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785 comments

fp (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050449)

Fusional Penis !

Just shows (1)

hexMonkey (809664) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050450)

Maxis are always correct

1stpost (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050452)

IhateSCOmodmeup

Yes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050459)

The problems are insurmountable.

Years away (2, Insightful)

Nuskrad (740518) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050461)

"Nuclear Fusion has always been 15 years away, and always will be"

Re:Years away (1)

FraggedSquid (737869) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050525)

It's a bit like AI. That was always about 10 years away, since the days of Minskey and Papert till now, it's always ten years. Though I suspect that we will have fusion long before AI.

Re:Years away (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050548)

It's a bit like AI
...and Linux on the desktop!

Re:Years away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050564)

Erm..., I'm running Linux on my desktop for several years now. But for the hell of it I can't get electricity made by fusion.

Re:Years away (5, Funny)

Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050543)

"Nuclear Fusion has always been 15 years away, and always will be"

I think you mis-spelled "Duke Nukem Forever".

Re:Years away (0)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050555)

Given the challenges facing today's nuclear reactors, they have long dreamed of harnessing the same energy source that powers the sun. Uh...Solar power anyone?

Re:Years away (3, Insightful)

Binestar (28861) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050668)

Given the challenges facing today's nuclear reactors, they have long dreamed of harnessing the same energy source that powers the sun.

Uh...Solar power anyone?


The sun powers solar power, Fusion powers the sun.

Re:Years away (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050689)

Technically, by using the sun's energy, your also using the energy source that hte sun does...just second hand

Re:Years away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050563)

That's exactly the attitude that keeps it 15 years away.

No thrill equals no funding equals no big machines equals no last big leap.

The big machines are needed because fusion scales surprisingly well up, but poorly down. And as to no funding, just witness ITER and the flip-flopping USA has been doing with it from the beginning of the 90s... :(

Re:Years away (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050574)

Nuclear Fusion is about 8 minutes away, and will always be*

* At least until the sun finishes its main phase

Re:Years away (4, Insightful)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050607)

You know what bugs me? The world is squabbling over where to build the 6 billion dollar ITER (international thermonuclear reactor.) See http://fire.pppl.gov/ [pppl.gov] They've been negotiating over locations between France and Japan, neither party willing to yield, for over a year now. 6 billion dollars? Screw it, build two of them, one in Japan, one in France, but that's not the point. They don't want to build it, because if anyone can make cheap energy out of rainwater, then how do you control them? The powers that be actually like the setup where they can fight and take over any limited resources, then have people come beg them for a piece of the pie. It doesn't matter to them if billions of people die, as long as they are not one of them. But civil war and social chaos is not picky.

Re:Years away (2, Funny)

ejort79 (654456) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050677)

'First rule in government spending: Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?'

Re:Years away (5, Interesting)

Decaff (42676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050608)

"Nuclear Fusion has always been 15 years away, and always will be"

This glib statement seriously underestimates the achievements in this area in the past few years. We have gone from doubts as to whether controlled fusion could ever be achieved to a point where we are working on stabilising the reaction to the level where it produces commercial results.

And by the way, the classic quote was '50' years, not 15!

Re:Years away (2, Informative)

R.D.Olivaw (826349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050610)

"Airplanes have always been 15 years away, and always will be" - John Doe circa 1880

Re:Years away (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050643)

*sigh* That's what life would be like if I had invented the thinglonger.

If only they'd listen (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050464)

I built a cold fusion device that uses heavy water as its fuel, but my work is being supressed by the hot fusion cabal at Princeton.

One day I'll be famous.

Re:If only they'd listen (1)

TheGatekeeper (309483) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050557)

Link please?

Of course we will! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050471)

Are we getting close, or are the problems insurmountable?

According to this documentary [imdb.com] , we'll have fusion powering our homes and cars within 10 years.

Christian Science Monitor ? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050472)

Maybe they'd better pray for a new energy source, rather than inventing one..

To generate heat... (-1, Offtopic)

rf0 (159958) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050475)

..just get my wife to talk at the materials for 1/2 hour that should get it up to temparature

Rus

Nuclear? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050478)

Stuff with the word 'nuclear' is bad, let's BAN IT!!!!

For those that read the article (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050480)

Scientists, meanwhile, are chafing to loose the bulldozers.

If they loose the bulldozers, how will they ever find them to finish the fusion research?

