Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Could We Colonize Mars?

October 7, 2015

Yes. There are no show stoppers. The main problem is how to get there fast, cheap and safe. That, in turn is an energy source problem. We need to go beyond chemical rockets (which were invented in China nearly a millennium ago).

Mars is a tempting prize. Mars colonization will double the extent of land humanity live on. Indeed the Red Planet is endowed with nearly as much surface area as all of Earth’s land surface combined (145 million square kilometers for Mars, 149 x 10^6 sqkm for Earth’s continents).

Mars’ rotation axis, over the eons, wobbles impressively. Right now, it’s half way (same inclination as Earth’s). But when the axis is fully inclined, my bet is that the poles melt. Then Mars has got to become much warmer, and wetter: the atmosphere would be full of H2O, water, a powerful greenhouse gas. Maybe life blossoms. Hence Mars is even more interesting than it presently looks (one could imagine life adapted to these super-summers).

Smaller, But Inhabitable Even Before Terraforming

Smaller, But Inhabitable Even Before Terraforming

 

Could we conquer the seas instead? Sure, we have to. However, it’s more difficult. How could it be more difficult to conquer the ocean? The average terrestrial ocean is 3,688 meters deep. This means that we have to handle, to live there, a pressure difference of 370 atmospheres. On Mars, as it is, the pressure is 1% of one atmosphere; that is just one atmosphere difference. A light spacesuit can handle Mars. But just going down 20 meters in Earth’s sea doubles the pressure problem we have on Mars.

Radiation on Mars, and getting there, is a problem: a year stay, with the trip, would augment the probability of getting cancer by 5%. NASA, and radiation workers’ limit is 3%. The average smoker doubles his cancer habit from his gaseous drug habit. Thus, by only sending smokers to Mars, and thus preventing them to smoke (the fuel debris smokers smoke clog air filters), one would vastly diminish their probability of them getting cancer.

The problem with Mars is how to get there. Getting in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is already (very) difficult, expensive, chancy, and will stay so, barring huge advances in material science. We need better engines, better airframes, and, or, a space elevator. Work is going on, in a number of ways, from perfecting launching rockets from planes, to airbreathing reaction engines, to the simple Ariane 6 solution of switching to solid rockets (French and American ballistic missiles are 100% dependable, as they sit in submarines stuffed with thermonuclear bombs).

Some hope that space tourism (one day in LEO for $50,000, say) will provide incentives for cheaper ways to leave Earth. Maybe, but university departments working on materials built atom by atom, better get lots of money (such materials, for example nanomaterials such as graphene, can be hundreds of times stronger than steel; we need to make them work on a large scale).

Given energy, rocket fuel can be made on Mars in a number of ways. Thus, plenty of energy, plenty of fuel. There is plenty of water on Mars (the Curiosity rover found between 2% and 3% in the soil). At least, at the poles (and perhaps all over). Some universities are already bioengineering mosses and other plants to survive on Mars.

With existing technology, and materials, we (or, rather, robots) could build a Space Elevator on Mars. So Mars could turn into a very convenient outpost, while terraforming proceeds.

To get to Mars fast, and to have the plenty of energy we need there to fuel robots, which, in turn, will be able to dig in the ground and make vast caverns and the like (etc.), we need a concentrated energy source.

The only one imaginable energy source would be from small thermonuclear reactors. A number of companies and universities are working on these.

There should be a crash program  on these (while pursuing steadily ITER).

Mars had life and an ocean, for probably at least a billion years. Not having a core nuclear reactor, hence a protecting magnetic field and plate tectonic, Mars lost liquid water, warmth and most of its atmosphere (Venus has the same problem, although Earth sized). Mars is waiting the human touch to smile with exuberant life again. Colonization can expand diversity as it most often does (will cynics add perfidiously). Besides, a Mars polis would be an insurance policy.

The only way to not being able to colonize Mars? If civilization collapses first, it won’t happen. Unlikely? This is exactly where abusing fossil fuels is leading us.

Patrice Ayme’

EINSTEIN’S ERROR: The Multiverse

March 26, 2015

In 1905, his so-called Wonder Year, Albert Einstein presented a theory of the photoelectric effect. The new idea came in just two lines. However I boldly claim that Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect, although crucially correct, was also crucially wrong.

I claim that Einstein talked too much. His intuition was not careful enough, and too tied up with old fashion particles. Quantum Mechanics, one of the inventors Einstein was, questioned the very nature of elementary particles. Einstein imposed, at the outset, a solution, which, I claim, was erroneous.

What Einstein ought to have said is that electromagnetic energy was absorbed in packets of energy hf (h was Planck’s Constant, f the frequency of the light). That explained immediately the photoelectric effect. It was just enough to explain the photoelectric effect.

My Intuition Is More Informed Than Yours

My Intuition Is More Informed Than Yours

***

PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT EXPLAINED SOLELY AS RECEPTION QUANTIZATION:

An electron receiving energy from light, receives a packet hf. If f is too small, the electron cannot be emitted: the electron needed some energy, say A, to escape the material. One needs hf > A.

Nor can an electron just pile up energy from light until the stored energy exceeded A. Why? Because energy is RECEIVED in such packets, and only these packets. It was hf, or nothing.

That explanation of the photoelectric effect was both necessary and SUFFICIENT. Such an explanation is exactly the symmetric statement of the one made by Planck in 1900.

(Planck did much more than that, he had to invent his constant, and it is astounding that he did not explain the photoelectric effect, as he had done 99% of the work).

Should Einstein have said what I said, he would have explained the photoelectric effect, instead of putting all of physics on an erroneous path.

***

EINSTEIN LOCALIZATION, AN ERRONEOUS HYPOTHESIS:

However, Einstein instead said something prophetic he had no reason to proffer.

Here is Einstein statement from 1905, translated from German:

“Energy, during the propagation of a ray of light, is not continuously distributed over steadily increasing spaces, but it consists of a finite number of energy quanta LOCALIZED AT POINTS IN SPACE, MOVING WITHOUT DIVIDING and capable of being absorbed or generated only as entities.”

[I emphasized what I view as the grievously erroneous part.]

With Planck’s E = hf, this is what gave Einstein the Nobel Prize in 1921. So not only Einstein got it wrong, but so did the Nobel committee.

(Planck objected strenuously, because he never meant for the Electro-Magnetic field to be quantized outside the blackbody cavity. I agree about quantization upon reception, as that explanation works. My objection is that Einstein had no proof of what he advanced about LOCALIZATION.)

Einstein claimed that light is made of “quanta localized at points in space, moving without dividing”. Thus, Einstein invented elementary particles. Einstein had no reason for of this fabrication, whatsoever, and did not need it, as I said.

***

THE POISONOUS WAVE-EIGENSTATE SALAD:

Fast forward thirty years. By then, thanks to the likes of Dirac (inventor of Quantum Electro Dynamics, who stumbled on Cartan’s Spinor Space and Antimatter) and Von Neumann (Functional Analysis maven), etc. the Quantum formalism had been sculpted like Mount Rushmore in the mountains of natural philosophy.

The formalism consisted in claiming that the elementary particles invented by Albert were vectors in a (Hilbert) space whose basis was made of the possible results of the experiment E.

The mathematics worked well.

However, IF Einstein’s initial invention was false, so was the picture of reality it conveyed.

And indeed, as we saw, Einstein had no reason to claim what he did: he violated Newton’s “Hypotheses Non Fingo” (“I do not FABRICATE hypotheses”… my translation).

Isaac Newton: …”I do not fabricate hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction.”

