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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 04:09 PM
Original message
Polywell Proton Boron fusion reactor approved
Edited on Mon Jun-29-09 04:38 PM by FogerRox
Yeah I know Fusion is 50 years away, right? And Fusion makes lots of radioactive waste anyway, right? Stellarators, Focus, Pinch, ZEE. Whatever.

Not anymore.





The great big international effort at donut shaped fusion in France:ITER, is slated to use Deuterium and Tritium fuel, creating insane numbers of neutrons, radioactivity.

There are many different types of fusion fuel.

Helium, Lithium, Deuterium, & Boron 11 can be used, resulting in different levels of power and radioactivity. Some fuels like Helium (He) or Proton Boron 11 (PB-11), create exponentially less radioactivity (100k-1mill) than a typical Fission nuke plant. Pre solicitions have gone out to EMC2Fusion in Santa Fe to build 2 more Polywell fusion reactors including one to use PB-11 fuel. Right, the Proton Boron-11 reaction, unheard of you say? Thats pretty much true, I think PB-11 fusion has only been done once in a lab back in the 1950's, so its quite rare.


In Santa Fe the EMC2Fusion team is working on Polywell fusion research, led by Dr Rick Nebel, they hope to lead the way to practical everyday fusion that becomes the main source for electricity on our little planet.

Dr Nebel says 2 yrs boom or bust, then he will know if Polywell works and will be ready to build a net power reactor, one that uses Pb-11, thats right, Dr Nebel is talking about a PB-11 Net Power reactor by 2015. I suspect that by around 2015 we will know if coal plants and fission nukes are obsolete. Yes this is Dr. Bussards Polywell, if only the Doc could be here, (He passed about a year ago)

Dr Bussards development of the Polywell started in the 1980's with DARPA funding, and then more recently under Navy funding. The Navy wants Polywell as a replacement for shipboard fission nukes, 100,000 to a million times less radioactive, and at as little as 30 ft across for an entire plant (1000-1200MW) using the PB-11 reaction. And in some circles, folks relish the idea of a compact 1200MW to power some laser or something, but thats a whole nother diary or 2 or 3.

Time line Refresher:

1. 2005 Bussard shorts out WB-6

2. Bussard made his Google Tech Talk video.

3. .Got a contract for WB-7

4. Dr Bussard Passes.

5. Nebel joins team, finishes WB-7.

6. WB-7 Peer review.

7. Contracts for WB-7.1 are let.

8.2009 Contracts for WB-8, WB.1 and then WB-9, WB-9.1 pdf.

From the Nebel interview over at Next Big Future.

Question: When is the earliest that an actual fusion plant based on your concept could be built?
Answer: The project that we hope to have out within the next six years will probably be a demo, which won't have the attendant secondary equipment necessary for electricity generation. Hopefully the demo will demonstrate everything that is needed to put a full-scale working plant into commercial production. So if the concept works we could have a commercial plant operating as early as 2020.

Question: What do you estimate a kilowatt hour from your fusion reactor to cost?
Answer: We are looking at 2-5 cents per kilowatt hour. That should make electricity generation less expensive than any alternative, including coal and nuclear. So if this technology works it will be like a silver bullet, and be fundamentally superior to any competing technology. The issue is whether it works or not.



Can you say: "Liquid fuels will be quaint by 2050"?

Part 2 can be found here

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 04:29 PM
Response to Original message
1. A little graphic eye candy


Yeah I know healthcare is important, so is this, the end to oil.
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 04:33 PM
Response to Original message
2. 2 votes, thanks, can I get some peak oil love here?
Mars in 38 days.
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 04:48 PM
Response to Original message
3. A 3rd vote, thanks, but I like comments too... please?
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 04:55 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I was told there would be no math. n/t
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. No math, just shiney pretty lights
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:27 PM
Response to Reply #6
13. ...


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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #13
22. OMG, thats great
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. THere has to be an LOLcat variation of Rule 34. n/t
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 08:52 PM
Response to Reply #23
31. Only reference I found was






This one here.




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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 10:17 PM
Response to Reply #31
34. Excellent! n/t
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #4
40. lol! K * R nt
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DaLittle Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
35. Kick Da Fusion Power Out Of It!
Fusion Yeah!
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:11 PM
Response to Original message
5. Cool if it works, but sorta scary too...
Could be so much energy we'd greatly accelerate our trashing of the planet.

