Latest catch up on NIF

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
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Richard Hull
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Latest catch up on NIF

Post by Richard Hull » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:57 pm

The major science journals had it first a year ago. The popular science media had it just after the new year and now the "lame stream" media has finally signed on with a story about how NIF ain't in the power fusion biz any more and dares to posit that maybe fusion isn't worth it. They further posit that with all the greenie-weenie energy sources that are magically appearing to power our future needs, why dump more bread into the fusion effort? In effect, they are admitting that tens of billions over the last half century is lost money.

Yet, as we all know and can prove, fusion is easy to implement and rather inexpensively, too. Making it pay is impossible, witness many years and billions spent in a giant "make busy", expensive effort.

NBC also notes that congressional budget concerns have made fusion appear far less pretty. The U.S. contribution to ITER is under review.

Is the house of thermal fusion falling apart like cold fusion? Junk science or real, cold or hot, fusion is taking it on the chin just now. The "Real soon now" of the 80's and 90's was replaced a few years back with a 30 to 40 year off "hope" and now it looks more like, "whatever....whenever".....

Fusion?...What's that? Is this the end of big fusion? Sure looks like it to this casual observer. If ITER blows it at 30 billion, the fusion death rattle is all that's left.

Paraphrasing one of my favorite yogi-isms. Fusion may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Latest catch up on NIF

Post by Chris Bradley » Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:06 pm

Don't worry, Richard, you'll still have the French 'Laser Megajoule' to throw scorn at, in case your scorn-throwing arm gets too little exercise!

http://www-lmj.cea.fr/index.htm

Well, I suppose at least the French aren't disingenuous about its use and state that it is primarily intended to simulate thermonuclear fusion in weapons...

I don't see any great reason to discontinue fusion research, at any particular level large or small. It trundles on. Let the political machinations ebb and flow, whilst a trickle of activity continues. Piecemeal it may have been over the years, but there is a trudging route it seems to have taken in the generally right direction. Why not feed the magnetic bucket fusion gravytrainers - maybe they'll be accidentally successful one day when they themselves are least expecting it? ('Oops', they might say,'that's the end of my research budget! I'll have to get a job now!')

My main concern is that the world needs to get familiar with using fission power, to the extent that it supplies (or at least could supply) 100% base load, and not only slow fission reactors but fast ones. Until general folks understand the importance of making full, and safe, use of an energy source we know and understand then there is little prospect for fusion, and that is at a pure and simple economic/ political perspective, let alone the daunting technical challenges.

As you say, the recent reversal in the idiot-politics of the world has recently inverted that and folks are moving away from nuclear by putting their faith in the Gods of wind, rain and shine (and 'energy efficiency') believing this is a route forwards, rather than taking control of their own power sources from the known resources buried in those lovely big atoms of the actinides.

I love the idea of harvesting 'free sunlight' and such. Great when you can. But, ultimately, we need something we can fully control ourselves, like a tap. Whenever. Wherever. Switch on, switch off. That means a base-load that delivers continually. What else but nuclear?

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Richard Hull
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Re: Latest catch up on NIF

Post by Richard Hull » Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:40 pm

Coal, fission and natural gas are, and will remain, the biggies come feast or famine in the future and absolutely for the rest of my entire life. Fusion distributed energy?.....Not in my or anyone's lifetime reading this missive on the above date, be they 15 or 50 years of age.

CO2 and nuclear waste issues will not be important at all except to the greenies. If power gets cut due to over demand and under supply, the "me", "now" and X generations will scream bloody murder and drown out the greenies. Result...More coal will be stoked, more fissles fissioned and the gas jets run ever hotter to quiet the din of grid users.

Just saw a report from the Germans on global warming that calls into question their models as the warming over the last 15 years seems to be not far from zero. The added CO2 doesn't seem to be doing what they thought it would do even though it has gone up more than expected. (Maybe turning our oceans into a salty soda pop?) Another 5 years of little or no warming will clinch that 100% of all climate models are in error, it was stated. ( a couple the far less draconian models, yet, hang on by a mere thread) These atmospheric soothsayers seem to not be doing much better than the high paid fusioneers at future castings of th' bones.

Edit OOPS: I almost forgot it is no longer "global warming". My bad. It is now officially "climate change". By grabbing onto this moniker, no matter what happens, they were always bound to be vindicated since the climate changes naturally any way, over time.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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