Another Big "What If?"

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
Quarkpot
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Another Big "What If?"

Post by Quarkpot » Mon Jul 25, 2005 3:28 pm

Another Big "What If?"

This is an example of "putting the cart before the horse" or "counting one's chickens before the eggs hatch". On the other hand Steven Covey of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" listed #2 as " Begin with the end in mind", so here it is...

If someone were able to produce a fusion device or technology that could "break even" or be self-sustaining, how should he market it?

History is full of examples of inventors, authors, artists, etc. who have been "taken advantage of" and who have received very little of the proceeds of their work.

Potential pitfalls include patent procedures, international patent rights, the concept of a "Master Patent", finding a "buyer" that could or would pay what the new technology would be worth, the limited lifetime of a patent coupled with regulatory requirements, etc. Would incorporation, a public relations campaign, and an initial public offering be the way to go, or would attempting to market the rights to one or more utilities or governments individually be more advantageous?

A workable fusion process that produces a positive net energy flow would be equivalent to owning the rights to "fire" or "the wheel", but how could the inventor hope to be compensated for anything near what it would be worth?

MontyRoberts
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by MontyRoberts » Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:13 pm

Well, this is something I have experience in. Patents are merely the right to sue somebody. That is it. They are useful only in proportion to the size of your legal offense/defense fund. Protecting such an earth shattering idea would require massive amounts of capital and international patents. Rest assured you will not stop the Chinese, Russians or others from producing it.

I would suggest anybody who discovers such a thing publish it in the public domain, copyright it, and enjoy your fame as the first to accomplish such a feat. You will make more off of your speeches, appearances, fellowships, awards, and book deals than you ever will if you get involved in the patent and protect game. You will be in demand as a consultant. Your life will be much happier. You will be able to afford the worlds best work shop and any tool, gadget, or computer you desire. Is there anything any of us really want more than this? Do you really want a Lear jet and an entourage? A huge organization to manage? Legal headaches, business headaches?

Even if you do patent it, there will be a zillion ways to accomplish the same thing, each of which will be patented. Processes, materials, methods of manufacture-the list is endless.

There is nothing sadder than an inventor greedily hoarding his "patentable" material in hopes of making the big score. More often than not they have nothing of real value and if they do it is stolen and their patents busted. They wind up bitter and broke. Corporations have a pathological dislike of paying royalties to anybody. I know, I have been at the conference room table with very bright people figuring out how to get around patents. This is typically very easy. I have numerous US and international patents issued and pending. Patents are nothing more than another lever to be used by and against competing business entities. The individual of average means would be better off playing a lone game of football, naked, against the defensive line of the current super bowl champions in full gear.

These are the facts man. Get used to it or become very bitter and poor.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:43 pm

Monty got it correct. No person who invents or patents break even or power ready fusion will make an effective dime off the thing. Oh, they might make a million net dollars after the patents, lawyers and other hangers-on scurry back into the woodwork, but most liklely one will never be repaid for even a fraction of the effort........More likely, one will find oneself repeatedly bent over a table for all to take a free shot at.

The idea of making money off the invention of break even fusion is rather niave and ludicrous in the twenty first century.

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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Mike Veldman
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Mike Veldman » Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:59 pm

I definately have to agree with Monty about the patents based on my years on the bleeding edge of optical disk technology. I'm one of the guys with his name next to the first CD rom cut in the world. We were working in partnership with NV Phillips on the mastering systems at the time, they had the most stable transports at that time in the industry and I based my argon laser pitting system on a Magnavox transport, which Phillips manufactured. They had a department devoted to just patents, whose sole purpose was to patent file and persue and they spent more money than the research cost. As far as I can tell patents are just more welfare for lawyers. In my case for the next five years after we cut the product I had consulting retainers and contracts comming from every direction, and the same for the other guys I worked with. After that I hoped to never see an optical disk or a nondisclosure agreement or an invented property clause again. I'm a firm believer in just getting the idea out there and go on to whatever is next, life is a big wheel. But, then I live for the for the invention, not the money. So here I am working at a university where we have these faculty researchers running around wanting to make everything top secret so they can retain the patent rights for future liscensing, they have no clue, just the rumors and the lure of the big score. I didn't become broke and bitter, I just got more chances to play with more and varied fun things at someone elses expense.

