Friday, September 21, 2007

Orthodoxy

Over at Climate Audit they are discussing “Miscalculation, poor study design or self-serving data analysis”.

Let me relate this to my current field of study - Nuclear Fusion.

The big money is going into projects like ITER (the US is spending something like $200 to $400 mil a year on this project). All the scientists involved say we are at least 30 years away from a net power reactor delivering watts to the grid. When that net power device is built it will be too big 17GW (most power plants built today are under 100MW and the largest are in the 1 GW range), too expensive (at 20X to 30X the current cost of electricity), and too late. All this is inherent in trying to get fusion by heating things up. And yet funding rolls on. Grant money is relatively easy if there is an ITER angle.

Contrast this with IEC fusion. In the US there are 5 to 10 projects going on at a funding rate that is probably on the order of $20 million or less total. The thing about IEC Fusion is that instead of heating up a mass of gas to get fusion in the high energy tail, particles are accelerated directly to fusion speeds. This makes the devices much smaller, less costly, and quicker to develop. So who is doing IEC Fusion? Basically a bunch of old cranks who see ITER and the Tokamaks as useless except as science fair projects. Let me quote Plasma Physicist Dr. Nicholas Krall who said, "We spent $15 billion dollars studying tokamaks and what we learned about them is that they are no damn good."

And yet the money rolls on.

If I was in charge of science I would see that in any discipline 70% went to mainstream and 30% to dissenters. That would tend to keep everyone honest. Does it mean some money would go for stupidity? Sure. As Murray Gell-Mann says - there is a reason most new stuff ought not get funded, most of it is flat wrong. However, if we do not encourage dissent from orthodoxy we will never learn anything new.

Our current ratios are out of balance.

Let me add that a significant part of the 30% should go towards replication by dissenters.

If we are really going to do good science we must encourage a climate of dissent and replication.

Let me add that we see this in Cold Fusion. The mainstream derided it because at first replication was difficult. Now at least the laboratory aspects are better under control and replication is the norm. We still do not understand what is happening or why. However, finally progress is being made. So far it seems to be a low energy process. Heat is created. Just not enough to even boil the water (actually D2O) in the experimental apparatus. It is being researched. We will find out why. We lost 10 years of useful work because of clinging to orthodoxy.

In many way science is like religion. Woe be unto him who strays from the canon.

Interestingly enough the US Navy is funding IEC Fusion and Cold Fusion. Why? They don't look at it from a right/wrong basis. It is all about risk vs reward. They are not crazy. They do require at least a minimum of results before funding. They come at it from: "we don't know everything" and "mathematics can be helpful but is not definitive. Only real world results count".

Why not more dependence on math? Because with math - if you pick the right assumptions - you can prove anything.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

15 comments:

LarryD said...

Mathematics is a great tool to describe the Universe. But it can describe more than one Universe.

That's why Science requires experimental verification of theories.

Snake Oil Baron said...

I do not have the knowledge about physics to comment on the viability of the traditional approaches to fusion but given the results they have provided (weak) and the nonintuitive mechanism they employ it seems odd that they have such strong support when compared to the Bussard method. It is one thing to be skeptical of a technique that appears to violate currently known physics or is hard to reproduce like "cold fusion" but when a technique seems more in tune with the laws of physics (lets try putting the particles close together instead of racing them around a ring) and seems to have produced results fairly quickly (in comparison to other methods), there seems to be a need for some close examination of the alternative.

But the climate issue is just disturbing to me. I have spent a great deal of time reading about biology and quite a bit more time than the average layman in studying the subject academically not to mention following the Intelligent Design/Creationism vs evolution politics and I am disturbed to see the climate alarmist side of the debate having been portrayed as the scientific side in this issue while using the methods and arguments that I have come to expect and loath from the creationists. I feel so much pity for the climatologists who do not side with the alarmists because even if they take a stand and oppose the current narrative of the falling sky, their science and indeed, all of science will take a major black eye if the earth does not transform into the predicted cinder.

