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A Step Closer To Cheap Nuclear Fusion

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the you-may-feel-a-slight-pinch dept.

Power 404

ewsnow writes "The Focus Fusion Society reports that the scientists and engineers at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics have finally built an operational Dense Plasma Focus device. While still at less than half power, they were able to achieve a pinch on their device. The small company that Eric Lerner started recently gathered enough funding to start a two-year study on the validity of his theory regarding fusion-inducing plasmoids. If the theory holds, the device will produce more electricity than it consumes. In contrast to the billions of dollars spent on Tokamak fusion (think ITER), LPP is conducting their research on a budget around a million dollars. Yet, if it works, it will provide nuclear fusion with much simpler equipment and much less cost. Eric Lerner and Focus Fusion have been discussed on Slashdot before."

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Fusion? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29785675)

Sorry but the reaction "H + B -> 3 He" is nuclear fission -- the fission of boron.

Re:Fusion? (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29785731)

It's the fusion of two isotopes.. which later break apart most of the time. A very small part of the time the ecited nucleus does not break apart: B11+H1 => C12 would you call that fusion and B11+H1 => 3He4 fission?

Re:Fusion? (2, Informative)

product byproduct (628318) | about 5 years ago | (#29786319)

By your reasoning, the fission of uranium would be fusion because the reaction n + U temporarily creates a heavier nucleus.

The real reason the AC is wrong is because in the H + B -> 3 He reaction, most of the energy comes from combining H with something, not splitting B.

Re:Fusion? (1, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29786383)

By your reasoning, the fission of uranium would be fusion because the reaction n + U temporarily creates a heavier nucleus.

When two or more isotopes fuse together it is fusion, neutrons are not isotopes of anything.

The real reason the AC is wrong is because in the H + B -> 3 He reaction, most of the energy comes from combining H with something, not splitting B.

By that reasoning Uranium + neutron is fusion because you're combining a neutron with something not specifically breaking Uranium by its self.

Re:Fusion? (4, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | about 5 years ago | (#29786325)

But wait, you're producing helium? Think about the environmental impact! Millions of adults walking around talking like chipmunks all the time! Won't someone think of the children!?!

:-D

Re:Fusion? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786217)

Your post is the fusion of moron.

get it?

Scotty? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29785687)

If only could have been here to see that it can be done!

My confession: I smell my own farts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29785701)

It's true- I'll waft them up to my face, or fart on something then smell that. I've noticed a difference between smelling farts off my fingers and farting into a towel and smelling that. I prefer the towel. Sometimes, right before I take a shower, I'll wipe my ass with a towel or my underwear to smell my butt-perfume. I frequently pull the covers over my own head when I fart between the sheets. Oh, and I love the smell and frequency of my hangover farts. I love leaving my room for a few minutes and coming back to smell my still-lingering farts hanging in the air. To me its kind of like climing out of the swimming pool, getting in the hot tub for a few minutes, then going back into the pool. If I want to fart without making a lot of noise I'll reach into my pants and hold my buttcheeks apart with my fingers so the gas can leave my asshole unobstructed. it actually makes a very audible "pssssssssssssss" sound. Like if someone was in earshot but they couldn't see me, they would probably be wondering if i was farting with my fingers in my ass.

Sometimes if I'm in public I'll find "discreet" ways to indulge my fart-sniffing penchance. For example I'll try to pass gas as quietly as possible, then discreetly fan my thighs open and closed so the gas is wafted up to my face.

Fusion!? (5, Funny)

blhack (921171) | about 5 years ago | (#29785715)

Isn't that what they use on the sun!? I don't want that sort of thing in my backyard! what if the reaction gets out of control and it annihilates the entire solar system!? What are we going to do with all of the nucular waste?

Folks, can we pretty please think of another name for this stuff? 50 years worth of misinformation is, I fear, holding us back. People here the word "nuclear" and immediately start shitting their pants with fear.

I vote we call it "Hydrogen Energy". After all, hydrogen is 2/3 of the ingredients in water!

Re:Fusion!? (5, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 5 years ago | (#29785829)

You mean dihydrogen monoxide [dhmo.org] --pretty dangerous stuff...

Re:Fusion!? (1)

earlymon (1116185) | about 5 years ago | (#29786581)

Or for those of us who are Amphoteric Nazis, that happens to hydrogen hydroxide, thank you very much.

Re:Fusion!? (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29785841)

The public needs to be shown that the word "nuclear" is not cause for panic. Better yet, not to judge technology such as NMR as being dangerous simply because of the name. But I guess it is too much to ask that they have even a basic competency in science.

Re:Fusion!? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29785903)

The public needs to be shown that the word "nuclear" is not cause for panic. Better yet, not to judge technology such as NMR as being dangerous simply because of the name. But I guess it is too much to ask that they have even a basic competency in science.

Woah there sparky!

We can't run banks without having them come falling down around our ears and you think the public is the problem with the perception of nuclear power?

In of itself nuclear reactions are predictable and can be made safe using correct precautions.

This is a layer 8 problem not a science problem.

Re:Fusion!? (1, Troll)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 5 years ago | (#29786035)

The public needs to be shown that the word "nuclear" is not cause for panic

True. And it will be easy once the industry demonstrates that it is indeed "not a cause for panic." After all, the reasons the public gets nervous when it hears the words "nuclear" and "power" in the same sentence are related to the checkered history of commercial nuclear power generation.

