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Good News For US Fusion Research

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

The Almighty Buck 149

zrbyte writes "Fusion research would get a major boost in a Department of Energy (DOE) spending bill approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations. The panel rejected an Obama Administration proposal to cut funding for domestic fusion research in the 2013 fiscal year, which begins 1 October. It would also give more money than requested to an international collaboration building the ITER fusion reactor in France. This will allow the Alcator C-Mod fusion facility at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge to be kept open, which the Administration had proposed closing."

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There must be some way... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823521)

...to make this negative, and blame it on Bush.

Re:There must be some way... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823865)

I can't speak for the Bush part, but this isn't all rosy. Quoth the Science article:

To help pay for the fusion increases, the committee made major cuts to DOE's Basic Energy Sciences account, which funds studies in an array of fields, including chemistry, geosciences, and biology. That account would get $1.7 billion, $36.9 million below this year's level and $142.5 million below the Administration's request. The bulk of the savings would come from canceling or delaying construction projects.

Is all of the potential loss of research and certain loss of construction worth the fusion goal? I'm not feeling lucky there.

Re:There must be some way... (3, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825351)

Calling it a major cut is a slight exaggeration, the actual cut is 2%, as opposed to Obama's request to increase it by 8%.

It sounds like they're just shifting some money from Obama's "Green" energy initiatives to fusion research.

Re:There must be some way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823953)

Other than tanking the whole fucking world economy so there's no discretionary money for anything except banker bailouts, no I can't think of any way for that to happen.

Re:There must be some way... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824069)

Your comment is about five years late. This was an Obama cut that got undone by the House.... it's all (D)s involved.

How DARE anyone blame Bush for ANYTHING!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824713)

How DARE anyone blame Saint George for ANYTHING!!!!!

Don't you know that the war in Iraq is Obama's fault? Didn't you realize that the housing crisis, the BP oil spill, and the 9/11 attacks were all Obama's personal fault?!

Hasn't it gotten to you yet that the rise of Communism was because of Barack H. Obama? Of course, the fall of Communism was because of St. Ronald Reagan!

Haven't you lib'ruls learned anything???

Re:There must be some way... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825299)

Pork spending is bad when used on bridges to nowhere, but great when spent on fusion? I wonder how many techie libertarians here were happy at the expense, whether just initially or still, after having thought about it.

Anti-science Republicans (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825561)

Don't you understand? This is obviously a ruse to throw Slashdot commenters off the trail of their anti-science agenda. Or it could be a disagreement about priorities and funding. But I think it is more fun if I make broad, sweeping generalizations about people I don't generally talk to.

Re:There must be some way... (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39826339)

There probably is.

political science (4, Insightful)

bolthole (122186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823523)

Yay election year motivated spending.... lets see them get anything the following year :p

Re:political science (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823639)

The disheartening thing about our budget is that we were unable to find a reasonable solution to contain health care costs in our country. We have plenty of examples of country who are able to offer good health care for a fraction of the cost and yet we have chosen to kick the can and not solve this problem. Anything else in the budget (other than defence) is peanuts compared to health care. Yet, we have no solution in sight. Harder than facing the problem, we chose to digress the discussion and talk about 'death panels' and other nonsensical distractions. .... sigh....

Re:political science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823675)

Fusion will solve all health care woes. It is a silver bullet, a magic pill.

Re:political science (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823769)

Well, factually, it would knock something like 10-20% off the healthcare costs for the country (assuming it could drive power costs down 90%).

Re:political science (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823811)

What? I'm not following the connect between power & health costs.

How come the government is doing fusion research instead of the private sector, like existing electric companies?

Re:political science (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823885)

Almost no company could absorb the risk inherent in basic science at that scale and companies do not benefit from raising all boats equally - they only benefit from raising their own boat. Companies are also usually not very interested in improving things 20 years or even 2 years down the road. Government is better equipped to deal with basic science because of that.

Re:political science (4, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823895)

What? I'm not following the connect between power & health costs.

How come the government is doing fusion research instead of the private sector, like existing electric companies?