***

DEMOLISHING THE MULTIVERSE ERROR:

Galileo, to expose his ideas more pedagogically, set-up a trialogue, between “Simplicius” and two others (one being Galileo himself).

I pursue my exposition of what those who believe in the Multiverse cannot dare to articulate, as it would expose their utter confusion, and more:

Simplicius: So you say that Einstein fabricated localized Quanta, out of his fertile imagination, and that axiom wrecked all of physics?

Patrice Ayme: Exactly. I would prefer to call it not fertile, but obsolete, imagination. After Einstein had fabricated his seemingly innocuous hypothesis, the localized elementary particle, the next step was to identify it with the wave function.

Simplicius: Do you not insist that the world is mostly made of Quantum Waves?

PA: Yes but “Wave Functions” are just fist order approximations of “Quantum Waves”. “Wave Functions” cannot be real, they are mathematical artefacts.

Simplicius: How come?

PA: Wave functions are made of end states, the so-called eigenvectors, the end products of experiments. That makes wave functions intrinsically teleological, made up of the future. You may as well identify human beings to their tombstones, that’s how they end up.

Simplicius: What is the connection with the Multiverse?

PA: Wave functions are intrinsically multiversal, they are made by adding different outcomes, as if they all happened. But only one can ever happen, in the end. However, when in flight, we are been told that (Einstein’s) localized particle is made of as many pieces of universes as there are eigenstates.

Simplicius: So you conclude that Einstein’s localized quantum hypothesis plus the basic Quantum Formalism implies that the simplest elementary particle is made of pieces of different universes that will happen in the future?

PA: Exactly. Einstein, in conjunction with the Hilbert formalism, invented the Multiverse. This is what Everett observed, and, at the time, it made the inventors of Quantum Mechanics (minus Planck and Einstein) so uncomfortable that Everett was booted out of theoretical physics, an even his adviser Wheeler turned against him.

Simplicius: But did not Einstein demonstrate with the EPR thought experiment that “elements of reality” could not be localized?

PA: Exactly. With a little help from Karl Popper, maybe. Entanglement has been experimentally shown to not be localizable with the metric used in General Relativity. So light quanta themselves not only are not points, something that was obvious all along, sorry Einstein, but also, the speed of light is an emerging metric for the Universe.

It has been a conspiracy all along.

Simplicius: Conspiracy?

PA: Yes, there is a famous mistake in Dirac’s Principles of Quantum Mechanics. He insists that a photon interfere only with itself. That is demonstrably false (radio interference and independent lasers playing double slit). Dirac had to say that to NOT make the Quantum Waves themselves the main actors.

Simplicius: Why would physicists conspire to push false physics?

PA: Because, if they admit that their physics is false, and have nothing better to propose, they are losing status. (Whereas I improve mine by showing why they are wrong.)

Another point is that the “Multiverse” is suitably mysterious and absurd to impress common people. It is obviously the greatest miracle imaginable, so those who have penetrated this secrecy are very great men.

WHAT IS GOING ON?

We saw Einstein’s hypothesis of localization led to the Multiverse. As the Multiverse is unacceptable, so is the localization hypothesis.

But we already knew this in several ways (diffraction, 2-slit, and other non-local wave effects; plus EPR style experiments, let alone the QM formalism itself, which also predicts non-localization).

The intuition of the real sub-quantic theory depends, in part, on such facts.

Patrice Ayme’

Non-Conservation Of Energy & Multiverse Madness

February 22, 2015

Before unreason took over physics, one of the major principles was energy conservation. However, this was before. Now Sean Carroll, following other Multiversists (as I call them insolently) crucially depend upon nonconservation of energy.

Sean wrote an article, short and to the point: “Energy is not conserved.

Well written, indeed. Carroll glibly asserts that “see, it was not so hard” (to throw away the most fundamental principle of physics, energy conservation).

Galactic Cluster Focuses Blue Galaxy Light

Galactic Cluster Focuses Blue Galaxy Light

All the blue blotches are images of a far-away galaxy, which are focused by the cluster of galaxies in front. By the way, both Newtonian Theory and Einstein Theory predict the deviation of light by matter (more so with Einstein, as time slows down, allowing for more time to deviate).

The Universe we have, and can see, is so immense, we can’t comprehend it. There is no need to claim there are more of them than atoms. Except if there is a need to go completely crazy (something Putin and other plutocrats are all for!)

That energy is NOT conserved is essential to enable the creation of universes at the drop of a hat.

Nothing is really true anymore, even energy is not conserved. It costs nothing to create a universe.

Next we will all be led to believe plutocrats create not just jobs, but universes.

It’s probably related. Thanks, Sean.

So take two galaxies clusters, G1 and G2. Suppose they separate from the expansion of the universe. Sean Carroll, following the Multiverse fashion, asserts that it cost no energy to separate said galaxies.

Then he has a photon P travelling from G1 to G2, and he sees it has lost energy, so energy is not conserved. Multiversists repeat this argument ad nauseam.

In truth, what they stumbled upon is that the definition of mass-energy in the Theory of Gravitation is not clear. That’s all. The difficulty has been known for generations of mathematicians (behind closed doors). However, it does not mean that physics reduces to dust.

It just means one has to go back to Riemann’s intuition of the 1860s, and reconsider it carefully. Riemann tried to reduce force to geodesic separation. I would suggest to reduce energy to a function related to geodesics density. As geodesics separate, energy is put in the system. With this notion, the fact that it costs nothing to create a universe disappear. https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/quantum-trumps-spacetime/

Physicists can’t reduce the universe just to physics, physics has to reduce to mathematics, too, at least in part.

One may wonder what the Multiversists reduce physics to. Apparently, having done away with energy conservation, a fundamental axiom, they replace it by universe creation. They reduce all of physics to the creation of universes.

Dark Energy, the accelerated expansion of the universe, questions the entire scheme of present day cosmology, let alone physics. Starting the conversation (logos) by throwing out the most sacred principle of physics (energy conservation), and replacing it with instant karma is as glib as glib gets.

Instant karma? Thanks to the alleged non-conservation of energy, the creation of trillions of universes per second per cubic meter is eminently reasonable.

Does that makes Middle –Age theology sitting angels on pinheads a plausible outcome? This is reductio ad absurdum, if I ever saw it.

Quantum Field Theorists may smirk, and accuse me of not knowing that energy is not conserved in QFT

The time-energy uncertainty relation seems indeed to allow for large energy excursions, if they happened in a short time. But that’s related to “virtual particles”, which admittedly are neither virtual, nor particles… Just resting on that would allow a universe in a length of time so short it has no meaning (because it has no clock).

Agreed, physics is hard. Agreed, today’s “Standard Model” of High Energy Physics explains only 4% of the universe.

But that’s no excuse to go crazy, and see gazillion universes on every pinhead.

That only help the crazies.

Crazy like foxes, crazy like plutocrats.

Patrice Ayme

Not With Putin As With Hitler

December 16, 2014

Things Are Getting Serious:

Krugman was in Dubai, in a conference, plutocratizing, I presume. Wrote he:

“A lot of the conference was actually about geopolitics, and I don’t want to think about the quite grim stuff from that end.”

Yes, things are getting interesting. In Lima 196 countries decided that Global Warming was a problem, and all and any country had to present a plan to reduce CO2 emissions within 6 months.

Global temperatures seem ready for a significant jump-up, the exact thing I have been saying, for more than a decade, that it would happen someday. Amusingly, at this rate, in ten years, temperature would jump as high as the worst predictions… for a century from now.

