Polywell = WMD?

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

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ANTIcarrot
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Polywell = WMD?

Post by ANTIcarrot »

Case for the prosecution:
*Self sustaining polywells can potentially be very small and road/rail portable.
*It's a powerful neutron source that does not require restricted material.
*An unshielded Q=1 reactor can give people lethal radiation doses at significant distance.
*It is radioactively inert until switched on.
*Paranoid government bureaucrats (who rightly or wrongly have the legal authority to tell the rest of us what we can or cannot do) often have over active imaginations.

If you could get the machinery down to 30-50 tons you could drive one onto Manhattan Island, then drive up and down for an hour before radiation sickness made driving impossible. Then kick it into high gear and shoot yourself. A few weeks later tens of thousands are dead.

If the technology becomes more well known this point will come up sooner or later. Planning ahead never hurt anyone. Proponents will need to have an answer that is not only correct and accurate, but is the length of the sound-bite.
Some light reading material: Half Way To Anywhere, The Rocket Company, Space Technology, The High Fronter, Of Wolves And Men, Light On Shattered Water, The Ultimate Weapon, any Janes Guide, GURPS Bio-Tech, ALIENS Technical Manual, The God Delusion.

jlumartinez
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Post by jlumartinez »

Have you tried writing science-fiction novels? Your imagination has no limits ...-)

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

I believe a truck load of fertilizer is cheaper and would do more damage.

BTW have you considered worrying about knives?

How about rocks? They are unregulated totally.

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

This might be why funding isn't available.

An accurate assessment in my book, and useful that you mention any reply needs to be the length of a sound-bite, rather than an essay on the subject.

Zixinus
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Post by Zixinus »

ANTIcarrot

It is obvious you mean well, however the idea of using a Polywell as a WMD is simply ridiculous for a variety of reasons.

I'd recommend that you learn a bit more about how nuclear power works in the first place. And then how Polywell works.

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Nanos wrote:This might be why funding isn't available.

An accurate assessment in my book, and useful that you mention any reply needs to be the length of a sound-bite, rather than an essay on the subject.
Who will drive the truck?

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

Probably someone unaware of the contents..

ANTIcarrot
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Post by ANTIcarrot »

Zixinus wrote:It is obvious you mean well, however the idea of using a Polywell as a WMD is simply ridiculous for a variety of reasons.
Let me guess: They're so obvious you can't bare to lower yourself by actually listing them? The I can't be bothered to argue back argument sucks big harry ones and will do little to convince the ill educated paranoid popularity fanatics (otherwise known as politicians) who run your country. They will listen to and be swayed by the people who can put the most exciting spin on polywell technology. And they won't understand, or recognize, or care, if the people who can come up with the best story are pro-ITER doomsayers stamping on a rival project.
I'd recommend that you learn a bit more about how nuclear power works in the first place. And then how Polywell works.
I do know how nuclear power works in the first place. That is why I can see potential consequences without relying on Mr Bussard to point them out to me.

If Mr Bussard could possibly share a little more of his big secret then maybe this concern might prove groundless. It might be for example the electron guns have to weigh 100tons each. But so far he's been reluctant to go into more information than is present in his Google Video. The one exception is his rocket paper, which misses out on details like shielding and uses non-standard notation.

Jlumartinez, I have written some scifi. That why this paper worries me. Accidentally or not, it uses many of the same tricks you use when you're writing a fictional technical manual (Mr Scott's Guide To The Enterprise for example) making things much more difficult to understand than is necessary in order to make it sound more impressive and hide the obvious silliness. I'm not saying he's made it all up, but this style of presentation (and again, I have some familiarity with writing technique and styles of presentation) makes me worry that he might be trying to cover something up - or at least not mention it if at all possible.

That or he's just a mathematics snob. :wink:
Some light reading material: Half Way To Anywhere, The Rocket Company, Space Technology, The High Fronter, Of Wolves And Men, Light On Shattered Water, The Ultimate Weapon, any Janes Guide, GURPS Bio-Tech, ALIENS Technical Manual, The God Delusion.

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Anti,

I believe your plan would work if you were driving the truck while the unit was in operation.

