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(NPR)   Congress is dragging in scientists to explain why they took Obama's $5 billion dollars 3 years ago and then failed to discover fusion   (npr.org) divider line 92
    More: Stupid, nuclear fusions, congresses, obama, radioactive waste, National Nuclear Security Administration, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, nuclear fissions, nuclear reactions  
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4166 clicks; posted to Geek » on 29 Nov 2012 at 10:32 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-29 09:32:05 AM  
On one hand, it's sad that Congress doesn't know how science works.

On the other hand, we've got a rather obvious daily reminder that the theory is based on sound principles so it's starting to get ridiculous that no one's come up with a way to do it yet.
 
2012-11-29 09:53:33 AM  
You can't rush scientific discovery. There's no time table for it.
 
2012-11-29 09:53:51 AM  
Tell congress it'll make a legendary weapon of immense capabilities that will forever shift the global balance of power and i'm sure they'll stumble over themselves to funnel more money than is needed to it
 
2012-11-29 10:09:46 AM  

doglover: On one hand, it's sad that Congress doesn't know how science works.

On the other hand, we've got a rather obvious daily reminder that the theory is based on sound principles so it's starting to get ridiculous that no one's come up with a way to do it yet.


IIRC the NIF hit energy break even on at least one occasion, they just haven't figured out how to do it in a stable sustained reaction yet.


one thing pretty much all the fusion reactor designs have a problem with is induced radioactivity and brittlness in their casins over time due to neutron bombardment.
 
2012-11-29 10:35:26 AM  
I definitely think fusion research is important, but with five billion dollars you could probably build a full-size liquid fluoride thorium reactor.
 
2012-11-29 10:36:37 AM  
This is in Italy where they jail scientists who fail at their jobs. Right? 

This is not about Italy?
 
2012-11-29 10:38:00 AM  
Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

lh5.googleusercontent.com
 
2012-11-29 10:43:20 AM  

DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:


Mine's bigger.
upload.wikimedia.org
 
2012-11-29 10:44:32 AM  
You'd think five billion double dollars would go further
 
2012-11-29 10:47:34 AM  
Maybe the scientists should drag congress in to explain to us all why they fail at literally everything they're supposed to do.
 
2012-11-29 10:48:43 AM  

doglover: On one hand, it's sad that Congress doesn't know how science works.

On the other hand, we've got a rather obvious daily reminder that the theory is based on sound principles so it's starting to get ridiculous that no one's come up with a way to do it yet.


Unless the principles aren't as sound as we currently believe, but that would be an equally valuable thing to find out. Maybe even more valuable.
 
2012-11-29 10:48:54 AM  

DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:


Isn't that fission?
 
2012-11-29 10:50:44 AM  

Summoner101: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Isn't that fission?


Fusion reaction triggered by a fission detonation. All of the power without the clean.
 
2012-11-29 10:52:29 AM  

Summoner101: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Isn't that fission?


Nuclear weapons, the 'hydrogen bomb', work by fusing hydrogen (by using a fission primer, as I understand it). Atomic weapons are fission weapons.
 
2012-11-29 10:52:52 AM  
Well, Congress, I didn't give my vote so that you could decide the fate of a program that you couldn't possibly comprehend. Suggestion: Sit down and STFU.

/This is the problem with electing aged lawyers to make all decision
//I'm sure 50% of congress would have difficulty navigating FARK.
 
2012-11-29 10:53:02 AM  

Snarfangel: I definitely think fusion research is important, but with five billion dollars you could probably build a full-size liquid fluoride thorium reactor.


I just want one of these:

www.reallifecomics.com
 
2012-11-29 10:56:22 AM  
This really isn't a scandal. Taxpayer-funded researchers have to justify their existence. When you're getting a government research grant, you give updates to your funding agency, and I'm not aware of any exceptions. This means saying what you've done with the money and what results you have (or haven't) seen. If you've got squat, you need to explain why you've got squat, how you plan to turn that around, and why you should get another heap of money to keep the research going.

Sorry, no matter how noble or promising the venture may be, at some point somebody has to say, "It's probably not worth dumping more money down this drain. Not at this time or with this group of scientists." Not saying that's the case here, but they shouldn't be excluded from the process just because we really want fusion reactors.
 
2012-11-29 10:56:54 AM  

xanadian: You can't rush scientific discovery. There's no time table for it.


That sort of depends why the project isn't working.

If they've set it up, and the energy delivery/temperature requirements have been met, but the outcome hasn't been achieved due to some other factor they haven't worked out yet, then that's just science, deal with it.

If they haven't achieved the energy delivery/temperature requirements with their equipment, then the failure is on the scientists, not in the "you just can't rush it" category.