The gigantic Gulf of Maine has already warmed up. It was the stronghold of cod, ever since Europeans, more than 5 centuries ago, started to massively fish there. From Boston to the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of Maine has become too hot for cods, and they vote with their fins to go somewhere fresher. At the rate we are going, cods may run out of planet within twenty years.

Back to Krugman: “Venezuela-with-nukes (Russia) keeps looking more vulnerable to crisis. Long-term interest rates at almost 13 percent, a plunging currency, and a lot of private-sector institutions with large foreign-currency debts. You might imagine that large foreign exchange reserves would allow the government to bail out those in trouble, but the markets evidently don’t think so. This is starting to look very serious.

It is called war. War with Putin. War is serious. It’s better done early, on one’s own agenda. Cratering the price of oil is part of it.

Russia’s central bank, in a bid to prevent the Ruble to turn into ruble, raised its key interest rate Tuesday, Dec. 15 2014, to 17% from 10.5%. The repo rate went up to 18%.

War with Putin, is better than the alternative, namely peace with the dictator. Fortunately, we are not following the script from January 1933 (election of Hitler) to December 1941 (Hitler declares war to the USA).

***

Hitler Blossomed Because As Assad And Putin, He Had Western Plutocratic Allies:

War with Hitler started in 1933, as far as the French Republic was concerned (and the French economy got seriously affected by the war preparations: enormous fortifications, and being ready to field more than 100 divisions).

However, all of France’s potential allies signed deals, official or not, with Hitler. Poland inaugurated this with a January “Non-Aggression Treaty with Hitler.

Great Britain signed a so-called “Naval Treaty” with Hitler in 1935, with the understanding that Hitler could invade the East as he pleased. The Treaty allowed Hitler to re-arm as much as he pleased, in violation of the Versailles Treaty.

Meanwhile American plutocrats invested massively in the Reich. Texaco provided Hitler with all the oil he needed to transport a fascist army from Africa into Spain, and wage war there. Standard Oil (Exxon) provided secretly the Nazis with synfuel technology (not to be shared with the Anglo-Saxon militaries), IBM was given the monopoly of computing in the Reich, Ford (Hitler’s first sponsor) build thousands of military vehicles, and so on ad nauseam: the Reich had turned into an Eldorado for American plutocrats.

When France (1936) declared her intention to give weapons to the Spanish Republic, she was opposed on the world scene & had to back-off. France could not afford to antagonize the Anglo-Saxons, so the Spanish Republic got no weapon, and was progressively devoured in the next three years by Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and their goons.

Spain fell in 1939. Millions more Spaniards would be eliminated by the fascists in the next few years. Great Britain had not supported the French-Czech alliance, and Czechoslovakia had been invaded. Finally the UK understood how serious the situation was, and agreed to support the French-Polish Alliance’s fine print.

Hitler supported German minorities, he said, and gave an ultimatum to Poland. This time France declared her intent to declare war. So Hitler allied himself with Stalin, and invaded Poland. But France, now joined by Britain, which had no army to speak of, declared war. The British Commonwealth soon followed (Canada, Australia, India, etc.)

What did the USA do? The President of the USA, acting on the “Neutrality Act” signed a law making it unlawful for American citizens to support France or Britain, or even set a foot on their ships. Why? France and Britain were viewed as “belligerent”.

Meanwhile, American plutocratic support for Hitler augmented.

***

Hitler Got Lucky In May 1940:

The rest is well known: the Nazis’ 150 divisions got lucky against the 100 French divisions in May 1940, however the French made it so that the small British army escaped at Dunkirk, and that prevented Hitler to establish a bridgehead in Britain.

Less well known is the fact that the top German generals asked Britain and the USA to simply say that they would support France. Then the generals were to get rid of the Nazis to save Germany. Instead, the British and Americans told Hitler that his generals were plotting against him (this happened in 1937-1939).

Lesson of all this?

The Anglo-Saxon support of Hitler was crucial in allowing Hitler to pursue his apocalypse

And even encouraged it: Hitler made countless discourses about the democracies having no will.

Is Putin Hitler?

Not exactly, but Putin has nukes. And the foundations of their ideologies have a lot in common. Hitler thought that, to develop economically, Germany needed a greater “vital space” (Lebensraum). Putin has made it clear that he had to reconstitute a greater empire, the USSR

If we do not want to renew the mistakes of the 1930s, the lessons are clear:

France, Britain and the USA have to be united, and promote civilization. They are now joined by Germany, and the rest of Western Europe. The traitors of 1939, among them Sweden and Switzerland, are now firmly on the side of (greater) democracy and against blatant dictatorship (with which they had collaborated in 1939).

When the French Republic went to war against the awful troika from hell, Hitler, Stalin and American plutocrats, the odds were long. Right now, the odds are excellent: the GDP of Russia is less much less than that of France. The Russian economy is in free fall.

United We Have To Stand:

The difference with the 1930s is that, this time, the West is united. Hitler would have been killed by his own generals if the USA and Britain had been solidly behind the French Republic in the 1930s (instead the USA and Britain informed dictator-president-Kanzler Hitler that his own generals were plotting against him).

A non-difference with the present plutocracy in the West is that Moscow has the greatest number of billionaires in residence. Putin was encouraged by what plutocracy got away with in the West, and tried to go a bit further… big mistake.

Now the West has to grimly pursue the job.

In the 1930s, the war of democracy against fascism, by proxy, was in Spain. Democracy lost, fascism was encouraged. Now the show by proxy is in Syria. It’s an enormously complicated situation.

But, as I said, the (representative) democracies had to get involved. They all are: Australia is bombing Iraq. Great. All right, the mentally unbalanced supports of Islamism come out, and fire their weapons in Sydney’s harbor. Not surprising… except to those who did not read the Qur’an.

Mayhem comes from two sources: bad guys, and bad situations. They are entangled: bad guys create bad situations, bad situations create bad guys.

The ultimate bad situation is the CO2 crisis. There too the lesson is that the West has to be united (it was not united in the last two decades, as the USA pursued its own selfish CO2 splurging, namely 20 tons per person per year of CO2, more than double the EU’s; fortunately, Kerry went to Lima).

Hitler was encouraged by his Anglo-Saxon plutocrat friends to get ever worse, until the bad situation he had created escaped his control, September 3, 1939, when France and Britain declared war.

Putin had a bad situation, namely the kleptocratic plutocracy he created led Ukraine to break formally away by associating itself with the European Union. He tried to stop that with threats, and then, prisoner of its own rhetoric, and his thirst for oil, by invading Crimea, and annexing it.

It was the first unilateral annexation in Europe since Hitler annexed parts of France in 1940.

It will not stand, it cannot stand.

Patrice Ayme’

American Energy Conspiracies

December 12, 2014

Science is about what we know, for sure. Philosophy is about what we can guess.

History has been fruitful to the USA, so it should be repeated. Again and again, and again. Historians are viewed with suspicion, as soon as they don’t stick to the official, fruitful version of history. Indeed, not repeating history is viewed as counterproductive, in highly successful empires.

Conspiracies is what the most impactful part of history is made of. The USA started as a conspiracy, mostly conducted in Paris. It was so conspiratorial that the King of France had the budget for the war of liberation of America written in secret ledgers.

Many A Conspiracy Explain This Weird Oil Price Graph

Many A Conspiracy Explain This Weird Oil Price Graph

No wonder that the concept of “conspiracy theorist”, is a well-known demeaning expression, in the USA, among those who, in the best universities, aspire to make a career from supporting the established order. The fox hides its trail, with its tail.