"Splitting atoms" (3, Informative)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050481)

While I believe that fusion will likely be the only sustainable energy source as our current supplies of oil and uranium eventually run out, nuclear fission is about the only 'safe' alternative in the meantime. Generating many orders of magnitude less radioactive waste than current fossil fuel plants, they are inherently better for the environment on a purely objective level.

What I object to, though, is the insinuation that we are the ones splitting the nuclei of the radioactive elements. These things are radioactive precisely because of their tendency to decay and in fact split themselves. They don't even split into other elements. You can't turn uranium into gold, for example, even though it ought to be a straightforward process of splitting off the required number of protons from each atom (if the "we're splitting atoms" camp claims are correct).

We use the heat generated by the decay of radioactive elements to fuel our generators. We do nothing like smashing atoms into smaller bits.

Just a pet peeve of mine whenever I see a nuclear power article.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (1)

anum (799950) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050493)

Yes, and the leeches don't really suck the evil out of the sick. Now try convincing the general public!

Re:"Splitting atoms" (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050501)

"nuclear fission is about the only 'safe' alternative in the meantime. Generating many orders of magnitude less radioactive waste than current fossil fuel plants,"

I completely agree with you , but try telling that to the kneejerk reaction anti nuclear fanatics who can't see the wood for their own foolishly planted trees. Mind you, I've met some of these people and half of them couldn't even spell "radioactivity" never mind tell you what it was. They work purely on a fevered emotional level and no amount of rational discussion will convince them otherwise. They are the same sorts of people who dunked old women in ponds back in the 17th century because they talked to their cat and someone got ill in the village shortly afterwards.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050513)

They are the same sorts of people who dunked old women in ponds back in the 17th century because they talked to their cat
...or committed the heinous crime of weighing less than a duck!

Re:"Splitting atoms" (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050520)

...or committed the heinous crime of weighing less than a duck!

Hey, now that one's a fair cop.

KFG

Re:"Splitting atoms" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050535)

My favourite peice of braindead kneejerk quasi-science claptrap has been the reaction to mobile phone cell masts here in the UK. I've seen masts which have been graffited with an "Ionising Radiation" warning sign, neatly confirming what I had suspected for some time; The people who scream the loudest are usually the most clueless.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (1)

ssj_195 (827847) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050566)

There's a great example of this in a book I read (unfortunately, I forget which; I think it was either "The Demon Haunted World" or "Higher Superstition"). New labs were to be built somewhere, and the locals protested vehemently. One choice (paraphrased) quote:

"We don't want scientists bringing DNA into our town".

Re:"Splitting atoms" (3, Informative)

calibanDNS (32250) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050618)

try telling that to the kneejerk reaction anti nuclear fanatics who can't see the wood for their own foolishly planted trees

I was having a discussion with my wife and several friends a few nights ago, and the topic turned to energy concerns. I was amazed to find that I was the only person in the room who wasn't opposed to nuclear power plants, but then I remembered that I was the only person in the room with an engineering background and anything more than a high school physics class under my belt. I showed them all this Wired article [wired.com] and it actually seems to have helped their understanding of how nuclear power can be safe. That's a hard concept to sell to almost anyone who's spent years being convinced, or convincing themselves, that nuclear power cannot be safe, but I've found that it is possible to convince some. I'm also very proud of my wife, who has abandoned her "They can build it, just not near our house" attitude.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050664)

Why are you proud of her for abandoning that idea? That attitude is pretty damn good, actually.

To have any sort of industrial area near your house lowers the property value significantly. Even if there were no pollution, you'd have to make the concession of having a big, honking nuclear power plant right next door with its hundreds of employees showing up every morning in their cars or on the bus and generally crowding the roadways in your area.

No, keep the power plants somewhere else far away from the livable areas. The reason for NIMBY is not always irrational fear of nukular power. Sometimes it's a result of just not wanting to have an eyesore as a neighbor. You talked to your neighbors lately?

Re:"Splitting atoms" (5, Insightful)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050550)

I object to the insinuation that we are the ones splitting the nuclei of the radioactive elements

Well, fine. But you can say that by refining the uranium, and bringing sub-critical amounts of together in a pile, or supercritical amount together in a bomb, we are utilising the nucleus's innate tendency to split, and to thereby trigger a chain reaction in nearby uranium nuclei, in order to generate a self-sustaining level of radioactivity that would not have otherwise occured.

