A Fusion Update, A Tech Stuff Special

Here’s an interesting piece from Time magazine:

The funny thing is that getting fusion isn’t really that hard. The Farnsworth Fusor which almost guarantees that you get some fusion neutrons  isn’t that hard to fabricate.


Kids as young as 13 have built fusors and frankly I think that they are a good way to learn about vacuum, useful even if you don’t get useful energy out of your gadget. And they are cool.


I’ve posted before about fusion energy before. Especially about Robert Bussard’s polywell. Not perhaps as much as I should have.  Especially about the polywell. I became interested in the polywell  when I watched this talk from Robert Bussard back in 2007.

Read More

So Where Did The Future Go?


A couple of  months ago there was a bit of hoopla over “Back To The Future Day.”  There were articles about how different things were all over the place.  Most concentrated on what we DON’T have, rather than what we do.


We have to understand that what we have now and what we will have in the future is the result of the decisions made in the past and being made now. For instance, the effects of the actions of the Federal Reserve are going to feed down into the future for a significantly long time.  As are the actions of all those alphabet soup agencies and their stifling effects on creativity and innovation.

Read More

Spent Fuel Removal At Fukushima Daichi

From a robotics standpoint the ongoing cleanup and dismantling of the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear plant is probably going to stand out for the next fifty years or so as the heavy use of robotic and teloperated systems goes forward and the lessons get used  for other things.

Here is a blog with ongoing updates on the decommishioning. This is a large and serious project that’s being done with a high degree of professionalism.


And some news and TEPCO updates.







Some of the new technologies being used.





From an engineering prospect this is one of the most interesting projects out there.  The aftermath will require the use of interesting new technologies in a very hostile environment.  Just about every aspect of mechanical engineering is going to be involved and it’s going to be a unique opportunity to get read data on using a bunch of technologies.

In spite of what all too many want us to believe the Fukushima Diachi dismantlement has been done in a very cautious and professional manner with every measure taken to ensure that radiation releases are minimized.  For which Tepco receives an unceasing bombardment of hysterical nonsense and outrageous nonsense.

What’s even worse is that the concentration of attention on a nuclear power plant that has killed nobody diminishes the scale of a disaster that ruined entire towns and killed over 10,000 people.  On that scale, the fact that a power plant had a bad, but contained accident should barely register.  After all NOBODY DIED at the nuclear power plant.

If there were any doubts about the overall safety of nuclear energy the accident at Fukushima Diachi should have ended them.  This was a worst case scenario with total coolant loss and probable core meltdowns. Yet there were no explosions or China syndromes.  And the effect on the surrounding area is fairly minimal and contained.  Contrast that with the Texas City ANFO explosion or the Bhopal accident, both of which killed hundreds or thousands of people.

The amount of people spreading fear and uncertainty and doubt about nuclear energy far exceeds any possible dangers.  None of the scary things that the scaremongers keep screaming about have actually happened.  the fact is that in terms of health effects, nuclear power has a remarkable record even including Chernobyl.  Yes, people working in Chernobyl have gotten radiation sickness and died.  Some of them because they were heroes facing death to get a very nasty job done and others because the Soviet government didn’t take the time to take reasonable safety precautions.  Still the number that have had demonstrated effect is small compared with the numbers killed in other industries and energy sources.  The fact is that the number of people killed in a nuclear plant is far lower in total over all the time that nuclear power plants have been running than those in coal  power plants over a typical year.  It’s time we grew up and stopped running scared over every little thing.

You Have 450 Slaves

Or at least their energy.


1 horsepower approximates the sustained work output of a horse
A healthy human can sustain about 0.1 hp indefinitely which is 74.5 watts
1 horsepower is the sustained effort of ten people
1 horse power = 745.6 watts = 33000 ft-lb/min
The average american uses 13,250 kWh/year in electricity
Which is 36 kwh/day
Which is 1512 watts constant
US average per person electrical energy is like 20 human slaves 24 hours per day
60 human slaves on 8 hour shifts 7 days a week

The average american uses 98400 kWh/year in total energy. This includes transportation and heating.
This is 7.4 times the electricity amount.
US average per person total energy is like 150 human slaves 24 hours per day
450 human slaves on 8 hour shifts 7 days a week

The US has about 144 billion human energy slaves on 8 hour shifts 7 days a week

Energy has ten times the impact on growth than it’s cost.


The more you go up the density curve the better it gets from human to animal to wind and hydraulic to fossil fuels to nuclear.  Yet the Progressives seem determined to force us DOWN the density curve.  That road leads to poverty and well, the Human race has been making others sweat for THEIR bread for some time.  I like electric motors better, much better.


It’s more like 600 slaves.

For more on the dysfunctional economy click Here or on the tag below.

A Small Tokomak?

There are just two problems with this.  First is that it’s a Tokamak with all the thermal instability issues that have plagued Tokes since the beginning.  Two, a project like this is competing directly with ITER for the same money and I don’t think that the ITER people are going to like that.