Re:Fusion!? (4, Informative)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | about 5 years ago | (#29786073)

Which is really not all that checkered considering building hydroelectric dams have killed more people than Chernobyl did.

Re:Fusion!? (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 5 years ago | (#29786227)

IIRC, Tchernobyl hasn't done all of its damage yet.

Re:Fusion!? (1)

Troed (102527) | about 5 years ago | (#29786359)

It hasn't? Feel free to provide more info. After all, I live quite close.

Re:Fusion!? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786505)

Re:Fusion!? (1)

Troed (102527) | about 5 years ago | (#29786605)

Yes?

The issue of long-term effects of the Chernobyl disaster on civilians is very controversial. The number of people whose lives were affected by the disaster is enormous. Over 300,000 people were resettled because of the disaster; millions lived and continue to live in the contaminated area. On the other hand, most of those affected received relatively low doses of radiation; there is little evidence of increased mortality, cancers or birth defects among them; and when such evidence is present, existence of a causal link to radioactive contamination is uncertain.

(I live in one of the countries with food restrictions btw. Reading that Wikipedia entry was the first time since the late 80s I've even heard of them)

Tchernobyl, of course, being not an accident but a deliberate test done with security systems shut off. I can't really see how it is even relevant in a discussion about nuclear safety.

Re:Fusion!? (1)

speculatrix (678524) | about 5 years ago | (#29786653)

>> Tchernobyl hasn't done all of its damage yet.
> It hasn't? Feel free to provide more info. After all, I live quite close.

you know that second head growing out of your shoulder? well, it has a hairy wart, and that wart is caused by living a near nucular reakta.

Re:Fusion!? (5, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29786457)

After all, the reasons the public gets nervous when it hears the words "nuclear" and "power" in the same sentence are related to the checkered history of commercial nuclear power generation.

nonsense. The public is afraid because of two reactor accidents; the first one was caused in large part because the reactor in question was little more advanced than the graphite/uranium pile we used in the 40's and that the reactor's safety mechanisms and proper procedure were ignored by a quota happy communist state. The second was contained. The incident at three mile island was also caused by ignoring the safety mechanisms in the reactor *again*. You want an example of an industry with a checkered past? Try Coal for once. The number of people killed mining coal and all the mercury, uranium and thorium release not to mention that it's fraking up our atmosphere and climate with excess CO2 and you're worried about nuclear energy? Where the only problems with nuclear power involved two incidents with 30 and 40 year old reactor designs where even then didn't come close to the kill score that coal has. Not even an order of magnitude.

Re:Fusion!? (2, Funny)

DiminishingReturn (1652075) | about 5 years ago | (#29786133)

The public needs to be shown that the word "nuclear" is not cause for panic.

I don't know, people seem to like the nuclear family, don't they? We should call it family energy.

NMR, No that's too dangerous (2, Funny)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 5 years ago | (#29786437)

Nuclear magnetic resonance? God man don't you know how dangerous that is, it's got nuclear right in the name. You can only guess how many extra limbs you'd get from that. Now if you'll excuse me I have to get ready for my MRI tomorrow:)

Re:Fusion!? (0, Flamebait)

strstr (539330) | about 5 years ago | (#29786571)

The general population shouldn't have input in things like this anyway. Leave it to the educated people please.

Just my 2 cents. o_O

Re:Fusion!? (1)

Tibia1 (1615959) | about 5 years ago | (#29786047)

The public is already scared of everything. They are also scared of hydrogen bombs.

Re:Fusion!? (1)

Airline_Sickness_Bag (111686) | about 5 years ago | (#29786091)

"Hydrogen Energy". Think of the Hindenberg.

Re:Fusion!? (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 5 years ago | (#29786121)

I want to make a suggestion.

Let's put the most god-darn awful and polluting coal plants in the backyard of the morons who start "OMG NUKULAR THIS IS BAD"

I'm really not as afraid of, I dunno, Exxon as compared to "Green""Peace" with respects to global warming.

Re:Fusion!? (0)

ZosX (517789) | about 5 years ago | (#29786617)

but nuclear IS bad. lots of waste with lots of containment issues. also you pretty much have to destroy whole mountains to mine for uranium and deal with all of the ecological consequences of massive open pit mining. there are lots of reasons that nuclear is bad, like for instance they predict that it will only net us 50-100 years before we run out of mineable uranium, so it isn't exactly a long term solution. On the other hand we probably have enough could to produce electricity for the next couple of hundred years, but strip mining for coal is awfully messy business when it comes to mountaintop removal and whatnot. never mind the polution, the huge amounts of fly ash you have to get rid of and all of that icky mercury contained within that keeps making its way into rivers and streams. clean coal is a serious joke. all scrubbers do is simply spray water across the exhaust to trap heavy particles. then that water has to go somewhere, like say, a huge resevoir, full of highly contaminated water. I honestly don't know how they plan on just pumping all that crap underground. so, I guess nuclear still wins as the lesser of two evils.

complete strawman (3, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | about 5 years ago | (#29786223)

Folks, can we pretty please think of another name for this stuff? 50 years worth of misinformation is, I fear, holding us back. People here the word "nuclear" and immediately start shitting their pants with fear.

Folks, can you all stop reacting to stories regarding nuclear power on slashdot by falling over at your computers, foaming at the mouth, and shrieking about how the general public are all so stupid that they oppose any use of nuclear power because they're luddites and they're not as scientifically informed as all of us blah blah blah.

