Friday, October 17, 2014

Lockheed Blew It

Lockheed Blew It

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard Feynman 


     There have been several fusion announcements this year.  General fusion published work.  Dr. Park showed evidence of cusp confinement.  The University of Washington covered a new spheromak device.  Parks' paper has arguably the most data - and the least speculation.  If cusp confinement is verified, Park could win the Nobel Prize.  

     Then there is Lockheed.  They announced that they have a design for a fusion reactor.  They gave us no verifiable data.  They made a dreamy YouTube movie covering the idea.  Ideas are worthless against real observations. They did an interview and put out three patent applications.  But without numbers, how can we trust them?

     Dr. Steven Cowley said it best: “If it was not Lockheed Martin, you’d say it was probably a bunch of crazies.”  The Lockheed management blew it.  They will be laughed at by the science community.  They need to tell us: what they did, what they saw and why.  That would give us something to verify.   

We Should Be Furious:

       Going to press with no publications is dangerous.  Not just for them - but for this whole community.  We know that from history.  Once upon a time, two guys claimed they could fuse atoms in a jar.  It amounted to nothing.  But it did so much lasting damage to the fusion community:

1. Distortion.  Claims are wildly misinterpreted.  Lockheeds' machine is already being distorted by the media and public.  They should have fixed the details, upfront. 

2. Killing Funding.  Claims leave us only guesses as to the mechanism.  It sets us all up to fail.  Failures in cold fusion killed funding streams for many, many years.  This could do the same thing.

3. Wastes Time.  Claims give us nothing to go on.  It easily leads people down fruitless research paths.  This waste time and resources.

4. Damages Perception.  Claims in cold fusion ruined the public’s image of our community.  This announcement could do the same.   

     Cold fusion set us back a whole generation - 25 years.  Lockheed is running the risk of repeating history.  Making the case for a new technology is hard.  It cannot be rushed.  The polywell community has been meticulously building the case for years.  We are not sure if this will ultimately work; and we are no where near finished.  Jumping ahead could destroy what we worked so hard to build.