Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

It may be difficult to separate "theory" from "application," but let''s see if this helps facilitate the discussion.
Post Reply
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

It is getting to the point that to make advances in the field, collaborative efforts will be required due to the range of knowledge required and the cost. A number of Jr. Colleges are interested so that is probably the place to go. Get your local Jr. College or College interested.

In that vein I have contacted Rock Valley College and Rockford College (in Rockford, Illinois) to see if I couldn't get something started. We shall see if anything comes of it.

We have had a number of Colleges contact us here. I think it is time for a push in that direction.
tligon
Posts: 587
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 1:58 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by tligon »

I'm certainly available if any colleges in Northern Virginia want to give it a go. We have NOVA CoCo, George Mason, and a few others. The University of Maryland is a bit of a drive, but they're a science/technology powerhouse, and certainly capable.

When I was at Virginia Tech, I studied Health Physics under A. K. Furr. They have a reactor and have a fully set up safety program, so the infrastructure is all there. I think UVA does, too. Students at these institutions ought to be able to push to fairly high yields.

Back around 1975, George Sanzone, for whom I was doing undergraduate research in chemical kinetics, was slapped with the job of seeing if there were anything Virginia Tech could do to gobble up some fusion grant money for new approaches. He was into time of flight mass spectrometry, and would have been a natural for a fusor. I was thinking even then that accelerators ought to provide a way to do it, and was thinking along spherical lines, but "the experts" assured me it would never have worked, so I didn't push. The fusor was well established by that time, and we probably could have gotten some funding to pursue it.

I am in the process of getting Dog and Pony 2 back in working order, and ready for a SF convention, so a demo after that would be no problem. I don't have a good enough power supply to drive it to easily-detectable fusion, but those are not too hard to come by. My deuterium bottle has only a trace in it (it is a back-filled empty from EMC2, and I never put more than a few PSIG in it).
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

Tom,

I think initially it is going to require contacting people and giving them a push.

Here is a blog post I did on the subject:

http://iecfusiontech.blogspot.com/2008/ ... -home.html

Where I discuss my (so far meager) efforts. I'm in the process of contacting a couple of college trustees I know and seeing if I can get them interested. One of them is a retired aerospace engineer I worked with and another is the wife of a local Libertarian that I know well.

BTW I have some links to the Peninsula College Fusor Project in the post. They are planning on announcing results in June.

It would be nice if we could get 50 or 100 Colleges or Jr. Colleges working on this. Some one might have a bright idea.
User avatar
Carl Willis
Posts: 2841
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2001 7:33 pm
Real name: Carl Willis
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by Carl Willis »

>In that vein I have contacted Rock Valley College and Rockford College (in Rockford, Illinois) to see if I couldn't get something started. We shall see if anything comes of it.

So are you going to start making grants or something?

I guess I don't really see how a hobby community has any business "pushing" institutions toward particular research directions (besides what we already do here automatically in the way of giving publicity to our own projects and ideas, which is probably what piques the interest of students who have built fusors at their schools). The research done at colleges is almost entirely a function of student and faculty interest, which in turn hinges on the availability of funds. You can't just WILL professionals or degree-seeking students to work on your pet idea! You have to bring them a lucrative research program that you direct (provided you have academic credentials to be hired as a professor), or you offer them money and wait and see if they do what you want. Ideas abound, but at the professional level, money is what moves the machinery to work on them.

-Carl
Carl Willis
http://carlwillis.wordpress.com/
TEL: +1-505-412-3277
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

Carl,

You may be right. I'm betting you are wrong. Follow the links in my 18:38 post to see what has been done so far.

Google Peninsula College Fusion or follow my links to see what they have done.

If we each contacted our local colleges I'm betting a few might bite. Once we gain critical mass it should be self replicating.
User avatar
Carl Willis
Posts: 2841
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2001 7:33 pm
Real name: Carl Willis
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by Carl Willis »

M.,

Professor: "Heck, I have a million good ideas of my own that I can't get paid to work on! Why should I consider Joe Blow's idea first? (And who is this guy anyway? What interests does he represent? Who is he Astroturfing for?)"

That's the reality of trying to actively push an idea on someone. The best thing hobbyists can hope for is that some of their ideas, techniques, or insights will fly into the professional world on their own merits. Actively interjecting oneself into this process just strikes me as unproductive, even questionable. Speaking of productivity...I've got my own ideas, why don't I work on them myself? I think that creed is more representative of the hobbyists found here.