There are 104 nuclear reactors in this country. They provide almost 20% of the country's electricity consumption. They are not thronged by those hordes of sign-waving hippies that most of you seem to think are keeping nuclear power down. There have not been any new nuclear plants built in this country in a long time not because of protesters, but because they are insanely and hideously expensive to build. They are for the most part not cost-effective.

There are groups who argue against nuclear power for a variety of reasons, some environmental, some political, and some were formed to protest the operation of specific plants that have a track record of environmental damage. Some of these organizations are led by or advised by nuclear physicists and engineers, who know a hell of a lot more about the technical aspects of nuclear power than 99% of the people reading this.

Re:complete strawman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786323)

Folks, can we pretty please think of another name for this stuff? 50 years worth of misinformation is, I fear, holding us back. People here the word "nuclear" and immediately start shitting their pants with fear.

Folks, can you all stop reacting to stories regarding nuclear power on slashdot by falling over at your computers, foaming at the mouth, and shrieking about how the general public are all so stupid that they oppose any use of nuclear power because they're luddites and they're not as scientifically informed as all of us blah blah blah.
There are 104 nuclear reactors in this country.

Folks, can you pretty please stop assuming that "this country" == USA and your readers are in the same place?

Re:complete strawman (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | about 5 years ago | (#29786799)

Lots of their concerns could be taken away if one of these [wikipedia.org] was the first thing they thought of when nuclear was mentioned.

Re:Fusion!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786237)

I vote we call it "Hydrogen Energy". After all, hydrogen is 2/3 of the ingredients in water!

John Q Public knows about Hydrogen Bombs and would never stand to have such a dangerous material in his neighborhood.

Re:Fusion!? (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 5 years ago | (#29786459)

Isn't that what they use on the sun!? I don't want that sort of thing in my backyard!

Don't worry -- Larry Ellison bought Sun recently, he will look after you - so that he can fleece you on licenses.

Re:Fusion!? (2, Insightful)

Nebulious (1241096) | about 5 years ago | (#29786475)

NO!

If we keep treating people like they're too stupid to understand the science behind things, then it's going to just get harder and harder to get any real change in the technology our society uses. Not to mention the young people we scare away from science and technology. Rebranding a technology works only in the short term until the public catches on or some uses the exact same tactic against you. No, what we need to do is work to slowly win the culture war and continue to make the work of scientists again treated with appreciated with appreciation instead of suspicion.

Re:Fusion!? (1)

jtheisen (893138) | about 5 years ago | (#29786583)

Folks, can we pretty please think of another name for this stuff?

I opt for "solar energy", hee, hee...

Re:Fusion!? (1)

selven (1556643) | about 5 years ago | (#29786689)

I think you're nuclear on the terminology here.

Cheap energy is social justice (5, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | about 5 years ago | (#29785723)

I really hope this works. I get more excited about science for cheap and clean energy production than I do about efforts to raise the cost of energy consumption as a means to drive conservation. Too much emphasis on conservation will lead to a world where only rich people have the freedom to consume large amounts of energy. Access to cheap and clean power must be pushed down to today's poor. This will offer lots of ways for them to overcome their systemic poverty.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (5, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 5 years ago | (#29785899)

If you change 'energy' and 'power' for 'food', you have got what the green revolution [wikipedia.org] achieved from the 50's or so onwards. I think this is a good model for what would happen if cheap energy became universal - consumption simply increases to match what is available and the underlying issue remains unresolved.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | about 5 years ago | (#29785941)

Are you against cheap and clean power generation?

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (3, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#29785969)

Apparently, he's against cheap power AND cheap food. The poor should starve! That'll solve the problem.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (2, Interesting)

danpat (119101) | about 5 years ago | (#29786165)

Unfortunately, it seems that the only way to halt growth in most biological systems it to balance supply and demand.

Right now, food and energy production around the world outstrips demand. Thus, population continues to increase.

The 3 major governors of biological systems seem to be raw materials, energy and space. To some degree, they're convertible. If you remove "energy" as a limiting factor, we're just going to hit a wall with one of the other two at some point.

Hitting any resource barrier is painful. Wars happen, things die. Right now, we're living in a blessed time of growth and relatively little competition for resources. Sure there are a few spats, but it's not an all out war for survival.

Ever seen the movie "Soylent Green"? That's the image that comes to mind if we "fix" the energy problem. Billions of people with enough to eat, but no room to move.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786419)

Every time you hear a "conspiracy theory" that the reason something politically bizarre is being done is to reduce the population, just think of good ol' "danpat" and the millions of other well educated intelligent people who share his convictions that drastically lowering the worlds population is the single most important political goal in human history.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

Cruorin (1453909) | about 5 years ago | (#29786423)

There wasn't enough food though...

Not really ... (3, Insightful)

boorack (1345877) | about 5 years ago | (#29786461)

Western countries have by far most access to cheap energy and cheap food. Yet their population diminshes and they (we) import immigrants to fill the gap. It is true for all advanced economies. Once a nation gets sophiscated enough to have people educated and equipped with birth control means, growth halts as people can "trade" number of children for economic conditions. Emerging countries will see the same thing once their societies will get sophiscated enough.

It's a shame that western nations keep so much countries in 3-rd world rank by manipulating/corrupting their governments, stealing their natural/energy resources and making them debt slaves. Excess population growth of many countries is actually an effect of those shameful actions. Cheap energy source and help in achieving real advancements (as opposite to this shameful circus performed by Bono, Geldof and other idiots) would solve the problem.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (5, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | about 5 years ago | (#29786639)

Your model omits some readily [susps.org] available [businessweek.com] data [cbsnews.com] that would seem relevant. Population growth among non-immigrants of advanced, wealthy nations such as the US, Japan and parts of western Europe has plateaued at or below replacement. The "western" world has, despite an abundance or food, energy and space (in the case of North America,) tamed its population growth. This has occurred without coercive government control of breeding behavior.