Chatterton said...

GoogleCount++;

The reference to ClimateAudit is priceless. What a great impartial source of information. Let's again review who Steve McIntyre is:

From Wiki:
"McIntyre was the President and founder of Northwest Exploration Company Limited and a director of its parent company, Northwest Explorations Inc. When Northwest Explorations Inc. was taken over in 1998 by CGX Resources Inc. to form the oil and gas exploration company CGX Energy Inc., McIntyre ceased being a director. McIntyre was a strategic advisor for CGX in 2000 through 2003.[9]

McIntyre is a former mining executive; prior to 2003 he was an officer or director of several small public mineral exploration companies."

I'm sure he has no ties with big mining and big oil!!

Great job again MSimon!

M. Simon said...

And the Climate scientist who are warmologists have ties to big government.

So what is your point?

Did Mann screw up or not?

Did Hansen screw up or not?

In science that is all that matters. Right or wrong. Funding sources are just a smoke screen from those who can't stand the heat.

Chatterton said...

First things first: GoogleCount++;

So you think ITER is fraught with cost overruns and a waste of money? Christ, that's a drop in the bucket compared to what the DoD wastes on weapon systems. Here's a few examples that should put things in to perspective:

1. Navy DDG-51 Destroyer --> $1B per ship; over 100% program cost overrun thus far.

2. Navy DDG-1000 Destroyer --> $3B per ship, over 100% program cost overrun thus far.

3. F-22 Fighter --> $338M per aircraft. Vastly overbudget, skyrocketing maintenance costs. Regarded as a step backward in combat readiness.

4. F-35 JSF --> $112M per aircraft. Fails to meet multi-force combat requirements -- e.g. Too fast for ground support operations (i.e. A-10 replacement)

5. Ballistic Missle Defense System: A whopping $86 billion thus far. Only "successes" have occurred in 5 of the 9 highly scripted, unrealistic validation tests -- i.e. not even the simplest of missile countermeasures employed, no functional sea-based X-band radar used, etc.

And you criticize science spending? Give me a break.

M. Simon said...

Well C it looks like the ships actually work.

More than you can say for tokamaks.

As to BMD. A nice 1 GW portable power source could come in real handy for something like that.

Chatterton said...

Simon,

Tokamaks do work you moron. In fact, they are the only fusion technology that shows any promise for the future. Name a single controlled fusion device that has *verifiable* comparable Q. IEC? What a joke. Maybe you can get those IT morons in the audience at Google to cheer you on. Jeez, even the guys who experimentally confirmed POPS (PRL 2005) acknowledge that current fusor-based technologies are no better than a Q of 0.0001. You live in a complete pathological science dreamworld.

As for your "working" Aegis destroyers, they are nothing more than cold war planning relics whose need kept being propagated by the DoD and defense contractors. Because of the perpetual cost overruns characteristic of these programs, the Pentagon is at its largest in over 40 years. Same thing with the Reliable Replacement Warhead -- except Congress has the sense to knock that off the table.

M. Simon said...

Fusion the Tokamak way is still 30 years away from delivering power to the grid. AS it was 30 years ago.

Give me 1/6th the money that is going into ITER ($6 bn) and I will deliver you a power producing IEC reactor in 3 years.

In any case, not to worry, the Navy is going into IEC in a big way if Dr. Bussard's experiments work out in the next 6 to 9 months.

Be patient. In you will have your answer in less than a year.

Here is what Vincent Page has to say about the Tokamak assuming it is successful:

# Designs need to be feasible with power output in the 15 MWe to 1500 MWe range and cost less than $6700 per KWe.

# More expensive machines will not be commercially viable.


So let me repeat at 17 GW minimum size the machines are too big, they will be too expensive, and they will be too late.

Reid said...

Chatterton,

You forgot to mention that Steve McIntyre is a math prodigy.

If McIntyre is guilty of anything it is exposing stunning mathematical incompetence by "expert" peer-reviewed climate scientists.

Chatterton said...