And I'm gonna call BS on this: "The individual with the home built fusor is not a thing of the past by any means, but it is not the wave of the future." Consider: trains are certainly not the "wave of the future" in America, and yet many people take great pride (and spend a fortune) making little toy trains run around tiny model villages in their basements because they find it FUN and REWARDING. Why do you think people make little tiny fusion reactors in their basements?? Certainly the argument can be made, with some persuasiveness, that a fusion hobby is more useful to society than a train hobby, but still...we do it because it is fun and rewarding. For that reason, you won't ever see me (A) donating my hobby budget to somebody else's fusion project and ceasing to build fusors at home; (B) shopping out my ideas to somebody else to work on; or (C) doing Joe Blow's experiment just because he thinks it oughtta be done. These kinds of exchanges are the domain of academic and enterprise research (where they're done in the furtherance of making a living). If you think hobbyists do this, you're out of your mind! Also: "the individual with the home built fusor" is precisely who visits fusor.net, and if this is not a burgeoning trend with a healthy future, then I'm out of my mind.

-Carl
Carl Willis
http://carlwillis.wordpress.com/
TEL: +1-505-412-3277
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

Carl,

I don't consider myself a hobbiest in the field. I am a professional designing commercial fusion test reactors with a view to designing power producers. (I have been contacted by a number of VC groups with an eye towards that end. Right now that activity is quiescent waiting for the results of WB-7. I expect it to heat up considerably once those results are in.)

There is a lot of useful research to be done that amateurs are not covering. (They could if they had enough test eqpt and other eqpt available). I want to see that research done. POPS for one. Focusing the beams by multiple grids for another. High frequency response ion gauges are another.

Net energy production is not a requirement to make those results valuable. Ordinary high loss fusors can provide a lot of information that will assist in scale up to a power producing device.

In any case as Richard Hull has shown in another thread there are a lot of learning opportunities even if fusion proves to be a will o the wisp. The effort will not be wasted if done in a learning environment. Which is exactly where my efforts are directed.
tligon
Posts: 587
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 1:58 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by tligon »

In fact, I'm pretty sure I managed to hook up at least one venture capitalist with a university effort along these lines, and it seems to be bearing fruit.

But for me, doing that is a hobby. I find it rewarding, but I don't make a dime on it.

If I had not been willing to work for Dr. Bussard at a cut rate, back in 1995, would he have found someone else? But I think I would have worked for him for free (fewer hours, though, so I could make some money elsewhere) just to see the program along, because the name "amateur" derives from amourtori, i.e. people who do what they do because the love it.

I simply felt, the minute he told me the project, that I HAD to be a part of it.

I think Carl and Simon share that.
User avatar
Carl Willis
Posts: 2841
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2001 7:33 pm
Real name: Carl Willis
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by Carl Willis »

M.,

>There is a lot of useful research to be done that amateurs are not covering. (They could if they had enough test eqpt and other eqpt available). I want to see that research done. POPS for one. Focusing the beams by multiple grids for another. High frequency response ion gauges are another.

Again, I think you're totally missing the boat here. Understood that you want to see somebody else take on ideas that are important to you (who wouldn't?). But if everybody else is off doing their own thing and you're just complaining that they don't consider what you want to do, what's the point? If what you want done involves equipment the amateurs don't generally have the means for, how can you complain? And this is not the kind of researcher who commits readily to collaborative work. That point's been raised before. To generalize, we have our own ambitions and do what we like, when we like, within our means.

On the other hand, you're in this on a professional level. That's not necessarily implying a technical step up from what amateurs can do, but it is certainly a different game. You have investors (or will if all goes well with WB-7, according to what you say). You'll have money. Money will buy someone to do what you or your investors want to do (if you or the investors don't want to get own hands dirty). Why bother to raise a little finger to what some hobbyists are doing...you're in freakin' business, dude!

-Carl
Carl Willis
http://carlwillis.wordpress.com/
TEL: +1-505-412-3277
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

Who is complaining?

I'm working to get something done.

Back when I started promoting (and yes I'm an amateur promoter) restarting the Bussard Fusion Program I had no influence and it was a long shot. I kept at it and in August 007 my efforts bore fruit (Dr. Nebel said the blogs helped get the effort restarted). I'm taking the next step.

As to giving hobbiests the finger: not at all. They kept hope alive when I was totally ignorant of any of this. Kudos. However, to state that they (other than the coders) are not currently doing much to advance the state of the art is just a statement of fact. The fact that to do this requires more money and more hands is just a statement of fact.

As to why I'm not getting my hands dirty? Love to. However, I currently am getting by on a budget of $1,000 a month. I can't afford a 2N222 on my budget. So I have to work through others. I have a computer, a brain, and a will. So far that seems like enough.

