Gates looking for energy solutions

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MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

MirariNefas wrote:Look, don't make me bring up the kook thing again! He's funding stuff that is known to work.

When someone backs fission and vaccines, that tells you he's interested in respectable technologies. That precludes electrodynamics.
Who cares about respectable? Wouldn't the origin of F=ma inertia be of some interest?
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

To Gates? Probably not. Don't transfer your funding priorities.

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

Putting ML to bed wouldn't cost all that much. The cost/benefit ratio is just too good to ignore.
I think so too. Though I would rather see NASA funding this with the money that is now freed from the VSE thingy. They should have plenty of money to invest into things that are too risky for private entrepreneurs, but have a lot of potential. Hell I give this a very, very low chance of success, but it is not that far out there either. If it worked, it could change the world, if it does not, you have learned something about physics, which is also valuable. It is not that much funding that is required there either.

I only mentioned those zero point energy things because someone asked for a new energy solution. Well all other options do already exist in some form (prototypes, etc), or do have at least some funding, etc. This is completely different and also way out there. I would, again, call this a high risk investment, but Mr Gates has the money to do crazy stuff, with a lot of potential gain. He is a multi billlionare. So even if he had all his billions just on a conservative savings account (which he has not), he should have enough interest every year to fully fund both things and still not even feel the loss, if it does not work out.

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

I would, again, call this a high risk investment, but Mr Gates has the money to do crazy stuff, with a lot of potential gain. He is a multi billlionare.
Gates is attacking big problems which actually can eat his bank account. He is not a government but he targets government-sized problems.

What's his fortune now? $50 billion? Less with the stock market downturn? Let's see, wikipedia says that he's given $27 billion to charity as of 2007. If he keeps throwing a few billion here, a few hundred million there in his philanthropic endeavours, he will end up broke. So he wants to leverage his money into maximum impact. This "well he's got cash to burn" attitude is not appropriate. He could dump billions in stuff like zero point energy and not see anything come of it. Wouldn't you rather he usher in an age of Gen IV fission reactors?
The cost/benefit ratio is just too good to ignore.
This sort of statement bothers me. It sounds like a sales pitch. Fund everything like that, and these sorts of scenarios will multiply and come crawling out of the woodwork, all with the same bloody pitch. For every possibly legit one (which is still overwhelmingly likely to fail), there will be a dozen groups promising to change the world with hydrinos or something.



Someone posted something on recent results with Woodward. I haven't checked it out, so I don't know how promising it is. But I'll go off my understanding from a week ago: Woodward is working in a tainted field. He has no significant results. He doesn't have strong professional acheivements to grant him legitimacy - in fact, he works at an obscure university and his doctorate is in history.

Sure, you never know, sometimes game changers come out of left field. But a lot of crap comes out of left field. It's rarely a wise investment. Let Woodward compete for his grants like everyone else. Professional scientists can decide if his proposals have merit.
Last edited by MirariNefas on Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

He could dump billions in stuff like zero point energy and not see anything come of it. Wouldn't you rather he usher in an age of Gen IV fission reactors?
Only that billions are not required for any of these. They are all in the low millions of required funding (for proof of concept). If Gates has 27 billion, he makes 810 million every year in interest (with a very conservative 3% interest rate). That would fund at least 80 such endeavours a year and he does not loose a single cent. That is what I was thinking. I was never talking about billions of investment.
Woodward is working in a tainted field. He has no results. He doesn't have strong professional acheivements to grant him legitimacy - in fact, he works at an obscure university and his doctorate is in history.
That was not my understanding of the situation.
Explain "tainted" please.
Woodward is a physicist at the "California State University, Fullerton", not quite sure who you are talking about.

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

This sort of statement bothers me. It sounds like a sales pitch. Fund everything like that, and these sorts of scenarios will multiply and come crawling out of the woodwork
True, you are right. This is a danger. I was thinking about that too after I wrote that. One would have to look at these things very carefully. Still, Gates has the ability to fund roughly 80 of these high risk, high impact things a year without actually loosing any money.

