Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A card so high and wild.

(A red herring.)
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Asking the WRONG question:   Nuclear fusion? Too good to be true?

Shamil Zhumatov: Birds perch in treetops at full moon in Kostanay, Kazakhstan.

Thomas McGuire.The timing is prompted by the publication of this in mid-October:
        Aviation Week: Skunk Works Reveals Compact Fusion Reactor Details;
Closely followed by an echo in The Guardian (from a news-wire, but hey):
        Lockheed announces breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy;
And a week later by this:
        Gwynne Dyer: Hello fusion power, good-bye fossil fuels?

[I'm thinking, "If Gwynne Dyer is taking this seriously then maybe there's something to it."]

(And one I missed first time through:
        Audit: Has Lockheed Martin really made a breakthrough?)

Two 'interesting' videos (both quite short):
        by Thomas McGuire, principal investigator of the Lockheed Martin nuclear fusion experiment;
Michel Laberge.        and by Michel Laberge, plasma physicist & founder of General Fusion.

[A certain charming boyish arrogance on the part of Michel Laberge gives me pause.]

Gwynne Dyer identifies some of the players:
        General Fusion (Canadian);
        EMC2 Development Company, Inc. &
                EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. (website 'under development');
        Helion Energy; and, Tri-Alpha Energy.

If anyone knows anything it may be indicated by investment (I think). Most on Dyer's list are private companies; I can only find stock prices for Lockheed-Martin:
Lockheed Martin stock price to November 6.
a graph of which is ... inconclusive.
A few additional news reports:
        Forbes: Lockheed Martin Claims Fusion Breakthrough Could Change World Forever; and,
        Washington Post: Nuclear fusion energy in a decade?.

A quick review of some of the science at Wikipedia:
        Thermonuclear fusion & Thermonuclear weapon;
        Nuclear fusion; and, Fusion power; and
A book from the library, the only one in the list and with curiously un-described authors:
        Fusion : the energy of the universe, G.M. McCracken & Peter Stott, 2013.

And I consult an old colleague who graduated in quantum chemistry. He offers nothing substantive, not interested, lets it drop.

[It's a lucky move to spend a few days fossicking about because the penny drops through the molasses and ... eventually the lights begin to come on."]

It may have been back then, reading Amory Lovins' 'Soft Energy Paths' - maybe he mentions fusion somewhere in there (but ... no Index so the only way to see is reading the whole thing again, not today) - or maybe someone talked to me about it at the time; anyway, late 70's, halcyon Architecture School days - and ...

A notion of the sun as a fusion reactor. There it sits, a safe distance away, emitting high-energy rays which we already have all the necessary technology to catch and use. Why develop reactors here on earth then?

Unless it is to stroke human arrogance, get plasma physicists laid et cetera.

It's not an original notion - it's in one of David Brower's books too.

Oh sure, some people just refuse to see a technological 'solution' to the environmental holocaust; defiant nitwits partaking in the ideology of denying the existence or efficacy of silver bullets as they brandish Enoch's solar hammer.

 :-)That's funny. Let this end with a smile.

Be well.

Jim Morin: New Energy Resources.

Afterword: (with a smile then, AND a positive recommendation)
Louie's Garden Party / Occupation Apple Tree.

Here you go. I'll see your nuclear fusion and raise ya': Occupation Apple Tree.

A-and a few more high & wild cards come on the scene:
Ode to a Nightingale   John Keats (1795–1821).

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South!
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain —
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that ofttimes hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music: — do I wake or sleep?


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  1. That old colleague sounds like a loser!

    Thanks for the Gwynne Dyer article. The Aviation Week one is the first I've seen with an actual hint as to why it might work where tokamak designs have so far failed. Canada dropped out of the ITER project nearly 10 years ago, so I thought that its lead in this industry was going to fizzle, but luckily the private sector took over what the government dropped. So after 60 years of public investment, the private sector will be around for the payoff. That's probably good.