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Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab

 

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The achievement is the first of its kind anywhere in the world

 

Researchers at a US lab have passed a crucial milestone on the way to their ultimate goal of achieving self-sustaining nuclear fusion.

Harnessing fusion - the process that powers the Sun - could provide an unlimited and cheap source of energy.

But to be viable, fusion power plants would have to produce more energy than they consume, which has proven elusive.

Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion.

NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world's most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place.

The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel - the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.

This is a step short of the lab's stated goal of "ignition", where nuclear fusion generates as much energy as the lasers supply. This is because known "inefficiencies" in different parts of the system mean not all the energy supplied through the laser is delivered to the fuel.

 

But the latest achievement has been described as the single most meaningful step for fusion in recent years, and demonstrates NIF is well on its way towards the coveted target of ignition and self-sustaining fusion.

 

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The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel - the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.

 

A baby step but a step forward none the less.

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Only if we were to redirect the lot of money we spend of space travel and exploration towards the Fusion R&D, we could have been much closer.

 

On the other hand space travel and exploration does bring a whole lot of invention forward too. Catch 22.

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Excellent news, keep it up! (Y)

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Only if we were to redirect the lot of money we spend of space travel and exploration towards the Fusion R&D, we could have been much closer.

That wouldn't make any sense. A better approach would be to reduce military spending.

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That wouldn't make any sense. A better approach would be to reduce military spending.

 

Once we have nuclear fusion, the military will get to increase spending on nuclear fusion weapons!

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Won't get too far once the usual anti nuke idiots get involved 

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That wouldn't make any sense. A better approach would be to reduce military spending.

 

Said like a typical misinformed Leftist, you have NO CLUE how much money both the British and American Defense industries have funneled towards what have become great advances in technology for the masses, including feeding and employing more civilians in useful jobs than any other government organization

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Said like a typical misinformed Leftist, you have NO CLUE how much money both the British and American Defense industries have funneled towards what have become great advances in technology for the masses, including feeding and employing more civilians in useful jobs than any other government organization

 

Studies show that the causation of technological advancement correlate directly (or indirectly) with war (or at least, for those whom win said wars). Like it or not, we owe pretty much all the nice gadgets we have to either preparing for or participating in wars (big and small).

 

Edit: To clarify, I'm defending your position, in case that was unambiguous.

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Studies show that the causation of technological advancement correlate directly (or indirectly) with war (or at least, for those whom win said wars). Like it or not, we owe pretty much all the nice gadgets we have to either preparing for or participating in wars (big and small).

 

Edit: To clarify, I'm defending your position, in case that was unambiguous.

 

Well on Civilization 5, I know that I need to research Nuclear Fusion to build Giant Death Robot, so you are probably right.

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Studies show that the causation of technological advancement correlate directly (or indirectly) with war (or at least, for those whom win said wars). Like it or not, we owe pretty much all the nice gadgets we have to either preparing for or participating in wars (big and small).

 

Edit: To clarify, I'm defending your position, in case that was unambiguous.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a smartphone with a 41MP camera. Somehow, I doubt that war was the driving force for this technological advancement. Instead, how I see it, demand drives technological advancement and war creates demand... lots of demand...

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The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a smartphone with a 41MP camera. Somehow, I doubt that war was the driving force for this technological advancement. Instead, how I see it, demand drives technological advancement and war creates demand... lots of demand...

 

Thus the word, 'indirectly'.

 

Addition: Although in the case of image and mobile communication technologies I could argue that 'directly' still is the appropriate term.

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Only if we were to redirect the lot of money we spend of space travel and exploration towards the Fusion R&D, we could have been much closer.

 

On the other hand space travel and exploration does bring a whole lot of invention forward too. Catch 22.

 

 

The money we spend on NASA and other related areas are pennies to what we spend on many many other things. Throwing money at something doesn't automatically make it easier to obtain. 

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That wouldn't make any sense. A better approach would be to reduce military spending.

 

Or not, again throwing money at this problem doesn't automatically make it that much easier to solve. 

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Once we have nuclear fusion, the military will get to increase spending on nuclear fusion weapons!


The US has had fusion weapons for decades, they're pretty different to this kind of fusion though.
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yeah the H-Bomb is more ancient than Windows OS

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What's this? Has NIF achieved "ignition" at last? Haven't been following their progress recently.

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The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a smartphone with a 41MP camera. Somehow, I doubt that war was the driving force for this technological advancement.

 

I disagree, there will be many components that will have received some form of development or advancement due to military need.  Yes demand pushes invention, but the military demand is a very strong and catered for factor.

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What's this? Has NIF achieved "ignition" at last? Haven't been following their progress recently.


It's not true, sustained, ignition but it's a major step in that direction. Showtime comes when the extracted power increases and the fuel pellet feed and laser systems allow it to do shots continuously. All do-able IMO.

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Posted

Nuclear fusion is one of the few remaining things that actually excites me.

Haven't been following what's been going on a ITER either. Perhaps the lack of news is a bad sign.

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Very cool. Baby steps, but still very cool

 

And since the thread is semi-discussing budgets and the military, I do sometimes wish that NASA was under the DoD's control - so that its budget could grow quite a bit. Nothing stimulates the U.S. Congress quite like "National Defense" (and silly little bills honouring random people).

 

And ITER is still being built, IIRC it should be finished about 2019-2020 so I wouldn't expect any news until 2020...unless it blows its budget massively and becomes news, or another reason along those lines...

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NASA, the University of Washington and fusion research company MSNW (http://msnwllc.com) are working on a fusion rocket for long space missions, and the work so far is looking good. It works bit like NIF in that it uses inertial fusion, replacing the pellets with metal cylinders that are radially compressed with the fusion products being expelled through a nozzle.

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Once we have nuclear fusion, the military will get to increase spending on nuclear fusion weapons!

Ivy Mike from 1952 called and asked if you're joking!

 

The fusion power research results will not make a dent in nuclear bomb technology in any foreseeable future. They learned enough from Castle Bravo to know how to get good enough hydrogen bombs, aka fusion bombs.

Nuclear bombs aren't practical today.

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Well, they are practical in a way - nuclear fission "bombs" are the trigger device for fusion (hydrogen) bombs. Fission bomb goes off first, and its gamma and neutron flux sets off the fusion secondary.

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