Maybe we won't be happy until the entire biosphere becomes a seething blob of human protoplasm.
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Fusion gets us off the planet, factories off the planet. It gives us the solar system.
otherwise theres only half the oil left.....
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GeorgeGist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 03:22 PM
Response to Reply #8
43. Does the trashing ever end?
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:43 PM
Response to Reply #43
58. When you got essentially free energy recycling can begin.
So yes.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 08:36 PM
Response to Reply #5
46. No it makes recycling free.
It changes everything.
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Ezlivin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:14 PM
Response to Original message
7. I wish, I wish, I wish
That this would come true.

But many times technology that works fine in the laboratory doesn't scale and fails to achieve real-world applications.

Perhaps I'm cynical because for the past 30 years I've heard that a "cure" for spinal cord injury is just around the corner. And yet here I sit, still in my wheelchair, still paralyzed. My quip now is "The cure for SCI is next year." I'll say that every year until I'm dead (or, miraculously there is a cure).

In much the same way I've been reading about fusion research for decades and a functioning fusion reactor is always "just around the corner."

I wish, I wish, I wish....
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. These new contracts are to address scaling, we'll know n 2 yrs.
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Ezlivin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:21 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Hell, I'll be walking by then
:)


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CrownPrinceBandar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
16. I'm hoping along with you...........
I am not subject to a SCI, but a breakthrough in nerve repair would be a godsend. It would open up many new avenues to repair the body of conditions that have plagued folks since time immemorial. It would be the holy grail of medical science.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for ya, EZ.
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:17 PM
Response to Original message
10. This looks promising.
Thanks for the thread, FogerRox.
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PurgedVoter Donating Member (753 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:19 PM
Response to Original message
11. K&R nt
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rucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:29 PM
Response to Original message
14. I'm going to change my band name to Donut Shaped Fusion
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. Oh was I ridiculing the ITER? LOL, such a sugary kind of fusion
or toridial fusion
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:30 PM
Response to Original message
15. Pb-11? Lead?
A reactor powered by friggin Lead?

K&R
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 06:08 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Boron 11 and a proton.
Thanks
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Soylent Brice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 06:00 PM
Response to Original message
17. K&R
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 06:19 PM
Response to Original message
20. I look forward to this development
Edited on Mon Jun-29-09 06:20 PM by GliderGuider
with unmitigated dread and revulsion.

We've managed to pretty much trash life on this planet with just the chemical energy from 35 cubic miles of oil and 100 cubic miles of coal (the total amount we've used since we began the Industrial Revolution). I shudder to think of what we would be able to do the remaining life given unlimited energy. Technology does not make us any wiser, you know.

The "going to the stars" argument doesn't cut it, because not everyone could be exported to some extra-planetary environment. Right now we're producing a surplus of 75 million people a year... The ones who would remain behind will still want a Jetsons quality of life, and some of them will even want children (it's the way animals are wired). Even if we could synthesize enough inorganic food capsules out of our own waste for everyone who stayed behind and their children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, they'd still want living room, and playing room. Dolphins? Reindeer? Marmosets? Antelopes? Fuck 'em. They were cute but it's not like we ever really needed them, right?

This technology isn't just genocidal, it's vivocidal.
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 06:27 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Never left the planet have you, dont know anyone who has
Its a common reaction.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 08:31 PM
Response to Reply #21
27. Never imagined yourself as a jaguar have you?
Worldwide Endangered Species List: 5295 species. All being done in by human activity. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "All for one."

Sweet dreams, Tom Swift.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #27
48. Meh, all life on Earth is destined to go extinct.
I would hope our species isn't around when it happens. Especially when the next mass extinction event is going to occur in the next 100k years.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 09:28 PM
Response to Reply #48
52. Is that supposed to justify our continued expunging of other species?
Not in my conscience it doesn't.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:46 PM
Response to Reply #52
59. They would do it to us if they could.
Being a naturist I think I can appreciate the utter callousness of nature. When you live *in* it do you know just how unequiped we animals are at survival.
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alfredo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #48
53. Every 65 million years or so we have a mass extinction. They say we are
in such a time.
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Fumesucker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:15 PM
Response to Reply #48
55. We have been in a mass extinction event for quite some time now..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction_event

In broad usage, the Holocene extinction event includes the notable disappearance of large mammals, known as megafauna, starting 10,000 years ago as humans developed and spread. Such disappearances have been considered as either a response to climate change, a result of the proliferation of modern humans, or both. These extinctions, occurring near the PleistoceneHolocene boundary, are sometimes referred to as the Quaternary extinction event or Ice Age extinction event. However the Holocene extinction event continues into the 21st century.

