ITER Newsline Mention of Pollywell

Point out news stories, on the net or in mainstream media, related to polywell fusion.

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rschaffer8
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ITER Newsline Mention of Pollywell

Post by rschaffer8 »

http://www.iter.org/newsline/151/468

Penthouse founder had invested his fortune in fusion
-Robert Arnoux << return to Newsline #151
Fusion History

Bob Guccione (here pictured in Life Magazine in 1983) was probably the world's biggest and most committed private investor in fusion technology. It is estimated that he sank some 10% of his immense fortune in support of the "compact tokamak" project.
Bob Guccione, who founded the magazine Penthouse in 1965, died last Wednesday at the age of 79 — and you may wonder why this information is being published in Newsline...


As media all over the world published his obituary, most forgot to mention that Guccione was probably the world's biggest and most committed private investor in fusion technology. It is estimated that the Penthouse magazine founder sank close to $ 20 million of his own money — and we're talking about 1980's dollars — in support of a "compact tokamak" project, a relatively cheap, disposable, miniature fusion device.


Guccione's interest for the project was triggered by Robert Bussard (1928-2007), a fusion scientist and former executive at the US Department of Energy who had been a key player in the development of fusion research in the US.


Bussard claimed that the "compact tokamak" he had designed along with Italian-born physicist Bruno Coppi stood a much better chance to produce commercially viable fusion energy than the "big machines" that were being developed at Princeton and Livermore at that time.


In 1978, when he met Guccione, Bussard was already embittered by years of battling with the Department of Energy to impose his project . The media tycoon's offer to back his research came as a blessing; a joint venture was established and, for six years, Guccione's money was to feed research into the tokamak project —the so-called Riggatron in reference to the Washington Riggs Bank who was also a partner in the project.


Robert Bussard (1928-2007), a fusion scientist and former executive at the US DoE designed the "compact tokamak" along with Italian-born physicist Bruno Coppi.Guccione's and the Riggs Bank money however were not enough to keep the Riggatron project afloat. By 1984, writes author Robin Herman in her book The search for endless energy, "Bussard's dream and Guccione's gamble were crushed [...] Only national governments possessed the resources and the freedom to invest in research projects at such a basic stage and with such expensive tools."


As Guccione went back to his "Pet of the Month", Bussard to new fusion projects like the IEC Polywell, and Coppi to the MIT Department of Physics, the Riggatron was soon forgotten and became a mere footnote in the history of fusion research.


That is... until the month of May 2010, when Italy and Russia signed a "memorandum of understanding" to cooperate in the construction of a fusion device named IGNITOR, a compact high-field tokamak much like the Riggatron, and another controversial brainchild of physicist Bruno Coppi.


Guccione, Coppi said in a recent interview to the online ScienceInsider, "contributed to a line of scientific work which has proved sound."


Whatever IGNITOR's destiny, it will be a part of his unexpected legacy.

Tom Ligon
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Post by Tom Ligon »

Dr. Bussard was interviewed by E! for a piece on Guccione, which gives more details. Doc credited Guccione's wife with the idea of funding fusion, as well as establishing Omni magazine.

We pretty much blew a day at work in the San Diego lab staying out of the way of cameras. The interview is in the lab, if anyone cares to watch.

Dr. Bussard always thought the Riggatron could have worked if they had the chance to build it, with a margin of about 4 over breakeven, and a reactor life of around 30 days. He said Guccione was counting on proceeds from a casino he wanted to build in Atlantic City. When he could not get that approved, he was unable to support a 150 million investment. Much of that total would have been for a very large homopolar motor/generator needed to fire up the magnets on the machine.

The strategy in the little copper-coil tokamaks is to put the magnets inside the lithium blanket, not outside like the big superconducting machines. Toks suffer from a field stability problem ... the fields as seen by the plasma are concave, and as they stretch, the "lines of flux" lengthen and weaken. Contrast the Polywell, which has convex fields as seen by the electrons and plasma, so they compress and push back when the plasma bears on them. The proximity of the coils to the plasma in the Riggatron was expected to pin the magnetic fields down better, at the price of flooding them with fast neutrons.

Picture a Slinky spring toy (representing magnetically confined plasma) in a large pipe versus a pipe just big enough to hold it. That will give some idea of why the Riggatron was expected to be better. In the large pipe, the slinky can squirm into the extra volume, which contains the lithium blanket and reactor walls.

rschaffer8
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Post by rschaffer8 »

Tom: Thanks for filling in some of the details.

vankirkc
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Post by vankirkc »

Wow. Bussard is looking more like a scientific Bernie Madoff every day.