You could also say when making tea that we are not the ones boiling water, we are merely allowing electricity to flow through a restisting metal rod, which generates heat which when transfered to the water causes a rise in temperatre to boiling point that would not have otherwise occured. But that would be very, very pedantic.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050552)

And there was me thinking I could turn my stack of AOL CDs into gold.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (1, Interesting)

ashridah (72567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050570)

Generating many orders of magnitude less radioactive waste than current fossil fuel plants, they are inherently better for the environment on a purely objective level.

since when does a fossil fuel power plant produce radioactive waste? :)

(and there are some fossil fuel power plants that can be relatively clean, such as natural gas. problem is, they're not anywhere near efficient enough, compared to coal/oil, but good for some uses)

We use the heat generated by the decay of radioactive elements to fuel our generators. We do nothing like smashing atoms into smaller bits.

Except that it's typically the controlled fission of a particular isotope of a particular atom, using a neutron source and a neutron absorbing material, we're forcing the atom to split by deliberately introducing an extra neutron that subsequently releases more neutrons.
This isn't natural decay by any standard, it's controlled fission. That said, the term "Atom smashing" is by no means correct, since it requires no 'force' to speak of, we're not talking Mr. Burns' atom smashing plant here :)

Decay is when an atom spontaneously breaks into two separate particles releasing alpha, beta or gamma radiation. It's also when the term 'half life' kicks in outside FPS's, and of course, it's only the waste from a fission reactor that has to undergo millions of years of decay to be safe.

Of course, it's been about 7 years since I studied this in physics, so perhaps they've changed to using reactors that sit around waiting for spontaneous decay to occur. :)

ashridah

Re:"Splitting atoms" (5, Insightful)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050624)

since when does a fossil fuel power plant produce radioactive waste? :)

Take a look at some of the research and data on how much naturally radioactive particles are released into the atmosphere through burning of fossil fuels, you'll probably be surprised. I believe it's a few orders of magnitude more than the amount generated in current fission plants.

-Jesse

Re:"Splitting atoms" (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050575)

I know burning fossil fuels generates some radioactive waste, but more than nuclear power? To be honest, I'd like to see a source. While I understand that Chernobyl's exact mishap is unlikely to happen in the West because of fundemental design differences, the radiation it released was far more harmful to a lot more people than just simple resperatory illnesses.

Radioactive elements don't split into other elements? They don't split neatly into any single different element, but once an atom is split, it often becomes two atoms of lighter elements.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (3, Insightful)

starman97 (29863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050576)

Decay?
You mean all those extra neutrons flying about dont have anything to do with it? Those neutrons traveling at carefully determined energies intended to impact the nucleus of the U238 atoms and cause it to become unstable and break apart into two smaller ones that are usually highly radioactive?
As opposed to the normal decay which merely sheds a single alpha, beta or gamma ray, leaving the original nucleus largely intact. This results in less radioactivity, not more.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050586)

What I object to, though, is the insinuation that we are the ones splitting the nuclei of the radioactive elements. These things are radioactive precisely because of their tendency to decay and in fact split themselves. They don't even split into other elements.

Nonsense. Yes, radioactive elements decay by themselves. That gives off some heat, and you can power devices with that (it's used in some space craft). In radioactive decay, atoms do not split - they emit a neutron or some other particle.

What nuclear fission is though, is to let the radiation of that decay hit more radioactive material, so that the other atom splits. That only works with a few, very heavy elements - like uranium (especially U235) and plutonium. That splitting is fission, and it certainly does create different elements - usually krypton, strontium, barium, etc. They are usually very radioactive themselves (because they have a few more neutrons than their normal isotopes), and lead to the problem of radioactive waste. That process gives off rather more energy than normal radioactivity.

In natural uranium, most of the decaying atoms don't lead to other atoms splitting; our role in all this is that we bring together enough of the stuff so that on average each decaying/splitting atom leads to another splitting atom. We put together a critical mass that leads to a self-sustaining chain reaction. That gives off a huge amount of energy, and it powers our reactors.

Sound familiar?

Re:"Splitting atoms" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050604)

Dude, about 50% of the electricity I use comes from renewable sources namely water, wind and sun. Seems pretty sustainable to me. And yes, I figure that energy is not only electricity. The real break through will be H2 made by electrolysis, not fusion.

