Polywell = WMD?

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

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MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

anti,

You are talking non-sense.

A lot of greens these days have changed their attitude about nuclear power. Which used to be the most hated power source.

How much better would Polywell be accepted with 1/50th the neutron production? 1/10,000th or less the radioactive element production. No long lived radioisotopes.

For a "Master of Politics" you seem to be missing some important trends.

ANTIcarrot
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Post by ANTIcarrot »

MSimon wrote:If you know how to miniaturize Polywell, there are a lot of folks who would be interested.
Well, you see, it's like this: You go to any of the polywell sites, fast forward to the end of pretty much any paper on the subject, and then pay attention when Mr Bussard says he could build a Q>1 reactor two meters across. He says it can be done.

http://www.askmar.com/ConferenceNotes/S ... uclear.pdf

You seem to be forgetting basic facts about this technology.

"100 Tons for a 100MWe" - His navy design. Something half that size would fit into a truck.

Now many people on this form (rightly or wrongly) seem to regard Mr Bussard's statements as the word of god. You can have your cake or you can eat it; but you can't have it both ways.

And for the nth time - this topic is how the public and/or politicians react to a fear about new technology - irrespective of whether that fear is justified or not. In past examples of this kind of mass panic, answers based upon engineering haven't helped end the mass panic, nor stopped politicians from making stupid decisions in order to appease the ignorant mob.

Mr Bussard has implied (his statements, not mine) that there are those, particularly in the DoE, who would prefer to have no competition for their "$2M a day ricebowl" and will happily take action against said competition. Given how easily this kind of 'think of the children' mentality has worked with the public in the past, it is almost inconceivable they woudl not use it against polywell. (again, if Mr Bussard's word can be trusted.) They could accuse it of working too well, or being too good, too useful, too dangerous because the reactors can (in MR BUSSARDS OWN WORDS) be made small and lightweight.

This topic was started about this political dirty trick, which could be used to manipulate the public and make further polywell R&D significantly more difficult than it already is. It is not about engineering. It is not about how practical such an attack could be. It is not about how realistic such an attack could be. It is not an opportunity nor an invitation for personal attacks. It is not an invitation for people to loudly and publicly proclaim their ignorance of the polywell concept or engineering in general. It is not an invitation for people to go off at random tangents.

Now does anyone here wish to discuss ways of nipping this dirty trick in the bud, or should this topic be closed down?
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,

The Dr. was a tad optimistic.

Two meters across is the reaction space. You need another meter for insulators.

Probably another meter externally.

So you are up to about 4 meters (~12 feet).

In any case you can object all you want. The US Navy is funding WB-7.

However, that is just the reactor. You will also need a 2 MW generator for start up. LN2 cooling. Plus a truck for power supplies.

The size of the reactor is just the beginning.

Know of any miniature 2 MW generators? Or how about miniature 60 KV 40A power supplies? You will be needing one of those.

A way to miniaturize a couple of hundred gallons of LN2 would be handy as well. Any clue on how to miniaturize that? I suggest a gravity generator to increase the density. Got one?

This is not like a fission nuke. It will not start just by yanking the rods.

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

The key word here is 'perception' not facts.

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

I have posted at lots of green/communist sites.

When I explain it to them 80% are enthusiastic.

As far as I can tell "fusion danger" is not a hot topic of conversation any where on the 'net. I have been watching closely for months. Lots of stuff on fission danger.

A lot of greens are going nuclear. They would prefer fusion to fission. Even some non-nuclear greens are supportive.

The rest of the world just wants the lights to go on when the switch is flicked.

BTW perception is countered with facts. You will still have the crazy element. The lunatic fringe. Nothing I can do about that.

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Post by JohnP »

Speaking of weapons, I was thinking of these hi power lasers the armed forces are developing now. A problem with these is the darn power it takes to drive one. The chemical lasers have the power but consume their fuel rapidly, and weigh tons. A portable polywell, if such a thing was possible, would be just the thing for a large plane or truck mounted laser weapon.

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Post by MSimon »

JohnP wrote:Speaking of weapons, I was thinking of these hi power lasers the armed forces are developing now. A problem with these is the darn power it takes to drive one. The chemical lasers have the power but consume their fuel rapidly, and weigh tons. A portable polywell, if such a thing was possible, would be just the thing for a large plane or truck mounted laser weapon.
The US Navy is going to all electric drive ships. Superconducting motors.