Just to show you how well the educational effort has gone:

http://informationdissemination.blogspo ... uture.html

There is a discussion of the future of ship propulsion and I chime in with Bussard Fusion. Some one asks an intelligent question that could only be asked by some one familiar with the technology. The educational efforts of Tom, Dr. Bussard, and others is bearing fruit.

I'm relentless and intend to keep at it until we get functional fusion reactors or prove that it is impossible. Amateurs on a limited budget can't do much unless they combine efforts. All I can offer is my expertise as an aerospace Power and Control engineer. And what I have learned from reading this blog and other resources.

Dr. Nebel believes that with 10 T superconducting magnets he can get a power density about 65,000 times higher than ITER. With POPS it ought to be possible to raise that by a factor of 5 to 10 at least. Maybe 100X.

To take amateur fusion efforts to the next level requires budgets (for materials) on the order of $10K to $100K. I expect that the folks here will be an excellent resource in that effort having done so much already. I know for a fact that just your being here has helped the Peninsula College effort. Keep doing what you enjoy. It helps. I'll keep doing what I'm doing. I have been told it helps.

BTW I have always done big experiments on other people's money and have gotten well paid for it. I have been fortunate to get paid for doing what I love. You can't beat that in life.
User avatar
Carl Willis
Posts: 2841
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2001 7:33 pm
Real name: Carl Willis
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by Carl Willis »

>However, to state that they (other than the coders) are not currently doing much to advance the state of the art is just a statement of fact.

The coders?? There are amateur coders out there advancing the state of the art in fusion to an extent that the builders are not? You have examples of such creatures?

>To take amateur fusion efforts to the next level requires budgets (for materials) on the order of $10K to $100K. I expect that the folks here will be an excellent resource in that effort having done so much already.

I don't comprehend this at all! $100k for amateur fusion efforts? (Sure, that'd be nice!) The folks here will be an excellent resource? To what end--raising money? When you dream about $100k budgets and collaboration in the amateur community, you must not understand who comprises said community. Indeed, one of the greatest allures of a fusor to a hobbyist is the economy of the thing. Your assertion that this must be big-budget science at the amateur level, I simply reject.

I'd surmise that the most significant contribution the hobby community makes to the advancing front on fusion research is feeding the "Wow...I could do that myself!" spark to younger "fusioneers," the encouragement to get their feet wet in the lab, to take up interest in fusion-related fields, and to go to school and work in such a field. This happens automatically without any overt effort when people discuss online what they've built. Others see it, catch the spark, and carry forth under their own initiative. When Richard Hull wrote about a neutron-generating fusor costing "less than a set of golf clubs" back in '99 or so, that's what clinched it for me. Obviously there were big-budget professional IEC efforts extant in that timeframe, but they didn't make the same splash on my college-freshman radar.

I think your commitment to the cause of a fusion-powered future is commendable and heartfelt, but your understanding of the fusion hobby does not jibe well with reality.

-Carl
Carl Willis
http://carlwillis.wordpress.com/
TEL: +1-505-412-3277
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

Coders:

drmike at talk.polywell

Indrek also at talk.polywell

There are several others working on the polywell design. All you need is time. The ability to code and a 2 GHz desktop or when the effort gets more advanced one of the "hobby" distributed computing efforts similar to the SETI network.

As to amateur efforts. POPS would be simple to add and within the budget of most experimental neutron producing fusors.

I'm interested in taking it to the next level up: budgets small colleges and universities can afford. i.e. in the realm of water pool fission reactors.

As to $10K to $100K - this is in the realm of auto collectors etc. Or a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Barely out of the range of current fusion hobbiests. I see no reason not to advance the hobby to the next level. Think big. It may not be what you want to do. That is fine. It is what I want to do.

I see the evolution of this similar to what I saw in the early days of the computer hobby. Change is coming. In fact it is inevitable. It was never as much fun as the early days when every one was ignorant and working like dogs (for the love of it) to get something to work.

An era is passing.
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

>you're in freakin' business, dude!

Computing evolved from a hobby to a business. The early business efforts were built on what hobbiests accomplished.

This is not the first time such evolution has happened. I am fortunate to have been intimately involved in moving computers from a hobby to a business. I'd like to apply what I have learned from that first effort to fusion.

To get to be involved in two such transitions in a lifetime is a chance not given to many. I am blessed.
User avatar
Carl Willis
Posts: 2841
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2001 7:33 pm
Real name: Carl Willis
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by Carl Willis »

>As to giving hobbiests the finger: not at all. They kept hope alive when I was totally ignorant of any of this. Kudos. However, to state that they (other than the coders) are not currently doing much to advance the state of the art is just a statement of fact.