Conspiracy is in the genes of the American institutional psyche.

To understand human evolution, especially in the last ten million years, one has to understand energy. Our distant ancestors decided to venture in the Savannah to grab the food, that is, the energy, there. They were immigrants in search of a better world.

The rise of European civilization in the Middle Ages was caused by the outlawing of slavery in 655 CE by the Merovingian Frankish Empire: it forced society to develop mechanical and animal advantage. That turned out to produce a lot of energy. By the year 1000 CE, Europeans commanded more energy, per person, than anybody else, leaving behind China.

In 1939, the dictator-president, Kanzler Adolf Hitler, wanted Poland absolutely, one reason being that Poland had oil (whereas the oil Hitler was getting was from the Americans, or a synthetic oil process, also a, secret, courtesy of American plutocrats). Ironically, Hitler’s ally Stalin got to Polish oil first, thanks to his conspiracy with the Nazi dictator.

Before World War Two, the British and the French controlled the Middle East (which they had freed from the Turks). In particular, Britain controlled Iraq directly (wrestled from Germany in WWI), and Saudi Arabia, indirectly. Thus European democracies had their own oil supply.

After WWII, the USA took control of the Middle East. That was done with an irresistible cocktail of implicit military force (against France and Britain, which culminated when the USA allied itself with Soviet Russia during the Hungary-Suez Canal week of 1956), and debt (when Britain and France were under threat of invasion by the Nazis, the USA exchanged military equipment for debt, or cash).

In the Orient, the USA was not keen to see European influence re-establishing itself. So the USA allied itself with the Vietnamese Communists against the French (and even, for a while, de facto, with Mao). The USA provided the Vietminh with weapons to fight the French, and would not rest until the French got kicked out of North Africa.

Thus the worldwide empire of the USA grew. (No, the Ukrainian situation is not the same, contrarily to what Putin propaganda has been claiming.)

The end result? The Chinese and Arabian plutocracies are doing great. Thanks to the Big Brother plutocracy based in the USA.

The USA give the feudal oil regimes the military backbone they need to stay in place. The USA gave China the capital, technology and companies to establish itself as the number one factory in the world. This has been excellent for American plutocrats. If built in the USA, Apple’s iphone would cost three times more (that is $2,000! For the cheapest model.) Mostly due to higher labor cost. Fortunately Apple’s management has been able to cut out all these greedy American workers (who can now wait on the tables of Apple executives, or clean their luxury electric cars). Geeks and wealthy teenagers are forever in the debt of American plutocrats.

But let’s go back to energy.

Jesus has obviously been conspiring with the USA by providing it with vast quantities of oil, all over, from Pennsylvania to California, and Texas to North Dakota. Without oil, the USA may just have been a larger version of Argentina (Argentine has some oil, but not as much, and not as easy to get; in places in the USA, such as Los Angeles, oil literally makes lakes on the surface).

American plutocrats then conspired with their servant, Adolf Hitler, to provide those-who-wanted-to-kill a lot of people, the Nazis, with all the oil they needed to invade countries, starting with Spain (when their oil got cut-off, the Nazis found their war toys could not be used; but, by then, Nazis were not useful to American plutocrats).

The price of oil stagnated around twenty dollars a barrel for the longest time. The USA was the world’s main producer of oil, but then its production peaked at around ten million barrels a day, and went down. It was the end of cheap oil, at least in the USA.

The world’s main producers, real and potential, became the feudal regimes of the Middle East: Arabia, Iraq, Iran. Iran, in a plot helped by Iraq and France, rebelled from under the American lordship, and went its own way: it got punished. Iraq thought it could be independent from Washington: a series of plots, wars and embargoes, subdued it.

Iraq had the greatest, or second greatest, reserves of oil. The subjugation of Iraq took it out of the oil market. Hence the price of oil took off, helped by financial futures market conspirators.

But sometimes there is too much of a good thing: oil became so expensive that many Americans walked off their mortgages (housing is mostly borrowed from banks in the USA, not properly owned). That was something the whizz kids in American banking had not expected, and the whole, highly leveraged house of cards collapsed.

Thus so did demand for anything, the economy collapsed, and the price of oil went from $140 down to $40.

However, even with that hiccup, the price of oil, thanks from the Washington conspiracy to take out of the oil market both Iran and Iraq, stayed high.

Thus the USA was able to develop TIGHT OIL.

The USA was past CONVENTIONAL, CHEAP OIL, but a new technology was able to get at the oil tightly embedded in rock by fracturing said rock. Actually the technology was not new, but to deploy it massively, using wells which bent and went horizontal, was new.

This technique, called FRACKING, is expensive. Not just expensive on the environment, and deleterious for water supplies. It is intrinsically expensive: instead of just digging a hole and having oil gushing out, one needs to dig deep and massage the rock hundreds of times with water laden with corrosive chemicals and sand. Then one needs to go make another hole close by and start all over again, after having thrown away the humongously disgusting water, now laden with all sorts of poisons, toxic minerals, and, often, radioactivity, somewhere discrete.

Fracking needs an oil price around $60 a barrel to be profitable.

The oil price just broke below $60 on December 11, 2014.

Why?

The short of it is that Saudi Arabia is producing massively, and has announced it decided to target $60 a barrel for the price of oil. It is like an official conspiracy.

How come? Well, Vlad the Invader, having ravaged his country’s economic prospects, like Hitler, is reduced to oppress other nationalities, and minorities (Tatars), to imprint on his followers that he is worth following blindly, being a great chief.

The total fossil fuel (oil and gas) production of Russia is 22 million barrels a day, and was just equaled this year by the USA, making these two empires the largest fossil fuel producers in the world. Russia makes all its money that way.

To squeeze Russia, squeeze the oil price. To squeeze oil, just ask the Saudis, and make oil futures guys understand that it is in the national interest that the oil price go down.

Here we are.

Is that a problem for fracking? Not really. Not only has fracking a lot of inertia, but several of the aims of the fracking movement, such as the repatriation of the chemical industry, or the lowering of the price of energy in the USA, and energy independence thereof, have been achieved (never mind that the poles are melting).

One of the problems with Europe, is that it cannot generate plots at this scale: European national governments and administrations are all too independent. A strength of the USA is that it can conspire on a gigantic national, and worldwide basis. Top American leaders come from very few elite schools, the plutocratic universities. Where they are taught exactly what to know, what to not know, and how to listen.

Then they implement.

Patrice Ayme’

(Thermo)Nuclear Base Load Energy Soon?

October 16, 2014

As you unwittingly wait to board Ebola Air, let me distract you with a more palatable, albeit philosophically related, subject.

Sustainable energy means wind and PV (Photo Voltaic). Other possibilities don’t work enough to make a global dent. (At least not yet, by a long shot.)

Except maybe for tidal and current power, used in Europe since the Middle Ages (exploitation of sea currents is tested on a grand scale in Europe presently; a related possibility would be to use thermal differences in the ocean; but barnacles are a problem).

Solar thermal is controversial: it occupies so much space, zap birds, insects, etc.. Its one advantage is that the energy, heat, can be stored overnight. Geothermal works only in very few, small places (elsewhere it generates earthquakes for reasons similar to fracking).

Hydroelectric is sustainable only in conjunction with nuclear (to refill the reservoirs… Although don’t tell that to California’s empty dams).

The riddle of wind and PV, is that they work only occasionally: one needs base load power. When the sky is black grey with little wind, and it’s very cold, and it lasts for weeks, in a typical Euro weather in winter, a marais barometrique, one needs power. This is the so called “base power” (it’s supposed to be around 40% of peak demand).