Re:"Splitting atoms" (2, Insightful)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050609)

"... They don't even split into other elements." Uhhh, wrong. My physics was a bit rusty, so I did a google on the fission process and found this on world-nuclear.org: "The number of neutrons and the specific fission products from any fission event are governed by statistical probability, in that the precise break up of a single nucleus cannot be predicted. However, conservation laws require the total number of nucleons and the total energy to be conserved. The fission reaction in U-235 produces fission products such as Ba, Kr, Sr, Cs, I and Xe with atomic masses distributed around 95 and 135. Examples may be given of typical reaction products, such as: U-235 + n ===> Ba-144 + Kr-90 + 2n + energy U-235 + n ===> Ba-141 + Kr-92 + 3n + 170 MeV U-235 + n ===> Zr-94 + La-139 + 3n + 197 MeV " So you can see that U-235 is indeed split into other elements. The full articles can be found at: http://www.world-nuclear.org/education/phys.htm [world-nuclear.org]

Re:"Splitting atoms" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050642)

Another problem with the article, although small, is this:

"Scientists would like to use materials, such as silicone carbide ..."

I would think they mean silicon carbide.

I asked my body (-1, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050484)

It told me, "Dude, more chocolate and Jack Daniels is the answer to everything."

I'm really not sure my body can be considered a reliable source of information.

KFG

Christian? (-1, Troll)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050486)

I'm sorry, we're looking at a theological magazine for technical articles?

Re:Christian? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050521)

No, "Christian Science Monitor". It's a newspaper, and a highly respected one at that. You know, newspapers? Those paper things that get delivered to your neighbors and your local library? You should turn off the computer once in a while and check that place out. You'd be surprised what you might learn!

Re:Christian? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050524)

Christian Science is different from Christianity [reformed.org] . Plus, Christianity isn't anti-scientific [icr.org] .

Why don't you read up... (2, Informative)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050541)

...on the history of the Christian Science Monitor.

My understanding is that it is one of the oldest and longest running *actual* news sources that has remained rather committed to the *actual* scientific truth, not the false truth pushed by Born Again Christian Fundamentalists.

Re:Christian? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050562)

It is not a theological magazine. CSM has been known for decades as a solid newspaper, and has won several Pulitzers for its accurate reporting.

Re:Christian? (1, Flamebait)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050568)

" I'm sorry, we're looking at a theological magazine for technical articles?"

Let me get this straight... Christians can't invent things, or are ever involved in science?

Look around you. The vast majority of everything you take for granted was invented by someone who happened to be Christian, or was made possible by the FREEDOM to invent only possible with the democratic freedom invented by Christian dominated countries.

The Christian Sciene Monitor is not some church publication. But what if it were? The VATICAN even has scientific institutions, including one of the world's better astronomical observatories.

You know, and I will be modded to hell for suggesting this... But even as our governemnt and courts seem to move to FORCE secularization into all parts of public life and expression, our freedom to invent is being ever more threatened by new IP laws.

These laws are being proposed and imposed by a legally atheistic government, that is divorcing all decision from MORALITY finds no problem with granting multinational corporations intellectual property monopolies and the ability to crush individuals.

Re:Christian? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050645)

You are mixing secular and atheist. Calling the GWB government atheist shows how misinformed you are. Please check a dictionary.

Atheism isn't the same as secularism. (-1, Troll)

zenmojodaddy (754377) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050652)

Atheism is as much a belief system as any other religion. Just as there's no way to conclusively prove the existence of God, so there's no way to conclusively disprove it - an atheist is essentially making a leap of faith in decided that there is no God.

Secularism is, or should be, different. A secular government is effectively stating that religion is irrelevant to its duties - its citizens may be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Satanist or whatever they please, and the government will give them the same rights and protection as anyone else.

There's a huge gap between theory and practice though, as evidenced by the recent moves in France to ban students from wearing any religious items. THAT is a variety of atheism - declaring that someone's beliefs will not be respected in government sponsored institutions because it suits the government of the day.

Re:Atheism isn't the same as secularism. (2, Informative)

NarrMaster (760073) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050691)

Non-belief in a god != Belief God doesn't exist. Atheism is not the same as a religion. How many times must this fallacy be repeated? Not being a football player does not make me an athlete. Not collecting stamps does not make me a hobbiest. Not writing a book does not make me an author. Get it? Not believing in a god/God does not make me religious.

There is such a thing as non-religious. And it has nothing to do with faith. Its called atheism.

Re:Christian? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050655)

Morality != religion

Idiot!