TFA isn't entirely clear on what the point of failure is, so maybe this is a matter of congress misunderstanding science and maybe it isn't. Every scientific experiment has a layer of engineering under it and that can be pretty quantitatively judged. "We can't get the conditions right" is a statement that could go either way.

//Basically I'm objecting to the idea that science makes you magically immune to being judged. Probably because I do it for a living and I'm judged by the equivalent of supervisors and funders all the time.
 
2012-11-29 11:00:25 AM  

Summoner101: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Isn't that fission?


Early bombs = Fission.
modern hydrogen bomb = Fusion.

I am curious why they had a deadline in the first place. That implies fixed conditions, known problems (and their solutions), regular deliverables, etc. etc. But this is basic research, not construction a mall or designing an airplane or something.

When you are asking a specific question, with known/understood techniques and a planned process to get there you can timetable it up as much as you want.

When your goal is "Discover sustainable fusion" you have a helluva lot more than one question to answer, loads of unknowns, and every piece of equipment/material is expensive as hell.

I would say to congress: "Basic Research is expensive and unpredictable. You want the big payoff, it takes work and money, now STFU and let me get back to work, you just cost us a full days salary for everyone involved and travel costs to get me here and ask your stupid farking questions which you COULD have asked over the phone. Not only did the direct cost of my salary for this waste of time get deducted, but my schedule was screwed up to take a full day to get over here. Instead of prepping/crunching numbers/whatever I had to answer questions from people who are academically less qualified than our janitors.
 
2012-11-29 11:02:13 AM  
maybe they need to turn all the LASERS to 11....
 
2012-11-29 11:03:11 AM  

Nurglitch: Summoner101: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Isn't that fission?

Nuclear weapons, the 'hydrogen bomb', work by fusing hydrogen (by using a fission primer, as I understand it). Atomic weapons are fission weapons.


I believe "thermonuclear" is the term for fusion weapons -- "nuclear" is the general term for both. I forget if "atomic" just refers to fission weapons or is also a catch-all term.
 
2012-11-29 11:04:48 AM  
How do they sustain the fusion? I'm fuzzy on that. You get the deuterium to fuse, it's burns and then what? Is like a pellet stove where you keep feeding it pellets of deuterium?
 
2012-11-29 11:06:33 AM  

dragonchild: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Mine's bigger.
[upload.wikimedia.org image 290x277]


It's not the size it's how you use it!
 
2012-11-29 11:06:59 AM  

dragonchild: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Mine's bigger.
[upload.wikimedia.org image 290x277]


Dyson sphere! Dyson sphere!
 
2012-11-29 11:07:17 AM  

Jim_Callahan: xanadian: You can't rush scientific discovery. There's no time table for it.

That sort of depends why the project isn't working.

If they've set it up, and the energy delivery/temperature requirements have been met, but the outcome hasn't been achieved due to some other factor they haven't worked out yet, then that's just science, deal with it.

If they haven't achieved the energy delivery/temperature requirements with their equipment, then the failure is on the scientists, not in the "you just can't rush it" category.

TFA isn't entirely clear on what the point of failure is, so maybe this is a matter of congress misunderstanding science and maybe it isn't. Every scientific experiment has a layer of engineering under it and that can be pretty quantitatively judged. "We can't get the conditions right" is a statement that could go either way.

//Basically I'm objecting to the idea that science makes you magically immune to being judged. Probably because I do it for a living and I'm judged by the equivalent of supervisors and funders all the time.


You have good points, but I am heavily biased towards the scientists for two reasons:
1) My experience in the scientific field with oversight (specifically congressional oversight) is not positive. Stupider questions than you can possibly imagine and then completely missing the point/objective of the answer.
2) 5 years is NOT that long for building the NIF AND conducting research
3) Reports can be done with an email/phonecall/conference call/whatever. Having someone dragged all the way to DC is farking stupid given how advanced communication technology is today.
 
2012-11-29 11:10:49 AM  

DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

[lh5.googleusercontent.com image 512x384]


dragonchild: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Mine's bigger.
[upload.wikimedia.org image 290x277]


LOL and LOL'er.

It's because, adjusted for inflation, the Manhattan project cost more and they refuse to discover something better for lower wages.
Also, congress should imprison them in the same wing as the Italian earthquake guy.
What I would say next would have the Secret Service (SS) on my ass, so I shall refrain from further comment.
 
2012-11-29 11:13:02 AM  
And while we're on that:

www.moviecus.com

WHERE'S MY FLYING CAR?
 
2012-11-29 11:19:04 AM  

Jim_Callahan: xanadian: You can't rush scientific discovery. There's no time table for it.

That sort of depends why the project isn't working.

