pitch by someone who claimed that he could develop a process to manufacture what was essentially synthetic fuel oil by manipulating the molecules of common low-energy compounds such as ammonia.  He claimed that this synthesized fuel would deliver more energy than it took to make it,  He had some pretty charts, but very little technical detail.  I passed on that one.  I also passed on a cold fusion project that used ultrasonics to create and collapse tiny bubbles in heavy water (I think).  For a while we were getting more than a few crackpots looking for suckers with money.  Perhaps they were sincere, but I never heard of any of them again.

I have to think that the big fusion power projects are based on a bit more than junk "science".

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1 minute ago, valis said:

I'm no physicist, but this seems wrong.  The sun *is* producing heat and light and all sorts of other radiation.  In the process it is consuming fuel (H), and it will eventually cool down and die (yes, the fossil fuel analogy is appropriate).  But in the mean time, it is giving off power, and a good thing for us.

Are you saying that the fusion energy projects are doomed from the start by the insurmountable energy expense of producing the fuel and containment?  I find that hard to believe -- a lot of good scientists seem to think otherwise.

I was once given an investment pitch by someone who claimed that he could develop a process to manufacture what was essentially synthetic fuel oil by manipulating the molecules of common low-energy compounds such as ammonia.  He claimed that this synthesized fuel would deliver more energy than it took to make it,  He had some pretty charts, but very little technical detail.  I passed on that one.  I also passed on a cold fusion project that used ultrasonics to create and collapse tiny bubbles in heavy water (I think).  For a while we were getting more than a few crackpots looking for suckers with money.  Perhaps they were sincere, but I never heard of any of them again.

I have to think that the big fusion power projects are based on a bit more than junk "science".

I believe there is an economy of scale that is required for net energy fusion.

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16 minutes ago, valis said:

I'm no physicist, but this seems wrong.  The sun *is* producing heat and light and all sorts of other radiation.  In the process it is consuming fuel (H), and it will eventually cool down and die (yes, the fossil fuel analogy is appropriate).  But in the mean time, it is giving off power, and a good thing for us.

Are you saying that the fusion energy projects are doomed from the start by the insurmountable energy expense of producing the fuel and containment?  I find that hard to believe -- a lot of good scientists seem to think otherwise.

I was once given an investment pitch by someone who claimed that he could develop a process to manufacture what was essentially synthetic fuel oil by manipulating the molecules of common low-energy compounds such as ammonia.  He claimed that this synthesized fuel would deliver more energy than it took to make it,  He had some pretty charts, but very little technical detail.  I passed on that one.  I also passed on a cold fusion project that used ultrasonics to create and collapse tiny bubbles in heavy water (I think).  For a while we were getting more than a few crackpots looking for suckers with money.  Perhaps they were sincere, but I never heard of any of them again.

I have to think that the big fusion power projects are based on a bit more than junk "science".

It's not a problem for a fusion reactor to utilize more energy than it produces, including loss of entropy, as long as that energy is in the form of matter. We've got plenty of matter to burn in this universe. 

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1 hour ago, IStream said:

It's not a problem for a fusion reactor to utilize more energy than it produces, including loss of entropy, as long as that energy is in the form of matter. We've got plenty of matter to burn in this universe. 

It's not like that Mr. Fusion in Back to the Future, you have to feed a fusion reactor things like tritium and deuterium. Old banana peels and an empty can only work in the movies. The reason we fuse with relatively simple molecules is because you need to tunnel through the Coulomb barrier of the atoms. That can be very difficult for something complicated and large.

So if you feed your fusion reactor deuterium, you need to get the deuterium from somewhere, say ocean water, where it's relatively plentiful, I think something like 1 in 500 atoms. But that's where things start to unravel ... in order to concentrate sufficient deuterium, you need to decrease the entropy of the ocean water ... and significantly decrease it, which requires a lot of energy. Then you need to purify, store it, transport it, and then deal with all the energy-robbing issues of your fusion device. We're not even at break-even when we don't account for the energy needed to isolate the deuterium and tritium, let alone break-even when we need to do a full-cycle energy accounting.

And of course, the elephant in the room with fusion is, while it may not produce waste, the containment of the fusion reactor is bathed in neutrons, which makes it just as contaminated and dangerous and a potential source for dirty bombs as the old-fashioned fission reactors.

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2 hours ago, valis said:

I'm no physicist, but this seems wrong.  The sun *is* producing heat and light and all sorts of other radiation.  In the process it is consuming fuel (H), and it will eventually cool down and die (yes, the fossil fuel analogy is appropriate).  But in the mean time, it is giving off power, and a good thing for us.

Are you saying that the fusion energy projects are doomed from the start by the insurmountable energy expense of producing the fuel and containment?  I find that hard to believe -- a lot of good scientists seem to think otherwise.