Re:Christian? (3, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050657)

I'm sorry, we're looking at a theological magazine for technical articles?

I'm a total atheist, but the Christian Science Monitor is an extremely good publication, very independent.

It was apparently originally founded by a wealthy and religious woman about a century back. It is owned by a church, but you couldn't tell from the content. What you can tell is that it's not just another news organization for which profit is the all important thing.

Solution to Nuclear Fusion problem (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050488)

Nuclear Fusion, eh?

I have a truly marvellous demonstration of of how to make this possible which this post is too narrow to contain...

Happy about Fusion. (1)

Awestruckin (824416) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050490)

"I know there's a pot of gold for me All I got to do is just believe I'm so happy doin' the neutron dance And I'm just burning doin' the neutron dance I'm so happy doin' the neutron dance I'm just burning doin' the neutron dance"

--The Pointer Sisters

HUrray! (4, Funny)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050491)

Does this mean I'll finally be getting a Mr. Fusion to put on my Delorean?

Re:HUrray! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050549)

I'm all over the Mr. Fusion, ...but why would you want a DeLorean?
It can't even do 90 without ripping a hole in the fabric of time.

Re:HUrray! (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050606)

Does this mean I'll finally be getting a Mr. Fusion to put on my Delorean?

Not likely. Fission may be cleaner than fusion, but it's still very big iron, running at a temperature of 100 million degrees centigrade, spewing out heaps of high-energy sub-atomic particles. Without tons of shielding, it would be deadly.

Re:HUrray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050646)

running at a temperature of 100 million degrees centigrade So you're saying having a heater in your car would be old-hat. Got it.

Split an atom? (-1, Offtopic)

Wolf2989 (783737) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050494)

You want to split an atom? Fsck it real good, then just simply /. it!

Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (-1, Troll)

beefo (738495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050504)

Why would anyone think fusion will be 'clean'? What will happen to the material that stops all those neutrons? What is the failure mode for a collapsed fusuion capable magnetic field?
It's not good!
How about intertial confinment failures?
Wow, these are bad, very very very bad also.
Please stop waiting for fusion power to be our friend.
Current nuclear reactors have a GREAT track record, by any other industry standard. However, those who worked on the years of clean up at three mile island know how bad these failure modes are.
Fusuion power will NEVER be safe, and, consequently never cheap.
Try going back to the 50's and early 60's and look at the literature/propaganda being put forth to get approval for current nuclear power plants. The promises were "Cheap", "Abundant", "Clean". The folks that came to our little burg for a 'rah rah' meeting claimed that power would be so cheap, it wouldn't be metered. There would be so much power we could never use it all and would only have to pay a yearly subscription.
The situation with nuclear power has not changed just becuase we are looking at 'new and improved' fusion.
Sorry.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050526)

"What will happen to the material that stops all those neutrons?"

Assuming you don't use aneutronic fusion, it will get mildly radioactive. So bury it in the middle of nowhere... who cares? We're not talking about 'hot' fission fuel here.

"What is the failure mode for a collapsed fusuion capable magnetic field?"

The confinement vessel warms up by about two degrees C, you fix the problem and restart it. You've been watching too many SF movies if you think that a confinement failure will cause a nuclear explosion.

"Fusuion power will NEVER be safe"

Fusion is extremely safe compared to fission: you appear to be just a typical ill-informed knee-jerk anti-nukleah.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050593)

"The confinement vessel warms up by about two degrees C, you fix the problem and restart it."

Also, due electromagnetic forces, the sudden absence of big magnetic field excerts a lot of torque to the torus. Not harming anyone, but I'd wager being near when 6-meter-high metal construction just "jumps" may be a bit startling.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (3, Interesting)

beefo (738495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050651)

Yeah, I know I'm ill informed. It's true. I've never worked on a tokomak or any other nuclear facility. I do know that it takes more than two degree C from ambient to make fusion happen with known methods. And the product of twenty years of operation is not well understood, there is more than one person in the nuclear field (possibly informed, and/or just crazy) that wonders what happens to materials even if the neutrons are not 'hot'. The argument that nearby materials will not get dangerous appears to be based on statistics (of course because this is all you've got). So who is looking at real failure modes (versus the ones where things get two degrees out of wack and the confinement politly disipates into a safe cloud of well behaved plasma)? Take another look at the density goals for these operations, recalculate the energy moderation outside a confinement, then let me know if you still come up with only two degrees. (I'm also pretty bad at arithmetic, so I get exponents wrong all the time, just by one or two, but hey, a few degrees of magnitude make all the difference, don't they)

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (4, Informative)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050532)

"What is the failure mode for a collapsed fusuion capable magnetic field?"