If they've set it up, and the energy delivery/temperature requirements have been met, but the outcome hasn't been achieved due to some other factor they haven't worked out yet, then that's just science, deal with it.

If they haven't achieved the energy delivery/temperature requirements with their equipment, then the failure is on the scientists, not in the "you just can't rush it" category.

TFA isn't entirely clear on what the point of failure is, so maybe this is a matter of congress misunderstanding science and maybe it isn't. Every scientific experiment has a layer of engineering under it and that can be pretty quantitatively judged. "We can't get the conditions right" is a statement that could go either way.

//Basically I'm objecting to the idea that science makes you magically immune to being judged. Probably because I do it for a living and I'm judged by the equivalent of supervisors and funders all the time.


You are dead on.
 
2012-11-29 11:21:13 AM  
As an American, I'm fine with my tax dollars being spent on this, and am fine with it being doubled even.

When do I get to talk to congress about the things I pay for, for them, that I'm not okay with?
 
2012-11-29 11:22:50 AM  

xanadian: You can't rush scientific discovery. There's no time table for it.


But it's at least ok to have someone spend a few hours giving a report that the money wasn't spent on hookers and blow, right? Even if the conclusion is that they have $5B worth of ways to *not* create fusion, you still kinda want to know that.
 
2012-11-29 11:26:12 AM  
And yet both the F22 and F35 program is 100s of billions over cost and no one is being dragged into congress.
 
2012-11-29 11:29:29 AM  

An-Unnecessarily-Long-Name: And yet both the F22 and F35 program is 100s of billions over cost and no one is being dragged into congress.


That is because a lot of the origins for the cost overruns are from congress itself. Can't shine a spotlight on a contractor or military liason when all they will say is "well, we did it because the requirement was to do it in three states, with these particular suppliers, it would have been a helluva lot simpler to go with the original plan..."
 
2012-11-29 11:31:22 AM  

Wicked Chinchilla: I am curious why they had a deadline in the first place. That implies fixed conditions, known problems (and their solutions), regular deliverables, etc. etc. But this is basic research, not construction a mall or designing an airplane or something.


The October thing wasn't so much a deadline as a prediction made by the team back in January. The NIF itself has been split between ignition research and materials research, so the last five years haven't been all spent trying to achieve ignition. Construction obviously, plus time spent doing materials research. The National Ignition Campaign has been going on for a bit no, but it officially ended in September. Now there is debate about whether to renew focus on ignition, switch primarily to materials research, etc.
 
2012-11-29 11:33:24 AM  

jonny_q: But it's at least ok to have someone spend a few hours giving a report that the money wasn't spent on hookers and blow, right? Even if the conclusion is that they have $5B worth of ways to *not* create fusion, you still kinda want to know that.


There are scads of official book length reports filed all of the time. There is one that was just done this fall. Congressional testimony is, and always has been, a side-show.
 
2012-11-29 11:33:25 AM  

Jim_Callahan: xanadian: You can't rush scientific discovery. There's no time table for it.

That sort of depends why the project isn't working.

If they've set it up, and the energy delivery/temperature requirements have been met, but the outcome hasn't been achieved due to some other factor they haven't worked out yet, then that's just science, deal with it.

If they haven't achieved the energy delivery/temperature requirements with their equipment, then the failure is on the scientists, not in the "you just can't rush it" category.

TFA isn't entirely clear on what the point of failure is, so maybe this is a matter of congress misunderstanding science and maybe it isn't. Every scientific experiment has a layer of engineering under it and that can be pretty quantitatively judged. "We can't get the conditions right" is a statement that could go either way.

//Basically I'm objecting to the idea that science makes you magically immune to being judged. Probably because I do it for a living and I'm judged by the equivalent of supervisors and funders all the time.


I think this post is reasonable, and I am curious as to which website I have stumbled upon.
 
2012-11-29 11:35:18 AM  

jonny_q: xanadian: You can't rush scientific discovery. There's no time table for it.

But it's at least ok to have someone spend a few hours giving a report that the money wasn't spent on hookers and blow, right? Even if the conclusion is that they have $5B worth of ways to *not* create fusion, you still kinda want to know that.


This isn't an audit. The government audits everyone who gets funding, and it's a pretty involved process. You need to account for every last penny, and it all has to be spent in a way explicitly allowed in the grant.

This is different; it's a public shaming. Congressmen who haven't mastered 9th grade math are being placed in front of TV cameras, not to go over the books, but to be spanked. Fingers will be wagged. Noses will be looked down. The capital building even has special chairs (I'm dead serious here) that are a little lower than the others, the better to judge them from up on high.