Don't forget to bring along your 3 MW power supply and tank of liquid nitrogen. You are going to need maybe 500 gallons for a decent run time.

You will also need a vessel 12 ft across for decent neutron production rate. So don't forget to get your "wide load" permit. The cops in most cities discourage producing copious neutrons without a wide load permit.

I think you could put this in operation as a mobile with four trucks. One for the reactor and vacuum pumps, one for the power generator, one for the power supplies. One for the liquid nitrogen.

Quick set up (less than two hours) should be possible.

Then you just turn on the timer and scram.

It could work. Probably for less than $50 million once the reactors are in mass production.

A ton of fertilizer and some blasting caps is much cheaper.

BTW do you know how dangerous mountains are? If some one picked up one with a helicopter and dropped it on you, you would be dead. There is danger every where.

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

A good example story of paranoid fear comes from where I used to work in a government building, to raise a few funds they rented out the roof to put a mobile phone mast on.

The union who normally did nothing of any worth (I didn't join, as I asked them to show me what they had achieved to benefit the workers in the last 5 years, which apart from increased wages for union officals, was nothing..) complained bitterly about this on health grounds for fear of radiation on their workers and got it removed!

These same workers who spend all day working 'inside' the building, which happened to have 10ft thick reinforced concrete walls and as such you couldn't get a phone signal at all..

Meanwhile, the local McDonalds who have a phone mast hidden inside their sign, or the church which has one hidden in its spire drew no attention..

If someone makes a fuss about safety, you ain't got a prayers hope in convincing the dumb public about anything.

ANTIcarrot
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Post by ANTIcarrot »

MSimon, everyone else seems to understand this point, but since you don't, I'll spell it out for you:

Politics is about perception, not reality.

Is that clear enough for you? Do you understand yet? It doesn't matter if it could work or not. If the people saying it are convincing enough, politicians and the public will believe them, and will act against the technology. By that point they will have made up their minds and it will be too late.

And if you try and persuade them it will never happen because 'the driver would also die - and no terrorist would ever do that' they'll laugh in your face. So please, stop ignoring the original question, and stop posting nonsense.
Some light reading material: Half Way To Anywhere, The Rocket Company, Space Technology, The High Fronter, Of Wolves And Men, Light On Shattered Water, The Ultimate Weapon, any Janes Guide, GURPS Bio-Tech, ALIENS Technical Manual, The God Delusion.

Zixinus
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Post by Zixinus »

Let me guess: They're so obvious you can't bare to lower yourself by actually listing them? The I can't be bothered to argue back argument sucks big harry ones and will do little to convince the ill educated paranoid popularity fanatics (otherwise known as politicians) who run your country. They will listen to and be swayed by the people who can put the most exciting spin on polywell technology. And they won't understand, or recognize, or care, if the people who can come up with the best story are pro-ITER doomsayers stamping on a rival project.
No, because I'm motherfucking tired. Today and yesterday I'm been painting the house all frick day, and I've only been able to post a few quick comments. Nobody else here has the patience of energy to just tell you how stupid and ignorant you are.
*Self sustaining polywells can potentially be very small and road/rail portable.
And would kill the transporter, and destroy the the polywell before it can be self-sustaining, because you assume that there would be no shielding. The reactor itself is small, true, but the reactor has to be in HIGH vacuum, and needs very strong cooling, most likely liquid nitrogen or better. That already gives you quite a bit of equipment, and personal.
High vacuum means that the reactor is a an egg waiting to collapse on itself. You will need a strong structure to keep the vacuum chamber that size to work, not to mention vacuum pumps, which are also hefty.

These are solvable for a spaceship designed for this purpose, but for land use? You'll need a crane, the type they use for bridge construction. A very big one too.

Also, if the grid falls out of place, then you are screwed. Any attempt to fire the thing will only destroy it.

One last point: a Polywell reactor has to be active and draw from a very, very powerful power source before it can archive self-sustainment. Power levels that are not found in your avarage household. In fact, you are going to have difficulty getting that thing in the first place.

It's going to be a one hell of a shitty weapon as well, because anybody with a gun, perhaps a good rifle can turn the thing off. Just neutralize the operator, go to the transport in question and shut it off. No terrorist in the world would even consider using such an expensive, sensitive, difficult and easy-to-neutralize weapon.