Because electric companies are public utilities. See, in order to spend (invest) an enormous amount money into expensive, unproven research projects like this, you must have "extra" money laying around. That money comes from profits. Utility companies are a natural monopoly and are therefor heavily regulated so they don't take advantage of their consumers. If the utility companies had the types of huge profits needed to invest in nuclear fusion research, the government would step in and force them to lower their prices, thus eliminating their profits and research capital.

Re:political science (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824093)

You imply that if they were allowed to the type of profits required to do this research... that they would actually do this research. I suspect, rather, that they would simply return it to their investors and release "record profits" announcements quarterly while buying off legislators to continue doing what they have been.

Re:political science (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824323)

In my state that's no longer true. Prices fluctuate up-and-down with customer demand (though it's usually a fixed-price contract like cellphones), so in theory any one of those ~50 electric companies could have excess profits lying around for research.

Still wondering how power & health costs connect?

Re:political science (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824499)

Cheaper power = Less overhead utility costs for medical providers
Cheaper power = More disposable income = Healthier lifestyles
Cheaper power = More clean water = Cheaper crops and Healthier people
Cleaner power = Less pollution = Fewer pollution related illnesses

Re:political science (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824203)

A significant cost involved in running hospitals and smaller offices is power for lights, devices, etc.
Subtract that out of the equation, and healthcare gets cheaper.

Re:political science (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824511)

Ahhh good point, but someone has to pay that bill. It might as well be the hospital, otherwise if they were handed a blank check, they'd have no motivation to control costs. They could burn-up all kinds of power w/o consequences.

Some people like Al Gore and Barack Obama think power is already too cheap, and a carbon penalty should be added, to encourage less usage.

Re:political science (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824721)

Well, I think the (part of) the point with fusion power is that the ancillary costs are also low. That there's essentially zero carbon footprint, the only output is harmlessly small amounts of helium, that the input is sufficiently plentiful to last essentially indefinitely. And as a result, the low cost of fusion power would MORE accurately reflect the costs of generation. Whereas with things like coal power, we're subsidizing generation costs with atmospheric costs that are getting paid by people who weren't necessarily benefiting from the generation.

Re:political science (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824797)

Well, that would be the nice thing about fusion power. No CO2 = no carbon penalty.

Re:political science (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824375)

There are startups doing exactly that.

Jeff Bezos (of amazon) funded a Canadian one just this year to the tune of $20million

Re:political science (1)

Meeni (1815694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825287)

Because without gvmt intervention, research stalls and the country flushes down the toilet bowl of past superpowers.

Re:political science (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823887)

Every attempt at reform to date has sought merely to spread the cost, not reduce the cost.

What we need is an anal exam of all the players in the system. Full top to bottom audit, no information hidden. No relying on anecdotal stories or other gut feel explanations. That way, policy makers will KNOW what's driving the costs and design appropriate remedies.

Until that happens, any attempt to solve this will fail.

Re:political science (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824287)

When the "death panels" meme spread like wildfire, I realized then that there was no chance of substantially reducing healthcare costs, because the public will to make healthcare decisions rationally, in an evidence-based manner on cost and benefit, does not exist. Without that, we are mainly limited to redistribution.

Re:political science (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824567)

You are doing the same as has been done before...ignoring the fact that there undoubtedly things that can be done to reduce the structural costs.

Costs are not skyrocketing not ONLY because people insist on MRIs for the running nose. They are going up because MRIs cost a lot of money to do. Why? who knows? You can guess...large capital costs, specialized training, special housing, etc. But still, it is a piece of equipment governed by the laws of GAAP and FDA regulation. Each of these regulatory systems can be tweaked to reduce costs of owning and operating an MRI scanner. Then there is the entire manufacturing side. Incentives to standardize components and manufacturing design considerations can further reduce costs.

Why is this not happening now? Because the Insurance and/or the Feds pay it as it is...why bother?

Re:political science (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824969)

Well in the case of MRIs, since you're talking about very large superconducting coils, I expect they're also expensive to run because a) very strong B fields require lots of power to generate, b) superconducting magnets need to be cooled with liquid helium (which itself tends to be kept in an intermediary LN insulating "blanket").