So a few lab directors will spend an afternoon in the stocks, and after the politicians score their points, everyone will go back to what they were doing.
 
2012-11-29 11:36:32 AM  

jonny_q: Even if the conclusion is that they have $5B worth of ways to *not* create fusion, you still kinda want to know that.


I'll sell you twice as many ways to not create fusion for only $$500M.

(We are still dealing in Double Dollars, right?)
 
2012-11-29 11:42:51 AM  

hstein3: This really isn't a scandal. Taxpayer-funded researchers have to justify their existence. When you're getting a government research grant, you give updates to your funding agency, and I'm not aware of any exceptions. This means saying what you've done with the money and what results you have (or haven't) seen. If you've got squat, you need to explain why you've got squat, how you plan to turn that around, and why you should get another heap of money to keep the research going.

Sorry, no matter how noble or promising the venture may be, at some point somebody has to say, "It's probably not worth dumping more money down this drain. Not at this time or with this group of scientists." Not saying that's the case here, but they shouldn't be excluded from the process just because we really want fusion reactors.


There is a difference between giving updates to the scientifically literate funding agency and the illiterate congress. Congress is known for publicly shaming research it didn't understand or purposely misrepresented. Golden Fleece Award
 
2012-11-29 11:52:11 AM  
Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a bunch of scraps!
 
2012-11-29 11:52:27 AM  

DoBeDoBeDo: dragonchild: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Mine's bigger.
[upload.wikimedia.org image 290x277]

It's not the size it's how you use it!


If I remember correctly, we're still struggling with the technological problem to reliably get more than even just 15% of the energy out of sunlight from solar (photovoltaic) panels.

It doesn't matter how big it is if you don't know how to use it...
 
2012-11-29 12:01:47 PM  
They want the money, they can handle an hour or two on the hot seat.
 
2012-11-29 12:06:40 PM  
No risk no reward.

/I'd sooner want to speak to the builders of those stealth planes.
/the first one was experimental, but by the fifth you should have the process sorted out.
 
2012-11-29 12:07:37 PM  

Johnsnownw: Well, Congress, I didn't give my vote so that you could decide the fate of a program that you couldn't possibly comprehend. Suggestion: Sit down and STFU.

/This is the problem with electing aged lawyers to make all decision
//I'm sure 50% of congress would have difficulty navigating FARK.


Then what did you do with your vote?
 
2012-11-29 12:09:19 PM  

entropic_existence: There are scads of official book length reports filed all of the time. There is one that was just done this fall. Congressional testimony is, and always has been, a side-show.


And therein lies problem with this. Whether it's related to cost overruns, a scandal, criminal activity or whatever, it's frequently grandstanding by those with authority.
 
2012-11-29 12:09:30 PM  

hstein3: This really isn't a scandal. Taxpayer-funded researchers have to justify their existence. When you're getting a government research grant, you give updates to your funding agency, and I'm not aware of any exceptions. This means saying what you've done with the money and what results you have (or haven't) seen. If you've got squat, you need to explain why you've got squat, how you plan to turn that around, and why you should get another heap of money to keep the research going.

Sorry, no matter how noble or promising the venture may be, at some point somebody has to say, "It's probably not worth dumping more money down this drain. Not at this time or with this group of scientists." Not saying that's the case here, but they shouldn't be excluded from the process just because we really want fusion reactors.


Why did this not apply to star wars?
Oh yeah. Reagan.
 
2012-11-29 12:12:07 PM  

PsyLord: Snarfangel: I definitely think fusion research is important, but with five billion dollars you could probably build a full-size liquid fluoride thorium reactor.

I just want one of these:

[www.reallifecomics.com image 253x365]


5 JIGABUCKS?

bp1.blogger.com
 
2012-11-29 12:18:46 PM  

TopoGigo: (We are still dealing in Double Dollars, right?)


You're from Jersey? If that's how you want to roll.

www.state.nj.us
 
2012-11-29 12:19:29 PM  
The date in TFA is from the "our theory is sound, the design was adequate, look it worked" timetable. Fact is the theory was insufficient.

The most recent external review of the NIF by people who are not politicians can be found here.

Apparently the experiment itself is working wonderfully.

"All observers note that the functionality ofthe laser; the quality of the diagnostics, optics and targets; and the operations by the NIC and NIF teams have all been outstanding."

But like all good work, there is always the chance that it will not bear the predicted gains.

"One key issue that has been noted is that state-of-the-art ICF simulation codes have predicted that present designs would ignite or at least show substantial levels of alpha heating and the failure to make better progress towards ignition reveals a significant lack of fidelity in the computer simulations."

Nonetheless, good work has secondary benefits.

