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 Post subject: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:18 am 
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Hi all,

I'm a first-year grad student in MIT's physics department, and the experiment I work on, the Alcator C-Mod tokamak, is slated to be shut down in the President's FY 2013 budget proposal in an effort to increase funding for ITER, a tokamak in France: http://science.energy.gov/~/media/budget/pdf/sc-budget-request-to-congress/fy-2013/Cong_Budget_2013_FES.pdf

If you want to help, please go http://fusionfuture.org and please let your friends, faculty, etc know.

This is really bad for a variety of reasons.
1) From a scientific standpoint, C-Mod is the only existing tokamak that can reach the magnetic field strength to be used by ITER, and C-Mod has achieved a new operating mode (I modes for anyone who does plasma physics) which is being strongly considered for ITER operations. In other words, for ITER to be successful, ITER needs C-Mod to continue operating.

2) C-Mod is a primary training facility for fusion scientists; at any given time, there are 30 grad students working on C-Mod projects. A shutdown means that many of the people who would be eventually working on ITER would no longer be trained in fusion research in the first place. This means that the US will not see the benefits of the money it spent trying to fund ITER in the first place.

3) This decision by DOE was made without any input from the fusion community whatsoever. The fusion community is unanimously opposed to shutting down C-Mod.

4) In order to make appropriate contributions to ITER, the US will essentially have to shutdown the entire domestic fusion program in the next few years. In fact, this year every fusion and plasma facility is slated to take severe cuts. PPPL will have to lay off 100 staff scientists and DIII-D in San Diego around 30.

If you have questions, please see this reddit discussion (it's overly complete and the grad students who participated did an excellent job of answering questions): http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/qdbxg/askscience_ama_series_we_are_nuclear_fusion/

Again, if you want to help, please go http://fusionfuture.org and please let your friends, faculty, etc know. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:05 pm 
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 11:34 pm

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vesperlynd wrote:
I'm a first-year grad student in MIT's physics department, and the experiment I work on, the Alcator C-Mod tokamak, is slated to be shut down in the President's FY 2013 budget proposal in an effort to increase funding for ITER, a tokamak in France: ...


So the government was giving Alcator money and now it's drying up because the government thinks a better use of the funds is on ITER. I don't think I can argue with that. This is the kind of thing that is decided by experts (and was).

The money you want would be collected from the general tax-paying public and used to support research in which you have a vested interest. There are two problems with that. First in taking money from other people, and second in giving it to you.

In looking for unbiased information on fusion projects it's not at all obvious to me that I should be paying careful attention to your group's opinions on this. You have a vested interest in the decision. Whenever I talk to anyone, dentist, teacher, lawyer, etc., they tell me that the world would be a better place if they got a larger percentage of the pie. The dentists talk about tooth decay, the teachers talk about ignorance, the lawyers talk about fairness, etc. I've only rarely heard someone tell me that their occupation was a waste of money.

And it's not obvious to me why the US government should take money from secretaries, fast food workers, construction workers, manufacturing personnel, salespeople, etc., etc., and use that money to pay the salaries of physics grad students. From what I can tell, physics grad students are generally, healthy, well educated, and somewhat smarter than the average member of the public. The money flow should go the other way; you should be the one whose taxes support the old, weak and stupid members of society not the other way around.

The US is the world's leading country in terms of how easy it is to create businesses and to make money. Think about how smart you are compared to the students studying business. Don't you agree that it would be much easier for you to create a business with profits of $20 million per year? Then you can avoid having to beg for money. If you need ideas on how to get that business started, send me a PM.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:15 pm 
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

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I don't think its true at all that the decision to shut down C-Mod was made by "experts", at least if you define experts as fusion scientists. The fusion people I've talked to all say that C-Mod has really good science to still do.

Yes, ITER is the more important project, but no particle physics expert thought it would be a good idea to turn off the Tevatron 6 years ago because the LHC was nearing construction...that's just bad science. My guess is the decision was a political one, since funding spent on an international collaboration based in France serves a diplomatic as well as scientific purpose.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:20 pm 
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:28 am

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CarlBrannen wrote:
So the government was giving Alcator money and now it's drying up because the government thinks a better use of the funds is on ITER. I don't think I can argue with that. This is the kind of thing that is decided by experts (and was).

The money you want would be collected from the general tax-paying public and used to support research in which you have a vested interest. There are two problems with that. First in taking money from other people, and second in giving it to you.
That's precisely the problem with this decision. DoE made the decision to shutdown Alcator C-Mod without consulting the fusion community at all (this was already stated). There was no peer review of the decision and no one within DoE consulted the Fusion Energy Science Advisory Committee (FESAC). Both PPPL and GA agree that shutting down C-Mod is a bad decision. I'm pretty sure FESAC and the fusion researchers themselves are just as much of experts on fusion as the people in DoE.

CarlBrannen wrote:
And it's not obvious to me why the US government should take money from secretaries, fast food workers, construction workers, manufacturing personnel, salespeople, etc., etc., and use that money to pay the salaries of physics grad students. From what I can tell, physics grad students are generally, healthy, well educated, and somewhat smarter than the average member of the public. The money flow should go the other way; you should be the one whose taxes support the old, weak and stupid members of society not the other way around.

The US is the world's leading country in terms of how easy it is to create businesses and to make money. Think about how smart you are compared to the students studying business. Don't you agree that it would be much easier for you to create a business with profits of $20 million per year? Then you can avoid having to beg for money. If you need ideas on how to get that business started, send me a PM.
As far as your opinion on this is concerned, are you paying your way through a PhD at Washington State or is your advisor? And if the latter, where does s/he get their funding? Or is the department paying your salary through a TA? And where does the department's money for TAs come from? If any of the funding comes from the government either through DoD, DoE, or NSF, then aren't you saying you yourself should not be receiving funds? Actually where the money comes from doesn't even matter. Are you not one of the physics grad students you say is somewhat smarter that the average member of the public and should start a business? Why not take your own advice? Please don't take my comments here the wrong way, but your comment just as easily applies to yourself as it does for the rest of us. If you have started your own business, then great.

