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FarmhouseFan OP t1_j0bycjz wrote

It's good to have realistic expectations, but I saw a lot of people shooting this breakthrough down right away. No, we will not have commercialized fusion power in 5 or 10 years but it's coming. I was surprised to learn that the facility is using somewhat outdated tech and am excited for more advancements and investments in the infrastructure of the facility, which is justified by this pretty big step forward.


TouchCommercial5022 t1_j0cptu3 wrote

What I find interesting is that we get so pessimistic when it takes longer than we would like to solve big problems in fusion technology. We have been working on fusion for about 60 years and we are convinced that we cannot immediately emulate and master the forces that occur in the core of a star.

We do not become cynical when it has taken more than a century to cure cancer. Fusion is the only technology I see where people joke that it will never happen despite constant improvements.

every time merger comes up, people just dismiss it as impossible and say it's a waste of time and money and we should invest in solar and wind power.

Humans are myopic. They forget that not long ago reaching space was impossible. Going at the speed of sound was impossible etc..

This is probably because fusion is basically useless until you get really, really good at it. People don't see steady progress over the decades.

Once you have a clear plan for getting your tritium, I'll be interested. Operating breeder reactors have been decreasing in number and it is not as easy to extract from the environment as it is with deuterium. There's a lot to be gained from a net positive fusion scheme when your fuel is limited by fission output.

in my opinion I feel that this undermines the discovery too much. Humanity is much more efficient at improving things than at creating things. It was only 60 years after we achieved the flight before landing on the moon. Half that time passed between the first CGI on screen and the first photorealistic film created entirely on a computer.

If this discovery is true, it will only be a matter of time before we figure out how to prolong the effect and make it more stable.

it's like saying humans would never use heavier-than-air planes for anything more than a novelty because the Wright brothers only flew for a few seconds

OF COURSE.. They do not claim that this is going to happen today or even in this decade. New technologies are developed in small steps. Without this demonstration, the merger would never be possible; heck, like you said, it still could never be possible. As a scientist, it's frustrating to hear cynicism about breakthroughs because the results aren't here today. Much of that blame falls on lazy science journalism. But this article does not claim that the merger is about to happen. It only highlights an interesting and important scientific achievement. Can't we be excited about that?

It was only about 5 years ago that we had a stable merger for the first time.

With all the reactors now working on the problem, I think things are looking pretty good.

That would be a complete game changer. After reading a few articles last year about the merger, it seemed like they were incredibly far from getting self-sustaining reactions, let alone getting a net energy gain.

I hope they can figure this out as much as possible, then refine it, reduce it, etc. etc.

Mastering fusion is a must to unlock true future technology, reducing energy tensions will also make the world more geopolitically stable.

Science is all about incremental progress. No one is going to build a perfect fusion reactor from scratch

We still have a long way to go towards economic viability, and it is unlikely that something like the NIF will ever lead to commercial reactors, but hopefully it will show that it is possible to reject public and private investment in nuclear fusion in its set.

This could be the momentum needed to get to the end of the race.


dillrepair t1_j0ez1rv wrote

Seriously. If we put the effort where the effort is needed … fusion… cancer… antibiotics… education etc… we could do more. We have to stop allowing technological advances to be mostly under the control of people whose main goal is to make a profit. People who would just as soon spoon feed us pieces of advancement instead of allowing large leaps in societal well-being and freedom from want.


chasonreddit t1_j0ea706 wrote

> Humans are myopic. They forget that not long ago reaching space was impossible. Going at the speed of sound was impossible etc..

While I agree with the sentiment, it's not really universally applicable.

The time between the first human flight, the Wright Bros. and the first lunar landing was 66 years. The first human initiated fusion reaction was over 70 years ago. ie. Space flight is doable. We know that.

I'm pretty old, I'm a science geek and have been reading my entire life that fusion is 20-30 years away. It is with luck. It may always be. It's more than just an engineering problem, I firmly believe it will take a fundamental breakthrough to solve if it is possible at all.

What I always have to ask is why? There is a huge fusion reactor not that far away, but far enough that it poses only minimal danger to us here. All we need to do is to collect the energy. Why re-invent the sun wheel?

The fuel is plentiful you say. All it needs is Hydrogen. Well really Deuterium. Well in this case Tritium which is much more rare than uranium. So even if we spend the billions trillions to build fusion plants we face an energy shortage.

I realize I am a Debbie Downer on /r/Futurology . But let's focus on what we can realistically do. There is power a plenty right out there. A very small fragment hits earth, yet that is what we are pinning a lot of hopes on right now. We should throw resources into space launch, SPSS, who know what else. We are limited to Earth resources, but not technically limited to Earth.

As I believe Jerry Pournelle once wrote: "It's raining soup out there and we are using spoons to catch it."


dillrepair t1_j0ez93o wrote

Yeah… it would seem a good plan to continue to push for fusion energy hard … but solar energy harvesting harder.


Nimeroni t1_j0gutaf wrote

> What I always have to ask is why? There is a huge fusion reactor not that far away, but far enough that it poses only minimal danger to us here. All we need to do is to collect the energy. Why re-invent the sun wheel?

  1. Most of the Sun's energy is lost due to the atmosphere

  2. Solar panel don't work during night


chasonreddit t1_j0h4m1a wrote

To both of those: only on Earth. Put it in orbit (SPSS I guess the preferred acronym now is SBSP) and no atmosphere, no night.


Nimeroni t1_j0h4xvb wrote

Bringing anything up there is hideously expensive.


chasonreddit t1_j0h6w3z wrote

Yes. It's a capital investment and bootstrap problem. But once you build enough infrastructure, you can build from materials already up there. Kind of like the proposed Mars missions. Lifting out of Earth's gravity well is a huge problem.

My point is solvable with current technology. Land based fusion is simply not at this point. Not after Trillions in investment in research units which will never produce power. You can throw a lot of stuff into space for that money. Unless you know of materials that can resist 15M degrees Celsius.


saltyhasp t1_j0cappd wrote

If you think laser fusion is anything more then science, then maybe worthwhile. Personally I doubt that it is. There are a lot of other approaches that seem more sane.