Get a couple of tons of artifical fertilizers, stick in a big detonator, time it and run away. Much, much cheaper and more effective.
I do know how nuclear power works in the first place. That is why I can see potential consequences without relying on Mr Bussard to point them out to me.
That's like saying. "I know how a bi-plane flies. I don't need a jet-engineer to know how to fly a 747."
If Mr Bussard could possibly share a little more of his big secret then maybe this concern might prove groundless. It might be for example the electron guns have to weigh 100tons each. But so far he's been reluctant to go into more information than is present in his Google Video. The one exception is his rocket paper, which misses out on details like shielding and uses non-standard notation.
If you know how a fusor works, then you can pretty easily figure out how a Polywell works. The peer-reviewed paper is still in the working, written by a sick, old man trying to summarize 10 years of work.
And if you try and persuade them it will never happen because 'the driver would also die - and no terrorist would ever do that' they'll laugh in your face. So please, stop ignoring the original question, and stop posting nonsense.
We were not ignoring the question, you are the one posting nonsense.

Oh wait, it seems you have the mind of a politician. Let me spell it out for you:

It. No. Work. Tons of fertilizer. And detonator. Much cheaper. And better.

Your debating method (with numerous logical fallacies, like appeal to emotion, appeal to popularity, guilt by assosiation, and the fact that you wholely ignored MSimon's response to just why the idea is stupid does not help either) and style has made it clear that you are an idiot. Whatever respect I had for you, is gone.
Politics is about perception, not reality.
Let me spell two other things out for you:

A. It has nothing to do with this here.

B. Take your appeal to authority and shove it up your ass.

ANTIcarrot
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Post by ANTIcarrot »

Zixinus wrote:Nobody else here has the patience of energy to just tell you how stupid and ignorant you are.
Right. Now that you've got that off your mind, onto the debate:

Me: Self sustaining polywells can potentially be very small and road/rail portable.
You: And would kill the transporter

A) When has that mattered to a suicide bomber?
B) Polywells are inert until they are turned on.
C) If the driver is willing to settle for 'merely' 40% casualties, (or he has some minor protection for himself) he won't feel anything for 1-6 hours.
liquid nitrogen <snip> High vacuum <snip> reactor is a an egg waiting to collapse on itself.
Liquid nitrogen is portable. It just is. It won't have to last very long.

High vacuum (NanoTorr range) isn't difficult. Nor is the equipment particularly large or heavy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbomolecular_pump

And the eggshell thing just makes me laugh. Vacuum of any kind merely exerts one (1, singular, not plural) atmosphere of inwards force. That's baby-taps in engineering terms.

18-wheelers can carry 50 or 60 tons if you care to over load them. Mr Bussard himself has estimated that a 10GW space-engine reactor would weigh 50 tons. I'm sure we could build a smaller 100MW reactor for less.

So again, what are your reasons for thinking this so completely impossible?
a Polywell reactor has to be active and draw from a very, very powerful power source before it can archive self-sustainment. Power levels that are not found in your avarage household. In fact, you are going to have difficulty getting that thing in the first place.
Ah. Interesting.

Though I said portable, not home use. A train car (or just a pair of thick cables) would work as well as a truck in this application. Would a MW class third-rail be good enough? 'Cause, you know, train companies leave those lying around all over the place.

Out of interest, precisely how much power and energy is required? If you need a MW/GW class APU, that's going to seriously dent the mass estimates for the space applications.
It's going to be a one hell of a shitty weapon as well, because anybody with a gun, perhaps a good rifle can turn the thing off.
You have to spot the right truck first. And if you go near enough to turn it off, chances are you'll be dead in a month. Nutty terrorists are willing to off themselves. The average police officer? Would they even recognise what they were looking at? Volunteers please? How many people are already walking dead by that point?
Get a couple of tons of artifical fertilizers, stick in a big detonator, time it and run away. Much, much cheaper and more effective.
If you're happy only killing a few dozen infidels then you could do that. If you have no great ambition I mean. If you want to kill thousands though you have to try harder than that young Abdul mi’ lad.