Fusion research needs to be funded by the government, as most businesses need a more immediate return on investment. That said, a tokamak with significant potential to help ITER succeed is slated to be shutdown. For example, scientists have been trying to decide in which confinement mode to run ITER; I mode was just recently discovered on C-Mod and looks like a promising solution. Shutting down C-Mod means we would never get the information about I mode necessary to determine if it will work. And let us not forget that PPPL, GA, and other plasma physics / fusion experiments elsewhere are slated to take severe funding cuts, which will hinder their research progress as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:27 am 
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 11:34 pm

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vesperlynd wrote:
As far as your opinion on this is concerned, are you paying your way through a PhD at Washington State or is your advisor? And if the latter, where does s/he get their funding? Or is the department paying your salary through a TA? And where does the department's money for TAs come from? If any of the funding comes from the government either through DoD, DoE, or NSF, then aren't you saying you yourself should not be receiving funds?


Right now I'm on a TA. The state pays me to teach young minds physics. This summer I plan on working in private industry. Eventually I'll be on an RA. As far as should the government spend this money, well, apparently they decided that it was worth it. In particular, so far I haven't had to harangue the public in order to drum up money for myself.

Let's think carefully at my practical motivation for sending an email to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and asking her to increase the funding for Alcator. I can think of two reasons I suppose:

(1) Will that increase funding for the project I'm working on? No. In fact, since there's only so much money to go around, if fusion financing is increased, the funds required will have to come out of somewhere. Could be my program.

(2) So I should annoy my representative so that later I'll get the advantage of having cheaper electricity? LOL. I guess I've grown a little too cynical to believe that we will ever get any electricity at all from fusion. The biggest contribution to this cynicism is the history of failed promises by the fusion physicists themselves. Back in 1982 they were telling me they were only about 20 years away from free fusion energy for everyone. Sorry, I just don't see fusion as contributing to the electrical grid ever.

Fusion is attractive because that's where the sun gets its energy. This makes a great elevator pitch. The sun is quite stupid, we're brilliant so surely we can do the same thing. Unfortunately, the sun only gets 5 watts of fusion energy per cubic meter. It makes up for the weakness of the effect by having a large size (and it lasts a lot longer than we expect our power plants to last).

I admit that I haven't seen a business analysis of fusion power. Why don't you link a fusion power "business plan" in? Maybe it will change my mind. Make sure it's professional. A business proposal needs to list all the costs associated with bringing a plant on line. It will have permanent (capital) stuff like "employee parking lot", regulatory costs like "stormwater treatment plan", and costs that need to be paid every year like "contributions to employee retirement fund", give management a big fat bonus, and pay for accountants. It needs to include the time and costs required to build etc.

Here's my guess for how long it will take to get us cheaper electric rates from fusion:

How long to build a fusion power plant?
So let's suppose you come up with a decent business plan and it says fusion is a great idea. (By the way, here's a hint: if you really did have such a plan you'd have been funded by private industry already.) Because of a complex combination of regulatory and technical difficulties, it would require a miracle in the US to build a nuclear power plant in under 10 years. Example: Since 2007, there have been 16 applications filed to build nuke plants in the US. The expected result is 4 to 6 plants on line by 2020. See: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf41.html So I think it's reasonable to expect a 15 year time for the basic time required to build fusion power plants (uh, after we have the technology down with the first few). But before all this becomes appropriate, you first have to get the technology running.

How long to get our first fusion power plant after "Breakevenx15"?
Now the first US fission power plant went on line in December 1957. This was 15 years after the first nuclear reactor was built in 1942. So I think a reasonable estimate for the time between getting a "15x" fusion engine running and getting a first commercial fusion power plant is around 15 years. On the other hand, regulatory burdens may be larger now.

How long to build enough plants in the US?
Of course just a single fusion reactor isn't going to change the price of electricity much. Let's take a look at how long it took to build up the world's nuclear power infrastructure:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nucle ... istory.png

It took the world 30 years to get nuclear power to the point where it now provides 14% of the world's energy. The US is a smaller problem than the world, but 14% is a small number. I'm going to guess that building out the US fusion fleet will take about 30 years.

Adding these things together, I see that I can expect cheap fusion power about 30+15+15 = 60 years after the fusion experts achieve 15xbreakeven. And maybe 15xbreakeven comes 10 years from now. Total time to free power: around 70 years. (Hint: I'm 54 already, good luck with that 70 year thing.)

vesperlynd wrote:
Actually where the money comes from doesn't even matter. Are you not one of the physics grad students you say is somewhat smarter that the average member of the public and should start a business? Why not take your own advice? Please don't take my comments here the wrong way, but your comment just as easily applies to yourself as it does for the rest of us. If you have started your own business, then great.


Yes! You understand what I'm saying! The government's tit is drying up. These are hard economic times. Instead of begging for money, physicists need to create their own jobs. And those jobs are NOT hard to create.

The basic problem is that as soon as people get involved in private industry, it seems that some sort of switch goes on in their brain and they quit having the desire to do basic research. And private industry's support for basic industry has severely declined over the years. I don't think that's right. I think that it is a big mistake. Physicists need to start companies that (a) make money, and (b) work on long term research goals. Those research goals do NOT need to be eventually profitable. Enough spin-offs will come along the way to make those companies profitable. But asking for money from the government at a time when the public's appetite is for bread and circuses is a waste of your time.

The great companies of today were mostly created by brilliant engineers. As long as scientists and engineers were in control, those companies funded basic research as a matter of course. Now almost all the funding is coming from the government. What we need to do is to create the great companies of the next 100 years. Eventually they'll get taken over by accountants, salesmen and people who simply cannot run a research house and those new companies will also decay. But for now, what we need is new blood in industry.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:19 am 
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At this point, I think every point you made has already been addressed in the following (and references - they reference actual journal articles and studies):
http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comm ... ar_fusion/
http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N10/letters.html

As far having businesses invest in long-term goals: scientists would have to rich to start off with. Angel investors and Wall Street care more about near-term profits to invest in things that will take over a decade to solve. I don't know too many grad students who are loaded with that kind of money. Some faculty have their own startups, but that's usually because they want to do the research and get the patents without the university getting a cut of the profits.