I was once given an investment pitch by someone who claimed that he could develop a process to manufacture what was essentially synthetic fuel oil by manipulating the molecules of common low-energy compounds such as ammonia.  He claimed that this synthesized fuel would deliver more energy than it took to make it,  He had some pretty charts, but very little technical detail.  I passed on that one.  I also passed on a cold fusion project that used ultrasonics to create and collapse tiny bubbles in heavy water (I think).  For a while we were getting more than a few crackpots looking for suckers with money.  Perhaps they were sincere, but I never heard of any of them again.

I have to think that the big fusion power projects are based on a bit more than junk "science".

I visited the Tokamak fusion reactor back in 1995, at the time everyone was convinced that break-even couldn't be more than a few years away. About 25 years later, it still is nowhere on the horizon. As I mentioned in the other post, we don't even have break-even when we get the fusion components for "free" let alone with a full-cost accounting of the energy. And yes, there are a lot of good scientists who might know and they're mostly not working on hot fusion any longer. I don't know of a single physicist who now makes a career out of it.

Hot fusion was never junk science. It may have never succeeded, but it produced a lot of valuable insights and some spin-off technologies.

That investment pitch was obviously junk science ... the thing that gives fuel oil its energy is that the hydrocarbon chain is made relatively unstable by energy deposited into the carbohydrate chain from the sun, millions of years ago. The charlatan whom you met was hoping that you would ignore the reality that he wasn't adding energy to his mixture, and energy in these molecules is what make their energy accessible. And we can make synthetic oils without the sun adding energy, it's possible, but it's a process of using even more unstable molecules and then reacting them to get the desired hydrocarbons. But that then makes a hydrocarbon that is even more expensive than fossil fuels. What's the point?

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Bingo. Use the least expensive fuel first. All fuel is consumed some way or the other.

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14 hours ago, mikewof said:

That investment pitch was obviously junk science

That was my conclusion at the time.  Some friends of the non-technical, "I want to believe" persuasion asked me to listen to him, so I agreed.  This wasn't long after IBM researchers started manipulating atoms:

05_01_2013_ibm-eigler-xenon-e13674169902

This guy claimed that he had techniques to shift around carbon and hydrogen atoms and could convert some cheap low-energy base product to a high-energy fuel.  I asked him for details of the process, evidence that he had actually done this even in small amounts, and the energy requirements for lab-scale production.  All he could do was hand-waving.  I was prepared to sign a NDA (since I figured that there was no chance this that process would actually work), but he refused to disclose any of it.  His main point seemed to be that he was a smart guy, and would figure out such minor details once he got his funding.

I sure wasn't going to invest, and later gently told by friends why.  They had been excited about putting their own money into it, so I hope they took my advice.

I still can't figure out some of these people.  Some of them seem smart.  The insincere ones and the stupid ones are understandable.  The smart and sincere ones are more of a problem.

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1 hour ago, valis said:

That was my conclusion at the time.  Some friends of the non-technical, "I want to believe" persuasion asked me to listen to him, so I agreed.  This wasn't long after IBM researchers started manipulating atoms:

05_01_2013_ibm-eigler-xenon-e13674169902

This guy claimed that he had techniques to shift around carbon and hydrogen atoms and could convert some cheap low-energy base product to a high-energy fuel.  I asked him for details of the process, evidence that he had actually done this even in small amounts, and the energy requirements for lab-scale production.  All he could do was hand-waving.  I was prepared to sign a NDA (since I figured that there was no chance this that process would actually work), but he refused to disclose any of it.  His main point seemed to be that he was a smart guy, and would figure out such minor details once he got his funding.

I sure wasn't going to invest, and later gently told by friends why.  They had been excited about putting their own money into it, so I hope they took my advice.

I still can't figure out some of these people.  Some of them seem smart.  The insincere ones and the stupid ones are understandable.  The smart and sincere ones are more of a problem.

I've had a handful of these people in my life, the smart and sincere ones are intoxicating, often with a touch of schizophrenia, or sometimes more than a touch. They pull you into their lives as an antidote to our own ennui. Many of us do seem to want them in our lives, and we even fund them knowing the likely trajectory, but buckle ourselves in for the roller coaster because that's why we go to the amusement park.

But then sometimes they solve their problems. I did some consulting for one of these guys many years ago, with some defense industry products. He had all the beautiful hallmarks of a solid crackpot, so I signed the NDA on agreement that he would pay me for my work, which he did, right on time. Then I settled into the technical documents for the coming insanity. Two of the proposals were solid batshit crazy, and one of them was completely workable, and an innovative way to solve a specific problem that has dogged spectral missile targeting since WWII. I even started to wonder if his "psycho nutcake act" was really just an act to hide that gem inside the fluff, or if maybe he had just stumbled on it. I never found out, but as far as I know, that work was adopted and is in use today.

I remember you and I discussing this some time ago, because I remember the discussion came around to the name of your boat, and I think I mentioned Clans of the Alphane Moon as Dick's subversive stab at suggesting that emotionally unstable people are increasingly being exploited as engines of innovation. As I discovered and have since rediscovered, these schizophrenics only seem crazy to us as long as we are unable to understand them. Then we gain sufficient intelligence to understand what the fuck they're rambling about, and then they're blood geniuses. The line between Buckminster Fuller and the crackpot on Thirty-Third Street and Delmonico is often just a matter of timing.

