[ExI] Fusion breakthrough

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Fri Dec 16 03:09:30 UTC 2022

Quoting Rafal Smigrodzki:

>> Right? You would think that people would be dancing in the streets,
>> knowing that their children wouldn't have to fight to the death over
>> the last barrel of oil, eat each other, or hold hands singing Kumbaya
>> while the lights went out forever. This is huge. This gets Malthus off
>> of our backs for the foreseeable future and moves us much closer to
>> becoming a space-faring type I civilization. I literally cried when I
>> heard about this.
>> ### This is a nothingburger. Guys running the project needed to drum up
> publicity before applying for more research grants, so they spew press
> releases and the gullible journos amplify the funding call.

I thought the same thing, until the very end of the press conference  
when the lead scientist specifically requested people to apply for  
jobs at their lab. I am not certain, but announcing job openings while  
hyping a "nothing burger" is one hell of a ballsy bluff unless the  
grants are already paid in full . . . in advance. And the DOE, like  
the DOD, has not lacked for funding since the previous world war. They  
are firmly entrenched in the iron triangle.

But more importantly this is tangible hope like a "Land ho!" from an  
ancient mariner upon sighting land. We have turned controlled fusion  
from a theoretical possibility to an engineering optimization problem.  
That is real progress.

> Fusion research is a waste of time and money, unless unexpected and strange
> advances happen. All the projects are so many orders of magnitude away from
> useful fusion conditions it's not even funny. The radioactive waste problem
> is immense, much larger than with fission energy. The whole thing might
> turn out to be impossible this side of the singularity.

What nuclear waste is there in laser-primed fusion of deuterium fuel pellets?

And which side of the singularity are we on, Rafal? There are natural  
language model chat-bots with reading comprehension and writing scores  
that rival those of college students; meanwhile college grads are  
still less than 1/3 of the population for both men and women. Ditto  
when it comes to vivid visual portrayals of anything one can verbally  
describe. And there is a Google engineer trying to get the courts to  
emancipate proprietary software.

> More importantly, it's all useless because solar wind and battetany other
> way, fossil, fission or fusion, and the disparity in economic performance
> will only grow as SWB further matures.

How much of that economic destruction by SWB is due to government  
interference and subsidization of solar and wind? And SWB would be far  
less useful on Mars or Europa. Whereas fusion is like carrying around  
your own shard of a star.

> SWB is already cheaper than coal and
> to think that fusion could rival SWB economically is a pipe dream (again,
> short of strange and unexpected discoveries in fusion research).

About 15-20 years ago people were just as skeptical and made the same  
arguments about SWB with respect to fossil. When something happens  
after 60-straight years of well-funded nothing, it IS unexpected.
> Just mine more lithium, tile the deserts with solar and don't pay attention
> to doomsayers.

Lithium is good. I agree we should mine more. If deserts tiled with  
solar panels is how we achieve the wattage to to ignite our fusion  
reactions, then so be it. How much energy is too much, Rafal? Why are  
you willing to leave energy on the table? This is a Promethean moment  
for all of humanity; it is tangible hope.

Doomsayers? Civilizations rise and fall. That is a fact of life. The  
half life of a civilization is roughly 200 years. And when  
civilizations fall, the dark ages that follow are sordid affairs.  
Fusion would be one mighty candle to hold against the darkness.

Stuart LaForge

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