The fact remains. If anyone reading this would like to support us in restoring funding, please go to http://fusionfuture.org
Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:31 am 
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CarlBrannen wrote:
Right now I'm on a TA. The state pays me to teach young minds physics. This summer I plan on working in private industry. Eventually I'll be on an RA. As far as should the government spend this money, well, apparently they decided that it was worth it. In particular, so far I haven't had to harangue the public in order to drum up money for myself.


Although you personally did not have to harangue the public in order to get the money for your TA- and future RA-ships, someone else did. For TA money, supposedly someone at your University convinced the government to put public money into your University in order to pay TAs to teach. Someone else convinced the government to put public money into federal grant programs, which your RA supervisor applied for, which will be eventually used to pay RAs. Like you said, the government, convinced by its people and its consultants, decided that this was money well spent. I'm not saying that this specific project will be a good use of government funds, but I'm saying that most of science does use public funds and it's okay to ask/fight for it.

In addition, there are a lot of overhead costs associated with grad students. Profs have told me that graduate students in the US cost their advisors/department about 2x to 3x the value of their stipends (and this is not including tuition even). So it's not true to think that the only public money you "consume" is the value of your TA or RA.

CarlBrannen wrote:
Let's think carefully at my practical motivation for sending an email to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and asking her to increase the funding for Alcator. I can think of two reasons I suppose:

(1) Will that increase funding for the project I'm working on? No. In fact, since there's only so much money to go around, if fusion financing is increased, the funds required will have to come out of somewhere. Could be my program.


Since funding/budgets are usually zero-sum games, this is true. I know that in order to fund the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a lot of funding for Planetary Science (my field) missions at NASA was cut. A lot of people in planetary science are upset at the decision, naturally. At some level, it's important to stand up for your field and ensure that your work gets funded. But we will all lose if we are fiercely competitive and only support our own fields in fear of losing funding to another field. So while I am disappointed that funding to NASA Planetary Science has been cut, I am still happy for my colleagues on JWST and are excited to see results later in the decade (they better get some good stuff! :P). Despite the fact that we are sometimes competing for funds, I think we will be in a better position if we supported each other instead of fighting each other by default due to funding competitions.

Note: I was speaking in general in response to these comments. It's okay if you don't support a particular project because you don't think the science is valid, but it would hurt all of us if scientists only supported projects that personally benefits them.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:55 am 
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CarlBrannen wrote:
Yes! You understand what I'm saying! The government's tit is drying up. These are hard economic times. Instead of begging for money, physicists need to create their own jobs. And those jobs are NOT hard to create.

The basic problem is that as soon as people get involved in private industry, it seems that some sort of switch goes on in their brain and they quit having the desire to do basic research. And private industry's support for basic industry has severely declined over the years. I don't think that's right. I think that it is a big mistake. Physicists need to start companies that (a) make money, and (b) work on long term research goals. Those research goals do NOT need to be eventually profitable. Enough spin-offs will come along the way to make those companies profitable. But asking for money from the government at a time when the public's appetite is for bread and circuses is a waste of your time.

The great companies of today were mostly created by brilliant engineers. As long as scientists and engineers were in control, those companies funded basic research as a matter of course. Now almost all the funding is coming from the government. What we need to do is to create the great companies of the next 100 years. Eventually they'll get taken over by accountants, salesmen and people who simply cannot run a research house and those new companies will also decay. But for now, what we need is new blood in industry.


It is not evident to me why myself as a physicist should have to worry about funding the basic research I'm interested in. Sure, I like doing it (which is why I do it for less money than I could make in industry), but it's not really me benefiting. The only real benefit I get is a salary, which to be honest is very small (less than I made teaching high school, and far less than I turned down to work in industry). Societies benefits are incredible. The fact of the matter is no private basic research has ever occured in the US outside of health care, which is government subsidized, and firms with a monopoly/near monopoly on a modern necessity (Bell Labs, oil companies, etc). It is a flaw in the competitive free market that it forces successful companies to focus exclusively on the short term bottom line--any thought to 20 years in the future is futile, because that's well over the half-life of a company nowadays. As a result, the government SHOULD step in and do basic research.

Yes, it is true that government funding is waning, and practically that means that scientists need to adapt, whether by becoming fewer in number (bad for the country) or by finding some outside funding (which some fields, like Astronomy, are already doing quite well--LSST, for instance, has significant private donations). But these are a result of a BAD decision to decrease scientific funding--even in harsh economic times like the ones we're in now, (a) the amount of money needed is small so the US's massive budget can ALWAYS afford it, and (b) research is the only real way the government has to grow the economy (everything else it does just borrows from the future).


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:27 pm 
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bfollinprm wrote:
Societies benefits are incredible.


Then you should be willing to spend a few hours per week generating the cash flow to cause it to happen.

bfollinprm wrote:
The fact of the matter is no private basic research has ever occured in the US outside of health care, which is government subsidized, and firms with a monopoly/near monopoly on a modern necessity (Bell Labs, oil companies, etc). It is a flaw in the competitive free market that it forces successful companies to focus exclusively on the short term bottom line--any thought to 20 years in the future is futile, because that's well over the half-life of a company nowadays. As a result, the government SHOULD step in and do basic research.


To support basic research requires a lot of cash flow, that's true. But painting all the companies who've done this as government subsidized or monopoly holders is not accurate. For example, glass ceramics (1950s) and fiber optics (1970s) were invented by Corning Glass Works which certainly had no monopoly on anything; they made glass products and still do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corning_Incorporated Edison did basic research; they got their money from the highly competitive field of electrical equipment. These companies had "monopolies" only to the extent they could protect themselves with patents. Similarly, the big aircraft makers did basic research in fluids and thermodynamics, and too many companies to list did research in modern electronics (and are still doing it).

As far as what the government "SHOULD" do, there are a near infinite number of different things the government can spend money upon. We live in a Democracy, how the government spends money is determined ultimately by elected officials. It should be understood that it's not a matter of "SHOULD" it's a matter of politics. So the government supports projects that create jobs in states where key politicians are elected. Is this really where you want to get your money?

