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Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab

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#1 Crisp

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 00:38

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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#2 Growled

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:09

 

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.



#3 wrack

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:33

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.



#4 Raa

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:54

Excellent news, keep it up! (Y)



#5 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:09

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.



#6 Enron

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:13

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!



#7 Anibal P

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:14

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



#8 Anibal P

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:17

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



#9 astropheed

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:39

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.



#10 Enron

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:42

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.



#11 +Xinok

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:45

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...



#12 astropheed

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:48

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.



#13 mudslag

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:48

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. 



#14 mudslag

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 02:50

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. 



#15 The_Decryptor

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:15

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.