The LHe and LN also require power to condense/cool and when dealing with stuff kept that cold, there almost certainly is more maintenance complexity (and hence costs) than with the machines that go ping.

Re:political science (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824071)

Healthcare is a for-profit industry in the US. Hospitals these days are run by beancounters who consider them 'profit centers' rather than 'centers for health'. If the US wants to fix an unfixable system, they need to talk to the Brits, the Swedes, the Finns, and so forth. Doubt it'll happen here in the Land of the Fee.

but this is supposed to be about fusion. The funding is there for now, because it's trendy. And it's at the expense of other projects. And fusion will still be 20 years away. Expect this funding to go away after the election because you can't legislate breakthroughs onto a schedule.

Re:political science (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824729)

I'd think in the current political climate, not spending would be election year behavior.

Slashdot carrying Republican water again (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823559)

Let's see, a series of anti-global warming stories, anti-environmental stories, etc, shortly followed by a pork barrel promotion story blaming the sitting president for, of all things, cutting funding to a dead end science experiment. Gee whiz, I wonder why Slashdot is once again carrying Republican talking points and pushing a Republican agenda? Oh rriiight, it's an election year so the right wing media is ratcheting it up a notch and slashdot is doing its usual duty for the right.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823677)

How exactly is fusion power a dead end?

You're confusing "distant destination with rewards that are worth it" for "dead end".

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (-1)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823779)

ITER is a money hole with no chance of working. Other fusion programs are much cheaper and more likely to get results, for instance the Lawrenceville Plasma Physics and Navy electrostatic inertial confinement programs. It looks like some of these latter programs may get more money.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (5, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823923)

Says the expert.

I've SEEN a working fusion reactor. Tokamaks work right now.

ITER merely take scientificially-demonstrated technology, and makes it industrial-scale.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824255)

I've SEEN a working fusion reactor. Tokamaks work right now.

There's a world of difference between working and practical.
I think we both know that's what the parent meant. After all, there are fusion machines that can sit on a desk, but you don't see anyone proclaiming that fusion power is here yet.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824451)

The Tokamak is practical. The devices that the grandparent is talking about aren't and never will be because they will never produce net power.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (2, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824665)

AC speaks the truth.

Power balance in tokamaks and other magnetic fusion machines is well understood enough, to the point where they're covered in chapters in various textbooks on the subject. They lay out, in black and white, roughly what design decisions need to be made to have tokamaks and friends produce significant net power. The books I have are quite a few years old too.

OTOH, there are quite a few papers out there, outlining why farnsworth fusors and polywells make rubbish power plants.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825169)

So now all you need to do is build the thermal blanket, fuel injectors, ash removers, and make it all so it can be mass-produced and produce competitive electricity with mainstream ways, and have the usual 99% up-time people expect, and decommission it when it has been neutron-embrittled enough.

See? Simple!

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825557)

Pfft. "There remain serious engineering challenges", a statement nobody would disagree with, is far from the bullshit "dead end" claim that started this thread. You have, in essence, made everyone else's point for them by backpedaling to their side of the argument.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825853)

Says the expert.

I've SEEN a working fusion reactor. Tokamaks work right now.

ITER merely take scientificially-demonstrated technology, and makes it industrial-scale.

How is it all the science is dedicated to new ways to create the energy and not new and better ways to transfer it into electricity. They always just create steam and connect it to a Turbine and call it new.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824471)

You're confusing "necessary test-bed for materials" and "money hole".

But as you clearly know nothing about the field I understand the confusion.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825389)

Um, why don't you read the slashdot thread we JUST HAD that has a bunch of questions answered by fusion researchers?

In short, You're wrong.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823809)

How do you know it will ever work? You're confusing "wishful thinking, daydreams and delusions" with "historical track record of proven failures and almost insurmountable engineering obstacles". You want a distant destination with rewards? Time to remodel our western social structure. But that's too hard, better stick to fanciful sci-fi scenarios and techno-fixes that will never happen. So much easier to cope with than reality! Also means never having to change the old career-suburbs-car model either, too comfortable in front of your Chinese TV!!