The only lever the competitive free market has on companies (that prevents them from doing basic research) is the stock market. Companies that are controlled by their founders do not have this problem. As companies get older, the founders sell their stock, lose control, and a whole bunch of things conspire to eliminate basic research.

bfollinprm wrote:
Yes, it is true that government funding is waning, and practically that means that scientists need to adapt, whether by becoming fewer in number (bad for the country) or by finding some outside funding (which some fields, like Astronomy, are already doing quite well--LSST, for instance, has significant private donations). But these are a result of a BAD decision to decrease scientific funding--even in harsh economic times like the ones we're in now, (a) the amount of money needed is small so the US's massive budget can ALWAYS afford it, and (b) research is the only real way the government has to grow the economy (everything else it does just borrows from the future).


Simple fact is that fusion is not going to supply significant amounts of electricity for the next 50 to 70 years, if ever. So far I've not seen any argument to the contrary.

The money spent by the government on basic research comes (more or less) from taxes. Those taxes mean that it is more difficult for the people of the country to pay for things they definitely need, i.e. eyeglasses, food, rent, gasoline. Taxes are collected from businesses and that means that much less business spending on basic research. So it's not at all clear to me that the government is doing the public a big favor by paying for basic research. Why would I suppose that politicians are better able to decide on how to do practical research (that is eventually good for the public) than businesses like Intel?


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Quote:
Simple fact is that fusion is not going to supply significant amounts of electricity for the next 50 to 70 years, if ever. So far I've not seen any argument to the contrary.


It's false to think that scientific progress is binary in this way. You know enough about science to realize lots of really interesting (and practical) things will come out of any research totally ancillary to the basic science mission. Plasma research could stimulate whole economic sectors we don't even imagine now; that research could come out of C-Mod. As long as people working on the science believe there are new things to probe, there is no way to know what will really come out (maybe the most useful thing to come out of fusion will be precision B-fields. But that's still worth the small amount of money it costs to fund science).

Quote:
Those taxes mean that it is more difficult for the people of the country to pay for things they definitely need, i.e. eyeglasses, food, rent, gasoline. Taxes are collected from businesses and that means that much less business spending on basic research. So it's not at all clear to me that the government is doing the public a big favor by paying for basic research. Why would I suppose that politicians are better able to decide on how to do practical research (that is eventually good for the public) than businesses like Intel?


Because consumer spending doesn't grow the economy (only modulates it short-term); new technologies do. And Intel isn't in it for what is "eventually good for the public", they're in it for the shareholders, which care about next quarter. Intel, by the way, relies on academia--with their state and federal funded research programs--for their basic science research. Things like new ways of making chips, denser storage technologies, etc, aren't done at Intel until they're close to product ready (patent-able). Every revolutionary thing I can think of in silicon valley, both as hardware and software, originated as an idea, prototype, or thesis coming out of a university lab.*

Bottom line, don't sign the petition if you don't want to. But all vesperlynd was doing was exercising her right to organize opposition to the decisions of the chosen representatives in our republic--since we don't live in a dictatorship or oligarchy, that's a totally reasonable thing to do. And at the very least it's a totally reasonable position to take that funding domestic science research should be high on any government's list of priorities--at least a few "experts" have that opinion on both sides of the aisle

*1 exception: the mouse (Xerox, and look how that worked out...)


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:28 pm 
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bfollinprm wrote:
Quote:
Simple fact is that fusion is not going to supply significant amounts of electricity for the next 50 to 70 years, if ever. So far I've not seen any argument to the contrary.


It's false to think that scientific progress is binary in this way. You know enough about science to realize lots of really interesting (and practical) things will come out of any research totally ancillary to the basic science mission. Plasma research could stimulate whole economic sectors we don't even imagine now; that research could come out of C-Mod. As long as people working on the science believe there are new things to probe, there is no way to know what will really come out (maybe the most useful thing to come out of fusion will be precision B-fields. But that's still worth the small amount of money it costs to fund science).


You're basically admitting that fusion is not a program with an objective of decreasing the cost of electricity for consumers. I wonder what the politicians would think of that opinion.

So instead, according to the argument you're making now, what we should be looking at is funding "stuff" that is optimal that could "stimulate whole economic sectors we don't even imagine now".

(1) Fusion research has been going on now for something like 50 years. Do you know of any useful technology that was developed as a result of fusion research so far? That might give us an idea of what to expect in the future.

(2) Since funding is limited, don't you think that there are better alternatives as far as obtaining new advances? I should try and give a methodology of gauging this...

First, any money that is spent digging holes in the ground, or pouring concrete, or buying stainless steel, arguably, cannot possibly advance science. For this reason, scientific projects that require that sort of thing (I'm thinking the SSC for example, or a lot of stuff that has to be launched into space) is not as effective at generating new research as it could be.

Instead, you want the money to go into the production of small prototypes (think of ICs used by the space program) rather than absolutely huge numbers of repeated items. And I don't see how employing 3000 to 4000 construction workers (on ITER) is going to advance technology any.

By the way, I just visited the ITER website. They claim "no air pollution". This is laughable, I know, I've filled out EPA filings for a plant. If your employees ride bicycles to work that creates air pollution, i.e. dust from the rubber in the tires. (Not to mention the manufacture of the tires and bicycle.) Instead they should be claiming "much less air pollution", the shirt you wear creates air pollution. Like radiation, pollution is inescapable. It's a matter of "how much".

They carefully dance away from the question of when fusion will produce energy. And for those of you who think that fusion is clean energy, it might be helpful to read ITER's plan on decommissioning:

Quote:
ITER, as operator, will bear the financial responsibility for the temporary and final storage of operational radioactive waste. The host state France will be in charge of the dismantling phase and the management of the waste resulting from this dismantling; the cost for these activities will be provisioned by ITER during the operation phase. France will also be responsible for providing temporary storage for part of the operational waste, pending its final disposal; this will be financed through ITER operation cost.


