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Talk-Polywell.org • Polywell Will be a Chapter in My New Book on Risk
Page 1 of 2

Polywell Will be a Chapter in My New Book on Risk

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:09 am
by Curtis Faith
Hello everyone,

I've been following Polywell Fusion for about six months now and plan on devoting a chapter to it in my new book on Risk and Uncertainty. My book will be published by McGraw Hill in January. sold very well so my new book should be a reasonably good opportunity to spread the word about Polywell Fusion.

The reason that Polywell Fusion merits a chapter in the book is because it illustrates a couple of the major points in the book:

1) That hierarchies and bureaucracies shun risk.

2) That our research and development needs to be much more bottom up and much less top down because academia breeds conformity. The peer review process stifles dissent.

The combination of these two processes results in conventional thinking being very well funded while new and potentially ground-breaking ideas languish.

A technology as potentially useful as PolyWell fusion should have received sufficient funding to keep it on the fast track until either: it was proven infeasible or it works. Dr. Bussard was no quack. There is no rational excuse for his work not being funded much better than it was.

The fact that in 2008 we still don't know whether or not Polywell fusion is practical is a major failure of the U.S. government's R&D strategy.

The idea in the book is that since we don't know what might work, we need to try as many diverse ideas as possible. Anything that shows any promise should be funded. We can't afford to make huge bets on one technology (i.e. Tokamak) at the exclusion of all the others.

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:45 am
by tonybarry
Hello Curts,
Welcome to Talk-Polywell.

I had a look at your previous book. Hmmm. Thirty one million dollars is no mean feat. If you feel like sponsoring someone ... :-)

You are right about polywell being underfunded. It should have been proven either right or wrong by now; and Dr. Nebel's work is still being offered small fund allocations by comparison with ITER.

I also think that "many eggs in many baskets" is the best way forward. I personally do not think that ITER will ever work economically (i.e. produce power at a reasonable cost per megawatt). But we should still keep it going. The lessons learned can only be useful. We should also fund alternatives such as Polywell.

I disagree about the peer-review process. I think it has gotten us a long way further forward than anything else. While conventional thinking may not always provide lateral answers, the peer review process focuses on experimental results and if those results are solid, and have a well-crafted methodology behind them, then the peers will listen. The peers often have little time for sloppy science, which generally gives them the name of intolerance. But I haven't yet met a scientist who wouldn't read a paper in their field because they didn't like the author. In fact, those papers generally get the most scrutiny ... and that's always a good thing. Not good on the pride, to be sure. But good for science.

Regards,
Tony Barry

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:25 pm
by Curtis Faith

Peer Review

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 1:45 pm
by MSimon

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:58 pm
by JohnP

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:47 pm
by drmike
I don't think it's all that easy to quantify. I've been watching NASA TV for the past 2 months while the ISS gets built. There is no way I could personally deal with the insane bureaucracy of how they do things. But you have to admit the final result is still amazing. It is an international team of bureaucrats in charge of engineers that have actually accomplished something.

How much more could be accomplished if the billions of little rules weren't there? Hard to say - would the cosomonauts still be safe? Where do you draw the line?

I think you need both large operations that are slow and careful along with small operations that are fast and loose. Each can help the other move the human race to a better place for everyone. Getting bureaucrats to understand this really big picture is the hard part.

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:05 pm
by Curtis Faith
There is certainly some merit to rules, especially as they relate to safety.

I agree that a mixture of the two is probably best. Small for innovation and exploration, with larger teams for more incremental development and straight engineering tasks that represent more of an application of known science rather than pushing the edges.

As far as the ISS goes, I'm personally not too impressed. I remember SpaceLab and don't see too much improvement for the 30 years that have passed. Yes, it is much bigger but progress at NASA seems to have virtually stopped by comparison to the go-go years of the 60s.

I was 6 when we landed on the moon, I remember it. Since that point, there has been relatively little progress. The progress we have made seems mostly to have come from outside NASA – electronics, optics, robotics, etc. are all now primarily developed and advanced in private industry. NASA benefits from advances here but does not produce them like it once did.

It seems to me that the best NASA projects of late have also been smaller low-budget affairs rather than the big-ticket items. Bureaucracy also scares away many of the best engineers.

- Curtis

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 12:11 am
by MSimon

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:52 pm
by drmike

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:05 pm
by Mike Holmes

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:38 pm
by MSimon

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:55 pm
by Mike Holmes
Uh, yeah, that was my point, dictators of capitalist organizations. Like the example I gave.

No, I'm not suggesting fascism.

As for "Change over profit" it's really "Profit by change or profit by cash."

Mike

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:26 pm
by MSimon
Change for profit aligns everything properly.

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:47 pm
by TallDave

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:14 pm
by Mike Holmes