The plasma disperses and the fusion stops. What do you think happens when they shut the field down now after their tests?

"Wow, these are bad, very very very bad also."

Really? Why?

"The folks that came to our little burg for a 'rah rah' meeting claimed that power would be so cheap, it wouldn't be metered."

And it would have been had the anti-nuclear nutters who stopped the whole thing in its tracks. Yes 3 mile island happened and then chernobyl. So what? When an airliner crashes 400 people die. Do we stop all flight? Tens of thousands of people die in car crashes every year. Do we ban cars? No.

"The situation with nuclear power has not changed just becuase we are looking at 'new and improved' fusion"

If the halfwitted political loudmouths of society can be convinced this new form is "better" than the old form (whether it is or not) then we may get somewhere with it. If it ever works that is.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050559)

>"Wow, these are bad, very very very bad also."

>Really? Why?

Maybe it's better than a fission reactor meltdown, but those plasmas are plenty hot and having them leak out is not good. Things would burn and melt and stuff.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050572)

Christ you're a fucking retard. How do you remember to breath? Is there anything I can do to make you forget?

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (1)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050612)

And it would have been had the anti-nuclear nutters who stopped the whole thing in its tracks. Yes 3 mile island happened and then chernobyl. So what? When an airliner crashes 400 people die. Do we stop all flight? Tens of thousands of people die in car crashes every year. Do we ban cars? No.

Exactly. Everything has risk, and while we should and do try to reduce the risks, not doing something because it does pose a slight risk, where it could lead to huge benefits is beyond retarded. People just don't take the time to understand.

-Jesse

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (1)

beefo (738495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050690)

"What is the failure mode for a collapsed fusuion capable magnetic field?" The plasma disperses and the fusion stops. What do you think happens when they shut the field down now after their tests? Yeah, just like I 'just shut down' a diesel or spark ignited engine. I don't. You don't. They don't just shut down a mag confinement in normal shut down. Also, plasma density for sustained fusuion, appears to be, significanly more interesting than what is being done today. Personally, I hope it works. Personally, I believe I will not be the only one that holds the utilities to task when it comes to making this public. Nuclear power was sold the citizans of the good old U.S.A. with lies, deciet and the worst examples of representation of the public trust. Having a million degree stuff in your back yard is not usually considered a 'safe' thing. "Wow, these are bad, very very very bad also." Really? Why? "The folks that came to our little burg for a 'rah rah' meeting claimed that power would be so cheap, it wouldn't be metered." And it would have been had the anti-nuclear nutters who stopped the whole thing in its tracks. Yes 3 mile island happened and then chernobyl. So what? When an airliner crashes 400 people die. Do we stop all flight? Tens of thousands of people die in car crashes every year. Do we ban cars? No. "The situation with nuclear power has not changed just becuase we are looking at 'new and improved' fusion" If the halfwitted political loudmouths of society can be convinced this new form is "better" than the old form (whether it is or not) then we may get somewhere with it. If it ever works that is.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050545)

"However, those who worked on the years of clean up at three mile island know how bad these failure modes are."

Oh, and while we're on the subject, the new Chinese fission reactors are designed to be impossible to melt down, and are therefore extremely safe. The downside is that you still need to deal with the hot radioactive fuel afterwards.

Equally, plants powered by conventional fuels pump out a huge amount of radioactive crap into the atmosphere (e.g. coal often contains uranium which will be burnt and dispersed into the atmosphere) and if the 'global warming' nutters are correct then the consequences of continuing to burn conventional fuels would be far worse than those of a few fission reactor accidents.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050558)

Please shut the fuck up. What's the failure mode for a magnetic field? The plasma cools and the reaction stops instantly. There is no such thing as a run-away fusion reaction in these reactors.