In other words, if fusion energy were available today, and cheap, it still wouldn't be used because the world's population is quite afraid of radioactivity.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:46 pm 
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MIT's own newspaper, "The Tech" pans fusion research:

Opinion: The Quixotic Search for a Silver Bullet

Quote:
The basic premise of economics is scarcity. If you want to spend resources on fusion, then you must necessarily take them from somewhere else. We always like to imagine that the resources will be taken from areas we don’t like (Personally, I wouldn’t mind funding fusion if the money somehow came from, say, reality TV). But that isn’t how such transfers occur — it’s more useful to imagine the resources being diverted in proportion to current levels of spending. A dollar in fusion comes out of, to varying degrees, education, health care, and, most importantly, other research.

http://tech.mit.edu/V129/N16/yost.html


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:45 pm 
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From the same person:
http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N9/yost.html (read the article you posted and then read this one carefully. Notice anything?)

From several other people at MIT:
http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N9/olynyk.html
http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N8/sutherland.html
http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N10/letters.html

Moral of the story: don't be so quick to say that The Tech pans fusion. One person on The Tech pans fusion.

MIT students have had this discussion about the author of the article you posted. Trust me, you don't want to go there.

To address a previous post about fusion technology: plasma thrusters, RF waves, beams, superconducting magnets all have applications beyond plasma physics and fusion.

To everyone who is interested, please visit http://fusionfuture.org
Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:15 am 
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I said I would stop, but I can't stand being misrepresented:

Quote:
You're basically admitting that fusion is not a program with an objective of decreasing the cost of electricity for consumers. I wonder what the politicians would think of that opinion.


No, what I said was that even if fusion never EVER worked, there's still plenty of positives for the average consumer/citizen in the United States to funding the scientific research (or scientific research in general). Of course the primary purpose of fusion research is energy. I would say energy independence and cleaner power generation rather than cheaper energy, though, but I think that's what everyone who funds fusion research is really thinking about (cheap fuel==oil derricks in Alaska, not high-tech research. But there are other considerations in life other than lowering the cost of an electricity bill).


Quote:
First, any money that is spent digging holes in the ground, or pouring concrete, or buying stainless steel, arguably, cannot possibly advance science. For this reason, scientific projects that require that sort of thing (I'm thinking the SSC for example, or a lot of stuff that has to be launched into space) is not as effective at generating new research as it could be.

Instead, you want the money to go into the production of small prototypes (think of ICs used by the space program) rather than absolutely huge numbers of repeated items. And I don't see how employing 3000 to 4000 construction workers (on ITER) is going to advance technology any.


Ok, so keep the funding at MIT, since C-Mod is already built. Less sarcastically, though, the point is to fund a wide variety of research projects, since you don't know what will bring the kind of technical and intellectual advances that will spur the country forward. This includes the more expensive things, though you're right that smaller projects should (and do) have an easier time securing funding--big projects have to prove to funding agencies that the expensive way is the only way, and that the research is important enough to put a lot of money in.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:55 pm 
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bfollinprm wrote:
I said I would stop, but I can't stand being misrepresented:

Quote:
You're basically admitting that fusion is not a program with an objective of decreasing the cost of electricity for consumers. I wonder what the politicians would think of that opinion.


No, what I said was that even if fusion never EVER worked, there's still plenty of positives for the average consumer/citizen in the United States to funding the scientific research (or scientific research in general). Of course the primary purpose of fusion research is energy. I would say energy independence and cleaner power generation rather than cheaper energy, though, but I think that's what everyone who funds fusion research is really thinking about (cheap fuel==oil derricks in Alaska, not high-tech research. But there are other considerations in life other than lowering the cost of an electricity bill).


Sorry for misrepresenting you. My point is that you were willing to argue that research in general has positive results, but weren't willing to argue the details of whether or not fusion would ever be a significant source of power, when that would happen, and how much it would cost.

Having looked through the comments and literature at the site given, I've concluded that my estimate of 70 years to a fusion build-out are correct.

And hey, if I were promoting research that can't possibly have practical uses until everybody carrying on the conversation is dead, well, I'd probably concentrate on the "all money spent on research is good" theory too.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:37 pm 
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CarlBrannen wrote:
Simple fact is that fusion is not going to supply significant amounts of electricity for the next 50 to 70 years, if ever. So far I've not seen any argument to the contrary.

Well, since fusion isn't going to be viable in the near future, we should just stop working on it. Just like how we have enough fossil fuels for the next several decades, we don't need to worry about developing alternative energies right now. Our current infrastructure seems to run fine the way it is.

I find it interesting that CarlBrannen seems like such a staunch supporter of immediate applications and benefits to society over basic research considering on his application profile he wrote:
CarlBrannen wrote:
Applying to Where: (Elementary particles theory, astrophysics theory, quantum information theory)

Seems like very esoteric stuff with no direct applications/benefits to society. You think that C-Mod should die because it's not pragmatic today, yet you want to study theoretical particle and astrophysics? I don't think there's anything wrong with having theoretical physics as a career, yet you're changing your career to it and bashing basic research at the same time. That seems contradictory to me. Basically you're saying that giving you a salary is a waste of money.

I think that basic research should be done for the sake of itself with occasional benefits society. If people only cared about things that were immediately pragmatic, there would be no art museums, symphony halls, no such thing as a field of study called "physics", and we'd practically be living in the dark ages.

Vesperlynd's post was not "please tell the gov't to pay me money to do crap", but "please help save an important experiment for the sake of science and as an investment for the future".


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:54 pm 
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Minovsky wrote:
Vesperlynd's post was not "please tell the gov't to pay me money to do crap", but "please help save an important experiment for the sake of science and as an investment for the future".


Quite right--no grad student (especially at MIT) is going to lose their support because an experiment dies. Probably the best point so far in this thread.

And I focus on the "All money spent on research is good money" argument because I think it's the only one needed--basic science research is the most cost-effective way of growing the economy the government has, regardless of what is being researched*. Well, that and my own personal belief that a scientific project with worthy science grounds (which has already been funded) should continue to be funded until the science goals run their course, since it's a shame to waste the potential of an existing experiment because of a lack of funding. If the fusion community believes there's more science to do at C-Mod, then I'm all for keeping it open.

