Friday, May 29, 2009

The Fusion Push

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,522857,00.html

As the article says, "The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore Lab will focus 192 laser beams on a hydrogen pellet the size of a bead."

Great! New research in this technology is a definite step in the right direction to energy independence. Of course, you can't please everyone...

"We don't need this machine to solve our energy problems," says Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environment Research in Takoma Park, Md. "The main thing the National Ignition Facility has accomplished so far is to burn a hole in the taxpayers' pocketbook."

He's probably just pissed that he didn't get in on the action, or for some reason he thinks that research should be focused just on a select few paradigms. Bogus. Test everything. Never limit yourself. What a scientist this guy is.

Through fusion research we bring the Moon into play, because we can get He3 from the Moon and it then becomes a viable economic target. Once that happens, private business will jump on the Lunar Mining bandwagon and we will have genuine progress towards establishing permanent settlements on the Moon, which will then lead to further technological developments that will bring Mars into play. Yes, people say we can go to Mars now, but at what cost? At least with the Moon we have a more local target to learn from and give ourselves the ability to develop the proper technologies to get to Mars safer, faster and cheaper.

That's a discussion for another topic though. I look forward to seeing what progress is made later this year when they really push the limits of this baby (the NIF).

10 comments:

Desh said...

As an unbiased reader I can surely say that, what you have talked here, will take place in the long run, only if such endeavor is looked forward, debated and worked out in the end.

Thanks for having us read this.
Cheers!
Desh

Michael E said...

Hello Doug. I recently came across your blog after spotting a link in one of your Space.com comments. Looking forward to future posts.

I have a (dumb?) question for you. I know that the air-to-ground loop is available for the public to listen to during shuttle missions. Do you happen to know whether the flight director's loop, or any other nasa radio loops, are available for the public to listen to live during a mission? Thanks a bunch. -Michael

Douglas Mallette said...

Michael - Not dumb. Unfortunately, no, the other loops are closed loops. They aren't broadcast, especially the FD Loop. If it was, no one would ever understand it. lol. The FD monitors several loops at once from the various team leads, just like for the ISS Mission Control Center. The FD's, and all of the people working there actually, are trained to separate multiple conversations at once to hear what they need, but to regular people that aren't used to that, it sounds pretty much like a crowded room. Wouldn't do much good. lol.

Norman Copeland said...

Hello Desh, greetings friend!!! Its excellent having the opportunity to talk to a real spaceman operative! I really enjoy his off the cuff the wit...

It would be interesting to listen to some of your opinions about the space programme!!! What's your country of origin? This is an international community which is why I tell my friends about this crazy american dude who sings songs about getting the space programme off the ground!

Don't say anything, but, I think his blog is like the film 'inner space'...

Michael E said...

Thanks for the quick response Doug. While I'm acronym challenged, and not part of the space program, I would have gotten a kick out of listening to other loops. Oh well. Just curious, is it some sort of security reason why they are "closed"?

Douglas Mallette said...

Michael - Yes, it actually is classified. I don't know why though. Maybe because throughout the process they talk about specific subsystems, failures that occur, solutions scenarios, etc. I guess they don't want all the inner workings of the Shuttle broadcast to the world.

Desh - I appreciate your reading the blog and thanks for the comment. :)

Norman - That's badly singing songs. lol. Badly. lol.

Norman Copeland said...

I believe this would be an excellent vehicle for serious platform company incentive to get involved with the next technological era of space faring planet surface engine functioning vehicle.

GM should be bought and positioned as builders of space vessels 'and' cars. It's an ideal marry, a marketing coup and executives dream order [Guess thats why I'm skint though... Yah, I'll be back soon, don't you leave the blueberry muffins on the porch...]

Come on you ol'yankees whats the rebel in ya saying?


http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Dispatch/market-dispatches-060109.aspx

Thomas Fledrich said...

When looking for electrostatic confinement chambers for using them as possible fuel tanks for electrically charged particles, I stumbled upon an interesting alternative to both the tokamak and the pellet implosion method. It's called a "Fusor", which is essentially a modified electron tube for electrostatic confinement. Just google for this word if you're interested in finding out more about it.

When I was calculating the required energy levels of the plasma for fusion to occur I found that these conditions should be present in a normal lightning. It seems that these have been observed, here is the latest article I found about it:

http://www.physorg.com/news6674.html

Sure these methods haven't produced a positive net energy output either so far, but there are articles describing such a reactor for the cost of a few 100 million $, which is far less than what has been invested into the other designs. It has been a proposed research project for the Navy if memory serves.

Norman Copeland said...

Thomas, the problem with dealing 'fusor' science is isolating the experiment as all modern science labs will tell you. Isolation is vital to the credibility of the results and truthfully, electron tubes have difficulty stabilising to the finer degree.

This is the problem I envisage withh CERN, the American based FERMI lab has says it is confident of identifying the Hoggs boson.

I believe that the suggestion of 'regional' scientific applications may be the indicative consideration of results.

Sort of like a bull in a china shop really.

Thomas Fledrich said...

Well Norman, I don't really know much about fusors. I just stumbled upon them when I was looking for something else. But isn't it a little bit weird that here you have a device that can produce plenty of neutrons via deuterium-fusion that can be built in a basement for the cost of a few 1000$ and when I asked some of the staff at the university a year ago they never even heard about it before?
I'm sure the experiment can't be controlled, or even just observed very well under such conditions, but improving the stability doesn't look like an impossible feat to me with the right tools for manipulating the electrostatic field.
I just wonder is any professional, well funded fusor research going on at all at the moment, or is it just some people who do it in their past time?

On the other hand, I wouldn't really care if the reaction couldn't be completely isolated or fine tuned if the device just managed to generate more power than it received (without blowing up in the process) ;-)