Initial Responses

If polywell fusion is developed, in what ways will the world change for better or worse? Discuss.

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rj40
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Initial Responses

Postby rj40 » Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:55 pm

What do you think the initial responses would be to the announcement of a working Polywell reactor?

From:
1. Governments
2. Corporations
3. NGOs

I had a discussion a few weeks back where some folks thought Russia would not be happy. Someone made the comment (half joking) that perhaps they would threaten to launch their missiles if this technology were used. I think Russia, and other oil dependent nations, would express hopeful optimism, but caution. Maybe we would see announcements stating there were dangerous defects in the design and that Polywell roll-out should be delayed – at least until they could re-tool their economies.

I think Corporations would be mostly happy; even oil companies. They are, after all, in the business of energy, and they never hesitate to lay-off oil workers when the market turns down. They will simply hire plasma physics folks and other related and switch their focus.

Not so sure about NGOs. I think most would be very pleased, but I can see some of the more vocal groups not being happy at all. Perhaps they would organize protests. My guess is they would demand UN control of the technology and (using the money saved from Polywell power) massive money transfers to developing countries. One name: David Suzuki. It would be fun to see his reaction!

Roger
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Re: Initial Responses

Postby Roger » Sun Feb 17, 2008 9:35 pm

rj40 wrote:What do you think the initial responses would be to the announcement of a working Polywell reactor?


About friggin time.
I like the p-B11 resonance peak at 50 KV acceleration. In2 years we'll know.

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Postby drmike » Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:17 pm

I think Roger kinda sums it up. It has always been "40 years" away. Starting in the 1950's when the first ideas were proven with uncontrolled thermonuclear reactions, people have wanted controlled nuclear fusion.

Like all energy sources it will have advantages and disadvantages. There will be many places it won't be useful. Where it is economically viable, it will go quickly. "It costs less" always wins! If it doesn't cost less, then there will room to argue - and you can bet people will because they can.

If one person proves it works, you can bet anything every government on the planet will be duplicating it. Power politics needs power engineering.

Roger
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Postby Roger » Mon Feb 18, 2008 4:01 am

drmike wrote:
If one person proves it works, ..... Power politics needs power engineering.


The Socialist in me says it'll be a great jobs program. Considering the current level of manufacturing in this country.... like 8% of GPD....There will be many jobs, from construction to egineering.... Maybe even....

In my life, a fusion powered space ship going to another planet.


>sigh<

Image
I like the p-B11 resonance peak at 50 KV acceleration. In2 years we'll know.

choff
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Postby choff » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:39 am

Reaction would probably be similar to when the Wright brothers invented the first aircraft. Nonbelief and skepticism, until they go on the power grid and electricity bills start to drop.
CHoff

scareduck
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Postby scareduck » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:32 am

The proliferation aspects are pretty amazing when you think about it. Convert thorium-230 into U-233 right in your own backyard with no special equipment required!

I've got a little list, I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed--who never would be missed!

I cannot speak to the rest of the world. But assuming the Polywell worked, I would happily send a crate (a bottle at the very least) of Moet & Chandon to Mssrs. Todd Rider and W.M. Nevins.

To Kirkpatrick Sale, Richard Duncan, James Kunstler, Jeremy Rifkin, and all their neo-Malthusian and/or luddite ilk, I would happily extend an upturned middle finger. They are individually and collectively deserving anyway, but it would be extra-sweet to see their apocalyptic visions chased away.

choff
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Postby choff » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:43 am

The ITER crowd will be miffed for sure. That reminds me, probably the best way to generate public interest would be if photos of WB7 in operation were published. A picture being worth a 1000 words and all. Also, if any photo's of WB6 shorting out were available, or post destruction, or a blown out monitor or cap bank. Nothing would capture the public imagination or say genius at work like a lab explosion. Sad but true.
CHoff

rj40
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Postby rj40 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:22 pm

scareduck wrote:To Kirkpatrick Sale, Richard Duncan, James Kunstler, Jeremy Rifkin, and all their neo-Malthusian and/or luddite ilk, I would happily extend an upturned middle finger. They are individually and collectively deserving anyway, but it would be extra-sweet to see their apocalyptic visions chased away.


I'll admit, accept for Rifkin, I had to look these other folks up. Wow. However, if Polywell works they will not go away. Look at the Seventh Day Adventists and the Millerite movement.
"It's always something!" - Rosanne Rosannadanna

rj40
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Postby rj40 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:28 pm

choff wrote:Reaction would probably be similar to when the Wright brothers invented the first aircraft. Nonbelief and skepticism, until they go on the power grid and electricity bills start to drop.


That sounds reasonable. Electricity prices going down, and/or a space probe getting to Pluto in 9 months and sending back pictures.