The article should read, Bob Guccione LOST 10% of his vast wealth on Bussard's failed Compact Tokamak project.

Giorgio
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Post by Giorgio »

vankirkc wrote:Wow. Bussard is looking more like a scientific Bernie Madoff every day.
While I understand your logic in this assertion, the example you make does not fit.
Science is about trying new and different roads and get a potential huge return if you succeed. You can compare money invested in this type of scientific research as gambling or as "venture capitalist" money where everyone knows that they are making a bet over a potential much bigger return (think about the companies that invested in google when it was just an idea).

Madoff was taking money and NOT investing them at all, while operating a classic Ponzi scheme.

chrismb
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Post by chrismb »

But there again, maybe those that have tried one scheme and failed can then turn their skill to helping others with their new ideas rather than trying to think up new ideas for themselves and sucking up the funding, depriving 'new blood' from sources of potential sustenance?

I've said it before that I have found Bussard's comments in his talk to have a degree of hypocrisy - a guy with multiple patents on toroidal fusion schemes (and only one other 'non-torus' scheme) then decries toroidal magnetic confinement schemes by saying 'the only thing we learned was that they didn't work'.

There is a point at which folks should say "OK, I gave it my best shot, now it's time for someone else's new idea"? or similarly for the tokamak guys maybe it'd be better to say "OK, the last 3 generations of scientists have given this tokamak idea a good going at, so time to give others a chance" rather than "OK, the last 3 generations of scientists have given this tokamak idea a good going at, so we should persist along a plan that will consume at least another 3 generation 'cos it's a real good gravy train and we'd hate anyone else's idea from getting any credit"

The supposed 'fusion reseach centres' aren't interested in fusion - they are interested in plasma or, more limited, tokamaks alone. EMC2 isn't interested in fusion either, they are only interested in making money out of Polywell. It seems to me that the only person in the public eye that is interested in fusion is Lerner who has openly encouraged general support for all types of fusion schemes.

Tom Ligon
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Post by Tom Ligon »

Why should anyone have exclusive rights to trying to find workable ideas?

Edison famously commented that he had found ten thousand ways to make a light bulb that would not work. Finally he found one.

But even that was not the final answer, because Westinghouse found out how to make filaments from tungsten, instead of carbonized bamboo. I will note that at least one of Edison's bulbs is still in service, holding a world record for continuous operation.

And both types are now superceded with CFL. And CFL will probably be superceded by LED.

People who have failed and use that as the inspiration for a new approach have at least as much right to try again, and the experience to build on it as people who have never tried but have an idea. Dr. Bussard encouraged me to bring in new blood by gettiing high-schoolers interested, and it is working. Plus, when contacted by a few young grad students with similar ideas, he hired them, and gave them some freedom to look at options.

D Tibbets
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Post by D Tibbets »

OK, I failed, so it's time to die!

That is essentially what ChrisMB is saying. Bussard perused a small tokamak design that I don't think was ever built. I don't know if any metal was bent at all. The concept, at least as a research tool makes sense to me. It could have uncovered problems at much smaller dollar and time costs compared to typical Tokamaks. The smaller size and associated costs might have offset the frequent maintenance necessary. And I expect the tritium generation problem would have been more difficult, as significant neutrons would have been lost in the internal magnets. Certainly, he, along with many others, appreciated that conventional tokamaks were extremely compromised from an economic stand point. That criticism, at least, was addressed in this effort. From what Tom Ligon said, some of the macro instabilities were also addressed.

That Bussard was skeptical of conventional tokamaks was evident from what he said in his Google talk. How much of his attitude was driven by frustration, and how much was a pure desire to pursue the problem from multiple sides in order to better understand the physics, engineering, and economics issues is anyone guess.

That Bussard moved on , and explored alternative approaches cannot be considered as bad science, or a drain on 'Valid Science', especially considering the relative monies spent. The same claims could be directed at the Manhatten project. Certainly the efforts to develop a pleutonium bomb detracted from efforts to develop a uranium bomb. Of course in that case both approaches worked. And, the two teams obviously learned from each other. I get the impression that the Tokamak crowd is set on their course despite obvious road blocks in the physics and engineering. Taking a step back and considering alternatives seems a much more sound scientific approach. With proper review, which seems to be the case within the closed Naval environment that he operated in, such efforts cannot be construed as bad science or a scam. It might not bear fruit directly, but then little science does. It is a interactive and evolutionary process. Even if the Tokamak is not viable for energy production, it has contributed a huge amount of understanding to the problem. Alas, it has done so at a huge cost in time and money.

