Another Big "What If?"

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
djolds1
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by djolds1 » Sat May 26, 2007 6:53 am

> Good points. The Cotton Gin was a VERY pertinent example.
>
> In your opinion(s), assuming that our researcher had
> produced a working net positive energy output prototype
> without loss of life or limb, would he be advised to:

> (a) conduct a public demonstration and wait for business
> proposals, then sell out

No. Too much chance of replaying the Cold Fusion experience.
POs the physics establishment and risks pariah status if you get a few details moderately wrong.

Note that I am not asserting that cold fusion was an actual nuclear process, only that the intra-academic & real-world political consequences would be similar.

> (b) submit evidence to recognized, accredited organizations
> and journals, and wait for business proposals

Yes. Get the concept validated by multiple experts in the field.
Once its validated, you move on to money and glory. If you get a few details wrong, people will keep plugging away at it to tweak it into shape.

First step.

> (c) conduct a private demonstration for a small group of major
> utilities and corporations

Same problem as "a."

> (d) contact the "Energy Czar" of the federal government, try
> to "grease the skids"

Unnecessary. Once validated, money for scale up via national level programs will appear.

And hopefully Scamamaks will be defunded (evil grin).

> (e) incorporate, feed the frenzy, announce a worldwide Initial
> Public Offering, retain all development rights, find a hospitable
> country willing to allow large scale development

Good odds you're written off as a crank. Even if you're right, no one with resources and/or a rep to make it stick will bother to look at your work for 1-2 generations.

> (f) release the technology into the public domain for the good
> of all mankind, feel the love, sell books, wait for the Noble Prize

Someone up thread proposed this. Don't bother trying to enforce patents and legal rights that every nation on Earth will ignore. Make the announcement, take the honors, receive multiple generous grants and awards with money to boot, and spend the rest of your life as a highly paid consultant and guest lecturer making 70k USD (2007 dollars) per speech.

Fight for the legal rights and you end up poor, bitter, and held in contempt by world opinion.

I agree with this.

> (g) forget the whole thing, they don't deserve it

I am Ming the Merciless! Nothing will stop my fusion powered ravening armies of death!!!

:):)

Duane

MSimon
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by MSimon » Sun May 27, 2007 11:06 am

If you want to do something at the margins the best thing to do (provided it is not too repulsive - heh) is to get as much publicity as you can and to have some stalwart friends.

It is not a sure thing - what is in this world - but what is done in secret can be done away with in secret.

BTW better thatn a whore house - the girls can often be hard to manage - is an escort service. The more upscale ladies tend to be more reliable. Same for the bar - a club is better. As to the casino fill it with $5 slots and bacarat tables to keep out the riff raff.

It is just like the fusion business. If you are going to fail would you rather have the ITER budget? Or Dr. Bussard's current level of finances?

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Richard Hull
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Richard Hull » Tue May 29, 2007 2:58 pm

Coulomb did not enumerate a group of different fusion victory paths above. He effectively enumerated the different personalities in this fray and the paths they would take.

You can bet that no one in this current world would give a lone wolf discoverer an even break, but would break him, instead. The path anyone would take if they had a worldbeater idea is based not so much on what would succeed, but the path that would suit their personality.

Whether it soars them to fame and fortune or leaves them destitute and broken is a matter of a chain of events which may or may not relate to the path they have taken.

One could undoubtedly do the same thing twice in different times or circumstances and have two different or alternate outcomes.

I doubt if anyone of us will be faced with such a situation where we are set, in fact or just in our minds, to change the world and be forced to choose a path.

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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Carl Willis
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Carl Willis » Tue May 29, 2007 6:13 pm

The right thing to do, essentially regardless of the nature of the project, would be:

1. Document the work exhaustively like any good scientist

2. Patent the intellectual property in whatever jurisdictions are appropriate to the inventor's commercial vision

3. Publish complete details of the physical apparatus and any measurements in the peer-reviewed scientific and engineering literature. Attend conferences. Go on the lecture circuit. Go to Stockholm to pick up your little medal thingy from the King of Sweden.