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (4, Insightful)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823941)

How do you know it will ever work? You're confusing "wishful thinking, daydreams and delusions" with "historical track record of proven failures and almost insurmountable engineering obstacles". You want a distant destination with rewards? Time to remodel our western social structure. But that's too hard, better stick to fanciful sci-fi scenarios and techno-fixes that will never happen. So much easier to cope with than reality! Also means never having to change the old career-suburbs-car model either, too comfortable in front of your Chinese TV!!

Damn and me without a time machine to go tell Da Vinci all those drawings of flying machines are a waste. I mean really hundreds of years of none stop proven failures. He should have just stuck to art.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824223)

Fanciful flawed comparisons DO NOT make for practical, real engineering.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39826351)

So because man learnt how to fly, the ITER isn't a massive waste of PUBLIC money, and a massive FRAUD? You're an idiot, you can't even argue properly.

ITER is a fraud on a grand scale, it will never produce electricity at an AFFORDABLE price.

Why aren't you promoting Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors? They actually work and will provide electricity at an affordable price.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823903)

"rewards" that might never happen. Just like warp drive has never happened.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (2)

cnettel (836611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824537)

I must have missed the weaponized uncontrolled faster-than-light explosion 60 years ago that proved the basic principles in an artificial device, and the whole thing being consistent with generally known physics.

Constructing a warp drive would require new basic science. Getting a fusion reactor working with an energy gain might require specific discoveries and a lot of hard engineering, but it's not inconceivable in any way. I also think the recent interview with the Alcator C-Mod guys here at /. made the point that the "failures" for at least the last 40 years have been the failures of funding agencies to provide the resources that the researches expected to be needed all along. ITER will be better know compared to if it had been built 20 years ago (new insights, better materials, better resources), but the basic design for what was needed to evaluate the next level of tokamaks concepts was there that long back.

Fusion exists -- warp drives don't (4, Insightful)

dlenmn (145080) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824561)

We know fusion exists, and that the reaction can produce more energy than it takes to maintain. If that weren't true, we wouldn't be here. That's not to say there aren't issues with fusion power, but comparing it to warp drives -- a fictional technology -- is silly.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824235)

it's a dead end because you, like me are nothing but dust without water.
thus fusion power quite literally means death sentence for all organic life.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824367)

The supply of hydrogen available for fusion is so ridiculously large that the concern you have won't be a serious issue for something like a hundred billion years. And at that point, we'll be struggling to figure out what to do about the heat death of the universe anyway, hydrogen exhaustion will be the least of our civilizations' problems.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823695)

Friendly clue from Europe:

As long as you believe the only politics that exist is "Democrat" or "Republican" your country is never going to arise from it's current venture into corporatism.

Fix it by changing the system. Not supporting it.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824351)

<sigh> If only it were that easy...

Unfortunately, here in the States, we have First past the post [wikipedia.org] or "winner take all" voting, which simply means that the person/party who gets the most (NOT (necessarily) a majority, simply the MOST) votes - wins. Essentially, a vote for any candidate other than the second place finisher is a vote for the winner. As a recent historical example, Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the election in 2000. See also Duverger's law [wikipedia.org] , which says that first-past-the-post systems are guaranteed (over time) to become two-party systems. Of course, the alternative is multiple parties and coalition governments, which many other nation's governments are living examples of how well and smoothly that system works, too.

When it comes right down to it, humanity has yet to invent the ideal system of government.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824391)

Yes, Europe is a place that looks to have figured out how to make government work all right. Let's take our clues from them.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (0)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824631)

Friendly clue from Europe:

Yes! Let's be more like Europe!

No. Let's not. We have enough trouble running a productive economy as-is, without further drowning in an even larger entitlement nightmare and crushing, productivity-killing tax and regulatory environment. Once the Germans finally get eveyone else in the EU straightened out - at an inconceivable cost to every German - maybe we can revisit this. But by the time all that dust is settled, any viable-looking European economy won't be operated much like it is now. Because the way it's set up now has proven to be unsustainable. Being born owed things, and asserting that someone else always pays for everything is: death. And dying is exactly what's happening to the European economy.

