Sunday, December 26, 2010

We are now a community.

We are now a community.

        Right now there are thousands of emails registered on Talk-Polywell. Wow. Congratulations polywellers – we are now a community. If we could somehow connect, unify and, organize all these people; we would be a force to be reckoned with. We have come a long way since the Bussards’ video hit YouTube in November of 2006. At that time, if you were a polyweller, there was not very much to connect with.

      I think many of us got started in much the same way. Someone sent us the link to Bussards’ presentation. We watched the video on YouTube. We did not understand it, but we felt we had seen something significant. We were left wondering: what can I do now? Before November 2006, there was not much. At that time there were no polywell blogs, no polywell videos, no polywell group and, polywell did not even exist in wikipedia. This internet community started from basically zero and has grown, person by person, to thousands of people. Great work guys.

How we got here:

       People need to understand that: this did not just happen. This community grew because individuals stood up and made things happen. A few short weeks after Bussards’ speech, Fusor.net and askmar.com both started posting polywell information and M Simon blogged his first post on the polywell. The idea was entered into wikipedia at the end of November 2006. Then, Thomas Ligon republished a polywell article in January of 2007. That spring, the idea was covered by a few news sources. It was mentioned in the New York Times and the Defense News. In March of 2007, a group was started on Yahoo.com. Then, in June, Talk-polywell - the first polywell forum - was set up. In the first two months there were only 59 ardent supporters registered. Some of them went on to contribute greatly to the online Polywell community – including Talldave, FoxRoger, MSimon and KitemanSA. That summer, an Estonian named Indrek, uploaded the first videos simulating the polywell on YouTube.

      While the internet community slowly grew, the experimental world continued moving. Bussard used 2007 to appeal for funding, setting up EMC2 as a charitable research organization. In August of 2007 when Talk-Polywell was only a few months old, the research team got restarted with funding. Unfortunately, that October, Dr. Bussard passed away from cancer. It should be marked as a very sad day for all of us working towards alternative energy. The research team had WB-7 up and running in January 2008 – about the same time that Alan Boyle of msnbc.com wrote his first polywell post. The team, lead by Dr. Richard Nebel, ran tests till late summer 2008. Their results were never published. The team submitted their findings to a review board that fall.

      The internet world continued moving forward. In the fall of 2008 - during the closing months of the presidential campaign – rogersjg submitted a polywell-like idea to Google’s 10 to the 100 competition. Google was giving out 10 million dollars for ideas to help the world. At the same time a polywell presentation was uploaded by CleanEnergyFuture45 on YouTube. In the first weeks of 2009, the cover of Time magazine featured a picture of a compact florescent light bulb with title: “Why we need to see the light about energy efficiency.” Energy was clearly a hot issue. That January, a team of amateur filmmakers interviewed Thomas Ligon, at his home in Virginia. The hour long film that was created, “An Interview with Thomas Ligon on the polywell” was uploaded on YouTube that May.

       Also in the fall of 2008, a thirty year old computer programmer in Brooklyn, NY named Mark Suppes saw Dr. Bussards’ talk and decided he was going to try and build a polywell. That launched prometheusfusionperfection.com a 35 thousand dollar continuing effort to build a working polywell. To date, his blog has received 159,222 hits, over 3,000 dollars in donations and, the volunteer support of many people. He worked through 2009 building a fusor, which produced fusion in mid November of that year. Marks’ effort made world headlines this past June – including a live interview on CNN. Efforts continue to get a working polywell in Brooklyn.

       The wheels of governments turned through most of 2009 trying to secure project funding for Nebels’ team. This was the appropriate balance between analyzing and checking the results as well as moving the research forward. The DOD announced the contract on September 11th 2009. The Navy funded the research for $7.86 million dollars, with a completion date of April 2011 – with an opportunity to secure $4.46 million dollars till October 2012, if things go well. I am sure everyone can agree - we hope things do go well.

What do we do now?

        Regardless of how large our community is, it is still, for the most part under the radar of the mainstream. This is good. We need to prove this idea. We need to prove it in the most sound and legitimate way possible. We need data that says it works. We need theory that says it works. Dr. Nebels’ team can provide the data. I hope the internet community can provide the theory. So that is where my efforts will be aimed at. The established thinking is this is a dead end. We have a 300+ page thesis from MIT that says – regardless of what Mark does in his warehouse, or what Dr. Nebel finds in California – this reactor will never work. I will not accept that judgment until I fully understand why. And I don’t think you should either. This is too important.

“Fusion energy has been 20 years away, for 30 years.”