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17 hours ago, mikewof said:

It's not like that Mr. Fusion in Back to the Future, you have to feed a fusion reactor things like tritium and deuterium. Old banana peels and an empty can only work in the movies. The reason we fuse with relatively simple molecules is because you need to tunnel through the Coulomb barrier of the atoms. That can be very difficult for something complicated and large.

So if you feed your fusion reactor deuterium, you need to get the deuterium from somewhere, say ocean water, where it's relatively plentiful, I think something like 1 in 500 atoms. But that's where things start to unravel ... in order to concentrate sufficient deuterium, you need to decrease the entropy of the ocean water ... and significantly decrease it, which requires a lot of energy. Then you need to purify, store it, transport it, and then deal with all the energy-robbing issues of your fusion device. We're not even at break-even when we don't account for the energy needed to isolate the deuterium and tritium, let alone break-even when we need to do a full-cycle energy accounting.

And of course, the elephant in the room with fusion is, while it may not produce waste, the containment of the fusion reactor is bathed in neutrons, which makes it just as contaminated and dangerous and a potential source for dirty bombs as the old-fashioned fission reactors.

Always nice to be patronized.

Funny thing, though, I can buy 4.1g of Deuterium (just over a Mole) for about $500 retail.

https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/aldrich/368407?lang=en&region=US

That's theoretically about three times as much deuterium as I need to generate all the fusion power I consume per year. I'm assuming MilliporeSigma has factored the cost of reducing entropy, purifying, transporting, and a nice stainless steel 1000psi pressure vessel into their COGS and is still making a tidy profit.

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2 hours ago, IStream said:

Always nice to be patronized.

Funny thing, though, I can buy 4.1g of Deuterium (just over a Mole) for about $500 retail.

https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/aldrich/368407?lang=en&region=US

That's theoretically about three times as much deuterium as I need to generate all the fusion power I consume per year. I'm assuming MilliporeSigma has factored the cost of reducing entropy, purifying, transporting, and a nice stainless steel 1000psi pressure vessel into their COGS and is still making a tidy profit.

Apologies on the patronizing thing, I often forget to look for the purple font.

I didn't realize that deuterium and tritium are so available. Okay. I'm not sure that the purity of that is high enough, but it might be. You convinced me, fusion power is going to be here in another few years. But of course by then, it will have to compete with MW-scale solar energy that costs $0.60/watt!

Lotsa luck fusion.

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I'm not arguing that fusion is just around the corner, but  criticisms of it have to be defensible. 

I'd prefer to see a huge push for solar on every roof and batteries to level it along with tons of utility-scale solar and wind. It won't solve all our problems but it would displace a huge chunk of carbon-intensive generation and can be done cheaply today, not 10, 25, or 50 years from now. 

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50 minutes ago, IStream said:

I'm not arguing that fusion is just around the corner, but  criticisms of it have to be defensible. 

I'd prefer to see a huge push for solar on every roof and batteries to level it along with tons of utility-scale solar and wind. It won't solve all our problems but it would displace a huge chunk of carbon-intensive generation and can be done cheaply today, not 10, 25, or 50 years from now. 

That's the eternal joke about fusion, it's always just a few years away from being a reality. We were saying that back in the 1989.

The thing about photovoltaics is that once it is as you describe -- on every roof -- there won't be much of a need for anything else, because solar isn't a resource, it's a technology, and technologies become cheap with scale and integration. It's the reason why a supercomputer with several gigabytes of online storage is smaller than a postage stamp and the price of a latte. And the big thing ... photovoltaics work with close to zero user input. No lubrication needed, no regular maintenance, in many places they don't even need cleaning. The 6 kW solar array on my roof has never been touched since it was installed other than to fix a dryer vent, and it keeps making power, as does the other hundred-some arrays on my hundred-some neighbor's roofs. Every house in my subdivision has a solar array because the builder owns the systems and keeps making money off of them for the next several years until the homeowners own them.

So the fairly conservative estimates, using existing techology, on megawatt scale solar is $0.60.watt by about 2025 or so. If we see something genuinely new, like carbon nanotubes photovoltaics to control the recombination, and Rare Earth free dopants, we could see something close to $0.20/watt PV by 2030. At that point, power becomes the kind of commodity that water is in the Great Lakes region.

But storage ... I don't see batteries ever being a really good storage option. The best option is just to configure the grid to avoid storage. The peak power is needed when the sun is high anyway, and we still have terrawatts of natural gas, hydro and nuclear that is good until at least 2050 or so, that's all power that puts out terrific baseload. But when power is needed, I think the best option will be compressed air ... unlike batteries, it doesn't need any difficult-to-source components, and as we gradually idle natural gas and oil pipelines, we can convert those to compressed-air storage. The big advantage there is that the energy can be put in one place, and extracted hundreds and even a thousand miles away at the end of the pipeline. Plus we get the cooling for free due to the thermodynamics of compressed air. Cooling seems to have more future value for large volume buildings, due to internal loads of people, computers and lighting.

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