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Go to: Real men find Church too girly

TCM's Avatar Jump to comment 95 by TCM

Hey, if going to church means being served fine coffee by buxom wenches and swinging swords around, count me in - but it won't make me a Christian.

Tue, 02 Feb 2010 12:08:00 UTC | #437823

Go to: Laser fusion test results raise energy hopes

TCM's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by TCM

Ion driven ICF? We've never even built an ion driven ICF device, so far as I know. I submit that we really have no idea what nasty surprises that method of compression has in store for us.
Once again a quick google search would suggest otherwise. There have certainly been experiments on ion beam ICF at Sandia, and there seem to have been some on NOVA as well;col1

and as can be seen on the free preview of this:

"(a) The coupling of ion beams to the target is well understood... the deposition of energy is nearly 100% and is not impared by the plasma or any other medium, such as magnetic fields"

The rest of your worries... some are solved by ion beams, one or two I think are not problems, the rest are but, hey, it's just an engineering problem, right? :p

I kind of depend on it for a living too.
How is that? Where do you work and what do you do?

My PhD is modelling what happens to the alpha particles which come out of the reactions, because they are the mechanism by which the system self-heats, so it's important to know how accurately we need to model them. More broadly I'll be studying the burn wave they produce in the fuel layer, and the whole burn process in general. But I've only started this year so I've not got very far yet...

Sat, 30 Jan 2010 23:37:00 UTC | #437003

Go to: Laser fusion test results raise energy hopes

TCM's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by TCM

SWEET! This is my PhD project! I'm studying what happens to the alpha-particles that result from the reactions.

.the weapon potential is scary.

As has been said, we already have fusion bombs. Though a major source of funding for NIF is the Department of Defence, because NIF experiments can give insight into nuclear weapons design in an age where bomb tests are illegal. The funding for my PhD is from the Atomic Weapons Establishment :-/. The flip side is, ICF could also be used to use up weapons-grade plutonium and uranium because ICF produces a massive amount of neutrons, which could cause reactions in subcritical amounts of fissile material. Which solves the nuclear waste problem and makes decommissioning bombs profitable.

After ignition is achieved you need to ramp up to high gains of >100 Q in order to offset the inefficiency of the laser.

Well each reaction produces an energy gain of 1000, and with 30% of the fuel burnt (feasible), that means a target gain of 300.

After that, you need to deal with neutron embrittlement of the containment vessel.
Well I don't know about this but won't most of the neutron energy be absorbed by the lithium blanket? Also the development of plasma-facing materials is a well-funded and emerging discipline, it's not like nobody's tackling this problem. There are already some good ideas of what to use as the first wall for DEMO, the prototype commercial tokamak which will succeed ITER.

Solved that prolem? Great, now let's tackle the issue of fused silica final optic solarization induced by the neutron-activated structural gamma ray flux in the target bay.
This would not be a problem on ion-beam ignited tagets. Failing that they can just be replaced but I don't know about the economics of it.

I could go on and on and on.....and on.
Please do?

This SHOULD be number one story on the news channels.

It will be when they get ignition.

And IF it happens, how costly will it be? Don't you think that several decades from now the renewable energies will have become by far the cheapest way of producing usable energy - both power and heat?

Renewables are not a magic bullet either. I studied energy strageties for a report on Carbon Capture I was involved in. It turns out, when you generate your electricity by a certain proportion of renewables, costs from things like intermittancy and transport of the energy become extremely prohibitative. The cutoff is about 30%. This could be solved by a hydrogen infrastructure though - store the energy in hydrogen and pump it about the place, burn it when you need it. Renewable energy isn't cheap even without that problem. Also how much space would that many wind farms take up?

renewables, especially solar power, allow for a decentralization of power generation. this empoweres not only the customers in the rich european and north american countries, it also provides an easier way to improve the infrastructure of poor or politically unstable regions.

But it still costs those poor or politically unstable regions a shedload of money. Microgeneration is feasible for solar power, but small wind turbines don't generate nearly enough power, they may as well just be for show (eco-bling). Also, there is still a geographic inequality in renewable generation: Britain has lots of wind resources because of its coast and Scotland, Spain has plenty of sun. Some places don't have such advantages.

And have you taken into consideration that fusion reactors running on deuterium and tritium will require large amounts of lithium that is needed for the production of tritium?
A quick google search and you wouldn't have asked that question:

What's more, each capsule requires about a milligram of lithium to produce a gigajoule of energy. Compare to 25GJ per ton of coal. We'll run out of uranium, coal, oil and gas LONG before we run out of lithium.

Fusion will not be ready in time to solve the climate crisis, and in the medium term there isn't really a fuel crisis, but it is the only stable source of energy we have. Despite jokes about 'it's always 30 years away', startling progress is being made, and in the long term it is the only possibilty we have of having cheap, abundant, secure energy. I am confident I will see the first commercial tokamaks before I die, and I am 'almost certain' Crazycharlie's 2-year-old daughter will. ICF is a generation behind, but in the long run it will be cheaper and has all kinds of other benefits such as waste reprocessing.

Fri, 29 Jan 2010 12:54:00 UTC | #436649

Go to: Can One Be Good Without God?

TCM's Avatar Jump to comment 54 by TCM

I suspect many more people would be atheists if there were an atheist church to join. I'd go. It's about community, guys! Humans need a community.

Tue, 26 Jan 2010 19:08:00 UTC | #435555

Go to: [UPDATE 21-Jan - Video Added] Richard Live on 'The Daily Politics' Today

TCM's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by TCM

Richard missed a trick here, which I would also have missed on the spot. Tebbit basically defines Christianity as a cultural issue. It would have been great to point out to him:

"Then by labelling a child a Christian you are defining them as a member of a group as opposed to other cultural groups. I do not consider myself a member of a tribe, an 'us' to be opposed to a 'them', and I label my children only as humans. If Isreali or Palestinian children did not see themselves as such, there would be no conflict in that region, nor in Northern Ireland."

I think Richard comes across a bit hypocritical by saying he's a cultural Christian. I know he's making a concession, but he's diluting the message.

Also, the other panellists don't seem to see the importance of how we use language. As Orwell said: "If thought can corrupt language, language can corrupt thought".

Fri, 22 Jan 2010 20:36:00 UTC | #434333

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