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

And the small loss would be offset by a comparably small savings in researchers not wasting their time on a dead end.

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

If Gates has 27 billion, he makes 810 million every year in interest (with a very conservative 3% interest rate). That would fund at least 80 such endeavours a year and he does not loose a single cent.
He needs interest to keep up with inflation, or he is essentially losing money. Yes, he can invest and beat inflation, but not by as much of a margin. It takes a huge sum of money sitting around in investments to sustainably keep up a stream of projects like that.

Moreover, he wants to accomplish things with his money. Money sitting in accounts, or spent on things that don't work, is an opportunity cost - that money could have been curing malaria.
Explain "tainted" please.
It's like zero point energy or antigravity. A field known to be rife with quackery, full of crazies or conmen, and sometimes fairly reasonable people who are simply trying too hard to read meaning into their pet theories. It's a field which is known to not produce results, so you automatically have to be skeptical of any new claims, or the people who are drawn to try.
Woodward is a physicist at the "California State University, Fullerton", not quite sure who you are talking about.
I mean that he works at a CSU. This is not a UC, and it is not a respected private college or an IVY. It's near the bottom of the totem pole, with a small endowment and weak research. Weaker colleges aren't as discerning when they hire faculty. They take people who don't publish as much, or who don't publish in respected journals. Ambitious scientists try to go to more prestigious schools because they'll get more research support and have more facilities available.

Not everyone working at a CSU is a research loser. Sometimes brilliant people take easier positions because they want time to spend with their families or something. Maybe they just don't care about appearances and feel they can drum up funding no matter where they are. Maybe for a young scientist it's just temporary. Or maybe they get forced there because the field just isn't ready for their brand of genius, who knows.

And there are weaker and stronger CSU's, especially with specific departments, so maybe CSU Fullerton has a relatively strong physics department. Maybe maybe maybe. But he doesn't get any automatic credibility points from me.

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

And the small loss would be offset by a comparably small savings in researchers not wasting their time on a dead end.
Not quite sure how you meant that. I see it that way: You fully fund a research in one direction and get a result rather quickly. If the result is negative, you at least have a result and you know that the theory is wrong and then all researchers involved and any other researcher that is in the same field know that they dont have to look that direction anymore. This means their research can focus on other directions that may lead to a better result.
It is a small win, but still you at least win something. I think that Woodward and March are genuine guys and also very smart. But even smart people can be wrong. The thing is that we wont know for sure until we have tried it. If they get their funding and are indeed found wrong, these two smart scientists can then focus on doing something else and not waste their and everybody elses time with persuing a dead end. It is again a small win.
My take has always been that any kind of information is useful, even if it is something that is negative.

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

Was a reply I only got to post after a phone call while you guys replied a couple of times each, sorry.
He could dump billions in stuff like zero point energy and not see anything come of it. Wouldn't you rather he usher in an age of Gen IV fission reactors?
Not nearly the order of magnitude ME needs to make minimal but significant advances, or be ruled out.
This sort of statement bothers me. It sounds like a sales pitch. Fund everything like that
My statement wasn't made for everything, but ME specifically, as it stand right now.
there will be a dozen groups promising to change the world with hydrinos or something
Too little discrimination between full cranks and merely inconclusive premises/data will surely pigeon-hole the lot of em together, yep.
Professional scientists can decide if his proposals have merit.
Or be biased, complacent, corrupt, stingy, etc. I've gotten to talk to various researchers and some of their anecdotes/reports on everyday life and work as such, isn't all good news. Lots of failures of absolute scientific integrity that snowball into major wrongs. Nepotism/grudges in peer review process, etc.
And the small loss would be offset by a comparably small savings in researchers not wasting their time on a dead end.
Was a follow up to
I would, again, call this a high risk investment, but Mr Gates has the money to do crazy stuff, with a lot of potential gain. He is a multi billlionare. So even if he had all his billions just on a conservative savings account (which he has not), he should have enough interest every year to fully fund both things and still not even feel the loss, if it does not work out.
and is the same as
these two smart scientists can then focus on doing something else and not waste their and everybody elses time with persuing a dead end.

