TallDave wrote:...If there's favorable loss scaling up to .8T (i.e. Bussard's B^.25*r^2 or thereabouts), Rick will probably know this within a few months. But we in the public may not find this out even by inference until late 2011...OTOH, if loss scaling is something considerably uglier like B^2*r^3 .... we may or may not ever find out for sure what loss scaling looks like...
... that is sort of my point really; that is, if Rick is (we guess) but a few months away from that point, and all the indications are that
RN wrote:'... there are no show stoppers...
, then surely a determined research team could catch up to this point in a few months more - and 'those results' could be with us in the public domain (at long last), and the whole field could gain momentum.
rcain wrote: cant see EMC2 (or the USNavy for that matter) taking this through in isolation.
I don't see why not. This is pretty esoteric stuff even for plasma physics. Favorable WB-8 results will only draw so much attention, because it doesn't sound like papers will be published, data released, or press conferences scheduled. I expect the WB-9 attempt will be greeted with similar skepticism to WB-7/8. If we actually get 100MW from WB-9, things will change, of course.
yep, that is my fear also, but i dont see it needs be 'necessarily' the case.
esoteric it may be, but difficult or expensive it does not appear to be, relatively speaking (cf. eg. ITER, LHC, other 'BIG' science).
its not as if EMC2 have any 'secret' golden bullet; all the principles are already in the public domain, have been for years, and accessible to anyone who wants to try them out.
so sure, any sudden news like 'a working 100MW machine' would be epoch making and we'll all know about it. that is obvious. but it doesnt seem thats the way things happen in reality.
in reality, there's gradual progress, sporadic breakthroughs, verification of results (whether good or 'nuanced'), refinements of technique, development of engineering technology, then finaly, first generation commercialisation, and onwards. to my mind this is going to remain in the research and development phase for many years, even if everything looks rosey.
by contrast, even positive hints (or leaks?) concerning progress towards break-even, scaling or even simple confinement, could be enough to trigger other serious researchers towards a potential scientific revolution.
its 'that' event i'm looking for, and i'm asking, if you were a research director, head of government, ceo, whoever, what new information is it going to take to anticipate (and motivate) such a consensus? not much i am thinking, so long as it comes from multiple confirmed sources.
ps. @chrismb - historically, '50 years' or 'within our lifetime' is enough to ensure it never comes to pass.