Dishonest pseudo-ecologists have, in practice, pushed for fossil fuels base power (because they hate “nuclear energy”… not that they know what it is). All too many (pseudo) ecologists claim one can fight the CO2 built-up catastrophe, while having a fossil fuel base load.

That cannot work: any fossil fuel infrastructure added to the grid cost a fortune, billions of Euros and, or Dollars, for just one plant (typically with a cost around 3 billion). So one cannot add such a plant to not use it. Once built, it will be used (especially if a third of the grid capacity is made of them!)

And there is no, nor can there be, for theoretical reasons, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). CCS is another lie. Herds of noisy pseudo-ecologists have been lying about the coming of CCS. (CCS works only in half a dozen very special places: it’s typically re-injected right away where it came from, a gas field.)

Real ecologists such as yours truly, know that there is just one ecologically correct possibility for base load energy that can be imagined at this point: nuclear power, new nuclear power. That’s what has to be developed to replace fossil fuel base energy. As I said many times, second (or the identical third) generation nuclear power plants were, are, military in disguise (they produce Plutonium, crucial for bombs). So, just on non-military-nuclear-proliferation grounds, they should be shut down.

There are plenty of fission techs that could be made safe and fruitful (including some burning nuclear waste).

And then there is thermonuclear fusion.

In nuclear fusion, light atoms combine into stable forms (mostly Helium 4) and release excess energy. There no nasty waste (as this comes from heavy nuclei). However 80% of the power is as a neutron flux. In the 1920s, it was guessed that fusion generated the power of stars.

In the 1950s, tricks were found to use the X ray light of a plutonium bomb to compress thermonuclear fuel, and heat it up to get a short, but mighty fusion: the H bomb. The first one was much more powerful than expected.

The old joke is that controlled, sustainable thermonuclear fusion has always been, and always will be, the energy of the future. However, we generate roughly 10,000 times more fusion (per unit of fuel) as we did in the 1950s (this is roughly as good a progress as the famous “Moore Law” of the doubling of the power of computer chips, every two years, but at a tiny fraction of the cost: it cost trillions to develop computer chips).

Table top sustainable thermonuclear reactors are for sale. Nuclei are accelerated, using electric attraction, collide, and fuse. Those reactors generate neutrons (neutron beams can be used for all sorts of application, including medical). At this point the efficiency of these reactors is insufficient for gainful power generation (but it’s imaginable that tweaks  to this tech could generate much more energy than it uses).

Numerous fusion concepts are being developed (although not enough). The giant ITER uses the safest technology, where a thermonuclear fuel plasma is confined by exterior magnetism. But numerous alternatives are studied.

The University of Washington, and others, claim to have made a breakthrough: computers studies would show that one can tweak the geometry of the thermonuclear fuel plasma chamber in such a way that the plasma itself would generate the magnetic field bottling it away from the walls.

That does not mean that ITER is useless. Just the opposite: ITER is developing new materials to resist the mighty thermonuclear fire… which all thermonuclear reactors will have to use.

Even the famous Skunk Works of Lockheed Martin is working in the aptly named “Revolutionary Technology Programs unit” on what it calls the compact fusion reactor (CFR). At this point, it’s a containment vessel the size of a business-jet engine.

Lockheed believes it will be small and practical enough for interplanetary spaceships, transoceanic ships and city power stations… Or even fusion power aircraft (fission nuclear-powered aircraft were tested 50 years ago). It speaks of a very quick development program, with a new proto-reactor type every year.

The world economy is faltering, in great part because the global Return On Investment (ROI) of fossil fuels is quickly getting worse.

The subsidies for fossil fuels are enormous: up to a trillion dollars, worldwide, each year.

Ecologists should push to have a small fraction of this directed towards clean, safe nuclear energy. There is no doubt that a crash program on Thorium could give efficient plants within ten years (China will have a plant next year; the problem with Thorium is not whether it can work, but simply a question of regulation and ROI; understandably private industry is leery to launch itself without governmental support).

It increasingly looks that thermonuclear fusion is a plausible alternative for base load energy, sooner than one expected even six months ago.

And now please immediately board Ebola Air. Although it does not look like it, the same mindset that will help fix Ebola, is the exact same one which calls for thermonuclear fusion. The virus, indeed, has probably mutated, to become more easily transmissible. That is pure selection of the fittest (virus) at work.

In the matter of Ebola, as in all the big issues regarding civilization, there is only one optimal way out, the same as for the European Union construction: think, solve, progress, up, up and away!

Patrice Ayme’

Big Bang Proof Turns To Dust

September 22, 2014

Dust peppers outer space, around the enormous Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is much more massive than any other galaxy in the fifty galaxy strong Local Group (only the giant Andromeda has a comparable mass). So, naturally, it has a lot of dust. The dimly radiating dust grains are aligned with our galaxy’s magnetic field. The galactic magnetic field’s swirling gives a polarization to the dust glow, just as a crystal’s alignment polarizes reflected light.

Last March, cosmic inflation enthusiasts claimed to have seen ripples at the origin of time. They claimed to have used a telescope that was sensitive enough. Yet they used a sort of postcard lifted from the European telescope Planck, to evaluate how much galactic dust there was, polarizing the light. That was, at best amateurish, or scientific fraud, and, at worst, a scam on the tax paying public, who wants to be enlightened, not defrauded.

We Fraud, Therefore We Sink. How Inflation > Cosmic Polarization

We Fraud, Therefore We Sink. How Inflation > Cosmic Polarization

[That was the hope from Harvard’s Kovac; it just bit the dust. At least the picture is pretty.]

The Planck researchers were flabbergasted by the behavior of their American colleagues. They knew the dust could mimic the predicted signal from the Big Bang. No doubt the “Publish Or Perish” syndrome was at work again: say whatever to become a celebrity, being a celebrity is what a career is about. Damn careful thinking. Many a Harvard professor has appeared to believe that, whatever they say, whatever they do, it will be accepted. Unfortunately, they have often been proven right. And not just in physics, but economics, finance, politics, morality, philosophy. That makes Harvard the keystone of plutocratic propaganda.

Now, it turns out that this swirling pattern touted as evidence of primordial gravitational waves — ripples in space and time from the universe’s explosive birth — could all come from magnetically aligned Milky Way dust. A new analysis of data from the Planck space telescope concludes that the tiny silicate and carbonate particles of interstellar space could account for as much as 100 percent of the signal detected by the BICEP2 telescope and announced to big light and great banging this spring.

Do we need Cosmic Inflation, and its many absurdities? Of course not:

***

NO NEED FOR INFLATION: DARK ENERGY IMPLIES 100 BILLION YEAR UNIVERSE:

Now that we have Dark Energy (or Phantom Energy), we simply do not need Inflation Theory.

Dark Energy is a fact. Inflation theory a far-fetched stream of ideas which leads to universes exploding in every way, all the time, all over the place, a blatant absurdity, if there ever was one.

Indeed, having an uncountable number of universes on every pinhead is even more incredible than having to count how many angels sit on a pinhead, as some Medieval naïve religious types used to ponder.

In the scenario of the Big Bang we have now, space expansion accelerates in an hyper exponential way for a while (“inflation”), then decelerates until close to the present era, before re-accelerating from Dark Energy. This is weird, and logically contrived.