Juat my couple of cents.

mike
I tried to contain myself, but I escaped.

DaveC
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by DaveC » Mon Jul 25, 2005 11:42 pm

It seems to me that unless the fusion energy coverter is coupled to an efficient energy extractor.. (a la some form of the charged particle braking devices discussed elswhere)...not a lot of improvement in the heat rejection will occur.

By going to all-electric drive vehicles, and using similar technology on other systems that had been thermo-mechanical, one shifts the heat rejection focus from the end use deivce, to the source conversion system... the fusion system.

So.. there is a twin challenge there, the fusion method itself, clearly the hardest and least understood - as far as ways to do it are concerned - and..... the actual energy extraction method.

Recall also, that since in the D-D process neutrons carry almost half of the energy, then an efficient neutron energy extractor is needed too.

Just in case anyone was getting bored and needed a little challenge or three....or four....

Dave Cooper

Quarkpot
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Quarkpot » Mon Jul 25, 2005 11:55 pm

Let me see if I got this correct. No fame, no fortune, and no chicks?

This in a society where someone who can slam dunk a basketball can make millions of dollars a year?

All the inventor of practical controlled fusion would have to look forward to would be a few days on the morning talk shows, followed by endless tours selling books, autographing t-shirts, and judging high school science fairs.

Thank you Monty, Richard, and Mike for the informative replies.

Note to self:
1. Sell the high voltage power supply on ebay.
2. Study for the Realtors license exam.
3. Renew the Playboy subscription.

VividHugh
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by VividHugh » Tue Jul 26, 2005 2:34 am

Thanks guys, this was thoroughly entertaining as well as informative. I suggest somebody sell the whole thread to Popular Mechanics or some such rag for a couple hundred bucks. A lot of people would profit from reading it and it's wittily written.

Jon Rosenstiel
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Jon Rosenstiel » Tue Jul 26, 2005 3:08 am

And remember, the t-shirts you'll be signing will not be as "well-formed" as the t-shirts the multi-million dollar sports star signs!

Jon Rosenstiel

Todd Massure
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Todd Massure » Tue Jul 26, 2005 5:16 am

Let's say someone, an individual or small group comes up with power ready fusion. Just to make it interesting let's say it is our own Brian McDermott. Let's say a couple of years from now Brian announces to all of us.
I have done it! Behold! the 12 grided fusor!
Brian, being a smart guy doesn't even try to patent the 12 grided fusor, instead, he publishes, and hits the lecture circuit.
He's fairly well paid on the circuit, plus he totally scores with chicks at the ComiCon, Star Trek Conventions (who no longer need hard to come by dilithium crystals and are not shy about showing their pointy eared gratitude), not to mention in his Physics and Math classes.
But he still likes to have his own facilities and especially a well equipped lab, so he runs a small business doing one off, cutom "McDermotrons" as they have become commonly known.
One day however, a letter comes in the mail and says that he must stop making 12 grided McDermotrons, for Acme Fusor LLC. has patented both the 12 AND 13 grided fusor configuration.

Now seriously for a minute, could something like this happen? or would a person in a similar situation be able to prove he still has rights to produce his product because he invented it and was the first to publish the configuration etc.?

-Todd
(hope you didn't mind the jokes Brian!)

Starfire
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Starfire » Tue Jul 26, 2005 7:58 am

Dream on - I don't think you will ever get to the stage where decisions have to be made regarding patents. Identify that you have a successful process of fusion and Big Brother will kick in to ensure you don't have Patent or Publishing problems. This would be too big a step with the potential to compromise the " National Interest ". Be content to achieve for your own interest and keep it a secret from all. Make it your daily prayer that no one will ever learn of your success and that you are allowed to live ' ? ' long and prosper by other means.
-- If you wanna get rich - open a brothel, over your bar, next to your casino { my life's ambition } and try not to be noticed. --

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