The observed rate of extinction has accelerated dramatically since the 1950s. There is no general agreement on whether to consider more recent extinctions as a distinct event or merely part of a single escalating process. Only during these most recent parts of the extinction have plants also suffered large losses. Overall, the Holocene extinction event is most significantly characterised by the presence of human-made driving factors and its very short geological timescale (tens to thousands of years) compared to most other extinction events.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #55
62. Holocene is incomparable to T-J or K-T extinction events.
If you have access to nature you may be interested in: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v434/n7030/full/na...

We are due.
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Fumesucker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-01-09 05:59 AM
Response to Reply #62
64. Eh, it's not over yet..
We really have no way of knowing just how far the Holocene extinction event will go..

If we succeed in depopulating the oceans, it could go a very long way indeed, a lot further than it has so far.

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comrade snarky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 08:49 PM
Response to Reply #20
30. Well, everyone line up for the suicide machine then.

You first.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 08:56 PM
Response to Reply #30
32. We already have.
Unless you're planning to live forever.
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comrade snarky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 09:17 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. Well according to what you seem to be saying we should
Edited on Mon Jun-29-09 09:19 PM by comrade snarky
Give up our evil technology and die off until we reach a hunter gatherer level stability. A few billion dead there. Or should humanity go extinct completely? My statement to you meant, if that is what you think why are you still here? Shouldn't you lead the way with a bold statement?

You're not the first to fixate on all the doom filled predictions you can find and sadly you wont be the last. The rest of us will just go on ignoring you and trying to improve the world. Wouldn't it be sad for you if we do?

:edited for Typto
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 05:47 AM
Response to Reply #33
36. I'm guessing you live in a movie theater
Edited on Tue Jun-30-09 06:19 AM by GliderGuider
which is why you project so much.

I'm making a few simple points:

1. Every technology has an up side and a down side. The more powerful the technology, the more extreme those up and down sides are.
2. Exosomatic energy underpins human activity. The more energy, the more activity.
3. Many species are being or have already been driven to extinction by human activity.
4. Increasing levels of technology are not correlated with increasing levels of wisdom.
5. The probability that we can simultaneously increase our level of activity and decrease our impact on other species, given our current demonstrated level of wisdom, seems quite low.

Recognizing those simple facts does not make me an anarcho-primitivist. I did explore the philosophy and feel it presents a good critique of how we got here and why, but it has little to offer in terms of practical or probable solutions. Similarly, recognizing those facts gives me no responsibility I'm aware of to commit suicide. I'm not particularly attached to outcomes, either for better or for worse. We may live happily ever after, or we may not. At this point, I'm betting on "not", because that's what the last few hundred thousand years have shown us is the most likely outcome.

This particular technology may come to fruition. If it does, expecting it to have an up side but no down side is like thinking one can have a one-sided coin. We do ourselves no favours by refusing to contemplate the destructive potential of such a powerful technology.

The refusal to contemplate (or even worse, the inability to conceive) the downside springs from classic adolescent male fantasies of omnipotence and immortality. It signals a lack of maturity. Putting Polywell fusion in the hands of such people would be like putting a 14-year-old at the wheel of a Bugatti Veyron. In order to avoid disaster we would need to grow up a lot as a culture. Since that seems unlikely in the short term, I'm hoping we aren't given the keys to the Bugatti just yet.

I'd much rather see us work on growing up, which is what I personally advocate as a winning strategy no matter what circumstances we face in the future.
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PVnRT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 06:46 AM
Response to Reply #36
38. Quick question
What, exactly, is the metric used to define "level of wisdom"?
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 07:38 AM
Response to Reply #38
39. Your question, as posed, is meaningless.
Wisdom is an internal quality, like joy, fear love or hate. What are their metrics?

In all those cases we can infer the level of the quality in the subject, but only through indirect measurements like behavioural observation. Self-assessment in such matters, though subjectively valuable, is notoriously unreliable from an objective, reductionist perspective.

In the case of wisdom, I claim that the behavioural markers of wisdom in the individual are altruistic behaviour, the degree to which a person will include the needs of other life (human or not) in their decisions, and the extent to which they act as though the entire world (not just its human component) is a single web if interdependent life.

