Polywell Will be a Chapter in My New Book on Risk

Discuss ways to make polywell research more widely known or better understood. Includes education and outreach.

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MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:48 pm

Mike Holmes wrote:Well, yes, but there are some that respond to the market, and some that lead the market. Responders have a purpose, but do not create innovation. To go with my example, did consumers demand the iPhone? Or did Jobs create that market? The latter, I'd say.

You don't get that from yes men. You get that from obstinate mavericks.

Mike


There is no room in the corporate world for obstinate mavericks. Which is why I prefer to contract. So there is a place. Just not in the normal TOE.

In any case innovation is not a problem in America. It is why we have so much venture capital. Lots of innovators out there getting funded. In fact there is more money than ideas these days. Especially in alternative energy.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

Curtis Faith
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Postby Curtis Faith » Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:48 pm

I have spent a lot of time in startups and believe that the source of U.S. innovation has been the novel way we fund new ideas. Initially this was venture capital but more and more the VCs are only interested in proven ideas. Most of them are no longer willing to risk much. They prefer the sure thing.

The role of risk-taker has been usurped by angel investors. These are the early investors who take the big risk developing an idea to a proven concept at some scale which justifies investment in development dollars at the scales that interest VCs.

There is a lot of interest on the part of VCs in alternative energy but not so much in ideas which are not proven at all.

It is my belief that Polywell Fusion will be easy to fund if the results of WB-6 are corroborated by Dr. Nebel's work with WB-7. The Navy has done the angel investing here.

The problem here is that if this is to prove out, we have an excellent example of the failure of our energy research at the national level. These ideas should have been funded better. We need to come up with ways of investing in research that spend a lot more on ideas that might be viable, and a lot less on the "one true way."

If the ideas hold up then this will be a good example of success despite the system not because of it.

You would think that an approach which was an extension of the simplest and easiest known working method to generate actual fusion (i.e. a fusor) would be funded over one that is the most complicated and expensive way to get fusion and one where we see no viable way of producing power at reasonable capital costs (i.e. Tokamak). Alas that has not been the case.

The examples of the Office of Naval Research highlighted above are one approach that works better than what we've been getting out of the DOE.

- Curtis

Curtis Faith
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Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:59 pm

Postby Curtis Faith » Sun Jun 15, 2008 5:20 pm

I have spent a lot of time in startups and believe that the source of U.S. innovation has been the novel way we fund new ideas. Initially this was venture capital but more and more the VCs are only interested in proven ideas. Most of them are no longer willing to risk much. They prefer the sure thing.

The role of risk-taker has been usurped by angel investors. These are the early investors who take the big risk developing an idea to a proven concept at some scale which justifies investment in development dollars at the scales that interest VCs.

There is a lot of interest on the part of VCs in alternative energy but not so much in ideas which are not proven at all.

It is my belief that Polywell Fusion will be easy to fund if the results of WB-6 are corroborated by Dr. Nebel's work with WB-7. The Navy has done the angel investing here.

The problem here is that if this is to prove out, we have an excellent example of the failure of our energy research at the national level. These ideas should have been funded better. We need to come up with ways of investing in research that spend a lot more on ideas that might be viable, and a lot less on the "one true way."

If the ideas hold up then this will be a good example of success despite the system not because of it.

You would think that an approach which was an extension of the simplest and easiest method to generate actual fusion would be funded over one that is the most complicated and expensive way to get fusion and one where we see no viable way of producing power at reasonable capital costs. Alas that has not been the case.

The examples of the Office of Naval Research highlighted above are one approach that works better than what we've been getting out of the DOE.

- Curtis

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Sun Jun 15, 2008 7:20 pm

Curtis,

Dr. Nebel has credited Joe Strout, Tall Dave, Roger Fox, and others with creating the demand for prying loose the funding.

You should ask Dr. Nebel about it.

The key was Dr. B's Google talk. The NASA Spaceflight forum was a direct result of that and was the basic communications channel for the grass roots effort until June or July of last year when Joe started talk.polywell. It is still one of the channels for broadcasting a heads up.

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

drmike
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Postby drmike » Sun Jun 15, 2008 11:32 pm

Curtis - one of the things that has been lost in government funding is basic research. The trend towards applied research is part of the philosophy you describe in VC's moving away from risk.

The whole point of basic research is to try to answer questions about what you don't know. The process of asking questions is what leads to new ideas. And the really amazing ones come from accidents when you get an answer that was not expected.

It is the unexpected that scares people. To me it's all the same thing. Old age brings about tradition - the lack of trying new ways comes from comfort in knowing what works and not having to worry about risk.

There is also a psychological aspect to making mistakes. Basic research is all about mistakes! You learn more when things don't work. For VC's, a mistake is costly. A loss of income becomes a psychological "one upmanship" problem.

I think your point is valid, but the problem is much bigger than just VC's. It is an attitude that permiates all levels of society.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:34 am

Humans are risk adverse. They will often pay more to avoid a risk than the avoidance is worth.

All this is human nature (in general). Risk takers have to be nurtured. There are never enough qualified risk takers.

If the experiments get a green light I expect every guy and his brother-in-law to get funded to do fusion experiments.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.


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