I'm going to keep pounding you over this assertion because therein I detect more than just a faint whiff of sweeping, vapid judgmentalism and misunderstanding.

It might be accurate to say that there aren't hobby fusor builders currently carrying water on the specific ideas that happen to interest you. That I can live with. But to generalize, and say that the fusor builders are "not doing much to advance the state of the art," only betrays a limited understanding of why people build fusors and what has come of their efforts. This community is a hotbed for developing practical technique in vacuum system fabrication, high voltage engineering, and nuclear metrology, and the people armed with this practical crash-course sometimes go on and serve the big research efforts with it.

I would say that's advancing the state of the art.

Richard Hester's designs for nuclear electronics, Phil Fostini's ion guns, Tom Dressel's neutron scintillators, Steven Sesselmann's S.T.A.R. linear collider, Andrew Seltzman's liquid-cooled cathode, Steve Ward's work with the SLR power supply topology, Alex and Ben Haylett's electrolytic deuterium generator, the slew of neutron activation experiments Jon Rosenstiel and I have done, Steve Hansen's publication of "The Bell Jar," and certainly Richard Hull's and Tom Ligon's seminal efforts that started the homebrew movement...the list of remarkable and wonderful innovations and accomplishments from people who actually put stuff together themselves and develop the knowledge that comes from doing, would go on for a mile.

I would say that's advancing the state of the art. Advancing the state of the art in some niche areas, perhaps, that have nothing to do with the Polywell, energy production, p-B11, POPS, and $100k budgets--your own particular areas of interest.

Just keep in mind, when you make these kinds of sweeping judgments, when you tell us that POPS would be an easy experiment, that we ought to collaborate, that we aren't advancing the state of the art, etc. there's a huge credibility gap--largely because you don't have the hands-on intimacy with this subject. I realize I've been very critical of your commentary, and some on the forum may think I'm being unfair or obnoxiously strident about it. But in any case, I've spoken my mind.

-Carl
Carl Willis
http://carlwillis.wordpress.com/
TEL: +1-505-412-3277
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

When I said state of the art I didn't mean state of the art in home built fusors. I meant what I said. State of the art.

I think Steve Sesselman's work is outstanding. I said so. However, he is going to have a tremendous problem (more so than with even normal fusors) of his walls (vs grids) eating up the energy inputs. Now if his intent was to chart a reaction rate curve (input voltage vs barns) I might take a different stance. For that kind of work his design is first rate. For actual fusion production I think scattering is going to kill his design.

In any case I intend to keep doing what I have been doing until I get results. I am undaunted. Having succeeded once I believe I can do it again. And again. And again.

Right now my job (until I can get my hands on some eqpt.) is educational and preliminary design. So far it is bearing fruit. I expect more as time goes by.

There is a lot to do that even the guys with big budgets haven't touched. My motto:

I will find a way or make one.

I have been doing that my whole life. No point in stopping now.
User avatar
Richard Hull
Moderator
Posts: 15071
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 9:44 am
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by Richard Hull »

Good luck on your efforts Simon.

I have a distinct triad of venues locked in my brain

1. Amateur fusion - a person or persons, (group), that is totally self funded or even assisted by any organization that DOES NOT supply cash, but instead, used or excess materials to assist or relieve the amateur during his quest. Such organizations can be educational institutions. Amateurs are unpaid. Thus, undergrad projects done on a lark with a guiding professor or advisor ARE amateur efforts.

2. Academic fusion - An educational instituion that has a grant or has as part of the departments yearly budget in the form of real cash funds set aside to do fusion work.
A number of professors are involved and many students both grads and undergrads.

3. Professional fusion - An organsization, (public or private), educational institution or goevernment effort working on fusion where everyone is working for a salary and their salaries are solely paid out to achieve a fusion goal or result as being part of the effort.

While our effort here is aimed at the amateur, we welcome all. The only exclusivity is the neutron club. It is reserved for amateurs, alone.

Gee whiz.... I thought taking amateur fusion to the next level was investing $1000.00 in fusor III and then $2500.00 in fusor IV.

It was enough for me to just help start and keep going a nationwide amateur effort.

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
The more complex the idea put forward by the poor amateur, the more likely it will never see embodiment
MSimon
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:27 pm
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town

Post by MSimon »

Richard,

If not for your efforts we wouldn't be where we are today. i.e. you have planted a lot of seeds. A true pioneer.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!,

May the good Lord shower his blessings on you.

And for the less (or different) religiously inclined:

Do what thou wilt.
Post Reply

Return to “Fusor and/or General Fusion Theory (& FAQs)”