I think that kind of mobile vessel will be one of the first uses of Polywell. For the reasons you specify among others.

reflector_bl
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Polywell is a terrorists nightmare.

Post by reflector_bl »

Anti;

Polywell is, contrary to your unlikely scenario, a terrorist's worst nightmare.
1. Reduces world dependency on oil, removing funding and political
power from typical terrorist sources of money and influence.
2. By reducing dependency on fission reactors it makes fissile materials
(a much more likely source of terrorist attacks) less available.
3. By making sources of energy available at reasonable cost in
areas that now lack such sources, it can provide hope for a better
life to parts of the world where development is stagnant.
4. By reducing the environmental impact of development it will create
the capacity for a more stable and cooperative world.
5. By creating a platform for technical development that is politically
neutral it can foster cooperation amongst parties that are now
divided by conflicts over oil or ideology.

The list could go on at much greater length.

In short Polywell is in reality the greatest anti-terrorist weapon available.

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Re: Polywell is a terrorist's nightmare.

Post by JoeStrout »

reflector_bl wrote:The list could go on at much greater length.

In short Polywell is in reality the greatest anti-terrorist weapon available.
I tend to agree. Let me add one more:

- By opening the solar system to exploration and settlement (far more cheaply and effectively than chemical rockets could do), it gives the world a frontier. This redirects energies that might otherwise go into squabbling with one's neighbors, in the more benign direction of expanding outward.
Joe Strout
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ANTIcarrot
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Re: Polywell is a terrorists nightmare.

Post by ANTIcarrot »

reflector_bl wrote:Reduces world dependency on oil, removing funding and political power from typical terrorist sources of money and influence.
1) The middle east is economically dependent on the world buying it's oil. What woudl happen to the OPEC nations if demand for this export were slashed? The collapse of economies, and the nations those economies prop up, could turn the entire area into an extremest holiday camp. Even better, they woudl have a 'reason' to despise the west; even more than they do at present.

2) Terrorist might be given a nuclear device, but the chances they could steal one, and the information on how to turn it on, is remote in the extreme. Building a bomb out of stolen fuel rods is even less likely. Even 'brute force' bomb designs like the alleged Virus House bomb need large quantities of americium, heavy water, and a mach 3+ impact speed. The perception has been magnified out of proportion by hollywood and dirty bomb propaganda.

3) Terrorists depend on poverty. This is why they attack infrastructure in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only by keeping the population poor and ignorant can they exist. While the *existence* of polywells could solve this, the *construction* of polywells could be a red flag to a bull, leading to an upsurge of terrorism.

5) Polywell is only politically neutral because the US government has yet to pay attention. Once they do, at any time they can step in and say, "What an interesting toy you've made. We own it now. Here's a penny as compensation for all the profits you would have made."
In short Polywell is in reality the greatest anti-terrorist weapon available.
I hope you're right, but I fear you're being optimistic.
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.

ANTIcarrot
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Post by ANTIcarrot »

JohnP wrote:Speaking of weapons, I was thinking of these hi power lasers the armed forces are developing now. A problem with these is the darn power it takes to drive one.
Hopefully solid state technology like the JHPSSL project will solve the weight problem. A combination of the diesel-electric and super-capacitor technology being developed for cars could power one. A polywell would not be needed for applications like shooting down incoming shells, blinding seeker heads, detonation enemy fuel stores/rocket engines, or setting people on fire.
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 »

ANTIcarrot wrote:
JohnP wrote:Speaking of weapons, I was thinking of these hi power lasers the armed forces are developing now. A problem with these is the darn power it takes to drive one.
Hopefully solid state technology like the JHPSSL project will solve the weight problem. A combination of the diesel-electric and super-capacitor technology being developed for cars could power one. A polywell would not be needed for applications like shooting down incoming shells, blinding seeker heads, detonation enemy fuel stores/rocket engines, or setting people on fire.
Depends on how much incoming you are receiving.

A four truck 100 MW power source could be very handy. The diesel would then just be used for start up.

reflector_bl
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Post by reflector_bl »

Anti;

You raise some valuable points regarding the disruption of OPEC economies due to the rise of Polywell energy technologies. I think that
the effects will be spread out over a long enough time that the oil economies will be able to adapt should they so choose.