*Sure, some research is better than others at this, but (a) it's hard to tell ahead of time what that will be, and (b) wide variety tends to do better than focused funding, even if the focus is on something really practical and short term.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:01 am 
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Minovsky wrote:
Vesperlynd's post was not "please tell the gov't to pay me money to do crap", but "please help save an important experiment for the sake of science and as an investment for the future".
This is precisely what I am saying. Thank you. And yes, there is a ton of science left to be done with C-Mod.

Minovsky wrote:
Seems like very esoteric stuff with no direct applications/benefits to society. You think that C-Mod should die because it's not pragmatic today, yet you want to study theoretical particle and astrophysics? I don't think there's anything wrong with having theoretical physics as a career, yet you're changing your career to it and bashing basic research at the same time. That seems contradictory to me. Basically you're saying that giving you a salary is a waste of money.
I could not have said it any better.

Also, let me be clear about this. It's not just MIT that is affected (although we are most affected). PPPL, GA are facing massive cuts, along with smaller experiment at the Universities of Washington (is that not your state?), Wisconsin, UCLA, and several others. Plasma theory is facing cuts. If the projected budgets for the next few years are correct, the entire domestic fusion program will be shutdown, not just at MIT.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:35 pm 
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Minovsky wrote:
CarlBrannen wrote:
Simple fact is that fusion is not going to supply significant amounts of electricity for the next 50 to 70 years, if ever. So far I've not seen any argument to the contrary.

Well, since fusion isn't going to be viable in the near future, we should just stop working on it. Just like how we have enough fossil fuels for the next several decades, we don't need to worry about developing alternative energies right now. Our current infrastructure seems to run fine the way it is.

I find it interesting that CarlBrannen seems like such a staunch supporter of immediate applications and benefits to society over basic research considering on his application profile he wrote:
CarlBrannen wrote:
Applying to Where: (Elementary particles theory, astrophysics theory, quantum information theory)

Seems like very esoteric stuff with no direct applications/benefits to society. You think that C-Mod should die because it's not pragmatic today, yet you want to study theoretical particle and astrophysics? I don't think there's anything wrong with having theoretical physics as a career, yet you're changing your career to it and bashing basic research at the same time. That seems contradictory to me. Basically you're saying that giving you a salary is a waste of money.


(1) I get paid to teach physics to young minds. They're mostly engineers and other fairly useful things. I don't think that this is a waste of money. But in general, I don't have anything against the government wasting money. I think that's what it does best.

(2) In bringing up theoretical physics and astrophysics, I'm not sure what your point is. Do you now admit that Alcator is a waste of money but are justifying that money should be wasted there because it's wasted somewhere else? Not sure that your argument makes sense at all. Back when I was an undergraduate we had to take a class where we learned how to make valid arguments. Now I wonder if some English professor's budget was cut because he didn't seem to be teaching anything useful.

(3) When you compare the detection of gravitational waves with the pursuit of cheap energy using fusion you also need to compare the likelihood of the success of these two endeavors. I'm claiming that fusion won't provide significant amounts of energy for the next 50 to 70 years. And as I read more about it, I'm convinced that if and when fusion IS able to provide energy it will be energy that is more expensive than energy we can obtain many other ways.

So if I were to compare the gravitational wave experiments with the fusion experiments, I would say that one group is telling the truth about the motivations for their experiment (detect gravity waves) and the likelihood of its success (LISA tested the equipment, advanced LISA to detect gravity waves themselves). And the other has a long history of exaggeration and even now, when discussing the utility of their experiments, either exaggerates or avoids the issue. Or are you claiming that gravity waves aren't going to be observed for the next 50 to 70 years? By the way, the amount of money spent on Alcator is less than the advanced LIGO budget, but not by a heck of a lot.

(4) The cool thing about elementary particle theory is that it can be incredibly inexpensive. In fact, my 3 papers in the subject were published with no outside funding whatsoever. I used a free download version of LaTeX and my own free time. None of the publishers required me to send them any money.

(5) It seems to me that the best way for advances to be made in fusion is to pay theorists to better understand the stuff. For each $ spent supporting theory you get a lot more physicists working on the problem than you do with a $ spent supporting experiment. And along the way, theorists make better instructors than experimentalists, on average, at least to my observation.

(6) Apparently you still have no problem with the statement "fusion isn't going to provide any significant amounts of electricity to the US for the next 50 to 70 years" itself, but you do have a problem with me saying it, LOL. Hey, I'm not the one who's claiming to provide a service to the people of the US and the world (that is especially important given that global warming is soon going to kill all of us unless we repent).

Hey, rather than put me through the effort of creating a sock-puppet, let's just assume that I've done that. Now you have some complete stranger, about which you know nothing (so you cannot make illogical "ad hominem" attacks against them), and that person says that "fusion isn't going to provide any significant amounts of electricity to the US for the next 50 to 70 years". Would you, or would you not be able to argue against it? Is it a true statement or not, to the best of your understanding?


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:36 pm 
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Other applications which are so obvious I almost completely forgot: plasma screen tvs, plasma etching, light emitting plasmas, and compact fluorescents in light bulbs.

At this point, if you don't want to support our efforts, then don't.

I encourage everyone to at least visit our site for more information. http://fusionfuture.org


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:00 pm 
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Quote:
(4) The cool thing about elementary particle theory is that it can be incredibly inexpensive. In fact, my 3 papers in the subject were published with no outside funding whatsoever. I used a free download version of LaTeX and my own free time. None of the publishers required me to send them any money.


And the Dean said, "Why can't you be like the math department, all they need are pencils, papers, and wastebaskets. Or better yet, the philosophy department, all they need are pencils and paper!"

Quote:
(6) Apparently you still have no problem with the statement "fusion isn't going to provide any significant amounts of electricity to the US for the next 50 to 70 years" itself, but you do have a problem with me saying it, LOL. Hey, I'm not the one who's claiming to provide a service to the people of the US and the world (that is especially important given that global warming is soon going to kill all of us unless we repent).