       I want to say that, regardless of the fusion snags in the past - we have never been here before. In fact, it is because of the past efforts that we are where we are. We have volumes of fundamental fusion data from the 60’s and 70’s, such as reaction byproducts and cross sections. We have a body of work from the 80’s on bulk plasma behavior for a variety of configurations and confinements. We have robust computer models from the 90’s and the 2000’s - code developed for fusion blow back, plasma pressures and temperatures. We have a massive body of work to draw from. Today, we know more about bulk interactions, confinement, injection, power conversion analysis, X-ray production and basic plasma properties, than we ever have before. We should thank the tokamak guys, the laser fusion guys, the national lab scientists, the commercial efforts, the physicists, engineers and mathematicians for making this possible. You should thank them all. They have gotten us here.

      Also, we have something else they did not have. We have the internet - a repository where all this information is accessible to whomever wants it. A tool that allows all of us to communicate, collaborate and put our heads together. Our effort will be mired in the inherent problems of a volunteer, disperse, internet exercise. Peoples’ interest will flare up and then die off a few months later. We will have inherent problems with trust and credibility with each other. There will be mistakes and tangents. Regardless, I think we have the man-power, the tools and the resources to do this. We need to use the web to scrub the best ideas about this machine forward, to educate more people about this machines’ potential and, most importantly, to prove the damn thing will actually work.

       Right now, in our world, there is great confusion. The economy is in a downturn. We are facing global warming. We are facing shrinking energy supplies. We are running out of time. Military, business and political leaders argue and fight about which direction to go in. They don’t know what to do. I know what to do. We have got to build this machine. We have got to commercialize it. We need to get a working polywell in the hands of everyone who needs energy. We have to do it soon.

Timeline and Links of Polywell Work:

Bussard’s Video – posted on YouTube Nov 9, 2006 - http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1996321846673788606#

Askmar – “Transcript of Should Google Go Nuclear?” - November 9, 2006 - http://www.askmar.com/ConferenceNotes/Should%20Google%20Go%20Nuclear.pdf

Fusor.net – first article November 10, 2006 – www.fusor.net

M Simon’s first Polywell Post - Monday, November 27, 2006
http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2006/11/easy-low-cost-no-radiation-fusion.html

Wikipedia article – Polywell entered on November 27 2006 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

Tom Ligon – “The World's Simplest Fusion Reactor, And How to Make It Work” – January 5, 2007 - http://www.fusor.net/newbie/files/Ligon-QED-IE.pdf

New York Times - "Practical Fusion, or Just a Bubble?"- February 27, 2007 – http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/27/science/27fusion.html

Defense News – “Fighting for Fusion - Why the U.S. Isn't Funding a Promising Energy Technology” - March 5, 2007 – http://www.emc2fusion.org/2007-3-5%20DefenseNews.pdf

Yahoo Group founded March 2007
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/IEC_Fusion/

Indrek’s video – June 2, 2007 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao0Erhsnor4&feature=related

Talk-Polywell founded June 2007
http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/index.php

EMC2 Chartable organization - http://www.emc2fusion.org/

Alan Boyle’s First Post - January 9, 2008 - http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2008/01/09/4351271-strange-science-takes-time .

Alan Boyle’s second post - June 12 2008 - http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2008/06/12/4350196-fusion-quest-goes-forward

Alan Boyle’s third post - August 28, 2008 - http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2008/08/28/4350263-fusion-effort-in-flux

Rogersjg’s Google submission - October 19, 2008 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IJWsXVsAhM&feature=related –

Google’s 10 to the 100th competition - October 20th 2008 - http://www.project10tothe100.com/how_it_works.html

Time Magazine – January 12, 2009 - http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20090112,00.html

Interview with Thomas Ligon - May 16, 2009 -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HatEDkNnn8&feature=related

Mark Suppes Work –
http://prometheusfusionperfection.com/



10 comments:

  1. >"We need to prove this idea. We need to prove it in the most sound and legitimate way possible. We need data that says it works. We need theory that says it works."
    ...This is the recipe for 'experimenter bias' and pathological science that has dogged every other fusion research approach in the last 50 year. Do we need to play this record for the nth time? Why not just do an experiment where we are happy to learn the outcome?

    Let us keep a level head on this and recognise that Polywell has already had $40 million of tax-payers money and 25 years to show something, yet the only results to date made public are 3 clicks on a neutron counter, on one occasion. And history shows (several times over) that counting your neutrons before you know where they come from leads to erroneous conclusions.

    What we need to prove is what actually happens in the 'Polywell' configuration. We need data to show what is truly happening in it, before we ask for data 'that says it works'. Let's just get some data in, eh!?