On the other side of the equation you have a technology whose nature will
foster cooperation between nations over energy policy. Whereas now
nations such as China and the US are rivals for energy resources, Polywell
would foster cooperation. There is no shrinking resource in Polywell. We
will be happy to sell Polywell technology to the Chinese and they will be
happy to reciprocate and sell us any technology that they develop. It is a win win situation.

Even Middle Eastern oil rich nations can benefit. Oil money could be used
to finance the growth of Polywell technologies in the middle east where that technology can perhaps be used to ease difficulties associated with
water scarcity.

Everyone wins. That is the radical beneficial nature of Polywell. There
are no losers.

You are correct in assuming that the terrorists will not be happy over the
rise of a technology that threatens their very existence. We will have to
find a way to deal with this, but better this problem then a world of shrinking resources in which nations fight each other over a pool of shrinking energy resources.

We will be better equipped to deal with the problem of terrorism in a world
where nations see each other as cooperative partners rather than as rivals
for shrinking resources. This kind of world has greatly increased stability
and potential for democratization.

This view is perhaps excessively optimistic, but it still possible that the overall effect of Polywell will be greatly increased stability, due to the
common stake people have in a world whose growth and prosperity is
not threatened by conflict over scarce resources.

ANTIcarrot
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Post by ANTIcarrot »

reflector_bl wrote:We will be happy to sell Polywell technology to the Chinese and they will be happy to reciprocate and sell us any technology that they develop.
Ha!

[soapbox]

Except that America refuses to buy or license cheap and simple Russian rocket technology. They've actually passed a law saying that NASA is only allowed to buy launches, not rockets.

In the past America has also been very eager to declare that (by amazing coincidence) they just so happened to have develop the same technology at exactly the same time as someone else - and therefore don't need to pay royalties. The hovercraft springs to mind. So does the Langley Aerodrome. Given the apparent cost and simplicity of the polywell concept, other nations may also just develop it themselves.

We also have the problem with Iran. Putting aside their sponsoring of terrorist organisations, they are actively persuading their population that 'science and technology is a really good thing.' (Which is something that really should be encouraged, since since means thinking for yourself, which is the one thing which will defeat Iranian propaganda.)

Finally are you sure the US will hand the equipment over? The British helped build the atom bomb, and after the war American turned around and decided that they didn't want to share after all. If polywell can help them build a 60 or 100knot naval fleet, why on earth would they want to give China or Russia the same advantage? (US policy on such matter is parity-plus, not parity.) Yes it woudl make sense for all kinds of reasons, but never overlook the potential of political stupidity.

[/soapbox]

Though in fairness we must remember that in the past China and Russia are perfectly willing to do most of the above. And they have also been quite willing to accept blueprints that fell off the back of a lorry. Concordeski springs to mind.
You are correct in assuming that the terrorists will not be happy over the rise of a technology that threatens their very existence.
Not just terrorists though. Much of the hatred of Israel was engineered by 'legitimate' governments to distract from domestic problems that polywell could fix. Plain 'common and garden' religious fruitcakes will also oppose the spread of 'western decadence'. It's not quite so serious, but still they will likely oppose polywell.

The best way to deal with may be to just let them have their way while the reactors are deployed to places like Africa, and India. Having a demonstratively positive effect in those places would do a lot to heal the Middle East's popular view of America.
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.

rexxam62
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Post by rexxam62 »

Who gives a **** if Polywell would puncture or become highly disruptive to petroleum producing countries? America today is meddling with all peice of **** 3d world nations around the world for one strategic reason:OIL. And the problems in middle east seems to only become more and more unstable the more America meddles around there. America should just leave the whole middle east once and for all and put all money and energy into things like the Polywell and other highly disruptive technologies to petroleum.

If America dont then Europe, Japan, China or someone else will and America will be left behind. But I think the total failure in Iraq can be the point that changes the whole game forever. Because America cannot go around the planet and fight these countries anymore unless it want to go totaly bankrupt. And even if it goes around the world trying to get the oil you have the problem that people like Chavez in Venezuela go and nationalise the petroleum.
Last edited by rexxam62 on Tue Aug 28, 2007 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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