"While the NIC team would also pursue further experiments on hot spot formation and low mode asymmetries as well as some more focused and less integrated experiments, particularly to study mix, the general sense of the reviewers was that the proposed program would continue the present semi-empirical approach to achieving ignition, without adequately resolving the gaps between codes and experiments. Given the time available in this campaign and the high quality of experimental operations, this approach can produce useful results that may provide some advance in fusion parameters and will give useful data to test models."

The external review said to keep going. Since the facility has already been constructed, we would be fools to disagree.

"While no reviewer thought ignition likely before December 31, 2012, some thought the intermediate goal of measurable alpha heating (increasing the neutron yield) might be achieved within that time and several expressed optimism about achieving ignition at NIF within a few years."
 
2012-11-29 12:22:34 PM  

Frank N Stein: They want the money, they can handle an hour or two on the hot seat.


Not saying your wrong, they can handle it. But how is meeting face to face better than book-length reports submitted at regular intervals with precise information? Especially when the scientist has to spend your funding to fly to congress, and talk to people with no hope of understanding the complexities of his activities so will not be satisfied by any real answer.

Its a waste of time and money. Audits are the true hot seat, and you have to go through those regularly. As someone else said: that's a cent-level read through of everything you have done/spent. These guys just want to biatch at the nerd because they don't have their shiny new super glow stick yet.
 
2012-11-29 12:26:01 PM  

qorkfiend: dragonchild: DoBeDoBeDo: Wait I'm pretty sure we've discovered fusion:

Mine's bigger.
[upload.wikimedia.org image 290x277]

Dyson sphere! Dyson sphere!


I have the biggest ball of them all!

(VYCanisMajoris.jpg)
 
2012-11-29 12:31:42 PM  

Nurglitch: Nuclear weapons, the 'hydrogen bomb', work by fusing hydrogen (by using a fission primer, as I understand it). Atomic weapons are fission weapons.


The newer kinds are fission-fusion-fission.
 
2012-11-29 12:32:29 PM  
Explaining science to these guys:

llwproductions.files.wordpress.com
Good luck with that.
 
2012-11-29 12:34:17 PM  

OnlyM3: Explaining science to these guys:

[llwproductions.files.wordpress.com image 400x305]
Good luck with that.


"You see, atoms are very, very small. Smaller even than Guam."
 
2012-11-29 12:39:17 PM  

johnnygew: PsyLord: Snarfangel: I definitely think fusion research is important, but with five billion dollars you could probably build a full-size liquid fluoride thorium reactor.

I just want one of these:

[www.reallifecomics.com image 253x365]

5 JIGABUCKS?

[bp1.blogger.com image 320x237]


i.newsarama.com
What the hell is a Jigabuck?
 
2012-11-29 12:42:06 PM  

OnlyM3: Explaining science to these guys:

[llwproductions.files.wordpress.com image 400x305]
Good luck with that.


Or the republican that did not understand how plate tectonics worked.
 
2012-11-29 12:54:57 PM  
If we put more money in science, we can discover everything exponentially faster! The scientists failed! Cut them them till they only have the dirt to sit on!
 
2012-11-29 01:06:37 PM  

Dead for Tax Reasons: Tell congress it'll make a legendary weapon of immense capabilities that will forever shift the global balance of power and i'm sure they'll stumble over themselves to funnel more money than is needed to it


zs1.smbc-comics.com
 
2012-11-29 01:06:51 PM  

HMS_Blinkin: Maybe the scientists should drag congress in to explain to us all why they fail at literally everything they're supposed to do.


THIS.
 
2012-11-29 01:20:10 PM  
Wait... Congress wants scientists to explain sciency things to them WHEN THEY CAN'T EVEN FARKING UNDERSTAND THE INTERNET????

farkin' aye... I bet all this came down to some Tea-Party asshat writing an angry letter.
 
2012-11-29 01:29:34 PM  

Dead for Tax Reasons: Tell congress it'll make a legendary weapon of immense capabilities that will forever shift the global balance of power and i'm sure they'll stumble over themselves to funnel more money than is needed to it


That's what they did tell them - energy production is a weapon of incalculable power.
 
2012-11-29 01:32:42 PM  
But critics say even if NIF works, we'd still be decades away from plugging its technology into the grid

Oh well then. If we can't have it in our pockets tomorrow, let's just disregard it. Not saying fusion's going to happen soon or even ever, but that logic is a recurring theme and it's always a bad reason.

"Congressman, hey congressman! What do you think of clean, nearly unlimited power?"
"Great, can you have it ready by the midterm elections? Oh, too bad."
 