Again, at least in respect to me that's a misrepresentation. I do agree that fusion will not generate any power in the short term, and at most expensive power (relative to coal, etc) in the long term (whether it's 20, 50, or 100 years tests the resolution of my crystal ball). But it's cleaner than any viable alternative than solar, and has potential applications other long-term energy solutions don't (because of the high energy output / volume of fusion fuel). What we have trouble with is the implication that because it won't produce any electricity in the next 50 years, we should zero funding on fusion research.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:29 pm 
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CarlBrannen wrote:
(1) I get paid to teach physics to young minds. They're mostly engineers and other fairly useful things. I don't think that this is a waste of money. But in general, I don't have anything against the government wasting money. I think that's what it does best.
So why do you have a problem with the government "wasting" money on C-Mod?
Are you going to be teaching forever, or at some point will you be paid to do basic research (which you seem to think is a waste of money)? If you will in fact never be paid to do basic research, my apologies for my misunderstanding and I retract my previous remark.

CarlBrannen wrote:
(2) In bringing up theoretical physics and astrophysics, I'm not sure what your point is. Do you now admit that Alcator is a waste of money but are justifying that money should be wasted there because it's wasted somewhere else? Not sure that your argument makes sense at all. Back when I was an undergraduate we had to take a class where we learned how to make valid arguments. Now I wonder if some English professor's budget was cut because he didn't seem to be teaching anything useful.
My point was that you were against C-Mod because it wasn't practical, but your career interests are in studying things that aren't practical (theoretical particle/astro physics). This seemed like a contradiction to me. Correct me if I am wrong or tell me if this point still doesn't make sense.

CarlBrannen wrote:
(5) It seems to me that the best way for advances to be made in fusion is to pay theorists to better understand the stuff. For each $ spent supporting theory you get a lot more physicists working on the problem than you do with a $ spent supporting experiment. And along the way, theorists make better instructors than experimentalists, on average, at least to my observation.
Theorists can't solve everything. Who's theory said that electrons have spin 1/2? Nobody's did. It was discovered in an experiment by Stern & Gerlach. Nobody's theory guessed the existence of the muon, hence I. I. Rabi's famous quote: "Who ordered that?" Sometimes "lowly" experimentalists discover something or explain something that theorists can't. Just for the record, the best professor I've ever had was an experimentalist and the worst I've ever had was a theorist.

Theory isn't perfect. I believe it was Feynman who said something along the lines of "the true test of science is experiment". Only having theorists working on things can lead to big trouble if there are no experiments going on to see if any of them are actually correct about their predictions of nature. This is true for all of science, not just fusion research. Do you really think that there are no theorists at MIT/PPPL/GA working on fusion? Of course there are, but they need the experiments to check if their theories work. Physics is the study of nature, and sometimes it helps to actually look at the thing you're studying. Experimental physicists deserve more credit than they receive IMHO.

CarlBrannen wrote:
(6) Apparently you still have no problem with the statement "fusion isn't going to provide any significant amounts of electricity to the US for the next 50 to 70 years" itself, but you do have a problem with me saying it, LOL. Hey, I'm not the one who's claiming to provide a service to the people of the US and the world (that is especially important given that global warming is soon going to kill all of us unless we repent).

Hey, rather than put me through the effort of creating a sock-puppet, let's just assume that I've done that. Now you have some complete stranger, about which you know nothing (so you cannot make illogical "ad hominem" attacks against them), and that person says that "fusion isn't going to provide any significant amounts of electricity to the US for the next 50 to 70 years". Would you, or would you not be able to argue against it? Is it a true statement or not, to the best of your understanding?
That is a true statement to the best of my understanding, but that isn't the argument here (or to throw another rhetoric term around, you have created a "straw-man argument").


You have completely misunderstood me. My stance is that even if fusion is 50 - 70 years away (maybe shorter according to LLNL: https://life.llnl.gov/delivering_life/index.php), we still have to work on it now or we'll never ever get it to work. No, I do not have a problem with you saying "fusion is 50 - 70 years away". I acknowledge that that is probably true. However, that is not the end of your argument. Your argument extends further to say "since it won't work for 50 -70 years, studying it is a waste of time/money". It is this second half of your argument that I disagree with.

Just because C-Mod doesn't produce usable fusion energy, it doesn't mean that it doesn't tell us anything useful about nature. If you think that C-Mod's only purpose is to generate usable fusion energy, than yes, it is completely unsuccessful. However, the data we get from C-Mod tells us lots of useful things besides how to make fusion. So just because it doesn't tell us how to make useful fusion it doesn't mean it's a wasteful experiment.

So far, nobody has proved definitively that fusion will absolutely not work as an energy source, so I don't see the reason in assuming that it's a failure and give up. We haven't seen the Higgs yet, shall we quit looking? Solar panels or wind turbines not able to match the output of oil/gas/coal? Shall we stop working on making them better? Alt-energy cars still not a viable replacement for traditional internal combustion engine vehicles? Shall we stop working on them too?

The 20th Century has spoiled us into thinking that technological advancements happen overnight. People have studied nature for thousands of years and it took thousands of years to come up with F=ma. Modern science that we take for granted is fairly new. 50-60 years before the first fusion experiments began, people were still arguing about whether or not atoms existed! Nuclear and atomic physics is new stuff. My understanding is that fusion energy is pretty ************ complicated from both a science and engineering perspective. It's not exactly a short term project.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:54 am 
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I am going to be going to grad school for Plasma Physics next year (with an intent to go into nuclear fusion research). While it does make me anxious that I might not get funding because funding will be drained to revive Alcator C-Mod, I sent in the letters because it is what is better for nuclear fusion research.

For those of you who are scared about losing funding, why did you go into nuclear fusion research in the first place? You're probably an altruist who wants to do something to benefit others, or you're an egotist who thinks he can be modern-day Prometheus. In either case, you ought to send in letters to your Congressmen because it is either for the greater good, or you're so top-notched that your brilliance will overcome any possible lack of funding.

In any case, just do it! Remember that if they shut down one important nuclear fusion center for money, they'll remember to try to do it again a second time they need money!!


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:43 pm 
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vesperlynd wrote:
Other applications which are so obvious I almost completely forgot: plasma screen tvs, plasma etching, light emitting plasmas, and compact fluorescents in light bulbs.