    >"Dr. Nebels’ team can provide the data"
    ...but they don't because they claim proprietary restrictions over their results.

    The 'community' does not include the experiment or experimenters. Access by the community to experimental data has been explicitly denied by those doing the experiment, who claim commercial interests.

    If it is in the interest of 'Polywell' to keep a low profile and to hold back information until it is 'ready' for an announcement, then the 'Polywell Community' defeats that approach, so is counter-productive.

    But successful outcomes to fusion energy experiments are in the interest of the whole of humanity, so we can all hope that one, or many, such experiments are successful. Indeed we should demand it.

    But the 'Polywell community' has been denied a part in the Polywell experiments, so the only other way for it to actually play a part is to be a pressure group, rather than a talking-shop of sycophants.

    chrismb

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  2. “We need to prove this idea. We need to prove it in the most sound and legitimate way possible. We need data that says it works. We need theory that says it works."
    ...This is the recipe for 'experimenter bias' and pathological science that has dogged every other fusion research approach in the last 50 year. Do we need to play this record for the nth time? Why not just do an experiment where we are happy to learn the outcome?

    Let us keep a level head on this and recognise that Polywell has already had $40 million of tax-payers money and 25 years to show something, yet the only results to date made public are 3 clicks on a neutron counter, on one occasion. And history shows (several times over) that counting your neutrons before you know where they come from leads to erroneous conclusions.

    What we need to prove is what actually happens in the 'Polywell' configuration. We need data to show what is truly happening in it, before we ask for data 'that says it works'. Let's just get some data in, eh!?

    >"Dr. Nebels’ team can provide the data"
    ...but they don't because they claim proprietary restrictions over their results.

    The 'community' does not include the experiment or experimenters. Access by the community to experimental data has been explicitly denied by those doing the experiment, who claim commercial interests.

    The 'community' has also claimed that it is in the interest of 'Polywell' to keep a low profile and to hold back information until the 'right time' for an announcement. But the 'Polywell Community' is there to raise its profile, so is acting counter-productive if this is so.

    But successful outcomes to fusion energy experiments are in the interest of the whole of humanity, so we can all hope that one, or many, such experiments are successful. Indeed we should demand it.

    As the 'Polywell community' has been denied any part in the Polywell experiments, so the only other way I can see for it to actually play a part is to be a pressure group. Unfortunately, those who who have tried to push for data and results in the 'Polywell Community' have been told that they have no right to expect any information and should keep quiet and wait to hear something.

    So, what is the point of the 'Polywell Community' when it cannot get any data out of EMC2 to discuss, but seems ready to accept that it shouldn't put pressure to get that data released? If the 'community' thinks that it would be wrong for EMC2 to release data earlier, then what good can 'community' discussions do? As there is no longer any patent protection on Bussard's original idea, yet EMC2 claim proprietary rights, one might presume that EMC2 expect some new things to arise that they need to patent, but if the 'community' happens to, accidentally, end up discussing those new ideas, then it'd mean EMC2 could no longer claim those things in patent in the future, which would consequently weaken (if not eliminate) any chance of private sector investment.

    EMC2 has claimed commercial interests and refused to discuss any data, so the 'Polywell Community' should not be attempting to make any contribution to this, else EMC2's IPR may be harmed and the project stalled. Unless the 'Polywell Community' is accepted by EMC2 as participants in the project, or unless the 'community' is a pressure group to make sure EMC2 and its funders spend tax payers money wisely, I do not see how it can help Polywell.

    chrismb

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  3. @ Chrismb; As far as I understand it, Nebel's team isn't releasing data or publishing as they are under a publishing embargo from the US Navy contract they signed. That contract ends, as far as I understand, early in 2011.

    The contract, I believe, was for the development of WB-7, WB-7.1, & WB-8. WB-7 was to prove out the concept using deuterium, while WB-8 was going to be an attempt at using Boron. I further believe that each follow-on reactor, 7.1 & 8, were conditioned on successful completion of the prior, i.e. 7 & 7.1. Thus 7 => funding for 7.1 => funding for 8.

    I believe they are now working on WB-8 for the US Navy, and still under publishing embargo. Any proprietary claims being made by the EMC2 are fine - they provide them with a good financial incentive to make polywell a reality.

    We should fully expect to see publication of their results once they are out from under the Navy contract and they have had the time to write it up and had appropriate peer review.

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  4. I saw tonight on the news they are predicting 5 dollar a gallon gasoline, this spring. Do you comprehend what that means for this country?

    The American economy is in a tailspin. We do not make anything in this country anymore. We are a nation of borrowers, a nation of consumers purchasing things we do not need. This model is doomed to failure.