2012-11-29 01:47:43 PM  

cefm: Dead for Tax Reasons: Tell congress it'll make a legendary weapon of immense capabilities that will forever shift the global balance of power and i'm sure they'll stumble over themselves to funnel more money than is needed to it

That's what they did tell them - energy production is a weapon of incalculable power.


well, not to the physicists, just the congressmen
 
2012-11-29 01:48:17 PM  
Your defense for why you get money is I'm too stupid not to determine that you don't deserve it? That's not science, that's third grade bullying tactics.
 
2012-11-29 02:04:08 PM  

An-Unnecessarily-Long-Name: And yet both the F22 and F35 program is 100s of billions over cost and no one is being dragged into congress.


Why do you hate America?
 
2012-11-29 02:06:36 PM  
You know how every time someone talks about how automation and globalization ruining the employment landscape by displacing the demand for labor, someone responds by saying "But we'll just invent new things and put all the displaced workers to work researching technologies we haven't thought of yet"?

This is what that looks like. If you don't like paying these scientists to study this, then get used to paying them welfare.
 
2012-11-29 02:10:38 PM  

Oliver Twisted: Johnsnownw: Well, Congress, I didn't give my vote so that you could decide the fate of a program that you couldn't possibly comprehend. Suggestion: Sit down and STFU.

/This is the problem with electing aged lawyers to make all decision
//I'm sure 50% of congress would have difficulty navigating FARK.

Then what did you do with your vote?


I wish I knew...I surely do.
 
2012-11-29 02:24:18 PM  
Given the members in congress who have oversight of publicly funded scientific research I expect the Bible to come into it at some point.
 
2012-11-29 02:25:12 PM  

Wicked Chinchilla: You have good points, but I am heavily biased towards the scientists for two reasons:
1) My experience in the scientific field with oversight (specifically congressional oversight) is not positive. Stupider questions than you can possibly imagine and then completely missing the point/objective of the answer.
2) 5 years is NOT that long for building the NIF AND conducting research
3) Reports can be done with an email/phonecall/conference call/whatever. Having someone dragged all the way to DC is farking stupid given how advanced communication technology is today.


While that's fair enough, Scientists are actually pretty used to reporting in face-to-face, generally speaking as an academic researcher you're crossing the country 3 or 4 times a year for conferences and meetings with funders and so on. I doubt this is exactly destroying anyone's schedule. Written reports (usually yearly if the NSF is involved in the funding) are sort of the minimum you can expect on a government contract, them demanding more isn't unusual. Frankly, it's still going to be less oversight than you get in most private labs.

There's also some level of over-estimation of what this means in the thread, it's extremely unlikely that this is going to be an up-or-down vote on continuing the project or not. More likely it's going to be something on the order of possibly reducing or increasing their funding with a swing of 10 or at most 20%, continuing projects direct from congress almost never get killed completely. Especially since, like you're pointing out, we've already put the capital investment into it and the physical equipment exists now.

Well, I guess there's another worst-case scenario as far as the people running the lab are concerned: the feds could decide to accept bids form other universities to take over the staffing/running responsibilities of the lab. That has happened occasionally.
 
2012-11-29 02:45:18 PM  

Jim_Callahan: Wicked Chinchilla: You have good points, but I am heavily biased towards the scientists for two reasons:
1) My experience in the scientific field with oversight (specifically congressional oversight) is not positive. Stupider questions than you can possibly imagine and then completely missing the point/objective of the answer.
2) 5 years is NOT that long for building the NIF AND conducting research
3) Reports can be done with an email/phonecall/conference call/whatever. Having someone dragged all the way to DC is farking stupid given how advanced communication technology is today.

While that's fair enough, Scientists are actually pretty used to reporting in face-to-face, generally speaking as an academic researcher you're crossing the country 3 or 4 times a year for conferences and meetings with funders and so on. I doubt this is exactly destroying anyone's schedule. Written reports (usually yearly if the NSF is involved in the funding) are sort of the minimum you can expect on a government contract, them demanding more isn't unusual. Frankly, it's still going to be less oversight than you get in most private labs.

There's also some level of over-estimation of what this means in the thread, it's extremely unlikely that this is going to be an up-or-down vote on continuing the project or not. More likely it's going to be something on the order of possibly reducing or increasing their funding with a swing of 10 or at most 20%, continuing projects direct from congress almost never get killed completely. Especially since, like you're pointing out, we've already put the capital investment into it and the physical equipment exists now.

Well, I guess there's another worst-case scenario as far as the people running the lab are concerned: the feds could decide to accept bids form other universities to take over the staffing/running responsibilities of the lab. That has happened occasionally.


