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Member since: Mon Jul 4, 2011, 01:08 PM
Number of posts: 593

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New magnetic fusion technology could be ready in 5 years

Despite the fact that nuclear fusion has been pursued as a power source since the 1950s, fusion reactors have yet to be effectively turned into a regular power source. Tokamaks, the first kind of fusion reactor attempted, generated power by using magnets to squeeze and heat plasma in a giant ring. To make it work, you need a massive donut-shaped vacuum chamber, and it can take years to go from construction to power generation. There has been something of a modern revival of fusion reactor attempts, but most designs still are tremendous undertakings, requiring the kinds of resources and infrastructure that usually only governments can provide. And such coordination efforts are difficult in the best of times and can be an impossible sell during severe financial constraints.

So in part, it's the feasibility of the new Lockheed project that makes it so compelling. Much smaller than traditional fusion attempts, the compact fusion reactor uses a cylinder, not a ring, which makes for a stronger magnetic containment field and leaves fewer points where the energy could escape. This could make for a reactor that's small enough for a truck to transport and still robust enough to generate power for 100,000 homes. Lockheed hopes to have a test model available by 2017, and scale up to regular production by 2022.


If you have a few minutes the video is worth watching. The design is based on a different geometry than the standard Tokamak reactor that allows the new design to be much smaller. In my opinion this technology has a much greater chance of replacing fossil fuels compared to current renewables due to the high cost and low energy density of current renewable technologies.

Tea party crowd, GOP congressman at rally: 'Shut it down!' (From 2011!)


This video is from 2011! It is not "both sides fault", they have been planning this for years.

Fox News Website Trumpets Government 'Slimdown,' Not Shutdown

"Shutdown"? What's a "shutdown"?

If you were looking at the Fox News website, you might think you were in a different universe than the one where everyone is talking about a government shutdown.

What we have, according to the network, is a "slimdown." The government's not frozen and crippled -- it's just losing a little weight!


Could it be any more clear that this was the goal all along?

Fox news is now saying they should hold up the debt ceiling to stop the individual mandate

I flipped by to see what they were saying. Are they completely out of their minds?

Edit: Yeah, the question is rhetorical but still...

Thoughts on a separate taxating and budget for research?

One of the most damaging aspects of the sequester has been the decimation in research funding. It is always the first to be cut because it does not have immediate effects but the long term consequences of not adequately funding medical, energy, and all other forms of scientific research are dire. I personally think the solution to the health care cost crisis is better research to produce cheaper technology with better outcomes. Progress is being made but it could be significantly accelerated with better funding.

What do people think of the idea of having a separate budget like Social Security where it shows up as a 0.5%-2% tax on income and capital gains somewhat like a payroll tax to create a research trust fund and then have a board of scientists decide how to fund the different programs. Obviously the details will be more complex. Experts say that we should actually be spending 3% of GDP on research so this is actually a fairly small amount. I am a researcher myself so of course I am a little biased but the current way that research is being funded is destroying the federal research system and will have severe social and economic consequences. It would be better to try to make it less political and more controlled by the experts in the fields of research rather than politicians.

Why isn't anyone talking about the trade deficit when discussing the national deficit?

It seems blatantly obvious that the national deficit is largely caused by the loss in tax revenue because of excessive imports without adequate tariffs. The real solution is to tariff imported goods so that the trade deficit ends up being neutral. I would suggest a "means-tested" import tariff where countries that provide social services like democracies in Europe are taxed less than countries like China or India that do not provide social services. It could also be adjusted to deal with currency manipulation. I guess the argument against this is that it could cause a "trade war", however I personally suspect that this is a red herring. Our economy is so imbalanced right now I doubt it could get much worse. We have the most powerful agricultural sector and tech sector in the world so we don't really face much competition in those really important areas. Other countries will be forced to trade with us in those areas.

I've had enough with this Bengazi nonsense.

It was a tragic attack that killed 4 Americans. It is possible that more security could have protected them, but the people there knew the risks. It is very unlikely that there was a coverup; the problem was fog of war and that is what all the military people have been saying.

That being said, can we start prosecuting people from the Bush administration days for the lead up to the Iraq war? There is a real, well known conspiracy theory. I know that Obama didn't want to go after them in his first term, but it has become clear that the GOP is just going to constantly go after him looking for any excuse to impeach him for his second term. He might as well keep everyone occupied on a real story, and I think the American people (or maybe just the dem base) would be very happy to see someone prosecuted for an illegal war.

I have been watching a bunch of PBS documentaries about the financial crises,

and I have been shocked about how the financial regulators were doing their jobs. I guess I haven't been paying that close attention, but apparently people like Alan Greenspan thought that regulation was unnecessary because the market would punish companies that committed fraud, and that the market would self stabilize. There seem to be two major concepts that struck me as insane:

1. People always made the best rational decision economically and almost always made the "right" decision. This assumes that the person has all the information about options and can calculate the "optimal" outcome.

2. Emotions did not factor in to economic decisions and people made totally detached, rational decisions.

Both of these concepts were completely, utterly, tragically wrong. And there is tape of Alan Greenspan in front of congress saying he was wrong.

Now, in the 2012 election, we have the GOP campaigning on the EXACT SAME IDEAS which were completely, unequivocally determined to be wrong.

What the heck is going on, and why aren't more people freaking out about this?

Here are some of the videos if people are interested. They are worth a watch if you haven't seen them already.


I guess this one is a full movie; it is on Netflix

I think the latest spate of GOP insanity reinforces how important sex ed is in public schools

It has become clear with the latest comments by prominent GOP and the personhood amendments show that the GOP leadership has absolutely no idea how the human reproductive system works. If they had sat through a science-based sex ed program (and payed attention), they would realize instantly how insane they sound. The problem is the conservatives treat sex as so taboo that it can't be talked about it in real terms, and their positions just go completely off the rails. There isn't any point in hiding the reality of sex from kids; if they know what it really is they can make informed choices.

We, as a society, have a crisis of "metrics"

In optimization and other fields, a "metric" is a measure of how good or how bad something is. Right now we use metrics like GDP, quarterly profits, stock market indexes, etc to measure how well our country is doing. We award bonuses to executives based on quarterly or yearly earnings. The problem is that these metrics are completely out of touch with reality. CEOs and politicians game the equations used to generate these metrics for their own purposes. China, with its ghost cities, is an extreme example of this metric gaming gone wild. We need to use metrics that include things like quality of life, quality of education, quality of the environment, quality of our educators, scientists, medical personnel, etc. Until we can change our metrics of success, there is no chance of getting out of our current funk because the easiest way to improve the metrics is not necessarily the best for the country or the companies that run our economy.

Include the fact the the GOP is doing anything they can to push the metrics down and the situation becomes even more dire.
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