The most logically economical theory, from the barest known facts, is that cosmic expansion is completely due to Dark Energy. In that case, the universe is more like 100 billion years old. Nuclear synthesis of helium, lithium, etc. are generally rolled out to claim the Big Bang had to have synthesized them. However, those light elements could have been created thanks to some of the energetic phenomena observed since the Big Bang theory was elaborated (such as galactic core Black Holes).

The 3 degree K radiation could be due, in part to other phenomena than cosmic expansion. However, expanding for 100 billion years could be enough of an explanation.

Here we are faced with two theories explaining just as much. However, one uses an axiom (inflation) that is not a fact, but a fancy idea… And which is not even needed. Clearly Occam Razor ought to be applied, and Inflation and its Big Bang, decapitated.

***

And why does all this matter, for broader thinkers? First there is the poetry of it all. That enormous galaxy, our home, makes hearts melt with the possibilities, and perspectives.

The old name for galaxies was “island universes”. Kant worked on that for his thesis. The size of the Milky Way is baffling. It contains stars which are 13.6 billion years old (just 6,000 light years away, and uncomfortably close, if you ask me, to the presumed birth of the universe according to the Big Bang. It’s like a Freudian slip: ’Oh, and our Milky Way is old as the universe…’).

Secondly, and more importantly, scientists are supposed to roll out the most impressive, innovative, yet rigorous thinking. Yet, from Unobservable Strings, to Wishful Supersymmetry, to much Crazy Cosmology, there is a bad smell, and a poor show out there. Of course, the degradation of public logic suits the plutocracy just fine.

Thus, although it does not look like it, much the over-excitement in some areas of extremely speculative physics has much to do, you guessed it, with the fancy multiverses in finance, gouging We The People. Namely, if we learn to tolerate irrationality in physics, so will we, all over, as physics is supposed to be the shining example on a hill.

Hence the desire to impose the greatest rationality, and the strictest probity in physics, from the most general philosophical point of view. And for those who want to insure a sustainable civilization, and enough of the biosphere to survive to make it so.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: the essence of the preceding scientific ideas was sent to several popular physics and science sites. None of the sites published it. I was witness, in the past, of reviewers stealing ideas during the peer review process, or suppressing ideas which showed them to be wrong. This systemic censorship could be somewhat related.

Save World, Construct

August 25, 2014

Krugman points out that the economic success of the South-West (Houston) and South (Atlanta) is caused by providing decent housing to the middle class: “Wrong Way Nation“.

Well, right, and very important. However, the problem is not restricted to the USA. It struck Japan very hard, 25 years ago: there was no more decent, affordable housing for Japanese workers in the main production centers.

And, yes, indeed. There is a housing crisis throughout most of the Western World, especially much of Europe. Massive construction programs there after World War Two promoted massive economic growth. A French saying goes:”Quand la construction va, tout va.” (When construction is OK, everything is OK.)

Instead of building increasingly better, denser cities, what happened in the last 40 years was an attitude of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). For example San Francisco built no skyscrapers for 30 years on the ground that they may throw shadows, sometimes (a curious idea in a city characterized by thick fog), or, horror of horrors, that San Francisco would turn into Manhattan.

The practical result has been that, not only quality of life of the middle class has gone down from Paris to San Francisco, but economies have stagnated, while lethal pollution has not been fixed (locally, or globally).

The middle class (let alone the lower class) has been increasingly unable to afford decent housing… in the most important cities. Instead an increasingly inefficient lifestyle of long range commuting ruled.

However, thanks to a new born common sense, young people are increasingly refusing the suburban, multi-car, long commute way of life, thus fleeing to live in ridiculous places such as Silicon Valley, characterized by having an affair with one’s car. Under pressure, San Francisco, I am happy to report, is Manhattanizing; youth devising new apps, prefer the City to unaffordable mansions in the woods, far from any trace of civilization.

Some of the new towers in San Francisco will provide the upper middle class with decent housing (instead of sky high rents in small, dank, mold ridden rabbit cages).

This, massive construction, is a solution for the entirely stagnating Western World: build more ecological, denser, high tech cities. Not only the economy will blossom, and society become more just, equalitarian and decent, but the biosphere outside of these more efficient centers of humanity, will be given an opportunity to recover.

Modern buildings can be not just energy efficient, but energy, and even food, producing. Especially tall skyscrapers. And to commute between city centers, 250 miles per hour electric trains are already a reality. London city center is just two hours from Paris city center, by the existing train, the Eurostar.

Off with anti-city mentality. Remember that civilization has to do with cities. Grow them right. To work!

Patrice Ayme’

The Way: ITER, CERN

March 12, 2014

There are only two fundamental, independent sources of energy: nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. All other energy “sources” are derivative of those two.

The distance between the world’s two most expensive science experiments, ITER and CERN, is less than 300 kilometers. Both powered by French nuclear energy. Discuss.

Fission nuclear energy powers the Earth (magnetic shield, plate tectonic, continental drift, subduction, volcanism).

Fusion nuclear energy powers the Sun (and thus the biosphere, past and future). (Thus those who hate “nuclear” should go see a shrink, and I’m here to help them before they hurt someone. )

Sol, A Yellow Dwarf Star: Hot, Not Cuddly

Sol, A Yellow Dwarf Star: Hot, Not Cuddly

The center of the Sun is submitted to enormous pressure (340 million times atmospheric pressure), and a temperature of ten million degrees Kelvins. That‘s too hot, that is, too violent for atoms: shocks tear electrons from nuclei, and make an electron gas mixed with a gas of nuclei, that’s called a plasma.

Nuclei, each equipped with a positively charged proton, repel each other electrically.

[Sol is actually brighter than 85% of stars in the Milky Way; it’s actually white; the atmosphere scatters the blue component of light, making it look yellow from Earth’s surface!]

600 million tons of the Sun’s hydrogen fuse, converting 5 million tons to energy, each second.

The enormous pressure and heat mean that hydrogen nuclei are packed up close together, and are extremely agitated, with gigantic kinetic energy. So, sometimes, two protons crash into each other head on, and the violence of the collision overwhelms the electric repulsion.

At very short range the nuclear force is attractive. It overwhelms all other forces, and the two protons stick together. This happens more readily if two electrically neutral neutrons join in, as they contribute their attractiveness, and none of the electric repulsion.

British physicists Aston and Eddington suggested in the 1920s that the sun got its power from fusing Hydrogen into Helium. Indeed adding the mass of two heavy hydrogen nuclei (each with one proton and one neutron) is more than that of the Helium nucleus they fuse into. The difference is released as energy, according to the famous Poincare’(-Einstein) E = mcc formula.

Synthesis of the Elements in Stars“, published in 1957 by the extremely famous astrophysicists Margaret Burbidge, Geoffrey Burbidge, William Fowler and Fred Hoyle, demonstrated convincingly that most elements in the universe had been synthesized by nuclear reactions inside stars. Heavy elements, such as iron, had been produced by the dramatic explosions of supernova.

As I have argued in H Fusion Or Bust, we desperately need nuclear energy, as our main energy system, burning fossils, is both running out and poisoning the entire biosphere, killing already an unbelievably unnoticed  several million people a year (soon to be dozens of millions a year, dead). Unfortunately, millions of retards are goose stepping behind well organized, and well paid fossil fuel propagandists, and doing nothing about it, while they howl about nuclear energy.

One angle of attack for reducing pollution is to build Thorium-U233 fission plants. Such reactors have lots of advantage, including the fact be made before and have unproblematic waste. (What’s less easy is to scale them up economically, because it was not done before; India and China have massive programs.)

