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General Discussions => Skepticism / Science Talk => Topic started by: arthwollipot on November 14, 2018, 06:30:02 PM

Title: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: arthwollipot on November 14, 2018, 06:30:02 PM
China's 'artificial sun' reaches 100 million degrees Celsius marking milestone for nuclear fusion (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-15/china-attempts-to-create-an-artificial-sun/10495536)

Quote
Chinese nuclear scientists have reached an important milestone in the global quest to harness energy from nuclear fusion, a process that occurs naturally in the sun.

The team of scientists from China's Institute of Plasma Physics announced this week that plasma in their Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) — dubbed the 'artificial sun' — reached a whopping 100 million degrees Celsius, temperature required to maintain a fusion reaction that produces more power than it takes to run.

...

The Chinese research team said they were able to achieve the record temperature through the use of various new techniques in heating and controlling the plasma, but could only maintain the state for around 10 seconds.

Ten seconds is a pretty long time for 100 million degrees. If this pans out, it is a significant step towards stable power generation.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: brilligtove on November 14, 2018, 08:54:47 PM
Nice! I'm looking forward to the next developments.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: John Albert on November 18, 2018, 10:51:20 AM
Boy, those energy company execs sure are going to be rich! Bully for them.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: brilligtove on November 18, 2018, 11:04:19 AM
A huge number of global problems just go away if fusion works and is inexpensive. The biggest one IMO is cheap desalination averting water wars. Fingers crossed.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: 2397 on November 18, 2018, 11:13:24 AM
A huge number of global problems just go away if fusion works and is inexpensive. The biggest one IMO is cheap desalination averting water wars. Fingers crossed.

There's also the need to suck all that carbon back from the atmosphere.

And once we have fusion power plants everywhere, we need to avoid finding ways to dramatically increase our consumption before we're able to use the surplus energy to solve the many problems.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: CarbShark on November 18, 2018, 11:23:55 AM
A huge number of global problems just go away if fusion works and is inexpensive. The biggest one IMO is cheap desalination averting water wars. Fingers crossed.

There's also the need to suck all that carbon back from the atmosphere.

And once we have fusion power plants everywhere, we need to avoid finding ways to dramatically increase our consumption before we're able to use the surplus energy to solve the many problems.
Removing carbon from the atmosphere takes energy. If energy production were inexpensive problem solved.

If water could be desalinated and pumped anywhere at a large scale we could not just produce far more foods we could also regrow forests and reduce carbon.

No need to reduce consumption if we had cheap abundance of clean energy.


The problem is fusion is hard and probably won’t work as we fantasize so we’re still basically fucked.


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Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: 2397 on November 18, 2018, 12:02:41 PM
I didn't say we have to reduce consumption (then), I'm saying let's not immediately go to having 50 billion people live like the worst offenders do today.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: CarbShark on November 18, 2018, 12:24:46 PM
I didn't say we have to reduce consumption (then), I'm saying let's not immediately go to having 50 billion people live like the worst offenders do today.

It wouldn't be an offense if we could eliminate the problems caused by greenhouse gasses. (And other environmental impacts)
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: The Latinist on November 18, 2018, 03:27:06 PM
Everyone always assumes fusion energy, when achieved, will be inexpensive; but I will be very surprised if it does not cost every bit as much as current energy sources.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: SkeptiQueer on November 18, 2018, 04:02:45 PM
Energy only solves one issue. We still have production pollution, waste disposal, and as the Latinist mentioned, cost. I'd be shocked if profit-motivated companies didn't try to recoup the costs of construction as quickly as possible by charging a "clean energy" premium. Plus there's the big economic issue from re-employing coal miners and the coal industry, and we absolutely need to be cleaning up the old mines too.

If I managed free energy tomorrow it would just be one small win and a whole series of new problems. Best not to be deceived by the siren song of progress.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: 2397 on November 18, 2018, 04:26:29 PM
I didn't say we have to reduce consumption (then), I'm saying let's not immediately go to having 50 billion people live like the worst offenders do today.

It wouldn't be an offense if we could eliminate the problems caused by greenhouse gasses. (And other environmental impacts)

If. We won't have eliminated them until we've eliminated them, which includes removing 2 trillion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere on top of negating ongoing emissions.

And if we're going to do it through growing forests on farmland freed up by vertical farms, it will take decades or centuries to grow enough trees.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: brilligtove on November 18, 2018, 09:07:20 PM
Everyone always assumes fusion energy, when achieved, will be inexpensive; but I will be very surprised if it does not cost every bit as much as current energy sources.

Agreed: "...if fusion works and is inexpensive." I want it to be cheap, but I don't expect that to be the case any time soon.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: gebobs on November 20, 2018, 09:38:19 AM
Fusion energy, if it fulfills the promise that many think here, will also enable another quantum leap in population.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: CarbShark on November 20, 2018, 09:55:11 AM
Fusion energy, if it fulfills the promise that many think here, will also enable another quantum leap in population.