Apparently there are more factors involved in the growth curve than Malthusians such as yourself choose to allow. It is certain that our international governance is equally blind; the next global treaty on the environment that acknowledges this success and, heaven forbid, incorporates population growth into its protocol bean counting will be the first.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (4, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | about 5 years ago | (#29786705)

Stop. Just stop.

"Supply and demand" is a tenuous bit of pop economics that you can't blindly apply to any situation you feel could do with a bit of market fundamentalism applied to it. The idea that human population growth is governed by it is utter horseshit. Rich countries have more resources per capita than countries in Africa, but they have lower fertility rates. That blows your little hypothesis out of the water straight away.

Misapplying pop economics. Ignoring real life fertility rates. Treating people of other races as if they were animals mindlessly breeding to fill an ecological niche. You've committed the three most common logical fallacies, and the three most disgusting ones, in this debate.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1, Insightful)

Rob Riggs (6418) | about 5 years ago | (#29786513)

The poor will *always* starve. People, especially poor, uneducated people, appear to have a propensity for producing more offspring than there are resources available to feed them. It's just nature (human or otherwise).

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#29786695)

in before Troll moderation

---

The thing is, that with more children, it's more likely that at least some survive.
And the other thing is, that if you give people more food, than the land that they live in can sustain, you will get even more children, who then will starve even more. So giving them food instead of ways to make it themselves, is rather cruel and useless.

The biggest joke is, that most starving countries actually *have* giant amounts of resources, and ways to grow food. But as we take everything from them for a hand full of glass pearls, they have nothing from it.
We, you, I and everybody here, is doing it, every time we buy things that were produced in an unfair way. You know. Basically everything you can buy in a supermarket.

So it would perhaps be an oversimplification, but also be very effective, to state, that every time you buy such a extortion-based product, you kill a child! (I should make an ad with that theme, and sell that to human rights organizations. Hey, I could even pay some of those families a premium for being actors in the clip.)

It's easy to always blame some vague "someone". I only hope that with the Internet, people in the poorest regions can teach themselves, become independent, and get out of the WTO-enforced slavery. That's why things like the OLPC project beat every other project by far. (Assuming that the children there really get their computer.)

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (4, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 5 years ago | (#29786071)

I'm concerned about the idea of 'endless growth in a finite world' that cheap food and energy seem to sustain. If the world population was the same now as it was before the green revolution (2 billion or so) everything would be rosy. That is is now 6.8 billion, set for 7 billion in 2012 and utterly dependent on fossil-fuel centered food production is a worry for me.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

tftp (111690) | about 5 years ago | (#29786189)

I'm concerned about the idea of 'endless growth in a finite world'

I'm sure there was a tribe of Neanderthals was also concerned about an idea to build a boat (or just to grab a piece of wood) to cross the river. After all, who knows what dangers lurk there? I'm also pretty sure that such a tribe did not survive. Expansion was, is, and likely will be the way of humans - and there is plenty of places to expand to.

Abundant, cheap, efficient energy source will allow to expand that "finite world" of yours. We already have designs of rocket engines that work great in vacuum and only require a Warp core (or fusion core, to start with) for power. The whole Solar system can be populated if you have infinite energy, especially on farther planets (their satellites, mostly.) Even if you don't want to go to space, underwater and underground cities become obvious things to build if you have energy.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

abarrieris5eV (1659265) | about 5 years ago | (#29786561)

We already have designs of rocket engines that work great in vacuum and only require a Warp core (or fusion core, to start with) for power. The whole Solar system can be populated if you have infinite energy, especially on farther planets (their satellites, mostly.) Even if you don't want to go to space, underwater and underground cities become obvious things to build if you have energy.

A Warp Core? Do you mean a matter antimatter reactor? Warp cores are fictional devices from the star trek universe, there are hypothetical warp drives that are valid solutions to general relativity, but they require exotic matter that may not even exist in this universe. Furthermore there are other barriers to populating the solar system, such as that none of the other planets are habitable, and they are unlikely to be able to be made habitable except within domes, underground tunnels and the like.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

tftp (111690) | about 5 years ago | (#29786699)

A Warp Core? Do you mean a matter antimatter reactor? Warp cores are fictional devices from the star trek universe [...]

That is known to everyone here:

Warp core is the common designation for the main energy reactor powering the propulsion system on warp-capable starships. (link [memory-alpha.org]

Furthermore there are other barriers to populating the solar system, such as that none of the other planets are habitable, and they are unlikely to be able to be made habitable except within domes, underground tunnels and the like.

With enough energy you can make them habitable, even using today's technology. We can't drop TBMs [wikipedia.org] on Mars or Moon primarily because we have no power for them. Otherwise we'd have built a Gateway satellite [amazon.com] not waiting for Heechee to do the work for us.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

x0ra (1249540) | about 5 years ago | (#29786647)

Please check your dictionary, "finite" mean "cannot be expand, no matter how much you try to". I know that it might be hard to conceive but you will never travel at more than 299 792 458 m/s. One day or another, there will not be enough resources to feed all mankind, that can be in 30 years or in 300000 years, you cannot go beyond. That day, if you and me are looking for the same resource, if there is not enough for both of us, the strongest of us will take over the weakest, life worked like that for the past 5 billions years, there is no reason for it to change, humanity is pretty much nothing on this time scale. In the mean time, we have to keep searching for new source of energy before the current one is depleted. Currently, that's not guaranteed, so we have better keep the current one last as long as possible until we found a replacement. If we don't that will be a real slaughter...

