What's the hurry?

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

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icarus
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What's the hurry?

Post by icarus »

http://www.countercurrents.org/arguimbau230410.htm

Humanity need every capable brain on the planet contributing towards a fusion breakthrough in the next few years, i.e. now, to avoid a complexified-civilisation collapse and reversion to a new dark age.

You can release all the lovely data you want in 2-5 years time, it will not matter. Once the collapse begins, fusion research will be a very low priority to where your next meal comes from and who's trying to kill you to steal it, for most parts of the world. All just my opinion, of course.

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

You're not saying EMC2's proof of concept risks failing because of this, because they didn't comply with the FOI request, right?

My opinion - There's so much darn pork all over the place that there'll be plenty of luxuries to perfuse into fusion research, if fusion research (one or many, of whatever type) promises good enough odds to pay off in time. E.G. that recently reported 1,000 campuses initiative.

Gallium
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Post by Gallium »

As a chemist, let me state this clearly:

Down with this sort of alarmist claptrap.

Yes, oil will run out. Yes, demand will rocket. Yes, prices will increase. But world ending Armageddon? No.

Luckily, there is more than one way to get petrolium. The only snag is that it is more expensive. Steam reformation of coal is a personal favorite of mine... South Africa was very dependent on that during the apartheid years. There is about 500 years worth of known coal reserves.
The tar sands of Canada, USA and Venezuela can be commercially scaled up even at current prices.

The result is high demand, high prices, but availability for necessities.

To sum up, we have time. Not a huge amount, but enough for alternatives to take the strain.

CaptainBeowulf
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Post by CaptainBeowulf »

LOL so 2012 really is the end of the world (the year that the oil supply starts dropping according to that graph). :lol:

Realistically, we're just going to go to gen IV/V nuclear fission systems if things get that bad. They're considerably safer and cleaner than all the earlier fission reactors from the 50s and after. There are still large coal reserves, so coal will be to handle swings in demand.

With greater reliance on fission, you may end up with more brownouts, since it takes a long time to throttle up a fission reactor that's turned off. Also, you'll be pretty much shifted to electric cars, being recharged by the fission power supplied through the grid. That will probably mean crappy less than 60 mile range... meaning for intercity trips the train will make a big comeback.

But of course some places will start liquifying coal. Then there's "biodiesel" etc. All rather environmentally unfriendly processes, but when the cards are down on the table, society generally chooses economic gain over environmental protection.

It would be nice if fusion gets ready in time to address these problems. It would be better for both the economy and the environment than the above sorts of half-measures. But there are enough half-measure pieces of the puzzle to stave off any "dark ages" type collapse for centuries... they're just not the most attractive solution.

Unfortunately basic research takes time.

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

The PDF article doesn't mention Bakken.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/01/bakken ... saudi.html

joedead
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Post by joedead »

I feel I should speak on this, hahah.

I'm a reformed doomer. Not many doomers have as much experience and practical knowledge as I do. (Lived on a building powered by wind/solar, grew own vegetables, etc.)


Peak oil production is real, will happen soon, and have negative effects.

It is NOT the end of civilization. Just the end of cheap oil and the death of shallow enterprise built around it.

What will this look like in practical terms? Imagine New York City slowly turning into Ulan Baatar or Mumbai.

icarus
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Post by icarus »

Cheap liquid fuel, i.e oil, (note only oil, not gas or coal) has allowed the exponential growth and extra-ordinary societal complexity to flourish in the past 70 years, culminating in the intricately inter-connectedness of global commerce. How it ends is anybody's educated opinion, but I think that the historical evidence is compelling. The economic curves we are on, particularly with reference to societal complexity, have been seen before and are attributable to the source of readily available liquid energy.

Reference,
"The Collapse of Complex Societies" Joseph Tainter.
http://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Complex- ... 052138673X

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Tainter

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

Historical precedent for our position on the accelerating technology curve?

joedead
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Post by joedead »

Yes, I've read Tainter. And Jared Diamond. And nuts like Jim Kunstler. (I've actually discussed things with him!)


I was Ulan Bataar in the late 90's, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Oil imports and financial assistance that Mongolia was receiving from the U.S.S.R. basically dried up over night. Rolling black outs hit the city. Food, among many other commodities, was in short supply. The Economist even ran a piece suggesting the city would be abandoned as people returned to the nomadic life of the steppe.

Can you guess what happened?

Ulan Bataar's population actually grew.

People are basically city creatures, and there is always more opportunity to be had in cities than in the countryside. This is why immigrants in the countryside in place like China and India swarm to the cities. You'd be surprised at the levels of filth and crowded conditions people will tolerate for a job.

Even with a severe shortage of oil, the cities will continue to grow for quite some time.

CaptainBeowulf
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Post by CaptainBeowulf »

Oh dear, looks like you've prompted me to go on another historical rant.

In terms of Tainter's work, successful development of a cheap and robust fusion reactor would be "innovation that increases productivity", and would therefore be the kind of thing we need to keep forging ahead. However, it wouldn't be needed to survive at our current level of complexity for a number of decades.