Nonsense. Contrary to Malthus what we have observed is as societies become affluent (meaning more resources) their birth rates decline.

Population is not regulated by food supply.


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Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: 2397 on November 20, 2018, 11:05:29 AM
Populations are limited by food supply, but there are incentives and disincentives independent of that for having children in the first place. Throw a bunch of food at a population without changing their incentives for having children, and it will grow dramatically (unless they were already not having a lot of children).
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: brilligtove on November 20, 2018, 12:21:37 PM
That seems too simple. One of the reasons humans have more children is higher childhood mortality rates. Food security decreases childhood mortality, which decreases the pressure to have more children. I would expect there to be a spike in population for one generation, while the currently reproducing humans have not adjusted to the new conditions.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: CarbShark on November 20, 2018, 12:35:32 PM
Populations are limited by food supply, but there are incentives and disincentives independent of that for having children in the first place. Throw a bunch of food at a population without changing their incentives for having children, and it will grow dramatically (unless they were already not having a lot of children).

That's false. We've discussed this before. In developed countries where the food supply is virtually unlimited, birth rates drop. As countries become more affluent, and their food supplies becomes stable, their birth rates drop.

The opposite of what you're predicting.

Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: 2397 on November 20, 2018, 01:11:39 PM
I'm not arguing against the general trend, and I agree all populations will probably slow down eventually. But I don't agree with waiting around for it to happen or not taking issue with the global population growing by several more billions, when it's possible to actively reduce fertility rates without any form of coercion. There are populations that are multiplying in size several times as fertility rates decrease, because the rate has a long way to decrease and it happens slowly.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: CarbShark on November 20, 2018, 01:25:36 PM
I'm not arguing against the general trend, and I agree all populations will probably slow down eventually. But I don't agree with waiting around for it to happen or not taking issue with the global population growing by several more billions, when it's possible to actively reduce fertility rates without any form of coercion. There are populations that are multiplying in size several times as fertility rates decrease, because the rate has a long way to decrease and it happens slowly.

That's a little different. FWIW, those malthusian concepts (more food = population growth) have led to justifications for some truly horrible policies in the past.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: gebobs on December 05, 2018, 09:26:20 AM
Populations are limited by food supply, but there are incentives and disincentives independent of that for having children in the first place. Throw a bunch of food at a population without changing their incentives for having children, and it will grow dramatically (unless they were already not having a lot of children).

That's false. We've discussed this before. In developed countries where the food supply is virtually unlimited, birth rates drop. As countries become more affluent, and their food supplies becomes stable, their birth rates drop.

The opposite of what you're predicting.

OK...so we're going to limit this new technology to just the affluent countries. Good idea.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: SkeptiQueer on December 05, 2018, 12:16:13 PM
Populations are limited by food supply, but there are incentives and disincentives independent of that for having children in the first place. Throw a bunch of food at a population without changing their incentives for having children, and it will grow dramatically (unless they were already not having a lot of children).

That's false. We've discussed this before. In developed countries where the food supply is virtually unlimited, birth rates drop. As countries become more affluent, and their food supplies becomes stable, their birth rates drop.

The opposite of what you're predicting.

OK...so we're going to limit this new technology to just the affluent countries. Good idea.

Like Elysium, basically.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: gebobs on December 05, 2018, 01:07:55 PM
Like Elysium, basically.

Is that movie any good?
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: Swagomatic on December 05, 2018, 01:17:13 PM
Like Elysium, basically.

Is that movie any good?

I thought it was decent, nothing to write home about, though.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: SkeptiQueer on December 05, 2018, 01:20:00 PM
Like Elysium, basically.

Is that movie any good?

The premise has been done better.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: brilligtove on December 05, 2018, 06:42:07 PM
Populations are limited by food supply, but there are incentives and disincentives independent of that for having children in the first place. Throw a bunch of food at a population without changing their incentives for having children, and it will grow dramatically (unless they were already not having a lot of children).

That's false. We've discussed this before. In developed countries where the food supply is virtually unlimited, birth rates drop. As countries become more affluent, and their food supplies becomes stable, their birth rates drop.

The opposite of what you're predicting.

OK...so we're going to limit this new technology to just the affluent countries. Good idea.

The arrow of causality doesn't go that way, at least not exclusively. Fusion will be expensive to start up. Many places won't be able to pay for it. There may be some 'we won't share with you' but I suspect it will just be capitalism and market forces that will limit who can afford the technology.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: gebobs on December 06, 2018, 12:39:48 PM

The arrow of causality doesn't go that way, at least not exclusively. Fusion will be expensive to start up. Many places won't be able to pay for it. There may be some 'we won't share with you' but I suspect it will just be capitalism and market forces that will limit who can afford the technology.

I was being glib.
Title: Re: Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Post by: brilligtove on December 07, 2018, 12:28:24 AM
Ah. Missed it. Maybe we need a <glib></glib> tag? ;)