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

Professional scientists can decide if his proposals have merit.
Or be biased, complacent, corrupt, stingy, etc. I've gotten to talk to various researchers and some of their anecdotes/reports on everyday life and work as such, isn't all good news. Lots of failures of absolute scientific integrity that snowball into major wrongs. Nepotism/grudges in peer review process, etc.
Oh sure, that happens. But without the educated views of people who make this field their career you get:
Too little discrimination between full cranks and merely inconclusive premises/data
Which do you want?

Or are you going to go out on a limb here and say that we don't need to choose, because your judgement is the only thing anyone ever needs? Gates should take your financial advice, panels of experts should pack up and go home, you'll set things straight?

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

Which do you want?
False dichotomy.
Or are you going to go out on a limb
Don't even need to read past that. Once more reading between the lines and extrapolating and exagerating instead of just taking what I say to mean exactly what it says. If you drop the grandiose philosophy for a minute and look at ME specifically, it's not so hard to understand.

ME is cheap and there's no hints that it wouldn't deliver positive or negative results in the short term. You'd need to fund tons of kooky and genuinely crap projects (e.g. Steorn - crappy if for no other reason than because they've already had their chance to the tune of millions of bucks, just as Polywell is a "crappy" investment right now because it's already busy with its own funding and bound to that funding's schedule) to really make a dent in something like Gates' budget. Yes it would be worth it to find a cheap way to ELIMINATE them by experimental dead-end, or give them the means to go one steap further so that by virtue of being that much higher out of the kookiness depths others might be compelled to contribute their own small push. Fail to deliver and it's disqualified. Fail to fund and it's the baby out with the bathwater.

ME would be "just another" fringe project if it didn't have such huge implications. It certainly seems to deserve a spot in such a portfolio. No one that I've seen or heard of has debunked the theory.

Then is the same point as MSimon made - you have to turn stones over to know if there's anything under em. It also saves people from wasting their time turning that same stone over.[/quote]

Oh yeah. And money's meant to be SPENT.

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

I second Betruger on this (is this meant to be the German "Betrüger" = betrayer?). Despite the name, I am with him on this (and Msimon too, I guess). Its potential is huge, it has not been (fully) debunked, it does not need a lot of money to be prooven wrong or right. So it is fundable for someone like Gats, who could spend a lot more of that money on his love for fast cars than what they need to potentially change the world.
Now please dont get me wrong. I am not for funding anyone or anything without discrimination. If something has already been debunked, then it does not have to be funded. But these guys are genuine. Anyway, if they are funded and if they are proven wrong, then we can delete one of 3 (or is it now 4?) explanations for gravity that we have got that stood their own for a while now. So even debunking them does have its benefits. We will have eliminated one of them. Then everyone can move on. It is science.
I mean who much stuff has seen so much more funding that lead nowhere? Ares 1X, cough...

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Betruger wrote:And the small loss would be offset by a comparably small savings in researchers not wasting their time on a dead end.
Learning what doesn't work is very important.

If 1/2 your research money isn't being "wasted" you are not learning enough.

It seems to me that putting to rest the Mach-Einstein Conjecture might be worth a few million.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

I've never given it much thought, but it's always felt right to test random stuff. Why? Because I don't know what to expect. Intuition says that's no way to go about things in general in the real "serious" world, but there has to be some rule of thumb like 1/2 an R&D budget "wasted" that way. There's some axiomatic need for it, that I can't articulate. Something like "there's no such thing as too much new data". Meaning data from new experimental settings or whole new experimental field. Terra incognita.

Betruger's a random nick. I didn't expect I'd ever post, I just wanted an account to have the "new post" functionality.
Betruger's a villain. Made a faustian deal via some game changing tech sorta like Polywell. Just popped into my head when I had just learned about Dr. B, and seen his totally opposite character. Good natured, transparent goodwill, noble ambitions.

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