In those synopses of Tainter's work, you see the suggestion that the collapse of the Western Roman Empire wasn't a complete catastrophe. Well, yes and no.

It was a complete catastrophe in Noricum, Pannonia and Helvetia (what is today Switzerland, southern Bavaria, Austria, and western Hungary). Those people were overrun by Attila's vast forces (Hunnic core with all sorts of Germanic and probably Scythian/Sarmatian and proto-Slavic elements). They were then overrun by the Lombards, whose king, Alboin, was reportedly very cruel both to neighbouring Germanic and Romanized peoples. A lot of them ended up scattered into Italy and Gaul, and the area became permanently Germanized.

Similarly in Britain, the Romano-Celtic culture completely collapsed, although our best guess is that it took a couple of centuries to do so. Only Wales and Cornwall were left, while the rest of Roman Britain degenerated into seven warring fiefdoms dominated by Anglo-Saxon elites - and probably in the northeast (East Anglia, Yorkshire etc.) the native population was pretty much replaced by Anglian settlers.

However, Italy and large parts of southern Gaul and Illyria continued to function for about a century after the "collapse". Odoacer, the "barbarian" who deposed the last Roman Emperor, was head of the army of Italy which had essentially been a hybrid Italo-German force for at least several decades at that point. Odoacer was in turn tricked and killed by the Ostrogoth Theoderic the Great, who pretty much put things back together. Theoderic ruled for decades, being recognized by the Emperor in Constantinople as the "local ruler" in Italy. According to various accounts, Theoderic even strengthened the Senate and held games and triumphs, and was essentially the Western Emperor without taking the title (basically because he didn't want to piss off the Eastern Emperor).

Similarly, the Visigoths heavily romanized themselves in Spain, and even founded the city of Toledo as a new, Roman-style capital. For a while, Theoderic pretty much had Visigothic Spain tied to Ostrogothic Italy, meaning that he had almost put the empire back together.

Italy really fell apart when two things happened:

1. Theoderic's successors fell out with the latest eastern emperor, Justinian, who sent Belisarius in to reconquer the province. Many people think this would have worked, except that Justinian recalled Belisarius when he'd almost won because the Goths and Italians wanted him to officially take the title of Western Emperor. The campaign then fell apart, until Belisarius was sent back to finish it off... but by then there had been a couple of decades of very destructive warfare.

2. The "Justinian plague", probably the first medieval instance of the Black Death, swept through Europe, killing about a third of the population.

As a result, Italy and the Eastern Empire were both very weakened, and when Alboin and his Lombards invaded there was no effective resistance. At that point Italy degenerated into the dark ages... but it was a century after the "end" of the western empire, and more than a century and a half from when the Visigoths had "sacked" Rome (the event in 410 A.D. wasn't really a sack by most standards).

As for Visigothic Spain, the Byzantines/East Romans also tried to re-establish direct control there, with the result that there was a Byzantine enclave on the southeast coast. However, it eventually faded away, and Visigothic Spain continued to be very Roman until the Muslims invaded in 711 A.D.

Central/southern Gaul experienced some trouble with Burgundian and Alemmanic invaders, but they were quickly tamed and then directly absorbed by the Franks. As for the rest of Gaul, it pretty much shifted to Frankish control without much disruption. You can see who was the dominant culture by the fact that there was no disruption of urban life, and that the French speak French (ie. Gallic vulgar Latin) today instead of a kind of Dutch-German (which is more or less what the Frankish invaders would have spoken).

IIRC the Byzantine historian Procopius wrote that the Franks/Gauls still had organized Roman legions with the same standards and numbers that were stationed there when the empire collapsed... Procopius would have been writing around 600 A.D.

Most likely Charles Martel's (Charles The Hammer's) army which defeated the Muslim invasion of Gaul in the 8th century derived some of its discipline and organization from a continuing Western Roman tradition. In 800 A.D., when the Byzantines were no longer enough of a threat, the Franco-German king Charlemagne saw no problem with getting the Pope to crown him Western Roman Emperor.

So, if we're going to compare ourselves to the Western Roman Empire, then if that chart is correct, peak oil in 2012 is probably equivalent to the year 410 (Visigothic "sack" of Rome and the withdrawal of the legions from Britain). By historical analogy, our core territories still have another 1 to 3 centuries before real collapse happens.

I daresay that some people won't the suggestion that by historical analogy, we're a bit like France - but France was a superpower at various times between the 500s and the end of Napoleon's reign.

That would seem to agree with the chemists' estimates that there are resources such as 500 years worth of liquifiable coal. Not new innovation to keep things moving forward, but enough stuff to survive for a while before genuine collapse.

Enough time to get fusion worked out and turn things around.

Aeronaut
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The hurry is to beat next-gen nukes to construction

Post by Aeronaut »

Connecting a few dots shows a progression from the lack of cost-effective energy to make W's hydrogen economy work through Dopenhagen, and into "our" enlightened new fission-based clean economy, now that carbon taxes are already on the books and the coming C.L.E.A.R. act make it clear that fossil fuels are going to be ever more expensive to use.
Inc Magazine's cover story this month was about how Hyperion's already sold 120 of their $70M next-gen fission plants, which, by the way, are currently an unproven technology.