4. Seek licensees or buyers for the intellectual property, or form partnerships as appropriate to continue developing the property and marketing any deliverables. Since this is an energy innovation, government grant sponsorship is likely. Expect folks like General Motors, the Coal Council, and OPEC to engage in aggressive denial of the science and issue focus-group-tested negative advertising which, while ultimately futile, will be annoying for a few years.

-Carl
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mheslep
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by mheslep » Tue May 29, 2007 8:13 pm

3.a) Claim only what you carefully measure and observe ("I found He") and what you did not see but were expecting ("I found no Neutrons"). Do not loosely speculate on the cause. That is, if you are zapping some deuterated Paladium in Utah and have evidence of He, you can say you found some He. Do not call the press and say this must be fusion because you don't know that's the case.

DaveC
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by DaveC » Tue May 29, 2007 9:09 pm

Well put Carl and Falstaff. This is undoubtedly the generic path, that is followed for most successful discoveries.

To my mind, it seems reasonable that had Farnsworth been as successful with his early fusion efforts, as the Fission effort had been, then he would not have been a tired and discouraged inventor at the end. He would played a key role in the multifaceted development of a Fusion energy resource.

The ITT organization seemed to be poised to give it shot, not with unlimited money, but some money and a few years. As things seemed to stall, others were brought in to help, but, in the end, no one was able to get far enough to keep Sr. Mgmt interested. There's nothing either sinister or unusual about this. It happens everyday, somewhere, in Government or industry.

One thing you can be sure of, is that the mainstream fusion scientists are well aware of almost everything that impinges on their work. Despite their own strongly entrenched mind-sets, paradigms, and rationales, the facts of science speak... eloquently to these folks.

If you have the contrarian approach, and have results to show, you WILL be on the program of the next conference, and your work WILL get reviewed, sieved, scrutinized, picked apart, and countered. If it holds up under this onslaught, you definitely have something. And, if it is a fusion process, that actually works, unquestionably,... you WILL one day be needing a ticket to a Scandanavian locale for a well deserved 15 minutes of fame and glory.

But the sorting process is not kind to the players and workers. The true scientist is not a complaining wimp, but a gutsy, intuitive, hard working individual. On occasion, one of their number has come along who is truly a visionary, able to put a number ot isolated facts together, making a new grander thing.
But most are in the laboratories, producing, facts.

We are presently awaiting the sufficient assortment of facts and that certain someone with the grand vision to assemble them.

Dave Cooper

MontyRoberts
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by MontyRoberts » Wed May 30, 2007 3:21 pm

Two years later and I stand by my original post, now with even more conviction. Things have changed technology wise and everybody is thinking with the old frame of reference.

I think the airplane is a good example to look at here. There were many who had proposed and even demonstrated various flying contraptions prior to the Wrights. Some of them actually were better ideas. The difference was the Wrights made something demonstrable and repeatable that flew under its own power. That was what they did right.

What they did wrong: They patented a, wing warping, biplane, canard pusher. How many wing warping biplane canard pushers do we fly in today? Many others got around their patents by building better more advanced designs. The Wrights bitterly fought over patent rights in the court system, even after the state of the art had passed them by.

The patent is a legal monopoly sanctioned by the state and enforced via the courts. It has no real value otherwise and no analogy outside of the framework of the law. In other words it is simply words on a piece of paper. I would argue the concept of the patent is obsolete, so is copyright. Information technology has rendered it so. Those who ignore this fact do so at their own peril. Those who embrace it and structure their business accordingly will thrive.

The pace of change in the marketplace is stunning. Most products will be totally obsolete long before the patent expires. The idea will be sliced, diced and dissected, reinvented, improved and changed 100 times before even the first round of patent litigation is appealed.

The manufacturing sector is on its way to becoming totally automated distributed and very responsive. A factory making one product this week can be making another next week. In fact most manufacturing is now customized with one factory making related products for many different companies. Things are different now.