Objective metrics that could be used to gauge cultural or species wisdom might include such things as endangered species counts and the land area of natural ecosystems replaced by human activities or vice versa. Given what we now know about climate change, I'd also consider the changes in the level of atmospheric CO2, and especially its second derivative: the rate of change of the slope of the increase.

The problem with the choice of such metrics is that they emerge from the value system of the measurer. As such they are subject to confirmation bias. Such are the glorious vagaries of being human.
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comrade snarky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #36
41. Fine, you're not a primitiveist
You just use their arguments and like them you have nothing to offer but a critique and shouts of doom, DOOOOOOMMMMMM.

I have no idea what "growing up" means to you but I will say this. Does growth ever happen without stimulus? A child I knew had absolutely everything done for him. All the cooking, cleaning and basic functions. About the only thing he had to do for himself was wipe his own ass. He remained insufferably immature well into adulthood and only grew when the support structure fell and he had to learn how to fend for himself.

A larger example is the current environmental movement. Would we be seeing the concern about our world if it weren't in trouble? I doubt it. Environmentalism began when we realized the earth's abundance is finite, something inconceivable to most only 100 years ago. A watershed moment in the popularization of the movement was a photo: Earthrise taken on Apollo 8.



Another 14 year olds fantasy that was brought to reality. As Carl Sagan said this photo "forced humans to step back and see the earth as just a part of the universe." To paraphrase, our home became a fragile pale blue dot in an immensity of nothing.

The research into fusion is a part of that growth. Your nay-saying and insults don't change the fact that if it works there are immense benefits over current technology. These are life and death matters here in the US and in the developing world. Our current energy production system is unsustainable and massively dirty. Fusion is one possible avenue out of the current crisis, one that generates a lot of excitement because of it's potential. You can insult those without your pessimism and misanthropy but to assume no one else has thought about potential problems and dismissed them because of the exponentially greater benefits is an insult.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is immature. The argument that something should be stopped because "those people" aren't ready is one I find to be very paternalistic.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 02:51 PM
Response to Reply #41
42. Actually, I have a lot to offer besides DOOOOOOOM :-)
Edited on Tue Jun-30-09 03:41 PM by GliderGuider
It's just not technology or energy. I'm a major proponent of diverse small-community action on an enormous number of fronts (real Paul Hawkens' book "Blessed Unrest" to see a description of that in action).

You say: "He remained insufferably immature well into adulthood and only grew when the support structure fell and he had to learn how to fend for himself." That's pretty much how I see our global culture today. We have collectively remained immature well into our technological adulthood, and our support structure (mineral and energy resources and the ecosystem) is about to fail. The global response we're now seeing -- a world-wide movement of environmental, social rights, aboriginal rights and spiritual groups growing by 60% a year -- is our growth into adulthood in response to the crisis. It's a testament to the fact that people are waking up, wondering WTF has happened, and deciding to do something about it however they can. This is one of the most magnificent moments in human history to be alive.

Research into fusion is definitely part of that growth. I have a different view of it than others on this thread though. I see it as part and parcel of the growth that brought us into this crisis -- the product of a monkey mind that's twice too clever and not half wise enough. Our culture is plenty well developed when it comes to technology. Where we (and I include myself in that "we", because it's the whole culture I'm talking about, the whole 6.8 billion of us) have lagged in our development is in the dimensions of empathy, compassion, a sense of interdependence and an ability to accept responsibility for the consequences of our actions, whether those consequences were intended or not. I'd prefer to see us work on that a bit harder, and not worry quite so much about Tom Swift's next Electric Rifle. We have the capability to do that, as individuals as diverse as Nelson Mandela, Romeo Dallaire, Ramana Maharshi, MLK, RFK, JFK and Robert Oppenheimer have demonstrated. However, people like that don't light up light bulbs, they light up hearts, and so their offerings tend to be discounted.

Fusion may come to pass. If it does I won't like it but I'll have to accept it, the same way I had to accept nuclear fission with its two faces of peaceful electricity and the atomic bomb. I don't have to look forward to it, though. And I certainly don't have to keep my concerns about it in my pocket.
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comrade snarky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #42
44. There is no solution to anything that does not arrive
With the specter of new problems behind it.

There is no mythical "adulthood" for our species. There are problems we face now and there will always be problems to face "now". The question is whether or not we have the ability to see them and once recognized, to face them and find a solution. Fusion is not a toy. It's not a Tom Swift goo-gah to make people go ohhhoooooo. It's one possible solution to some of the most pressing issues we face.