MSimon,

Since you're big on Feynman, perhaps you should think carefully about his views on pseudoscience:

"I have the advantage of having found out how hard it is to get to really know something, how careful you have to be about checking the experiments, how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself." R. Feynman on pseudoscience, in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.

Does this not give you pause when considering the fact that Bussard's WB-6 was "hastily put together" and the experiments rushed so as to finish prior to the end of funding? How is it that you are so confident as to base your future predictions on the purely anectodal results of WB-6?

M. Simon said...

Chat,

How is it that you are so confident as to base your future predictions on the purely anectodal results of WB-6?

1. I know one of the experimenters involved.

2. The Navy finds the work (done over an 11 year period) promising.

3. Some other folks (physicists among them) who I trust who are independent of Dr. Bussard think the work has great promise.

M. Simon said...

Let me add that every objection I had at the beginning has been overcome by peer reviewed papers (where there are papers on the specific objection).

It is my opinion that Dr. B has found the sweet spot for fusion reactor design.

It is possible that there will be insurmountable problems in a full scale reactor design (specifically heat load on the superconducting coils), however it is my belief that even those problems can be overcome by making the reactor bigger if nothing else.

Chatterton said...

Alright then -- let's revisit this in a year and see where things are at.

M. Simon said...

Chat,

You can count on it.

I will report results positive or negative.

wladimir guglinski said...

I would like to say some words concerning what said by the journalist Bob Weber:
"Regardless of experimental results, one needs a convincing theory of CF"
in the link:
http://www.strategykinetics.com/2006/02/cold_fusion.html


Before to understand cold fusion, we neeed to have a complete understanding of the nuclear phenomena. However we dont have it.


In the Introduction of my book QUANTUM RING THEORY, it is written in the page 4:
....................................................
“Perhaps one would like to say that the foundations for cold fusion are the same of that proposed in Quantum Mechanics. Indeed, in Jan-2004 the cold fusion researcher Dr. Dimitriy Afonichev sent me an e-mail where he said the following:
‘I think that occurrence of cold fusion can be explained on the basis of the existing theories’.
Truthfully his words transmit not merely a personal opinion, because actually several theorists those try to explain the cold fusion occurrence share his viewpoint. However such opinion is very intriguing, since the own academic community is agreeing that the existing theories in the branch of Nuclear Physics are unable to explain even the ordinary nuclear properties, as confessed by Eisberg and Resnick in their book Quantum Physics, where they say in the first page of the Chapter 15:
‘Though we dispose nowadays of a sufficient complete assembly of information about the nuclear forces, we realize that they are too much complexes, not having been possible up to now to use this acknowledge for building an extensive theory of the nuclei. In other words, we cannot explain the whole properties of nuclei in function of the properties of the nuclear forces that actuate on their protons and neutrons’.
So, as the existing theories are unable to explain the nuclear properties responsible for the hot fusion occurrence (which occurs according to the principles of Quantum Mechanics), it's hard to believe that such existing theories could explain nuclear properties that would be responsible for the occurrence of some so much complex as it is the cold fusion (which occurs by infringing the principles of QM). “
....................................................


For a layman to understand easily that said in the Introduction of my book, take for instance the interaction between two neutrons.
Two neutrons have no repulsion. But in a short distance, they are attracted by the strong force. So, after interacting within a nucleus, two neutrons would have to form the 0n2, and would never separate anymore.
But 0n2 does not exist in nature. Heisenberg tried to explain it with the introduciton of the concept of Isospin. Unfortunatelly the isospin is an abstract mathematical concept.
Two neutrons tied strongly by the strong force cannot be separated by an abstract concept, because an abstract concept cannot produce a FORCE capable to win the force of attraction by the strong force.
Only a FORCE of repulsion can win the force of attraction.
A NEW NUCLEAR MODEL (that shows what is the force of repulsion between two neutrons in short distances) is proposed in my book Quantum Ring theory.



In 2002 the Infinite Energy magazine has published my paper “What is Missing in Les Case’s Catalytc Fusion” , in which I have proposed some improvements to be addopted, in order to avoid the missing of replicability.