    If we as a nation cannot create. If we as a nation cannot innovate. Its over for our country.

    The single greatest industry of this new century is energy. We need to be dumping money into ideas like the Coldwell. 40 Million is nothing. Nothing. If this works it is worth 100,000 times what we spend on research and development.

    I think a rise in interest in the polywell is inevitable. Inevitable. It will happen. It is going to happen. A device that makes, cheap green energy? The whole world is looking for that. If we throw enough money at this, it will work out. And money is going to be thrown at it.

    The only question is, who's money? The US? China? Some Company?

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  5. Excellent blog page! Congratulations on digging through all the history, there has been a lot going on for a while.

    I think Ridder needs to be taken pretty seriously. There is another way to think about what he's saying - and I'm afraid that it would prove fusion can't work at all.

    An alternative way to look at the nuclear energy option is "how much energy do I put in to how much I get out". For fission, I need 1/40th eV neutrons and I get 200MeV out. That's a gain of 8E9. Lots of room for inefficiency there. For fusion, I need 100keV in to get 20 MeV out, or a gain of 200.

    A little slop goes a long way to killing fusion, everything really has to be perfect. What Ridder is really saying is that the average path length to fusion is longer than the average path length of energy loss. Charged particles lose energy interacting with other charged particles - they slow down. A particle with enough energy for fusion can only go so far before it loses its energy and can't fuse any more. If the distance it has to travel before a nuclear fusion is probable is longer than the energy loss distance, fusion won't work.

    Tokamaks have the same problem. That's why heating is a constant chore. The total energy gain to what you put in is marginal. If anything goes wrong, you're screwed because you don't have room for slop.

    It'll be 5 or 6 months before I can sit down and grind out the math to prove all this with dE/dx and 1/ type calculations. But the more I think about it, the more I like a fission - fusion hybrid. You have energy to spare with fission, and you can use fusion to eliminate criticality problems. Which is important for space ships....

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  6. Clearly chrismb knows nothing about Polywells, as they have been recording neutron counts since SCIF back in the early 1990s. It is hardly three neutron counts -- in WB-6 alone, there were four runs.

    chrismb has been told this many times before, so he is either trolling or just extremely stupid and unable to remember the most basic facts. In either case, he should be be banned from further comment, or at least ignored.

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  7. @Tyler Jordan. FYI: A Freedom of Information request was recently made to the Navy for Polywell peer review and test data. The Navy cleared the request, but EMC2 vetoed it, claiming proprietary interests were at stake [though all patents have now expired on it]. So it is no longer possible for anyone to continue to claim that 'there is an embargo' from the Navy. There may have been one when Bussard said there was, but there isn't now.

    chrismb

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  8. @[whoever is keen on the ad hominem attacks]:

    I do not dispute neutrons may have been detected, but they were barely above background, yet 2 decades later there are still no peer-reviewed hard publications that show any capacity to improve on whatever was measured.

    Let's get meaningful data, sufficient for independent analysis and verifications, then your words might carry some weight.

    ...And on the subject of 'detecting neutrons', don't forget how much egg-on-face there was in the '50's over people making claims that a few neutron counts proved their experiments. 6 decades later, and.....???? what's to show for all those claims, a $30 billion bill looming from the ITER experiment, yet still without any clarity on whether it is going to work. As it has been with tokamak, it certainly doesn't look any different yet for Polywell.

    Is this all Polywell is going to be? A lot of claims of good work, but a big bill waiting 6 decades later. It is exactly what Bussard was trying to avoid, but nearly 3 decades after he started, what's different? Maybe the budgets are different, sure, but as for people's fanciful claims over a few neutrons here-and-there, basically nothing is different.

    chrismb

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  9. Nothing is different. That is what appears to be the general assumption from most of the comments. Nothing is different. Fusion Tech is the same as it was in the 1950's. Everything is different. Computers can now examine these reactions and tell us what is happening and we can change them, dare I say manipulate them. We are a community of polywellers because this idea has potential. The polywell may not work that is true. But our own sun produces more energy every second then we can here on earth so the question is not does this work? (Fusion/Fission) The question how can we make it work here on this planet for us? 100 years ago if you told someone that one day we would have devices that could fit in our hands and contain instant access to the worlds knowledge they would have laughed, what will we accomplish in the next 100 years?

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  10. Right, if someone had said 100 years ago that there would one day be a network of machines connecting and storing information around the world, people would not have believed them. We have come a long way in the last 100 years, and these kinds of ideas can push us to go so much farther. This is very exciting, and it is more exciting that people are so enthusiastic about it. We need to keep up that energy.

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