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

javaman235 (461502) | about 5 years ago | (#29786427)

I agree. The core issue is living sustainably. You can buy time with more energy or food, but if the core ideas of living within our means isn't addressed, there will be problems with that too.

I personally think its just a matter of time though. In the big scheme of things the industrial revolution is still a new thing, and it takes cultures a long time to adjust. But in time they do, in fact with time all living things tend toward an equilibrium with their environment, us humans included. The real question is what that eventual equilibrium will look like, and the advent of cheap fusion would dramatically change that outcome. Its really the difference between a large scale return to more agrarian living and the Jetsons. So it really is exciting news if somebody pulls it off.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | about 5 years ago | (#29786433)

I'm concerned about the idea of 'endless growth in a finite world' that cheap food and energy seem to sustain. If the world population was the same now as it was before the green revolution (2 billion or so) everything would be rosy. That is is now 6.8 billion, set for 7 billion in 2012 and utterly dependent on fossil-fuel centered food production is a worry for me.

It goes something like this:

1: Living organisms reproduce until the natural resources cannot sustain the population

2: Some of the organisms changes to get an advantage. This could be by using another source
of resources, using resources more efficiently, or simply killing off competition

3: Those best adapted to their surroundings on average increase in number on the expense of those who don't.

Really, don't think that our tendency to reproduce until we hit a limitation of resources is something unnatural. It's the very reason evolution occurs. There are some people suggesting we should stop technological development and simply cease reproducing to conserve resources. Considering you are fighting genetic impulses that has come about as a result of billions of years of evolution, all I can say is: Good luck with that!

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

damburger (981828) | about 5 years ago | (#29786729)

For the third time. Resource availability isn't the sole determinant of fertility rate (seeing as how rich countries with more resources per capita also have lower fertility rates). Humans are not just animals that breed to fill a niche, even the human beings with different colour skin from you. You are a fucking stupid racist, and are mouthing a horridly unscientific position.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786563)

I'm concerned about the idea of 'endless growth in a finite world' that cheap food and energy seem to sustain. If the world population was the same now as it was before the green revolution (2 billion or so) everything would be rosy. That is is now 6.8 billion, set for 7 billion in 2012 and utterly dependent on fossil-fuel centered food production is a worry for me.

With cheap energy and cheap food we could hand the poor a bag lunch and then shoot them into space. I'm thinking massive rail gun.

Got any other little problems you want solved?

As my boss was fond of saying, before I strangled him, "Don't bring me a problem unless you're bringing a solution with it."

So, get to work on a solution! I'm thinking massive rail gun...

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786681)

I'm concerned about the idea of 'endless growth in a finite world' that cheap food and energy seem to sustain.

Then you have nothing to worry about. Population growth rate is declining as we gain technical achievement.

Cheap/abundant would greatly accelerate this trend as well as allow us to get off this rock.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 5 years ago | (#29786725)

Global population and resource figures aren't that meaningful, in that they don't take into account the uneven distribution. As any particular locality becomes unsustainable relative to some other one within practical reach, people will migrate. This will eventually extend beyond our planet. The numbers and environmental "morals" are very arbitrary in all but the most narrow perspectives.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29786249)

That's essentially what Thomas Malthus thought. It was incomprehensible to him that people would willingly restrain themselves in the face of greater resources.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786749)

Uh, it's widely recognised that Malthus was wrong because he didn't take into account that food production would increase as fast or faster than the population increase. That he was wrong because people were able to restrain themselves from eating, is pretty much the opposite of why most people think he was wrong.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (2)

damburger (981828) | about 5 years ago | (#29786651)

Restating the failed predictions of Malthus doesn't deserve to be modded 'insightful'. The fact is, fertility rates are determined by social factors (generally, higher gender equality leads to sustainable fertility rates) - if, as you so unthinkingly suggest, rates are determined simply by the availability of resources, then a family who is five times wealthier should have five times as many children (obviously wrong) and the UK should have 3 times the fertility rate of Equitorial Guinea (again, obviously wrong; the rate is much higher in the latter). Just because the years of the green revolution and after saw continued population growth, does not mean it caused population growth.

Basically, you are working from the assumption that an organism will breed as much as it can until its population is checked by famine. This does (sometimes) work for animals - but human beings are not animals. Your suggesting they will act as them (and, lets cut to the chase, you are only suggesting that human beings of certain ethnic groups act like animals...) is unscientific.

You are commit an 'ad hoc ergo propter hoc' fallacy, and throwing in a nice bit of racism as well. Insightful my arse.

when the energy runs out - social justice... isn't (2, Interesting)

turing_m (1030530) | about 5 years ago | (#29786519)

Imagine owning a swimming pool with porous walls. In order to use it, we either have to build a new swimming pool with non-porous walls (or hack it somehow), or constantly fill it up with more water. Which makes more sense? Do we have a water efficiency problem, or a water shortage? To improve the analogy a bit, let's say that we live in a very dry area and get new water from an aquifer.

Energy efficiency vs energy shortage is analogous. And when these ultimately short term methods of energy production are exhausted, the poor will die in droves.