Many governments are publicly worried that terrorists are capable of complex plots. If they’re being truthful, they’ll worry about this. If they’re being deceitful, they may still act against such a paper-tiger to keep up their public image.
That's like saying. "I know how a bi-plane flies. I don't need a jet-engineer to know how to fly a 747."
A bi-plane and 747 do fly in the same way using essentially the same Wright Brothers control-surface system. (I studied aerospace for three years at Uni, so don’t even try debating me on this.) A 1920 engineer might be genuinely surprised at some of Boeing’s chosen solutions, but once he spent five minutes looking at them he would understand them. After asking a couple of questions he would understand the ‘why’ as well.

Now imagine the 1920 engineer saying, “But surely these giants pose additional dangers in comparison to bi-planes. What if they crashed? What would happen if a terrorist stole one and tried to crash them into a tall building? Wouldn’t that potentially kill a lot of people? ”

And you make a rude gesture and say: “That could never happen! No terrorist would ever kill themselves! You’re stupid! You obviously understand nothing about 747s! Take your appeal to authority (?) and shove it up your ass.”

And when have I ever appealed to higher authority?
If you know how a fusor works, then you can pretty easily figure out how a Polywell works. The peer-reviewed paper is still in the working, written by a sick, old man trying to summarize 10 years of work.
Understanding how they work is one thing. The whole ‘in practice output scales with the 7th power of radius’ on the other hand is not so simple. In the photos he has published he has always had many young and spry colleagues to assist him. Can’t they help write up the lab notes?

There is also a difference between publishing an equation (E is proportional to MC2 for example) and explaining it. Is the 7th power equation so large it won’t fit on a single sheet of A4? Would only three people in the nation understand it at first? Doesn’t matter. He should publish it anyway, if nothing else to prove to the world that he did it himself. Even if only a few people understood his work of genius, he would have the satisfaction of seeing that first gasp of recognition, and the pleasure of watching it grow until enough support existed for further research.

By keeping silent on the really useful stuff he has crippled himself. Why?

Me: This is about politics
You: A. It has nothing to do with this here.

Allow me to quote the forum guidelines for this section:
”JoeStrout” wrote: This forum is the place to discuss how the world might change if/when polywell fusion is developed and practical power plants come online. Social impacts, technological spin-offs, economic ramifications, and politics are all fair game.
You were saying?
And if you try and persuade them it will never happen because 'the driver would also die - and no terrorist would ever do that' they'll laugh in your face. So please, stop ignoring the original question, and stop posting nonsense.
We were not ignoring the question, you are the one posting nonsense.
WMD covers a variety of terrorist dirty tricks. Amongst these are anthranx and dirty bombs. Scientists, engineers, experts, learned professionals of all calibres have stood up and said these weapons are hopelessly impractical. The politicians ignored this boring reality, and chose to believe the much more interesting (but ultimately false) scare stories instead. Or maybe they didn’t, but chose to talk about the ‘dangers’ because that made for better headlines. Ditto for microwave health scares and MMR.

The same thing could happen to polywell. If the ITER advocates are even half as vicious as Bussard describes them as, this will come up. You need a quick, simple, and believable answer because politicians and the viewing public have short attention spans.
Some light reading material: Half Way To Anywhere, The Rocket Company, Space Technology, The High Fronter, Of Wolves And Men, Light On Shattered Water, The Ultimate Weapon, any Janes Guide, GURPS Bio-Tech, ALIENS Technical Manual, The God Delusion.

jlumartinez
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Post by jlumartinez »

Definitely ANTICarrot will drive the truck. Doesn´t matter if it´s full of fertilizers or full of mortal polywell-weapons.

Maybe if we demonstrate that Polywell is a dangerous weapon we will have another reason to get polywell funded by the U.S. Navy to fight against Bush´s enemies...

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

anti

If you know how to miniaturize Polywell, there are a lot of folks who would be interested.

Care to give us a hint on how it might be done?

Where are you going to get the start up power required?

Have you figured out a way to miniaturize vacuum pumps?

How about a way to reduce HV insulators length?

Really. We'd all love to see the plan.

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