Thermonuclear fusion has been mastered in bombs, using the dirty trick of using the fantastic temperature and pressure of an exploding Plutonium fission “pit”. That would allow to explode bombs as powerful as 100 Megaton of TNT, or more, enough to bust or deviate a large comet or asteroid.

Some adore the facile joke of saying thermonuclear fusion has been the energy of the future, and always will be. It’s idiotic: it took 7 centuries between the invention of gun powder in China and the first (hydrogen!) internal combustion engine, a succession of explosions (early 19C, Switzerland).

There are two main approaches for inducing fusion: shock, and heat (like in an H bomb), using lasers. This approach is pursued in the Bay Area and Bordeaux. It tends to be military financed, as it simulates H bombs, and lasers are irresistible to real men.

The other approach is the Tokamak (abbreviation of Russian for TOroidal Chamber MAKgnetic). France, as usual in the last three millennia, is at the forefront of the effort to create new technology.  The French already built no less than four tokamaks, and their Tore Supra has enlightened us all with phenomena never seen before. It found OVNIs (Objet Volants Non Identifies)

OVNI Inside Thermonuclear Plasma.

OVNI Inside Thermonuclear Plasma.

[Tore Supra, Cadarache.]

France has few natural resources, but the will to produce a lot of ideas. She is adamant to make nuclear fusion work. As the New Yorker puts it:

if all goes according to plan, the most complex machine ever built will be switched on in an Alpine forest in the South of France. The machine, called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, will stand a hundred feet tall, and it will weigh twenty-three thousand tons—more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower. At its core, densely packed high-precision equipment will encase a cavernous vacuum chamber, in which a super-hot cloud of heavy hydrogen will rotate faster than the speed of sound, twisting like a strand of DNA as it circulates. The cloud will be scorched by electric current (a surge so forceful that it will make lightning seem like a tiny arc of static electricity), and bombarded by concentrated waves of radiation. Beams of uncharged particles—the energy in them so great it could vaporize a car in seconds—will pour into the chamber, adding tremendous heat. In this way, the circulating hydrogen will become ionized, and achieve temperatures exceeding two hundred million degrees Celsius—more than ten times as hot as the sun at its blazing core.”

ITER will the hottest phenomenon in the Solar System, ever.

Like the sun, the cloud will go nuclear. The zooming hydrogen atoms, in a state of extreme kinetic excitement, will slam into one another, fusing to form a new element—helium—and with each atomic coupling explosive energy will be released: intense heat, gamma rays, X rays, a torrential flux of fast-moving neutrons propelled in every direction. There isn’t a physical substance that could contain such a thing. Metals, plastics, ceramics, concrete, even pure diamond—all would be obliterated on contact, and so the machine will hold the superheated cloud in a “magnetic bottle,” using the largest system of superconducting magnets in the world. Just feet from the reactor’s core, the magnets will be cooled to two hundred and sixty-nine degrees below zero, nearly the temperature of deep space. Caught in the grip of their titanic forces, the artificial earthbound sun will be suspended, under tremendous pressure, in the pristine nothingness of ITER’s vacuum interior.

No one knows ITER’s true cost, which may be incalculable, but estimates have been rising steadily, and a conservative figure rests at twenty billion dollars—a sum that makes ITER the most expensive scientific instrument on Earth. But if it is truly possible to bottle up a star, and to do so economically, the technology could solve the world’s energy problems for the next thirty million years, and help save the planet from environmental catastrophe. Hydrogen, a primordial element, is the most abundant atom in the universe, a potential fuel that poses little risk of scarcity. Eventually, physicists hope, commercial reactors modelled on ITER will be built, too—generating terawatts of power with no carbon, virtually no pollution, and scant radioactive waste. The reactor would run on no more than seawater and lithium. It would never melt down. It would realize a yearning, as old as the story of Prometheus, to bring the light of the heavens to Earth, and bend it to humanity’s will. ITER, in Latin, means “the way.”.

The main road to the ITER construction site from Aix-en-Provence, where I had booked a room, is the A51 highway. The drive is about half an hour, winding north past farmland and the sun-glittered Durance River. Just about every form of energy is in evidence nearby, from hydroelectric dams to floating solar panels. Seams of lignite, a soft brownish coal, run beneath the soil in Provence, but the deposits have become too expensive to mine. Several miles from Aix, a large coal plant, with a chimney that climbs hundreds of feet into the sky, is being converted to burn biomass—leaves, branches, and agricultural debris.

Actually the chimney is 300 meters tall, and not just a symbol of pollution, but a real health problem when there is no mistral and a temperature inversion. When there is mistral, the pollution can head towards Rome. ITER is up the Durance valley. At its source, my daughter was born. Up the nearby Rhone valley, nuclear power reactor parks have the added touch of giant windmills on site while atomic powered Very High Speed trains zoom by (in case, somehow, power goes down, the mistral is supposed to help, as it already did, 1,000 years ago).

In 1997 the JET (Joint European Torus) based in England, produced about as much power through fusion as what put in. So controlled thermonuclear fusion is not a dream. The reactor instantaneously overheated, within a second, and had to be shut down.

Meanwhile in Cadarache, the French tokamak Tore Supra succeeded to confine thermonuclear plasma for more than 6 minutes (by opposition to just one second in JET). Tore Supra could do this as the world’s only tokamak with supraconducting magnets to generate long term magnetic fields. Tore Supra’s walls were built of pure carbon, same as the nose of the space shuttle. It looked like a good guess: carbon has the highest solid temperature (it sublimates directly).

Plasmas are occasionally unstable: look at the picture of the Sun above, complete with explosions, and prominences hundreds of thousands of kilometers long. In a reactor, everything can be perfect for long minutes, and then suddenly all goes to hell without a hand-basket, and the plasma comes in contact with the walls, photo-abrading, tearing carbons away, and prying some of the strongest materials on Earth with forces of hundreds of tons, as if they were made of cardboard:

French Reactor Torn By Thermonuclear Plasma

French Reactor Torn By Thermonuclear Plasma

[Inside Tore Supra, Cadarache, next to ITER.]

The forces that can be unleashed in a thermonuclear reactor are of the order of the largest rockets ever launched (and even several times that in ITER).  The French nuclear safety authority forced the ITER organization to make the reactor’s floor twice stronger than it wanted it to be (the Princeton tokamak jumped in the air).

Not touching the walls is part of the Plasma Facing Material problem (PFM). The plasma, once loaded with tritium, then would have combined to create radioactive carbures. So the French scientists discovered that carbon, in appearance the best candidate for PFM had to be given up.

JET has been rebuilt as a forerunner of ITER, it is now relined with Beryllium . The results have been excellent, and ITER will go directly to such a lining. (Baby ITER, JET will be reloaded with radioactive, easy to fuse, Tritium within two years.)

French Physics Nobel, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes said of controlled nuclear fusion, “We say that we will put the sun into a box. The idea is pretty. The problem is, we don’t know how to make the box.”

The problem is obvious: the highest temperature a solid can sustain is less than 5000 Kelvins at room temperature. The plasma is 40,000 times hotter.

The box has to be electromagnetic. And it has to be perfect, and require mathematics beyond what we can master (mathematics break through allowed the long term containment in Tore Supra). Can it be done? It better be. There is no other option.

Except war. But Putin, the world’s most powerful dictator, already thought of that one.

Putin, of course, is a self-satisfied, vicious idiot with a short alpha man inferiority complex. This shows that the present dominant political system, electing “leaders” every now and then, is, itself, idiotic. The invasion of Ukraine could lead, indeed, to a world war, under some scenarios. Scenarios under which the “West” would act perfectly, let it be said in passing (in 1939, France and Britain, by declaring war to Hitler, acted perfectly… later the war went badly, but that’s another subject).