It's been an interesting conversation but I think we've hit an impasse here. You seem to have determined that any technological solution to our problems will be worse than doing nothing. I believe that doing nothing will bring about more misery than this tired world has ever seen as the resources too many take for granted become scarce.


And one last thing, if you think we are in our technological maturity then the next 40 years may be awfully surprising for you. :-)
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 08:49 PM
Response to Reply #44
50. Yeah, technological progress in the last 100 years will look like nothing in the next 50.
It's really a joke to say that we are at technological maturity.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 09:59 PM
Response to Reply #50
54. A man of thirty is deemed mature
Edited on Tue Jun-30-09 10:07 PM by GliderGuider
Does he stop growing, developing and even maturing between then and age 60? I would hope not.

I see my culture as having a technological maturity equivalent to a 30 year old, but the emotional, ethical and moral maturity of a 14 year old. There's still plenty of room for growth in the technological realm, but unless we can at some point match that with our growth as moral agents, we may face some pretty dire outcomes that could have been avoided.
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Silent3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-01-09 06:52 AM
Response to Reply #42
65. You're cynical about problems being solved by technology, yet hopeful...
...about "a world-wide movement of environmental, social rights, aboriginal rights and spiritual groups growing by 60% a year"?

You point to the mixed blessings of technology, always having a bad side along with the good side, but what about human beings themselves, with or without technology? People can be pretty terrible to each other, an irresponsible about the impact of their action regardless. Technology only makes a difference because it often has a multiplying effect on evil and stupidity.

We're not going to be saved by a popular uprising of Wise People leading us into a future of where somehow we're all made to wait for the development of every technology until some Spiritual Council of Elders (or whatever else it is that you think will spring forth from this movement you imagine) decides we're sufficiently mature enough to handle it. I'm sorry, but the entire notion strikes me as incredibly simplistic and naive.

I'm not saying I think we're without hope. In fact, for all of the "Oh, how terrible humanity is!" crap we have to put up with hearing, as if humans are unique in the whole world full of living thing when it comes to trashing the planet, in many ways we could be the planet's best hope. We may fail to use our intelligence wisely, but at least we have that intelligence and that gives us a chance of seeing the problems we're causing and fixing them, as well as fixing problems that aren't our fault as well.

The first photosynthetic organisms were an ecological nightmare as far as the rest of the life on the planet was concerned. The oxygen they produced was a deadly poison for most of the life on the planet. Did those primitive plants slow down, take stock of the effect of their actions on the rest of the planet, and choose a wise path of careful, limited growth? Did they cease photosynthesis until the figured out how to deal with the oxygen "problem"?

Nope. And not long the photosynthetic organisms devastated so much of the rest of life on the planet the did a damn good job of killing a lot of themselves off too. They sucked up so much carbon dioxide that the reverse of the greenhouse effect occurred. The entire planet froze over from pole to pole, with even the oceans freezing solid.

We're not the first species to make a mess of the planet. We are, however, the first species that has a chance of figuring out the mess we're making and doing something about. We're also the first species that might be able to see a large asteroid or comet on a devastating impact trajectory and doing something about it. And we have a better chance of that now than if we'd shunned or slowed down rockets and computers and fusion and all the rest of technology until some group of humans of supposedly advanced wisdom held us back until they decided we were "ready".
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-01-09 08:21 AM
Response to Reply #65
66. I know my position sounds naive
Edited on Wed Jul-01-09 08:42 AM by GliderGuider
All I can say is that for years I was one of the worst doomers on the planet. Jim Kunstler was a hopeless Pollyanna as far as I was concerned. It took me about six months to accept the implications of what I was seeing.

I'm serious, read Hawkens' book "Blessed Unrest" and spend some time thinking about the implications of a resilient global ecosocial movement that's growing by 60% a year. I'm not talking about some small group of Wise Guys here. It looks to me as though this is the sign of a growth spurt in the consciousness of the whole species. It may sound naive to someone steeped in the idea that technology and the scientific method is the only avenue forward, but I'm convinced this runs much deeper than we might think.