There is a possibility. Usually when a company/university gets the axe though a good bit of the nuts and bolts of the organization stay in place. Upper/middle management is swapped out but the people grinding away stay put. Honestly, swapping out the entire organization in something so specialized would be a bad idea, IMO. They probably have a whole lot documented, but unless its ISO9001, or GLP, or something of that nature with absolute meticulous record keeping there is bound to be a degree of institutional knowledge to be relearned.
 
2012-11-29 02:52:23 PM  
Those fools. Fusion will always be 30 years away.
 
2012-11-29 02:58:20 PM  

hstein3: This really isn't a scandal. Taxpayer-funded researchers have to justify their existence. When you're getting a government research grant, you give updates to your funding agency, and I'm not aware of any exceptions. This means saying what you've done with the money and what results you have (or haven't) seen. If you've got squat, you need to explain why you've got squat, how you plan to turn that around, and why you should get another heap of money to keep the research going.

Sorry, no matter how noble or promising the venture may be, at some point somebody has to say, "It's probably not worth dumping more money down this drain. Not at this time or with this group of scientists." Not saying that's the case here, but they shouldn't be excluded from the process just because we really want fusion reactors.


Meanwhile congress will continue to purchase jet engines that the military doesn't want and have said they have no need for but somehow congress claims to care about wasted money
 
2012-11-29 03:26:56 PM  
Certainly wouldn't want to hold anybody accountable. Especially over a few measly billion dollars.
 
2012-11-29 03:27:00 PM  

doglover: On one hand, it's sad that Congress doesn't know how science works.

On the other hand, we've got a rather obvious daily reminder that the theory is based on sound principles so it's starting to get ridiculous that no one's come up with a way to do it yet.


Its not as simple as it sounds. Our sun center has about the pressure about 3 trillion newtons, and even then it only generates about 300 watts per meter cubed. It generates so much power because its HUGE. NIH has similar pressure but cleaner fuel.
 
2012-11-29 04:06:54 PM  
If this was a Republican pet project, all they'd have to do is manage to say "we haven't gotten sufficient funding for the project to succeed" and they'd be off the hook.

=Smidge=
 
2012-11-29 04:20:52 PM  

xkillyourfacex: Your defense for why you get money is I'm too stupid not to determine that you don't deserve it? That's not science, that's third grade bullying tactics.


You're commenting in the wrong thread.
 
2012-11-29 05:35:02 PM  

Smidge204: If this was a Republican pet project, all they'd have to do is manage to say "we haven't gotten sufficient funding for the project to succeed" and they'd be off the hook.

=Smidge=


That's every government project. Have you ever, even once in your life, heard a politician say, "you know that thing I spent a crapload of your money on? Well, as it turns out, it was a really stupid idea, so we're just going to shiat can it" ? Everythig that underperforms is "underfunded".
 
2012-11-29 06:17:32 PM  

Big_Fat_Liar: That's every government project. Have you ever, even once in your life, heard a politician say, "you know that thing I spent a crapload of your money on? Well, as it turns out, it was a really stupid idea, so we're just going to shiat can it" ? Everythig that underperforms is "underfunded".


We counting only domestic projects because otherwise this one comes pretty close...

"Today, Americans can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by re-fighting a war."
- President Gerald R. Ford - April 23, 1975
 
2012-11-29 06:41:05 PM  
Hey, if Italy can arrest seismologists for not accurately predicting earthquakes, sure, why not, let's drag in scientists for not discovering cold fusion.

Heck, let's just terrify scientists into not pushing forward with anything. That way, the religious extremists can once again take control of humanity, casting us into a Second Dark Ages. It'll be fun.
 
2012-11-29 06:51:21 PM  

red5ish: Given the members in congress who have oversight of publicly funded scientific research I expect the Bible to come into it at some point.


"And yea, verily, deuterium knew tritium, and begat helium, and neutrons, and a multitude of heat and light, and the Lord said that it was good...."

Worth a shot.
 
2012-11-29 07:44:34 PM  
$5 billion is next to nothing compared to the federal budget. The the numbers of jobs the money went to should be justification enough without any consideration for the science, chances are the cost per job created was less than that of the stimulus.

That said if you paid a contractor to do a dob and he wasn't done on time you'd give him a call and ask him why he was late and when he'd finish. There is still an accountability factor.
 
2012-11-29 09:24:35 PM  
Probably, the trouble is that the wavelengths of the lasers using to compress the DT are too long, so they penetrate too deep into the plasma, thereby heating it up, making it *much* harder to compress (and ignite fusion) and also gives rises to instabilities which make further compression nearly impossible.

They should have used the KrF lasers developed at the Naval Research Lab that don't penetrate the plasma so deeply. On paper, those produce at least 200 times break even energy. To be commercially viable, fusion has to produce about 70 times break even.