In 2003 in the ICCF-10 Lets and Cravens exhibited their experiment, in which they have adopted the suggestions of mine in my paper published in 2002 by IE.


In my book I propose an explanation for Lets-Cravens experiment, showed in paper entitled “Lets-Cravens Experiment and the Accordion-Effect”


The Accordion-Effect is a nuclear property unknown by nuclear theorists, and it is responsible for the resonance that takes place between a nucleus (for instance Pd) and the oscillation of deuterons due to zero-point energy.


After reading some of my papers, the late Dr. Eugene Mallove said in 2004: "Guglinski has interesting and intriguing ideas".
That's why he suggested to put my papers on a book form, and to publish it.

However, Dr. Mallove did not read my papers concerning the new nuclear model.
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=======WHY COLD FUSION IS NEGLECTED BY ACADEMICIANS=======
The stronger reason why the scientific community neglects cold fusion is because its occurrence requires a neutron model n=p+e formed by proton and electron. However such theoretical model violates the Fermi-Diract statistics.

A model of neutron n=p+e that does not violate Fermi-Diract statistics is proposed in the book QUANTUM RING THEORY (QRT).

Two papers on the neutron new model n=p+e of QRT are available in the Internet.
They are:

1) ANOMALOUS MASS OF THE NEUTRON
2) NEW MODEL OF NEUTRON

Before to post here the two links, I would like to give some enlightenment on the paper NEW MODEL OF NEUTRON, as follows:
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1) When we analyze the mass of pions according to the current Standard Model, we arrive to contradictory conclusions about the mass M(d) of the quark down and the mass M(u) of the quark up.
In the paper NEW MODEL OF NEUTRON it is shown that we arrive to the following two conclusions:
CONCLUSION 1: M(d) > M(u)
CONCLUSION 2: M(u) > M(d)
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2) Look at the chemical reaction Na+Cl->NaCl
QUESTION: what is the matematical formalism underlying such a chemical reaction?
ANSWER: No one. The chemical reactions have not been established through the mathematical formalism.

The chemical reactions have been established based on the LOGIC, and such a procedure was viable because the chemists had the help of a property of the chemical reactions: the mass of the reagent elements does not change after the reactions. For instance, the mass of Na is the same in the two sides of the equation Na+Cl->NaCl.

In the case of the high energy nuclear reactions the discovery of the equations became very complicated, for two reasons:

1) Either particles can desintegrate by discharging energy, or particles can be created, by the transformation of energy to matter.

2) In the model adopted by the theorists, the addition of spins is applied to all the reactons.
However in the beta decay the addtion of spins cannot be applied (but there is conservation of the total angular momentun, because in the reactions there is creation of neutrinos and antineutrinos).

Such anomaly in the addition of spins in the beta decay made the situation to be very bad, and the theorists could not apply the LOGIC for the discovering of the mechanic of high energy reactions, as the chemists made in the Chemistry.

That’s why the theorists tried to solve the problems by the mathematical formalism, through the Lie symetries as SU(2), SU(3), etc.
But the result was unsatisfactory, as one can understand easily. There are particles that does not fit to the theory, and that’s why Murray Gell-Mann felt the need of proposing ad hoc bandages, like the Strangeness.

As the theorists did not discover the true cause of the beta decay anomaly, they impute to other cause the occurrency of that anomaly: they state that the parity is not kept in the beta decay.

By addopting the “spin-fusion” hypothesis proposed in QUANTUM RING THEORY, it is explained the anomaly of the beta decay, and from such a way the high energy reactions can be explained through the LOGIC, in the same way as occurred in Chemistry for the establishment of the chemical reactions.

The two links are:

NEW MODEL OF THE NEUTRON:
http://www.geocities.com/ciencia2mil/NewMODELneutron.html

ANOMALOUS MASS OF THE NEUTRON:
http://www.geocities.com/ciencia2mil/NEUTRONmodel.html