Conceiving, designing, and producing all the applications of a new technology are beyond the abilities of an individual or even a single company. You have expertise in one area. It is a better system if you work with many companies and individuals to apply that expertise broadly.

Whatever you patent will be obsolete before the ink dries.

Your work is merely an advertisement for your skills and abilities. Just make sure you get the credit so the work comes your way. You must document and keep processes and methods confidential, or publish what you do to prevent others from trying to patent your work. You must be able to show prior art.

Stay at the bleeding edge and what do you need with patents?

Let the competition play catch up and sue. It will be like an anvil around their neck, just as you are grabbing the next balloon.

I see no reason why a working fusion device is any different than any other product. If anything what I am saying is even more applicable due to the huge demand for such a device.

I say publicly release the details of the working device widely all over the world (with your name on it), sit back and watch the show.

I am sure you will be amply rewarded.

People will want to pay you rather than try to reinvent the wheel. They don’t have the time, resources, or expertise. If you attempt to hoard all the goodies then rest assured they will hire a lot of smart people who do have the expertise to get around you.

Try to guard it, keep it secret, patent it, or otherwise control it and you will be left behind with a lot of legal bills and a very sad outcome.

Monty

Coulomb
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Coulomb » Wed May 30, 2007 4:04 pm

Good posts, interesting points.

Not stated anywhere here, but perhaps a factor, would be the size and economic scale of the fusion device. A breakthrough fusion technology toward the Tokamak end of the size/cost scale would be less likely to be copied by every Tom, Dick, and Harry than a tabletop fusion technology such as a Fusor. Any breakthrough based on a Fusor would be modified and deployed by numerous trade schools, small-scale entrepreneurs, and refrigerator repairmen. A large-scale, very expensive technology would only be reproducible by large governments or major corporations, which would be more inclined to honor patent and licensing conventions, since they would have something to lose in litigation.

(not that we have any choice in which scale will eventually be successful)

mheslep
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by mheslep » Wed May 30, 2007 4:58 pm

Monty Roberts wrote:
>The difference was the Wrights made something demonstrable and repeatable that flew under its own power. That was what they did right.
>
Yes I saw the Nova program too, great show. What they got right was aircraft _control_, not just lift and propulsion. As Nova showed lotsa folks could ~ do lift and propulsion but the Wrights were way ahead in terms of control which they achieved by systematic investigation of aerodynamics and Bernoulli.

> What they did wrong: They patented a, wing warping, biplane, canard pusher. How many wing warping biplane canard pushers do we fly in today?
So? Can you elaborate as to why patenting their concept, which required large sacrifice, effort and time, is 'wrong'? Scratch that. Please see Federalist 43.

>
> The patent is a legal monopoly sanctioned by the state and enforced via the courts. It has no real value otherwise and no analogy outside of the framework of the law. In other words it is simply words on a piece of paper. I would argue the concept of the patent is obsolete, so is copyright.

Ah excellent!! Guys Ive got this great new song I want to distribute and sell. Goes something like:
"You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know ...."

Falstaff

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Richard Hull
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Re: Another Big "What If?"

Post by Richard Hull » Thu May 31, 2007 2:02 pm

Patents in the Wright's time were cheap and rather easy to obtain. A private joe had no problems.

Has anyone HERE, in the US, actually privately started the patent process and seen it through to the end, having patent in hand?!!

What did it cost? In time? In money? In heartache?

If you are with a company and patent through them, that is really not your patent and it doesn't count.

Patents are very, very useless to the ingenious, inventive, private joe working 9-5, for all the reasons given above in other postings.

Back to the scale issue.... Who knows at what scale fusion will first morph itself into real power? I have a sneaking suspicion it will be big, very big. Nothing really patentable there. Will it stay big? Probably not.

Somehow I think fission is the natural winner and fusion will be a loser unless such a masterful new thing happens that it will push fission into being considered one of the worst power systems ever created. Fusion will probably not arrive in any usable form until the last sentence can be the whole truth, without reservation. It just will not happen in my lifetime, of that, I am sure.

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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