Giving them 10 years to work out materials challenges, funding, and regulatory challenges, and another 5 to 10 years to begin bringing these plants online, I'd say we have at most, 5 years for aneutronic fusion to deliver net energy.

The doom and gloom stuff is placed in plain sight to fan the flames of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Perfectly packaged for the mass media, all the way down to the "one of these years" timeline and sticker shock.

Almost forgot to mention how Babcock & Wilcox's modular next-gen "solves" the radioactive waste transport and storage problem- they'll just store spent fuel assemblies on-site for 60 years until the plant's decommissioned. In my back yard and yours.

Think Obama's going to listen any closer than he did on the health care ramrodding? I'd be pleasantly surprised.

==========================

Edit- Saw this in an AdWords ad while testing my mailing a few minutes ago. Seems several somebody elses are doing the same thing to promote fission: http://www.energyandcapital.com/aqx_p/1 ... DQodaHLYDA
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Soylent
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Post by Soylent »

I've seen graphs exactly like this one all the way back since the early 80's, predicting an imminent peak and rapid decline. If you keep predicting that peak oil is imminent every few years, eventually you will be right.

I see peak oil as a non-threat unless you happen to live at the very margin; the billion poorest certainly will be hurt.

You've got the slope of the decline far too steep(when one country peaks it doesn't affect the price of oil to the extent necessary to make the hard to get oil profitable; when the whole world peaks it does).

You're overestimating how hard oil is to substitute for. A big chunk of oil still goes to heating houses(natural gas or heat pumps), producing electricity(mostly in oil-rich and underdeveloped countries), process heat(natural gas or reactors depending on temperature; squeeze gas out of the electric grid with nuclear if necessary), freight trains(electrifiable), moving ships(reactors as used in ice breakers, aircraft carriers and submarines), cheap plastic shit(go back to the slightly more expensive steel, cast-iron, bronze, glass, wood, cardboard, wax-paper etc. it used to be made from).

You're way underestimating how far the belt can be tightened with small lifestyle changes. In the OECD a huge chunk of oil consumption is personal transportation. Bring another passenger and you double your fuel milage. Expand the weekend to include monday or friday and work 4x10 hour work weeks instead of 5x8 hour work weeks to save a day of commuting. Combine trips to the store with commuting from work. Let people move to where the jobs are, which is in the city, rather than commute from the exurbs. Turn sleeper towns into real towns, with schools, stores and factories. Move photons instead of people(telecommuting) in any industry it makes sense. Let the trucking companies be crushed by rising fuel costs, in favour of far more efficient rail and container ships. Let people who live close to work turn to bicycling as the cost of car ownership increases. Stop agricultural and fishery subsidies that favour energy intensive meat production and overfishing(even if you want to exploit the seas as much as is possible, overfishing means a lower fish production in the long term). Grocery deliveries(it ought to be significantly more efficient to aggregate a number of customers, plan and optimize a route with computer aid and make deliveries rather than each person taking their car to the store)

Gradually cutting into thïs fat allows the really serious oil crunch to be postponed. We don't know which solutions will be necessary or practical for phasing out oil in the long term; the best way to find out is to slash centralized control on the national and state level so that a thousand different solutions, most of which will fail miserably, can be tried. Maybe hybrids as a transition as a to full EVs or hybrids with fuel cells instead of ICE; maybe some combination of electrified bicycles and public transport maybe electrified trams to move people and containers within cities, maybe PRT, maybe EVs which connect to overhead cables on the highway to save on batteries, who knows?

Aeronaut
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Post by Aeronaut »

You'd be surprised how much of a home utility bill can be eliminated with a pellet (or wood) burning boiler (circulating hot water heating) and a 10kW solar array, since 80% of the bill goes to heating and cooling the home and making it's hot water stay hot.

The current subsidies and incentives make the net cost around 20% of the apparent cost, and it's already being done in rural areas.
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MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

The current subsidies and incentives make the net cost around 20% of the apparent cost, and it's already being done in rural areas.
For the individual. For civilization it is a loser.

Subsidies slow the "walk" down the cost curve for one thing. And it is unsustainable (see Germany, France, Spain etc.)

And then you have the information from Spain that "Green" energy costs two jobs for every job "created". That is economic inefficiency at work.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

Aeronaut
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Post by Aeronaut »

The subsidies are still less than the cost of the equivalent capacity in coal-fired new construction, which would have a useful service life extending as far out as 2070. (10 years to permit & finance, plus 50 year op life).

I suspect that the job loss figures are slanted toward short-term alarmist viewpoints that never had a look at the growing pains of either of the previous industrial revolutions.

Shoot, the internet/information/broadband revolution is drastically and continuously having a similar effect on jobs.

You and I are old enough to remember typing pools that were done in by the word processor and computer in that order.
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