And one of the reasons for that is the embrace of electoral systems and results that prevent any sort of working mandate, and which grant un-earned power to groups representing only a few percent of the voters. No, I don't want advice from people who run things that way, thanks.

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39826193)

I'd rather the Irish banks weren't being funded by taxpayers like me (to the tune of E14,000 each per Irish man, woman and child) just to pay back German banks who were feckless enough to lend it to them in the first place.

As for your knee-jerk reaction, the Germans were the first ones to break the Eurozone rules back in the early 2000s.

What I'd like to see is more funding being put forward to Gen 3+ nuclear plants and shutdowns of the Gen 1s. Also a bit of funding towards Thorium fueled reactors ;)
Why? Well, fusion is all nice and everything, but Thorium is more plentiful than Uranium, reduces to a cleaner end product, and could possibly be used to reduce the Uranium waste we already have lying around.
We can use it as a nice step up to fusion, but today, and reduce the coal powered plants and cool off both sides of the climate change camps... for a while.
Captcha: lifters (LFTR).

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (4, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824047)

Let's see, a series of anti-global warming stories, anti-environmental stories, etc, shortly followed by a pork barrel promotion story blaming the sitting president for, of all things, cutting funding to a dead end science experiment. Gee whiz, I wonder why Slashdot is once again carrying Republican talking points and pushing a Republican agenda? Oh rriiight, it's an election year so the right wing media is ratcheting it up a notch and slashdot is doing its usual duty for the right.

Here are the recent Slashdot stories:

Who Needs CISPA? FBI Has a Non-Profit Workaround
WW2 Vet Sent 300,000 Pirated DVDs To Troops In Iraq, Afghanistan
Key Test For Skylon Spaceplane Engine Technology
China Plans National, Unified CPU Architecture
Microsoft Patches Major Hotmail 0-day Flaw After Widespread Exploitation
Conflict of Interest Derails UK Government Open Source Consultation
Analytic Thinking Can Decrease Religious Belief
Bionic Eye Patient Tests Planned For 2013
BOLD Plan To Find Mars Life On the Cheap
'Mein Kampf' To Be Republished In Germany
UK Digital Economy Act Delayed Till 2014

The only thing I see here remotely political is the "Analytic Thinking Can Decrease Religious Belief", which is another way of calling religious people stupid and "'Mein Kampf' To Be Republished In Germany", which contains a whole bunch of comments comparing "Mein Kampf" to the Bible.

Seriously dude! How bad do you really really want to believe in the fictional "right wing media" to make you see evidence of it where it does not exist?

Re:Slashdot carrying Republican water again (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825475)

Seriously dude! How bad do you really really want to believe in the fictional "right wing media" to make you see evidence of it where it does not exist?

Oh, make no mistake, the right wing media does exist....but not here at Slashdot.

Leftists carrying Jihadi oil again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824761)

One more Leftist Jihadi happily doing what he can to undermine the chances of nuclear fusion research going ahead, because if it successfully did and ended the West's dependence on Muslim oil, guess what - there would be no reason to consider that region of the world strategic any more, and those savages can be left to their own devices without getting some trillions of dollars over the years which they then use to wage jihad, or spread islamic supremacy in non Muslim lands.

The sheikhs in Dhahran, Manama, Abu Dhabi or Dubai must be paying him well. If fusion power became mainstream, his source of income would be gone, which is why he's busy shilling for the Mohammedans without looking like it. Pretty brilliant!

MOD THIS GUY DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825159)

Slashdot is far far far FAR LEFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dammit

MOD THIS GUY DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825249)

Slashdot is far far far FAR LEFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dammit

MOD THIS GUY Down!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825263)

Slashdot is on the FAR far FAR left!!! Dammit

Congress reads /.? (1)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823563)

That's new! ROFL. Lets see, which member's districts will this money go to...

Re:Congress reads /.? (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823951)

Probably the distinct that hosts the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Odds that it is a Republican district are something south of zero.