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Re: Initial Responses

Postby TallDave » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:35 pm

rj40 wrote:1. Governments
2. Corporations
3. NGOs


1. Incompetent bungling in general, paranoid hostility specifically from oil-producers like Russia and competing fusion alternatives like ITER (bureaucratic empire-builders are everywhere). Non-energy-producers will eagerly grasp at the implicit strategic advantage.

2. Large entrenched interests (oil/coal/uranium companies and utilities) will ruthlessly try to kill it via regulation or studies that claim it can't work; new corporations will form and ruthlessly try to kill the entrenched interests with it. In other words, the usual blood-sport capitalism.

3. Incompetent bungling in general, bureacratic turf wars; basically #1 but without the regional specificity.

I think Corporations would be mostly happy; even oil companies. They are, after all, in the business of energy, and they never hesitate to lay-off oil workers when the market turns down. They will simply hire plasma physics folks and other related and switch their focus.


That would be nice, but you have to remember that they will make vastly less money on Polywell than oil because oil is a scarce resource while Polywell is essentially intellectual property. Even leaving aside the fact that oil, not fusion, is their core competency, they make their money because they own rights to pumping oil at $10-20 per barrel and selling it for $80-90 -- which fat profit margins would be destroyed by cheap IEC fusion. If they adopt fusion, it will likely be a last-ditch effort to avoid becoming an afterthought in the face of a massively disruptive tech (something like the Time Warner move to merge with AOL).

scareduck
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Re: Initial Responses

Postby scareduck » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:54 pm

TallDave wrote:2. Large entrenched interests (oil/coal/uranium companies and utilities) will ruthlessly try to kill it via regulation or studies that claim it can't work; new corporations will form and ruthlessly try to kill the entrenched interests with it. In other words, the usual blood-sport capitalism.

Meh. You forget that oil companies once upon a time had a hand in fusion development but gave it up. (I forget which one, but one of the Riggatron's contemporary competitors was funded in part by an oil major.)

I had an interesting conversation recently with a man who is the region emergency manager for one of the oil majors in Southern California. Some of the secondary recovery approaches they had been looking into (high-pressure CO2 injection, in particular) just aren't penciling out from a public safety and cost perspective. They don't have anywhere else to drill, and without CO2 (which apparently makes a wonderful solvent for very thick oil), their options are much more limited.

From the reports I'm reading, the oil majors are preparing -- not that they're sending out press releases -- for their own demise.

Even leaving aside the fact that oil, not fusion, is their core competency, they make their money pumping oil at $10-20 per barrel and selling it for $80-90 -- which fat profit margins would be destroyed by cheap IEC fusion. If they adopt fusion, it will be a last-ditch effort to avoid becoming an afterthought in the face of a massively disruptive tech (something like the Time Warner move to merge with AOL).

Where is there oil at those lift prices? Saudi Arabia, maybe; certainly nowhere in the U.S., and I would bet against it in Venezuela and Mexico, too. The oil companies are now counting on $45/bbl prices, which means they're hoping to extract the stuff at $35/bbl to make money. The Athabasca tar sands are certainly more expensive than that, and that gunk requires huge volumes of water and natural gas to extract it.

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Postby MSimon » Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:33 am

The initial response will be:

"We can keep doing what we have always done - except now we can do it with cheaper energy."

Big systems have a lot of inertia. Physical and mental.

The biggest effect initially will be psychological: civilization as we know it has a good chance to continue.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

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Postby MSimon » Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:38 am

The oil companies are now counting on $45/bbl prices, which means they're hoping to extract the stuff at $35/bbl to make money. The Athabasca tar sands are certainly more expensive than that, and that gunk requires huge volumes of water and natural gas to extract it.


The reports I saw on Athabasca (around a year or two old) said extraction and retort at under $15 a bbl. I have seen quoted as low as $11 a bbl?

You know what oil companies need the most? Same thing as everyone else.

Cheap energy.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

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Postby MSimon » Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:46 am

Nothing would capture the public imagination or say genius at work like a lab explosion. Sad but true.


I used to have those all the time.

My mother would yell down at me "What are you doing down there."

"Just some experiments Mom."

I love the smell of burning sulfur in the morning. It smells like Chemistry.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

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Postby MSimon » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:14 am

Roger,

Manufacturing jobs are never coming back. Just as agricultural jobs are never coming back (barring a civilization killer).

We make just as much stuff as we ever did. Machines are doing more and more of the labor.

We are coming into an age of abundance: the poor will be the consumers and the rich will pay a fortune for two slices of lettuce and a half a peach.

I was looking at some recent numbers in the USA. They were looking at wealth distribution slices of the population. Top vs bottom there was a 15 to 1 income disparity. There was only a 4 to 1 consumption disparity.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.


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