Re:when the energy runs out - social justice... is (1)

Elrac (314784) | about 5 years ago | (#29786661)

Energy efficiency vs energy shortage is analogous. And when these ultimately short term methods of energy production are exhausted, the poor will die in droves.

That's why we're having this discussion: Unlike the current majority of energy sources, fusion is a potentially limitless source - or as limitless as the water in our oceans. Limitless energy also makes it a little easier to grow more food. For example, given cheap energy, it becomes simple to desalinate seawater.

Re:Cheap energy is social justice (2, Interesting)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 5 years ago | (#29786579)

Cheap energy like nuclear fusion is much more than social justice. It means no more CO2 emissions from coal power, no more oil dependency from undemocratic countries, it means hydroelectric cars for everybody, cheap desalination and therefore cheap fresh water and irrigation. Energy is everything. Once we get this done, it might actually save the planet.

Niggers are not human beings (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29785751)

Niggers are walking bags of shit. All they do is stuff their fat lips with watermelon and fried chicken.

ah... (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29785799)

The idea is interesting- creating a self confining toroid of plasma instead of relying solely on external magnetic containment but from what I've seen of the "tech" it looks to be unfortunately the work of crackpots. Don't get me wrong, I really hope that they actually succeed in doing what they're claiming they can but I sincerely doubt it.

Re:ah... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 5 years ago | (#29785855)

It may not work but I wouldn't classify it as crackpot.

Re:ah... (2, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29785957)

You should take a look at the video [google.com] they made on google; yes they are crackpots [wikipedia.org] unfortunately...

Excellent! (2, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | about 5 years ago | (#29785803)

This is great news! If this works, I'll be able to install a Mr. Fusion device on my DeLorean, which should be able to generate the 1.21 Gigawatts of electricity that I need to run my flux capacitor! I'll no longer need to steal Plutonium from the Iranians! ;-)

Re:Excellent! (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | about 5 years ago | (#29785869)

I'll no longer need to steal Plutonium from the Libyans! ;-)

There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Excellent! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about 5 years ago | (#29785981)

Yes, I know it was Libyans in the movie. But this is reality. I get my Plutonium from the Iranians. ;-)

I was able to achieve a pinch on my device (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29785819)

I was about 3/4's power and after a night at the bar, and I achieved not just one pinch, but several, some spontaneous and uncontrollable followed by a full on intra-device regurgitation.

Anonymous Coward (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29785827)

I hear Fusion has moved from "Always being 10 years away" to "Always being 5 years away." Great progress!

Keep at it, guys! (0, Flamebait)

Elrac (314784) | about 5 years ago | (#29785851)

Fusion is difficult, REALLY difficult. But once it gets working, it will provide abundantly cheap energy with relatively few side effects. The availability of fusion will trigger a revolution similar to the beginning of the industrial age. Cheap, clean energy with no dependence on hateful towel-heads - what's not to like?

Fusion is a long-term project, so whoever funds it risks not seeing the rewards. So all those who could be funding research are holding back in hopes that someone else will do the work for them. Shareholders demand consistent and predictable profits, so the standard capitalist model of venture capitalization no longer works for powering "ventures" in the original sense of the word.

Wouldn't it be funny if they got it working in China, say, or Japan, and they'd end up collecting lifetimes of royalties from the US?

I would love to see this (both the expensive high-power stuff and the cheap off-chance research) funded much more heavily by the governments of the world.

Re:Keep at it, guys! (1)

jcr (53032) | about 5 years ago | (#29785959)

once it gets working, it will provide abundantly cheap energy with relatively few side effects.

I would call not having to fork over a trillion dollars a year for foreign oil a pretty major side effect.

-jcr

Re:Keep at it, guys! (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29786017)

I can't help but remember all the talk about nuclear fission doing the same thing- energy too cheap to meter and all. Fusion as it is currently is dependant on Deuterium and Tritium fuel for the most part and Tritium is mostly produced from the Li6+n => He4+T and Li7+n => He4+T+2n reactions both of which must occur in a high neutron flux environment (conventional fission reactor) which makes the first fusion plants very dependant on fission reactors for fuel production. What is worse is that you'd have to produce about a dozen Tritium nuclei for every Uranium atom fissioned just to make fusion produce as much energy as the fission reaction that was used to synthesize the fusion fuel in the first place. The future of fusion that *may* approach what you're expecting of it will likely involve aneutronic fusion reactions such as the B11+H1 => 3He4 reaction among several others. THe problem is that they are much more difficult to get working than D+T fusion. The B11+H1 reaction requires a roughly 10^9 degree core to work which is nearly ten times what D/T does.

Misdirection Re:Keep at it, guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786345)

I can't help but remember all the talk about nuclear fission doing the same thing- energy too cheap to meter and all. Fusion as it is currently is dependant on Deuterium and Tritium fuel for the most part and Tritium is mostly produced from the Li6+n => He4+T and Li7+n => He4+T+2n reactions both of which must occur in a high neutron flux environment (conventional fission reactor) which makes the first fusion plants very dependant on fission reactors for fuel production. What is worse is that you'd have to produce about a dozen Tritium nuclei for every Uranium atom fissioned just to make fusion produce as much energy as the fission reaction that was used to synthesize the fusion fuel in the first place. The future of fusion that *may* approach what you're expecting of it will likely involve aneutronic fusion reactions such as the B11+H1 => 3He4 reaction among several others. THe problem is that they are much more difficult to get working than D+T fusion. The B11+H1 reaction requires a roughly 10^9 degree core to work which is nearly ten times what D/T does.