America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823571)

shouldn’t they be spending on securing more oil-fields in foreign countries?

Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823633)

Shouldnt they be working more on that whole being the economic shithole of the world thing?

It has to be a typo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823579)

It has to be a typo. Everyone knows Republicans (who control the House) are scientific Neanderthals and Democrats (like Obama) are scientifically enlightened. What kind of world are we living in when people won't live up to their assigned stereotypes?

Re:It has to be a typo. (1)

JoeZeppy (715167) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823867)

Nope, it's SOP. Obama's against it, therefore they must be for it. Plus I'm pretty sure at least some of them think it's for making nukyular bombs.

Re:It has to be a typo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824209)

Actually it is entirely consistent with Obama and his policies.

His stated energy policy is "All of the above".

Except for nuclear fission
Except for nuclear fusion
Except for Coal
Except for Natural Gas (see EPA Crucify video)
Except for Oil

It's just 50 years away now! (3, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823707)

That means in 10 years, it will be just forty years away, right?

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (5, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823817)

Maybe the fact that it always seems 50 years away has something to do with this [wikimedia.org] ?

They said in 1978 that then current funding levels would never produce a viable power platform. To get one going by today would have required on average $2.5 billion per year by the fusion researchers' own estimates. Actual funding since 1978? $500 million per year. Quite blaming the science for the politicians shortsightedness.

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (2)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824007)

Good news for us in Europe then. We take the problem seriously, and are devoting significant resources to it.

It's not like the old days either, where the British did all the innovating, and then the US made all the money. Technological leadership is heading away from the US, and shifting back towards Europe and the rising powers.

It is an easy trend to spot. Neoliberals know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824163)

Fusion has historically been underfunded. The only way to get any real funding for fusion research is from the DoD, once you convince them that a fusion-powered missile submarine is a Good Thing in that all they have to do is push a hose into the water to refuel. No, it won't work that way, but those armchair admirals are easily snowed.

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824427)

No, it won't work that way, but those armchair admirals are easily snowed.

Why not?

If this hypothetical fusion power plant runs on D-D or D-T or even the more esoteric p-B there's no real reason that fuel could be extracted from seawater. That of course assumes that you could fit a distillery into the boat. If not, then it's no big deal when you realise just how minuscule the amount of fuel such a craft would need.

Still I think you're dead-on when it comes to approaching the DoD; those people have pockets as deep as the oceans they patrol.

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824683)

Runtime or size on the powerplant doesn't really matter to them anymore. Fission provides plenty of power and oxygen, and at this point the major concern in staying underwater for extended periods of time for a sub crew is food. By the time they need to do serious work on the powerplant on the sub, you may as well scrap it because you have to upgrade all the electronics and weapons systems too. They may like fusion eventually, but it will only be for the radiation risk.

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825473)

Maybe the fact that it always seems 50 years away has something to do with this?

I saw that graph for the first time in the MIT fusion research Q&A. Man was it depressing seeing the "actual funding" line drooping way below the "fusion never" line. :(

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823947)

Man. my flying car has to be just around the corner...

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824703)

Flying cars aren't an engineering problem. They're a logistics problem. Imagine all the people you know (and yell at on the road) happily flying over your house.

Re:It's just 50 years away now! (1)

tinkerton (199273) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824421)

No it's a different type of math actually. Just like lightspeed minus another speed remains lightspeed, 50 years minus 10 years remains 50 years. It takes a bit of getting used to but after a while you start to see that it makes perfect sense. You just have to get used to the different math.

Re:the same idiots (1)

Phusion (58405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824593)

The same idiots who deny cannabis's medicinal benefits agree it should be grouped along with crack and ecstasy.

Everything is already running on fusion.... (5, Funny)

Petron (1771156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823751)

A day without fusion is like a day without sunshine!

I gatta get me this shirt (on thinkgeek)...

Re:Everything is already running on fusion.... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39823837)

I get my power from a nuclear power plant you insensitive clod!

All Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823827)

This is politics to help Scott Brown in Mass. Here are few more items from http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/04/fusion-wins-big-in-house-spendin.html?ref=hp

"Overall, the panel would provide DOE with $26.3 billion, about $365 million below its 2012 budget, and $1.76 billion below the Administration's request. DOE's Office of Science would get $4.824 billion, about $72.2 million less than its 2012 level and $190.6 million below the request."

"The bill instructs DOE to use the extra funds to keep open the Alcator C-Mod fusion facility at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, which the Administration had proposed closing. It also wants DOE to "fund continued research, operations and upgrades across the Office of Science's domestic fusion enterprise."

The cuts to the rest of the DOE energy research are pretty deep. Congratulations House for porking up Scott Brown.

Re:All Politics (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824237)

So I guess that Obama deleted the funding to hurt Scott Brown then?

Fusion = Boondoggle Pipe Dream (for now anyway) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823983)

LFTR, LFTR, LFTR. Seriously. We need a Manhattan Project-style sprint to commercialize Thorium-based energy. That'll give us 1000+, carbon-neutral years to figure out the whole Fusion thing. And hoverboards.

Re:Fusion = Boondoggle Pipe Dream (for now anyway) (2)

witchman (214735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825057)

I agree. While I do think that fusion power is worth researching, it should be a long term research project. LFTR is a "right now" project that will yield immediate results. Oak Ridge National Laboratories had a working LFTR reactor back in the 60s. We could have LFTR up and running on a global scale in 10 years if we could get just a little funding for it, say 1 billion dollars, which is a fraction of what has been spent so far on Fusion so far with no practical application yet.

Here's the primer on LFTR called "Thorium in Five Minutes" it's a good watch.
http://thoriumremix.com/2011/ [thoriumremix.com]

Here's a link to the Thorium petition.
http://thoriumpetition.com/ [thoriumpetition.com]

Enough for a Mars sample return mission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39823985)

More wasted pork on impossible tech. The money would better spent on a Mars sample mission or a Europa mission...

Waste of money - X-Prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824053)

Waste of money.

I'd rather see that cash go towards an X-prize for working fusion power designs.

He actually did it (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824085)

So the House really does do the exact oppposite of whatever Obama proposes. They can actually be tricked into doing something worthwhile. The more you know.....

Liquid fluoride thorium reactor (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824259)

We already have a technology that would give us energy independence for the 40 + years it will take to get the fusion reactors working!

10,800 LFTR would produce enough energy at 100 MW's each to fill all the US needs utilizing existing store of Uranium to start the fission process. They produce only 1% of waste and its only radioactive for 300 years apposed to the 10,000 years for Uranium. Alternatively they could build 1080 1000MW reactors to do the same job at a small fraction of the cost of conventional reactors and THEY CAN"T GO BOOM, and require no expensive multi-layer high pressure containment vessels. We could start building them within 2-3 years if we put our mind to it just like the original bomb making projects. Also it helps to eliminate proliferation of nuclear weapons by getting rid of existing stockpiles. About the only draw back that they legitimately have is that there isn't huge maintenance costs associated with it so its almost a build it and forget it with very low maintenance because it is done with fluids, just keep pumping in the ingredients and the process keeps going. Also another good thing about it is we are using ingredients that we just throw away from conventional mines. Also the ingredients are 3 times more abundant than Uranium and only has to be enriched to 20 % purity as apposed to 90% used in nuclear bombs! Unlike wind energy we don't use 350 pounds of precious metals to make each one and the energy density is much higher. Solar reflective arrays, which are currently the best method and most proven method of converting solar it electricity is not produced locally (from deserts) so less has to be done to improve the existing power distribution system. More reasons are against other methods and for LFTR but there are too many to mention here. Go LFTR...GO!!!

go Congress! (1)

johnwerneken (74428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824309)

Glad to know Congress is good for something!

Can't See Forest For The Trees (2)

cmholm (69081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824337)

The fusion research give back was a sop to Sen. Brown of MA. Overall, this bill is a step back... did @zrbyte read the article?