I'm no Ted Kaczynski, I do think that technology solves major problems. I just don't want us to lose sight of the fact that every single technology humanity has developed, from pointy sticks to splitting the atom, has had both positive and negative effects. I also don't think we will ever hold back a technology whose time has come. We never have before, and there's no reason to think we'd start now. But unlike those early cyanobacteria, we do have the ability to consider the implications of our actions. We may not be able to alter our behaviour in this regard, but on the other hand, given a suitably large change in our cultural narrative we just might. We won't know until we try.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 08:48 PM
Response to Reply #36
49. "[...] expecting it to have an up side but no down side [...]"
Well, the thing is, Polywell, if it does work, has exceedingly more upsides than downsides. Exceedingly. This is why it is a disruptive technology on the whole. In the end it fills out the otherside of the consumption equation, because it allows us to go from low level energy usage, that is, energy usage which only is good enough to consume resources and dump it into the seas; it allows us to go from that, to high level energy usage, which means that we recycle everything that we waste. There is then no waste, and then, no pollution.

At that point we can start getting rid of urbanization and moving toward city life, while depaving roads and allowing the forests to regrow. All the while our consumption goes up, but our waste goes down until it is non-existant, and the only pollution we produce is waste heat.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 09:26 PM
Response to Reply #49
51. You may believe that, but you cannot know it.
Remember the Law of Unintended Consequences and Donald Rumsfeld's Unknown Unknowns.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:43 PM
Response to Reply #51
57. I can know it.
Downsides:

1) Neutron breeder for plutonium production, though there are much more efficient sources.

2) Cheap energy ushering in the potential for more efficient war ships (the Navy is funding it after all).

Upsides:

1) Limitless nearly free energy that anyone in the world can utilize. No more fossil fuels need be used (and fossil fuels become *more expensive* to use).

2) Absolute ability to recycle anything and everything using thermal processes, and everything will probably be recycled because it's more expensive to throw usable minerals away.

3) Space faring civilization, moon and Mars are easily habitated. Maybe even floating cities on Venus. 20-30 year timeline for that if it works. It really is that disruptive.

4) Abandoning geoagriculture for the vast majority of humans, no more pesticides need pollute our streams, as our food is grown with artificial lighting in skyscrapers rather than the sun.

5) Abandoning large scale "renewable" energy resources which are detrimental to the environment (biofuels for example).

6) Directly filtering CO2 out of the atmosphere and turning it in to limestone.

7) Filtering various toxins out of the oceans, a highly energy intensive process that nature would require millions of years to do.

The list goes on and on and on. It took me thinking *long* and hard to figure out the downsides.

Polywell really and truly is the most disruptive technology humans have seen since the wheel. Honestly. I still don't think it will work (mainly because I'm a pessimist about these sorts of things and I doubt we can get such a game changer).
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comrade snarky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:38 PM
Response to Reply #49
56. Hey! Some of us like the urban life.
NY, SF, LA and several other cities with more than 2 letters will not be going anywhere! I love my crowded neighborhood.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:47 PM
Response to Reply #56
60. I bet you'd like luxury skyscrapers with mass transit more.
:D
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comrade snarky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #60
61. I'll sure take the extra streetcars and
Some flyin taxis if I can get em!

I'll pass on the skyscrapers though. I'm a San Franciscan and we're an picky bunch. :evilgrin:
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 10:55 PM
Response to Reply #61
63. You can keep your yuppy bicycles!
Edited on Tue Jun-30-09 10:56 PM by joshcryer
:evilgrin:
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 08:38 PM
Response to Reply #20
47. What was it I taught you about the conservation of mass in chemical reactions?
Recycling is expensive energetically speaking, it's easier and more efficient energetically speaking to consume natural resources, and when we're done with most of those resources we throw them into the seas (with the exception of some metals and few plastics). With this sort of energy source all things can and would be recycled for nothing. It would make more sense to recycle, then.
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
24. Dont forget to show some love for pt 3
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 07:03 PM
Response to Original message
25. I was trying my best to make some sense from your post for for the life of me I can not.
What in the world are you talking about?
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 08:32 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. Its about practical Thermonuclear Fusion in my lifetime. I'm in my 50's.
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Wednesdays Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 07:31 PM
Response to Original message
26. K&R
:kick:
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 08:42 PM
Response to Reply #26
29. Thank you Wednesdays, have a very pleasant Monday evening....
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 06:27 AM
Response to Original message
37. .
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autorank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-30-09 04:13 PM
Response to Original message
45. Kick for superior intellect n/t
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-01-09 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
67. Kick. (nt)
:kick:
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