/Why yes, I do do this stuff for a living.
//But not any more, Congress cut the funding.
///Damned idiots.
 
2012-11-29 10:08:49 PM  
27.media.tumblr.com

/hot
 
2012-11-30 06:08:12 AM  

Big_Fat_Liar: That's every government project. Have you ever, even once in your life, heard a politician say, "you know that thing I spent a crapload of your money on? Well, as it turns out, it was a really stupid idea, so we're just going to shiat can it" ? Everythig that underperforms is "underfunded".


That's not true. Sometimes it's the Union's fault.
=Smidge=
 
2012-11-30 07:32:20 AM  

Dead for Tax Reasons: Tell congress it'll make a legendary weapon of immense capabilities that will forever shift the global balance of power and i'm sure they'll stumble over themselves to funnel more money than is needed to it


i.imgur.com
 
2012-11-30 05:30:43 PM  
Meanwhile.....

FA-22 Raptor = 64% Over Projected Budget Total Cost
V-22 Osprey - 74% Over Projected Budget Total Cost
RAH Comanche - 40% Over Projected Budget Total Cost
CH-47F Cargo Helicopter - 56% Over Projected Budget Total Cost
SBRIS Spy Satellite - 54% Over Projected Budget Total Cost
Patriot Missile - 60% Over Projected Budget Total Cost
EX-17 Guided Munitions - 73% Over Projected Budget Total Cost
 
2012-11-30 06:16:53 PM  

Smidge204: Big_Fat_Liar: That's every government project. Have you ever, even once in your life, heard a politician say, "you know that thing I spent a crapload of your money on? Well, as it turns out, it was a really stupid idea, so we're just going to shiat can it" ? Everythig that underperforms is "underfunded".

That's not true. Sometimes it's the Union's fault.
=Smidge=


Imagine a world where there was a Physicists Union. I'm not saying it would be a good thing or a bad thing... but it would certainly be a weird thing.
 
2012-11-30 06:47:37 PM  

indarwinsshadow: How do they sustain the fusion? I'm fuzzy on that. You get the deuterium to fuse, it's burns and then what? Is like a pellet stove where you keep feeding it pellets of deuterium?


That is exactly how it will work. They drop pellets (12 a second?) and zap them. LIFE
 
2012-11-30 06:50:54 PM  

indarwinsshadow: How do they sustain the fusion? I'm fuzzy on that. You get the deuterium to fuse, it's burns and then what? Is like a pellet stove where you keep feeding it pellets of deuterium?


Here is Ed Moses explaining LIFE.
 
2012-11-30 07:15:55 PM  

enemy of the state: Probably, the trouble is that the wavelengths of the lasers using to compress the DT are too long, so they penetrate too deep into the plasma, thereby heating it up, making it *much* harder to compress (and ignite fusion) and also gives rises to instabilities which make further compression nearly impossible.

They should have used the KrF lasers developed at the Naval Research Lab that don't penetrate the plasma so deeply. On paper, those produce at least 200 times break even energy. To be commercially viable, fusion has to produce about 70 times break even.

/Why yes, I do do this stuff for a living.
//But not any more, Congress cut the funding.
///Damned idiots.


It is not really lasers. It is one beam split 192 ways. They can shape the pulse. Maybe thay have not found the right one. The original pulse has less energy than a laser pointer.

How it works.
 
2012-11-30 11:12:31 PM  
 
2012-12-01 12:21:34 AM  
"Obama's" $5 billion?
 
2012-12-02 11:52:43 PM  

saturn badger: enemy


I didn't make myself clear.

First, longer wavelength lasers are going to penetrate deeper in the plasma produced by trying to compress a dueterium-tritium pellet to the point where fusion will occur. Deeper penetration heats up the plasma, making compression much more difficult, and fusion must less ineffficient (ie, lower degree of burn). This is just "simple" physics, no one disputes these facts. On this basis, NIF should have used say, a KrF laser, with a much shorter wavelength and hence less penetration of the plasma.

Second, at NRL we showed that alignment of lasers, and their point spread function (ie, shape) are CRITICAL in achieving financially viable fusion. On paper, we achieved 200X the energy from fusion (with KrF laser), which is much more than the 70X needed for financial 'break even'. NIF seems to be unaware of the laser alignment/shape problem. You wouldn't think it was a big deal, but it's huge.

These two things are certainly what's killing NIF. I could have told you this five years ago. The secretary of energy may have a Nobel Prize in fusion energy, but he's too fracking stupid to spend three minutes reading results that don't exactly conform to his mindset.

So, hundreds of millions down the drain, on a project which was pretty much doomed to failure as far as knowledgeable people (a small minority in the field) could tell.

Too bad for the planet.
 
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