[ExI] Fusion breakthrough

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Wed Dec 14 17:11:40 UTC 2022






Uh oh, he’s in big trouble now.




From: extropy-chat <extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org> On Behalf Of Dave S via extropy-chat
Subject: Re: [ExI] Fusion breakthrough


This article explains it well:

American scientists have announced what they have called a major breakthrough in a long-elusive goal of creating energy from nuclear fusion….




Thx for the article Dave.  I agree: perhaps the biggest achievement in making gain 1 is to show it can be done.


Do allow me to offer a bit of perspective from the POV of an engineer.  We all know what was the big sexy field to study in the 1960s: aerospace.  Moon rockets and let’s go to Mars and so on.  We went to the moon six times, then suddenly… nothing happened.  No money to be made there, no weapons to be created there, no Mars, no funding, no future in spaceships.  OK so now… where were all those engineering graduates to go next for a sexy master’s degree?  (Isn’t it kinda surprising they haven’t come up with an alternate name for that yet?)  


Fortunately… in 1974, the Saudis came to the rescue with the OPEC oil embargo.  Most of the world at the time (including me) realized that one way or another we needed to get going on nuclear energy, fission until fusion was ready.  I was in high school at the time, but plenty of mechanical and electrical engineering grads went into nuke engineering for grad school.  By about 1978 waves of these guys were graduating with master’s degrees, which resulted in a wave of… nothing.  They came but we didn’t build it.  Some of our grads went to France, most went into other fields, such as… aerospace.


Why?  Nuclear engineering and space stuff are two areas of engineering which are unforgiving of small errors.  Tolerances are very tight, discipline is the way, careful calculation of everything is required.  When the nuclear engineering programs were cranking up, there was a great deal of demand for admissions.  The students who made it into the program had this in common: they didn’t suck.  Companies outside of the nuke biz suddenly had a pool of highly qualified candidates, pre-selected from a larger pool, a filtered refined group.  They hired the hell outta those guys.


I know a lot about this for I worked for and with a number of such guys, who uniformly did not suck.  Every one of them I ever knew in the space biz, which is to say many, were great engineers with all the characteristics the space biz really needs.  With that degree, they could go off into medical school if they wanted, or get a job in the finance industry and pull of stuff like the 2008 Wall Street crash, whatever they wanted to do.  


Well, OK then.  Creating nuclear engineers is a value-added function for society, even if they never actually get to build nukes.  We get a pool of guys who can succeed at pretty much anything, because they studied something real.  They could apply mathematical discipline and rigor to areas which desperately need it.


Last point: half a century ago we thought we were running out of oil and were in a race to find alternatives.  The difference now is that we really are in a race to find alternatives.  This is not to say hydrocarbon combustion is going away anytime soon, for it isn’t.  But we are getting more serious about finding alternatives rather than fighting over the last lump of coal.  If you look at all available choices, it will be nuclear.  We know fusion is back there somewhere, but currently fission is in the lead and pulling away.



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20221214/5e29c4f2/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: image003.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 9432 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20221214/5e29c4f2/attachment.jpg>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list