You can read more about what's required here:
Fusion [gsu.edu]

Re:Keep at it, guys! (1)

Renraku (518261) | about 5 years ago | (#29786125)

No, if it happened in China, we'd just steal it from them and use it, like they steal patents from us and use them. We'd tell them to get fucked if they wanted royalties. If Japan developed it, we'd probably license it for a token amount, since we want to stay friendly with them, and they want to stay friendly with us.

Look at it on the reverse side. Imagine if we found the technology and built plants for it. Guess where a lot of parts would come from? Yeah, China. Either they could piece it together like a puzzle, or just send some grad students over to help work with the technology and have the specifics within a few years anyway. Then there would be fusion plants in China, never mind the patent.

Theory? No. Hypothesis. (0, Offtopic)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | about 5 years ago | (#29785927)

If the theory holds, the device will produce more electricity than it consumes.

You keep using that word. I don't know it means what you think it means. Theories don't "hold". Theories are verified and verifiable explanations of the behaviour of natural processes. If you have a plausible explanation that you still need to validate either by physical observations or by logical deductions then what you have is an hypothesis. Come on, the words have very specifically defined meanings. Please don't add to the confusion.

Re:Theory? No. Hypothesis. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#29786057)

The words don't really have any meaning among actual scientists, who are extremely sloppy with the use of the classifying terms. Apparently the elite take the quote, "Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds" as license to not bother trying to be consistent.

Instead, ideas are classified by whether they appear in papers, conference proceedings, journals, peer-reviewed journals, the peer-reviewed journal of note for the particular field, Ph.D. Thesis, Masters Thesis, and textbooks. Any of which can trump the others depending upon circumstance except papers and textbooks, neither of which is reviewed, and both of which MUST contain ideas which no longer have support, or were built on faulty assumptions.

Re:Theory? No. Hypothesis. (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 5 years ago | (#29786087)

Your point of view is common, but not correct. From dictionary.com:

Theory: "a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity."

A theory is a group of explanations for something, NOT a hypothesis that has been confirmed. Theories are generally formulated, then hypotheses (otherwise known as "predictions") are generated from them, then these hypotheses are tested. If a hypothesis that is supported by the theory is shown not to be true then the theory needs to be revised or discarded.

To use the example in the definition, Einstein's theory of relativity was always a theory. It became an accepted theory through repeated testing of it's predictions, including the hypothesis that light should be bent by a gravitational field.

This guy's idea sounds like it's technically a hypothesis - a prediction made by a theory, or by his interpretation of a theory (such as plasma dynamics).

Re:Theory? No. Hypothesis. (1)

Angostura (703910) | about 5 years ago | (#29786555)

Your definition of theory sounds nice, but I find it leaves the definition of hypothesis hanging rather. I was so intrigued by what a hypothesis was that I went to your same source and looked up the defniition:

"A proposition, or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena, either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation (working hypothesis) or accepted as highly probable in the light of established facts."

Uh, OK - so using these definitions it sounds as if, a theory effectively the collective noun for a group of hypotheses that play nicely together. Then I saw the note at the bottom:

Synonyms:
1. Theory, hypothesis are used in non-technical contexts to mean an untested idea or opinion. A theory in technical use is a more or less verified or established explanation accounting for known facts or phenomena: the theory of relativity. A hypothesis is a conjecture put forth as a possible explanation of phenomena or relations, which serves as a basis of argument or experimentation to reach the truth: This idea is only a hypothesis.

(itals are mine).

So from this section, it seems that theories are more-or-less verified, while hypotheses are conjectoral. I hypothesise that these dictionary writers have their knickers in a twist.

Re:Theory? No. Hypothesis. (1)

maxfresh (1435479) | about 5 years ago | (#29786117)

Are you sure about that definition of theory? Is a theory really verifiable?

I always thought that in the physical sciences, a theory is a falsifiable statement about the mechanism of some natural phenomenon, rather than a verifiable statement. That is, the best you can do is to say that your theory is not inconsistent with observations or experimental results, but you can never say that you have verified it to be "true", because there is always the possibility that advances in technology, or new discoveries will end up disproving the theory, or requiring some modification to it, in light of new knowledge.

Re:Theory? No. Hypothesis. (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29786143)

You keep using that word. I don't know it means what you think it means. Theories don't "hold". Theories are verified and verifiable explanations of the behaviour of natural processes.

Newton's theories were shown to be accurate under the conditions which he had experience but fell apart under unusual conditions of strong gravity and high velocities. They were replaced by Einstein's theories of relativity under the conditions where Newton's were no longer adequate. Both described behavior of natural processes accurately under many conditions but Newton's theories inevitably needed to be extended by Einstein's to better explain those natural processes.

Re:Theory? No. Hypothesis. (1)

ivan_w (1115485) | about 5 years ago | (#29786265)

I'm afraid I must (respectfully) disagree..

A "theory" is an attempt at giving a rational explanation of an observable.

For example, Newton's universal gravitation "theory" gave an explanation for what could be observed. It was relying (upon other things) on the hypothesis that space was universally cartesian.

A couple centuries later, some other guy proposed another "theory" - General Relativity - that explained the same effects using a different hypothesis - that the structure of space itself is altered by the presence of a mass.

What I am saying is that "theory" is indeed an attempt at explaining what one can observe. The hypothesis is something you assume to be true. An hypothesis may or may not be verified - and the theory makes assumptions - that the proposed hypothesis are true.