Plasma is a much bigger science than the attempts at controlled fusion. I took plasma physics from a guy whose concentration was on what goes on in space.

It would be more impressive if any of these advances were patented by people working on fusion experiments. They weren't.

Here's how plasma TVs were invented, no mention of fusion:
http://www.plasmatvscience.org/plasmatv-history3.html

Plasma etching was invented by IBM, no mention of fusion:
http://www.google.com/patents/US4581100

The basic problem with funding niches like this is that the people who are most motivated to comment on it are also the ones with extreme financial involvement. The people whose opinions on fusion should be the most trusted are probably plasma physicists who are not in fusion. They will have the best combination of grasp of the science, while not having a direct financial motivation in the decision.

Also, given that fusion is being sold as a method of getting green energy, we should look at what the Sierra Club says about it:

Decision Imminent on ITER Fusion Reactor Boondoggle
Sierra Club of Canada / Nuclear Information & Resource Services (NIRS)
Quote:
A briefing paper prepared by the Canadian government last May stressed that there will be a high risk of cost overruns for ITER. Environmentalists have condemned the international project as a waste of money, a bad direction for international energy policy, and not the “clean” energy that its supporters claim. The ITER reactor will use large amounts of radioactive tritium as fuel. Ingestion of tritium will increase the risk of cancer and birth defects in down-wind populations. The reactor will also produce 30,000 tonnes of radioactive waste deadly for at least 100 years.

“Congratulations to the Canadian government for refusing to waste billions of tax dollars on the ITER fusion reactor” said David H. Martin, Policy Advisor for the Sierra Club of Canada. “Fusion is a delusion. Even its supporters admit that a commercial reactor to generate electricity is at least 50 years away. The ITER reactor will not produce any electricity, and there is no guarantee that fusion will ever work. Fusion is not clean, and certainly not cheap.”

http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/node/264

Here's the official Sierra club policy on fusion:
http://www.sierraclub.org/policy/conser ... power.aspx


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:05 pm 
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CarlBrannen wrote:
Plasma is a much bigger science than the attempts at controlled fusion. I took plasma physics from a guy whose concentration was on what goes on in space.

It would be more impressive if any of these advances were patented by people working on fusion experiments. They weren't.

Here's how plasma TVs were invented, no mention of fusion:
http://www.plasmatvscience.org/plasmatv-history3.html

Plasma etching was invented by IBM, no mention of fusion:
http://www.google.com/patents/US4581100
It doesn't matter that they weren't invented by people working on fusion. The problem is that at some schools (certainly not all), the plasma physics research, if offered, is fusion-related. Eliminating funding at those schools (which is essentially what would happen if the domestic fusion budget shrinks to pay for ITER) means that students there won't be able to learn about something which makes up 99% of the visible universe. Not only that, but basic plasma science is taking a large funding cut as well. Those of us working in fusion don't want to see that either, I can assure you.

Again, for those who are interested, you can visit http://fusionfuture.org


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:20 pm 
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I found an estimate for when fusion will supply significant amounts of power. My 50-70 years was rather optimistic. Even a fusion proponent is talking about 2100, which is 90 years from now. See slide # 24:

"One or few ~ GWe power plants possible by 2050.
Aggressive (~ 2-4% growth) scenarios suggest several TW by 2100."

http://www.agci.org/dB/PPTs/03S2_MMauel_0709.pdf

That's 88 years from now. In other words, very few of the grad students currently working on fusion will see it come to pass. And this is an estimate from a fusion supporter.

Unfortunately, that eliminates fusion in terms of fighting global warming. Anything we can come up with that will stop CO2 production between now and 2100 will have already solved the CO2 problem. Therefore, fusion is not a rational part of a fight against global warming.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:00 pm 
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I looked over that presentation. It's incredibly outdated in terms of reactor design and also the physics (2003 versus 2012). He talks about plasma control. I Mode confinement was discovered using C-Mod in 2009-2010 and looks to be the promising solution for confinement regime to run ITER. He also talks about materials for superconducting magnets and blankets. Far better materials can be used than the ones he mentioned (he assumes Nb3Sn magnets instead of YBCO - YBCO is much better in terms of critical current density and magnetic field strength allowed; SiC blanket instead of FLiBe - FLiBe is better in terms of tritium breeding and is also liquid which eliminates many of the problems with materials damage and absorbing loads during disruptions). Actually, in our fusion reactor design class, we are working on a feasible design for the smallest, most cost-effective reactor using I mode, YBCO tapes (most likely - there may be something even better) for the superconducting magnets I (which are already commercially available), and a FLiBe (most likely) blanket. I could go into more details but not everything has been finalized yet (also, I think we will probably publish the results so I don't want to give everything away). My point is that his description is almost a decade out of date; a lot of progress has been made in the past few years even, and I definitely think 2100 is overestimating the time to commercial power plants.


Last edited by vesperlynd on Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:53 pm 
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For those who are interested, we are running a Q&A on slashdot: http://interviews.slashdot.org/story/12/03/22/0222246/ask-mit-researchers-about-fusion-power

If you want to ask a question, please post. I know all of these people; they are all really good about giving complete answers. I think the way this works is that people post questions this week and upvotes determine which ones will get priority for answers, but I'm not completely sure. In any event, everyone is welcome to ask as many hard questions as they want. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:43 am 
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And the official opinion from The Tech: http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N14/editorial.html


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:47 pm 
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By the way, I should have added that when I was a grad student at U. Cal., Irvine, I worked in the plasma lab. Their experiments were much cheaper than the high dollar fusion plasma, still gave interesting applications to plasma theory. My feeling is that these projects should be better funded.

Some of my attitude towards plasma fusion research comes from talking with the plasma physicists back then. At that time fusion people were making essentially the same promises that they make today (that is, commercial fusion real soon now). I'll ask around and see what they think now.


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 Post subject: Re: Save Alcator C-Mod
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:20 am 
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:28 am

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Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:28 am
Posts: 194
Just an update: we've answered people's questions about fusion on slashdot. Check it out:
http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/0 ... -questions

and again, please visit fusionfuture.org for more information. Thanks.


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