The only waste generated by fusion reactors will be the slightly radioactive material used to sheild the reactors. It only becomes a problem when the reactor is decomissioned and it is far less radioactive than spent fission fuel rods, and the material can easily be safely disposed of.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (2, Interesting)

coolcold (805170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050617)

in nuclear fission, one atom break into two and spit out neutrons which further trigger other events. Material are inserted to slow the process down so it won't explode.
On the other hand, nuclear fusion merge two atom (hydrogen?) into one. Energy are input to accelerate the atoms as well as confining it. IF it does fail, the hydrogens will escape (from the chamber?) but there won't be further reaction. This won't lead to explosion in power failure.
They are cheaper than fission in the sense that hydrogen are easier to get than uranium. Furthermore, our current source would cease to exist one day and hydrogen are everywhere so they are a more common source of energy

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (4, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050635)

What is the failure mode for a collapsed fusuion capable magnetic field?

The reaction stops. No, seriously, current fusion reactor designs require the magentic field to cause the fusion to happen. Thats why its currently so expensive, most of the time it takes more electricity to power the magnet than you can get from the fusion.

Current nuclear reactors have a GREAT track record, by any other industry standard. However, those who worked on the years of clean up at three mile island

Guess what, the reactor there wasn't a current design. In fact, I believe none of the reactors in operation in the US is a current design, since instead of replacing them with better designs that have been in use for almost a decade now, little "know it alls" like you complain and prevent new plants from being built to replace the old.

The situation with nuclear power has not changed just becuase we are looking at 'new and improved' fusion.

The situation with nuclear power changed decades ago with the invention of reactors that could burn fuel that would have otherwise been considered "spent", reducing the need for disposal. It changed years ago with the invention of better fission reactors that are resistant to meltdown in emergency situations, and it will change yet again with the invention of fusion reactors that operate by converting small atoms (Helium) into slightly larger ones, rather than using heavy metals like uranium and plutonium.

Re:Cheap? Clean? when will we learn (1)

AlexeiMachine (604654) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050693)

What is the failure mode for a collapsed fusuion capable magnetic field?

Leaves a burn on the rug.

Please stop waiting for fusion power to be our friend.

Who said anything about being friend? We master, fusion slave.

Try going back to the 50's and early 60's

Because, as we all know, science has not advanced one iota since then.

...we are looking at 'new and improved' fusion.

Well, we never had "fusion" as a viable power source (if you discount the sun, of course). You might want to lookup "fission" and then "fusion". Think of it as splitting the atom vs. merging the atoms... fusion gives you a lot more power and a lot less waste. Once we get fusion (if we ever do) fission will go the way of the steam engine and horse drawn cart.

Dumbed down (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050544)

The article was so dumbed down it was actually harder to work out what it was saying, but I think it goes like this:

"We still intend to use a donut-shaped plasma contained in a magnetic field. But now we've got better scopes and the latest release of 'budget fluid-model XP' for our souped-up research PCs"

Perhaps the real point of the article is to announce that Christian HQ has finally decided that nuclear fusion isn't blasphemous (and God has presumably decided not to enforce her patents on the sun).

Re:Dumbed down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050667)

flamebait? The entire last sentence is just begging for a fight. However, it only shows the ignorance of atheists when it comes to real-world views of Christians. Seriously...some people really believe that is how the Christians think. It's simply not true.

Insinuation (1)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050547)

What you yourself are insinuating is that we do not create any 'unnatural' elements in the proces.
I object: Pu for example is not a natural element - and quite wasteful.

Mod parent down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050560)

Was meant to be a reply to another comment...

The problems aren't insurmountable (3, Insightful)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050556)

Just because we can't do it right now doesn't mean we never will.

100 years ago we would never have dreamed space exploration would be possible. Why's this so different?

Typical slashbot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050583)

H.G. Wells, among many other writers, was writing about exploration of space about 100 years ago.

Thousands of years ago, the Greeks were also dreaming of it.

I would call you a troll, but I hate to attribute malice to what could better be explained by stupidity.

Re:The problems aren't insurmountable (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050659)

I'm afraid in 100 years time we will also never dream space exporation would be possible. Space exploration? Huh! It's so 1960s.

Ask Slashdot? (5, Insightful)

anum (799950) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050567)

Is this an Ask Slashdot?

If so then my answer is yes! I mean no! err..What was the question again?

IANANE (I am not a nuclear engineer) but if I read that article correctly then it seems some of the many problems have theoretical solutions. In other words, it worked in the simulation. We need to get this thing built and do real tests before we can even think about being "close" to having fusion plants.

They can't even decide where to build it! Why can't I vote to spend my (US) tax money on putting one of these over here. Even as a test bed it will give the contry it's in some home field advantage.
You can use my back yard if you want! Don't listen to my whiney neighbors, they don't know what's good for them!