Idiocy is not just deplorable, it’s a moral problem. In the USA, one meets people raging against France all the time. That makes them morally inferior, and such people were gung ho for invading Iraq.

Basically, anything the USA can do, France can do. No exception. France is the only state capable of this, in the world (even Great Britain buy part of its strategic nuclear deterrent in the USA; France makes its own, and its arguably as limber as the USA’s).

This goes a long way to explain anti-French racism in the USA: here is a Socialist country that does just as well, does not that prove being a slave to Wall Street is pointless? France socialist? Not only the Parti Socialiste holds most elected offices, state spending in France is 57% of GDP (the highest in Europe with Denmark, but Denmark can’t make war around the world).

What the millions of little American minds who rage against France are truly raging again is anything that could hurt their master, plutocracy.

Another example of raging idiocy is directed at CERN. OK, CERN is an abbreviation from the French, and the Large Hadron Collider is mostly below France and fed by French nuclear power, so it’s related to the preceding.

Critics of CERN claim it could swallow the Earth, thus demonstrating their lack of education. Ironically, they probably read that on the Internet. And CERN invented the World Wide Web.

CERN Inventing World Wide Web, 1989.

CERN Inventing World Wide Web, 1989.

Would CERN haters become less hateful if they read on the Internet that CERN invented the WWW? Not sure. Idiocy is fungible. If it’s not this, it will be the other thing.

There is no solution to the mayhem caused by burning fossil fuels, except nuclear energy. No solution, except war. But Putin, the dictator of the world’s largest petrostate is already a pawn for that system of thought.

Patrice Aymé

H Fusion Or Bust

February 13, 2014

We are quickly running out of resources. This is what the economics of fracking means. Fracking is profitable, precisely because we are past peak conventional oil and gas (there is nothing conventional about high Arctic gas, tar sands, and extracting deep oil below kilometers of ocean as off Brazil).

The problem with peak oil is general. We are past peak zillions of crucial materials, including copper and fertilizers (most fertilizer reserves, worldwide are in Morocco, under the determined French nuclear imperial umbrella, with Washington back-up).

This collapse of all resources has a solution, a dramatic solution, and only one, the solution the Romans were incapable, unwilling to conceive. For the good and simple reason they did not even understand that one could understand why the “world was getting old” as they used to moan.

Fusing Ideas To Progress Always Saves Civilization As Resources Die

Fusing Ideas To Progress Always Saves Civilization As Resources Die

Our situation is the same, but it’s degenerating even faster, as we enjoy a planetary demographic boom without precedent, and a splurge of waste also never imaginable before. For their vacations, a few days, people jet around the world. Just because they can. Is that the call for self destruction? An appeal to the mysterious god of war and apocalypse?

Yet. Energy is the one and only solution. Ever more energy. (Ever more Absolute Worth Energy, more exactly.)

Solar is useful (yada yada), and will work very well in areas not controlled by Al Qaeda (like North Africa, once it has been thoroughly cleansed).

Wind works, sort of, but the giant investment may turn out silly in the long run (although winds are augmenting now that the melting of the poles is gathering speed, in the very long run, if the poles warm up enormously, winds will die down).

That leaves us with conservation. Yet, as the climate belts switch north, many regions that have now plenty of water will go dry, and require desalination and, or long distance transportation of water, thus augmenting energy spending. An example? The South-West of the USA.

Geothermal will not work on a massive scale. Just as fracking, it causes earthquakes. Oh, and fracking at this point in the USA releases enormous quantities of methane, accelerating the greenhouse.

Coal kills directly two millions a year already (without counting how much it kills indirectly through climate change). Chinese coal is filling California’s Napa Valley vineyards with mercury (I guess Californian excess goes around and comes around as a fine mist of Hg…).

However, coal is used more and more: look at nuclearly correct Germany. Or coal is used obdurately: look at Denmark. Denmark is a paragon of ecological correctness… yet is building a new giant coal plant.

To save the planet, one is left with nuclear. Either new fission technologies (say Thorium techs), or… thermonuclear fusion.

The old joke about fusion is that it’s the fuel of the future, and always will be. However, that’s making fun of the scientific process itself. Understanding is progressing ever more, and results are following.

After decades of unexpected discoveries that were blocking the way to controlled thermonuclear fusion, it is entirely possible that only details may have to be figured out pretty soon.

For example a purely theoretical mathematical breakthrough, a few years back, allowed the existing French thermonuclear device at Cadarache to achieve confinement of the thermonuclear plasma for more than 6 minutes.

Next to that machine is now build the giant International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). ITER is expected to produce ten times the energy put in.

The Joint European Torus (JET) in England has been rebuilt, in ITER style, and the preliminary results are allowing to build ITER directly in (what was supposed to be) stage 2.

In 1997 the Joint European Torus (JET) released 16 megawatts of power from fusion, from using 24 megawatts-worth of heat.

ITER is involved with building new materials, to resist thermonuclear fire. If those work, they may profit the Korean national program, which, although part of ITER is also planning a production style reactor very soon after ITER turns on.

Thus it’s entirely possible that magnetic confinement fusion could become energy profitable within 15 years or so.

Meanwhile the proudly called NIL (National Ignition Laboratory) has succeeded to get in November 2013, twice more thermonuclear fusion energy out of one pellet of Deuterium-Tritium fuel than was put in (by lasers).

The NIL lasers compressed the thermonuclear fuel at three times the pressure and five times what exists (we think) at the center of the sun (where thermonuclear fusion is raging). They improved the efficiency by spending more energy heating up the fuel before compressing.

In a thermonuclear bomb, the thermonuclear fuel is compressed similarly with X rays from a fission-fusion “pit”. Who said nukes were useless.

And yes we need to colonize Mars (be it only because we mess up Earth, and always need to go “meta”). But we will do this only with fusion (there is a scheme to make fusion propulsion by using a technique half way between magnetic clinching, and the ITER and NIL styles.

Who need this?… will whine those who want to feed the poor and build their roofs. Do they know how much energy is needed to feed, quench the thirst, bathe, and shelter eight billions? Lots. We still don’t know how to reproduce Roman cement, but that will save a huge amount of energy.

No way out, but science, ever more science.

That’s the old fashion way, the most human way.

Because, of course, as the old resources run out, just like the Romans did not do, we need, having used lots of brains, to replace the old with the new born. Born from our minds.

This is exactly what happened with Rome. The economy of the empire of the Franks, the Imperium Francorum, rested on new engineering: wind mills, water mills, heavy ploughs (capable of digging deep into the fat land of the wet north), new energy (draft collars), and hundreds of new bioengineered species (horses, oxen, hundreds of species of new vegetable, especially protein rich beans). It was an amazing tech revolution. By 1000 CE, the Franks had surpassed Rome, and had the highest energy usage, per capita.

The Frankish tech revolution was paralleled, nearly as spectacularly  in the Far East. New rice cultivars allowed the population to boom. (Originating in Vietnam, they quickly spread-out). China introduced new technologies, such as paper money (having not enough precious metals).

Our similar situation knows an urgency not found before, though. It’s not a question of imperial collapse, or not, but of planetary collapse, or not. So go fusion, go.

Otherwise, well, even older gods will come to dominate. Those presiding the arena of evolution. The survivors incarnate the epigenetics. But there again, fusion will come in handy.

Patrice Aymé