Dan Tibbets
To error is human... and I'm very human.

zbarlici
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Post by zbarlici »

chrismb, you seem to forget that Dr. bussard blew the whistle on the economic feasibility of the tokamak design at an early stage. He wasn`t about to give up on fusion, though, as demonstrated afterwards. Quit calling him a money grabber. Who are the fools that continued to support the tokamak design after he expressed concerns with it? If he really was a money grabber then don`t you think he woulda shut his mouth and just stayed on the tokamak team?

DeltaV
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Post by DeltaV »

If chrismb can get Polywell funding stopped, maybe he can grab some of that wayward money for his own centrifugal plasma fusion thingy. The one for which he won't release design data.

chrismb
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Post by chrismb »

zbarlici wrote:chrismb, you seem to forget that Dr. bussard blew the whistle on the economic feasibility of the tokamak design at an early stage. He wasn`t about to give up on fusion, though, as demonstrated afterwards. Quit calling him a money grabber. Who are the fools that continued to support the tokamak design after he expressed concerns with it? If he really was a money grabber then don`t you think he woulda shut his mouth and just stayed on the tokamak team?
Not what I said. I am merely expressing my personal opinion that it is hypocritical to say that another project is sucking up money because it hasn't come up with results when he himself ran such a project but doesn't think or suggest that might very well happen a second time.

I've no issue to someone keep on trying, my issue was that he felt it was OK to chastise another project in progress so as to aggrandise his own new idea, even though he had actually participated in that work. The way to do it would've been to say "y'know, we've all tried to make this work, and whilst some may wish to carry on I've come to the conclusion I needed to change tack".

chrismb
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Post by chrismb »

DeltaV wrote:If chrismb can get Polywell funding stopped, maybe he can grab some of that wayward money for his own centrifugal plasma fusion thingy. The one for which he won't release design data.
Just do some searching. It's all out there in internet-wunderland. If you're waiting for spoon feeding then you'll have to wait until I'm ready to spoon feed you.

zbarlici
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Post by zbarlici »

if rNebel&co had a bust wb7, they wouldnt be pursuing further experimentation. end of story. Bussard most likely told him not to f^&$ around. Nebel can(probably) quit emc2 any time and go back to his well-paying job.



You, my friend, have bigger worries than nebel sucking on a few measly million; America is imploding due lack of principle.

:twisted:
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010 ... debate.php

Perhaps the harper govt has a secret army of jedi`s they can deploy at the 49th parralel? No? well then we`re screwed too.

happyjack27
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Post by happyjack27 »

chrismb wrote:Not what I said. I am merely expressing my personal opinion that it is hypocritical to say that another project is sucking up money because it hasn't come up with results when he himself ran such a project but doesn't think or suggest that might very well happen a second time.
I've no issue to someone keep on trying, my issue was that he felt it was OK to chastise another project in progress so as to aggrandise his own new idea, even though he had actually participated in that work. The way to do it would've been to say "y'know, we've all tried to make this work, and whilst some may wish to carry on I've come to the conclusion I needed to change tack".
your logic seems a little convoluted to me. the fact that he WAS working on the project makes him all the more qualified to comment on it, and the fact that he NO LONGER IS working on it by his own discretion is perfectly in line with criticism of it.

now if he said simply that all projects had a chance to fail and then said that his doesn't, well than that would just be a contradiction. but he never said that. he said that one project has certain pratical limits on costs, size, efficiency, etc. due to theoretical-physical limitations imposed by the design. whereas a different design, such as the one he proposes, would not neccesssarily share these limitations, esp. if they are explicitly designed to avoid them. that is all perfectly logical and there is nothing at all hypocritical or otherwise improprietuos about it.

and when other project only requires a small fraction of what another does, but those project can't be funded because there's nothing left over after funding the large one. well it's perfectly legitimate to paraphrase it as "one project is sucking up all the funding", and not at all hipocrtical. yes, your project costs money too. but it's perfectly reasonable to complain that you can't buy a stick of gum to save your life because some dodo thought they'd spend all the savings on a hummer.

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

zbarlici wrote:if rNebel&co had a bust wb7, they wouldnt be pursuing further experimentation. end of story. Bussard most likely told him not to f^&$ around. Nebel can(probably) quit emc2 any time and go back to his well-paying job.



You, my friend, have bigger worries than nebel sucking on a few measly million; America is imploding due lack of principle.

:twisted:
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010 ... debate.php

Perhaps the harper govt has a secret army of jedi`s they can deploy at the 49th parralel? No? well then we`re screwed too.
New Video Exposes The False Narrative of the “Stomping” Victim.
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