Re:Ask Slashdot? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050662)

Well, the problem isn't that nobody wants to have it. The problem is that there are two countries who want to have it: France and Japan.

Re:Ask Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050674)

"IANANE (I am not a nuclear engineer) but if I read that article correctly then it seems some of the many problems have theoretical solutions. In other words, it worked in the simulation. We need to get this thing built and do real tests before we can even think about being "close" to having fusion plants."

IAANE who has worked for a while in a University lab doing said simulations. The real tests are being done, but the problem is, we don't actually know how well plasma scales when machines grow without trying. In all previous cases (up 'till JET in UK) they've scaled better than expected, but a bigger test reactor is needed. We've pretty much exhausted the possibilities of current test machines.

ITER is supposed to be the last test reactor, after it the next step is to build a prototype power plant.

"They can't even decide where to build it! Why can't I vote to spend my (US) tax money on putting one of these over here. Even as a test bed it will give the contry it's in some home field advantage."

Sadly US of A has been more interested into building inertial confinement reactors than magnetic confinement. Anyone's guess why, maybe because Tokamak's a soviet design, maybe because inertial confinement reactors are something like small repeating fusion bomb ignitors. Well, work for bomb scientists in this era of nuclear test ban...

Otto (0)

mR SlIcK (463372) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050590)

Where are the four mechnical arms that are impermeable to electricity and magnetism? Then we can just wire them right into our backbones. I mean thats pretty much all we need, right?

That and some jazz about harmonics

In Korea only Old people use nucelar Fission (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050591)

In Korea only old people use nucelar Fission

Re:In Korea only Old people use nucelar Fission (-1, Offtopic)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050656)

In Korea only old people use nucelar Fission

Not quite... In Korea the North nukes YOU!

fusion was there forever (1)

todorb (169225) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050616)

that's how all the stars have been working till the beginning of time. and the H-bomb too. the only problem is that we can't make it happen in a controlled and effective way.

Reason for Low Funding (3, Informative)

Mr_Blank (172031) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050626)

Whenever fusion comes up I gotta refer to this Economist article [economist.com] :
SOME say that a dollar spent on nuclear fusion is a dollar wasted. And many, many dollars have been spent on it, as physicists try to duplicate, in a controlled setting, the process by which the sun shines. Since 1951, America alone has devoted more than $17 billion (see chart) to working out how to fuse atomic nuclei so as to generate an inexhaustible supply of clean, safe power.


The claim that this money is wholly wasted may not be entirely fair, though. Fusion science has made a big return on this investment in the form of a new universal constant. This constant is the number 30, a figure that has for the past half-century or so been cited almost religiously by researchers as the number of years that it will take before fusion power becomes a commercial reality. ...[continues]

With observations like that in reputable news sources like the Economist it is no wonder that investment in fusion waxes and wanes. People want a return on investment before the next election, not 30 years from now.

Re:Real Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050694)

Fusion science has made a big return on this investment in the form of a new universal constant. This constant is the number 30, a figure that has for the past half-century or so been cited almost religiously by researchers as the number of years that it will take before fusion power becomes a commercial reality.

No wonder they can't make the fusion work. Everybody else knows the correct value of the universal constant is 42.

Biodiesel is better fusion power (3, Interesting)

ScrewTivo (458228) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050627)

use the suns fusion to grow biodiesel. A lot cheaper and it will clean the atmosphere. My understanding is that all carbon in plant is extracted from the atmosphere. Extracting the oil leaves carbon waste, so even dirty engines cannot put more carbon back into air then was extracted.
Although we may end up with oxygen pollution :)
biodiesel home page [biodiesel.org]

What? I've had cold fusion for years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050644)

Geez - those media types are so far behind real science!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to add 2 liters of fresh Pre Energetic Positively Soluted Ions (PEPSI) to my reactor...

Obvious Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11050654)

"Are we getting close, or are the problems insurmountable?"

Yes.

Step one - increase the cost of alternatives (3, Insightful)

coyote_oww (749758) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050676)

I think we're getting closer to "cost-effective" fusion, if for no other reason than that the alternatives are getting more expensive. If the cost of fusion just stays constant, fusion will eventually win out. Other energy sources will simply become more expensive, leaving fusion the "bargain" energy source.

What?! (0)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11050692)

No Doc Ock jokes?!

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