Note that "theory" is not the same a "theorem" and "hypothesis" is not the same as "conjecture". Hypothesis is closer to an axiom.

As a last example, the GUT (Grand Unified Theory) requires the existence of a specific particle : the Higgs boson to account for mass. The theory is there, the hypothesis is that the particle exists. So even though it is a theory it *still* needs to be validated (hence the LHC) by validating the hypothesis.

So to me : Hypothesis x Observation -> Theory

--Ivan

Re:Theory? No. Hypothesis. (1)

garompeta (1068578) | about 5 years ago | (#29786669)

Theory x Experimentation = Law

Roads? (0, Offtopic)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 5 years ago | (#29785935)

Where we're going, we don't need roads ...

Step closer to nuclear fusion (5, Funny)

Sam the Nemesis (604531) | about 5 years ago | (#29785989)

Earth has moved one step nearer to the Sun?

It always looks good at first (4, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | about 5 years ago | (#29786013)

In fusion research it always look good when you do low-energy tests or low density etc... It is relatively easy to confine plasmas that don't "burn". A penning trap will do the job quite nicely. The problems always show up when you try to push your design to operate close to the lawson criterion, at which point many otherwise promising designs just fall short ( taking the penning trap as an example the required magnetic field for any practical confinement time exceeds that at which modern superconductors stop beeing superconducting ).

Now I admit that I don't know the details of this particular scheme, but I can say with almost certainty that when they try to get closer to break even the higher temperatures, densities and confinement times required will turn the thing into a massive headache.

Re:It always looks good at first (5, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | about 5 years ago | (#29786253)

Agreed. Every joker who builds a farnsworth fusor in his basement thinks he is going to be producing commercial power some time next year, and when they make a noise about this, and idiots with money buy into their promises of more for less, it can take funding from genuine research. When you are doing something that is inherently slow, costly, and prone to overruns, you've constantly got some bullshit artist nipping at your heels claiming they can do the same for less money, in less time, with big fucking bells and whistles on.

I'm involved in a cubesat project, and we recently had to explain why we were spending 100k on a launch when some random jokers on the internet with new-age mysticism and off-the-shelf amateur rocket motors claimed to be able to do the same for 10k "some time next year".

Re:It always looks good at first (2, Interesting)

haruchai (17472) | about 5 years ago | (#29786623)

Both you and the GP should go watch http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1518007279479871760# [google.com] . Eric Lerner presented at Google, presumably looking for funding a couple of years ago. I've watched it a few times - very interesting stuff.

This one http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1996321846673788606# [google.com] , by the now-deceased Dr Robert Bussard, is also very interesting
as he was involved in nuclear research for over 50 years. He jokes that the Russian gave us the Tokamak to make sure we'd never get fusion.
"100 billion stars in the sky and not one is toroidal"

Re:It always looks good at first (4, Funny)

damburger (981828) | about 5 years ago | (#29786765)

Wow. Thats one scientific quip there. Not one star in the sky is toroidal, but not one star in the sky can be kept in a building in the south of France...

Re:It always looks good at first (2, Interesting)

Delwin (599872) | about 5 years ago | (#29786539)

You may want to take a closer look at this one then - they don't require any higher confinement times because they're setting this up like a piston not a turbine. It creates fusion in a microsecond pulse, the field collapses and then they start all over again. You set the sucker up to rapid fire (or line them up in series with one powering the generation of the field on the next) and you're in business.

Now of course we need to see if they can take that final step, but so far they're close enough to their predictions that I'd be willing to invest some money in these guys (assuming I had enough to invest...).

Re:It always looks good at first (4, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | about 5 years ago | (#29786607)

It creates fusion in a microsecond pulse

Which, just as with Inertial Confinemenet Fusion, means they just traded confinement time for Temperature and density.

There's this neat little thing called the triple product which relates to the power output of a fusion plasma.

n*T*tau

n is the number density, T is the temperature and tau is the confinement time. In Tokamaks n is low and T and tau are high. In other fusion schemes tau may be low, meaning they need higher n and T to make up for it. Thus while this particular machine may not need to increase the confinement time, they will then simply have to increase either temperature or number density instead.

Slashdot's getting better... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786161)

... now we admit it's a dupe *in* the summary!

A step closer to cheap nuclear fusion? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 years ago | (#29786169)

That's a silly summary - it's not like we've achieved sustainable fusion at any cost, cheap or expensive. Right now the goal is still the same one we've been pursuing for a few decades.

The Iron & Nickel rich sun (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29786787)

I have information that supports an iron and nickel rich sun model. According to the model, fusion reactions occur within the molten metal when it cycles through the deuterium absorbed from water vapour. (Water vapour detected in sunspots) . A possible explanation for sunspots; deuterium and hydrogen loading should also mean less activity in the local area. In this model, most of the sun's body is liquid metal with a surrounding plasma and the real magic happens when D2 transmutates into He4.

D2 fusion results in He4 atoms + additional heat (See Arata fusion experiment). As the gas atoms are expelled they are further excited by the plasma and nano-flares in the atmosphere. If the model is accurate, it should be possible to replicate easily.

To my knowledge, no one has experimented with molten metal / deuterium loading. In the spirit of open source I hope someone here will find this information useful. As a simple experiment I have devised an apparatus consisting of an inductive coil with a sphere of nickel which are submersed in deuterium liquid. When power is applied to the inductive coil, it will levitate and melt the nickel sphere within it to initiate the desired reactions. In order to prevent oxidation, Sulfur is added to the deuterium liquid.

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