I'm fine with funding fusion, but the fact is that we haven't been and aren't anywhere near payoff on fusion research. While this Administration has tried to focus resources on technologies with near-term benefits towards supplementing and eventually substituting our energy supplies with cleaner sources, this Congress is sticking with their usual pork buddies: oil, coal, and uranium. That they threw a bone to Scott Brown was an afterthought, the cost of doing business for when they get to their real priorities: cutting social insurance and 1%er taxes.

The overall DOE budget is cut $365 million below the 2012 budget, $1.76 billion below the Administration request.
To pay for this:
- Fusion Energy Sciences program: +$72.6 million
- Various domestic fusion research programs: +$48.3 million ... mostly to keep Alcator C-Mod open.
- ITER contribution: +$73 million ... a drop in the bucket for the billions ITER will require from the US over 10 years.

They're cutting from this:
- DOE's Basic Energy Sciences: -$36.9 million, $142.5 million below Administration request, mostly by canceling or delaying construction projects.
- Biological and Environmental Research: -$69.8 million, $83.4 million below request.
- Advanced Research Projects Agency: -$75 million, $75 million below request.

Other winners:
- Fossil energy research: +$207 million
- Fission energy research: +$765 million

Re:Can't See Forest For The Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825011)

If it were a give-back to Senator Brown, then the Senate would have included this funding in their version of the bill - but it didn't. This was done by the House membership. The MA member on the House subcommittee is John Olver, who is a big supporter of domestic fusion research.

Dilithium Crystals (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39824355)

That's the ticket, matey.

--
"Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who."

Clean Energy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824429)

I'm sorry, but it's a big WTF that the administrator that's all about clean energy initiatives even consider under-funding or potentially closing research sites for Fusion. Fusion *is* our long term energy story. It's the only way the world gets through the next couple hundred years without a major meltdown due to other energy supplies failing us and having a domino effect on food supply.

We should be pouring even more money into this. The faster we get to Fusion the better. ITER isn't the only project, either. The National Ignition Facility ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Ignition_Facility ) really deserves more Green$ than most of the bullshit solar panel and wind farm companies.

Politicians: Stop canceling and underfunding the *really* important long term science initiatives (like SSC, ITER, NIF, just to name a few...). They're important. These are our future. The rest is just what passes the time.

Obama did wahhhtt?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39824457)

Short changing the future is not change I can believe in.

Yay! Oh, wait. (1)

Fishbulb (32296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39825069)

FTA:

The U.S. contribution to ITER would also grow by $73 million, to $178 million. That amount is $28 million higher than the request.

[...]

To help pay for the fusion increases, the committee made major cuts to DOE's Basic Energy Sciences account, which funds studies in an array of fields, including chemistry, geosciences, and biology. That account would get $1.7 billion, $36.9 million below this year's level and $142.5 million below the Administration's request. The bulk of the savings would come from canceling or delaying construction projects.

[...]

Research into fossil and nuclear energy, meanwhile, would grow. The bill includes $554 million—$207 million above last year's level—for development of coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy technologies. It also includes $765 million for nuclear energy research.

So in other words, ITER fusion (tokamak) and old school crap fossil fuel are getting a boost at the expense of forward-looking science research, which got majorly AXED.

Is this a good thing at all? I tend to agree with the few who think that the Tokamak research is a distraction, keeping funds away from other forms of fusion research that are more viable.

From the ITER wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] :

A number of fusion researchers working on non-tokamak systems, such as Robert Bussard and Eric Lerner, have been critical of ITER for diverting funding that they believe could be used for their potentially more reasonable and/or cost effective fusion power plant designs.[34][35] Criticisms levied often revolve around claims of the unwillingness by ITER researchers to face up to potential problems (both technical and economic).[34]

Re:Yay! Oh, wait. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825707)

I've been kinda enamoured with Thorium salt fast breeder reactors lately, seems to me it's a much more attainable goal. Fusion would be cool and all, but isn't TSFR technology, like, already within our grasp?

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39825461)

I can't BELIEVE the number of trolls here! It's like a god damned Gen Con in here!

On topic: W00t. This is great news, and I sure hop ethey can keep the funding going in the future. THIS is something worth going into debt for, not blowing up helpless people who just want to be left alone anyway.

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