Thursday, March 29, 2007

News From Zimbabwe

This Is Zimbabwe has the latest news coming out of Zimbabwe. Like this story

Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 34 years for women and 37 years for men.

I would really like you to think about that for a moment. How old are you? How much longer would that leave you to live or have you already exceeded our life expectancy?

Attending funerals is a regular occurrence in Zimbabwe.

I know many people who have died over the last few years.

Last year two of my work colleagues died within the space of a couple of months of each other. I go to funerals, I experience the awfulness of funerals, and then I come home.

But even though this is ‘normal’, I am sometimes woken up and stunned by something, and I am left horrified and shocked and very sensitive to how extreme life is in Zimbabwe.

For example, a couple of days ago I attended a child’s funeral. This is hard enough as it is, but through my tears I noticed how many freshly dug graves there were in the children’s section of the cemetery, clear evidence that lots of children are dying.

Even worse, this is a new cemetery and it’s already almost full.

I saw two women digging a child-sized grave on their own, and I was told that this was because they could not afford to pay a gravedigger to do it for them.

I was told they were alone because their men were probably out of the country working in South Africa.

The painful reality of what I saw in that place was emphasised by our Zimbabwean tradition of leaving some of the possessions belonging to the person who has died on the grave.

For children this means I was looking at a scene of small graves with bottles, toys, baby baths and other plastic pieces of childhood treasures piled on them. It is wrong, very very wrong, to see these sort of things.
South Africa looks on and tut tuts. This editorial cartoon pretty much expresses what is going on.

H/T Publius Pundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Palestinian Lesbians Safe In Israel

It is not safe to be a lesbian in Palestine.

Many of the attendees said they were sad that the only place safe enough to hold a conference for gay Arab women was in a Jewish area of Haifa, which has a mixed Arab-Jewish population.
How is that for irony?

I got the link from Carl in Jerusalem who asks this question:
Can someone please explain why the queers are for 'Palestine'?
Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Some Video Posts About History

I have a couple of video posts up at Classical Values.

One is a history of the start of the Israel-Palestine conflict in two and a quarter minutes.

The other is a history of Hackers with some text from me about my involvement in hacking. About an hour long.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

War Games

The US Navy is staging war games in the Persian Gulf.

MANAMA—Mounting tensions between Iran and the West have accelerated war games the U.S. navy is conducting in the Gulf, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet said on Wednesday.

A second U.S. aircraft carrier began exercises in the Gulf on Tuesday—the first time two such vessels have been sent to patrol Gulf waters since the U.S.-led war on Iraq in 2003.

The U.S. exercises come amid rising tension with Iran over its nuclear programme and its capture of British sailors.

"The planning accelerated in conjunction with what was going on, but it was absolutely not the sole determinant ... We are here exercising every day," said Kevin Aandahl, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf island of Bahrain.

"If Iran takes away a message from this, that's up to them... Frankly the message is a regional one that reinforces that our presence is to provide stability and security."
Iran will get two messages: the Navy is present and the Navy is practicing.

Good messages.

Cross Posted at The Astute Bloggers

Supporting Our Troops

Since the preliminary successes of the surge, support for the war has gone up 10% from 30% to 40%.

The idea that all Americans are against the war may not be correct.

Americans may be against losing.


Civilization is hard.

The first requirement is enough food to eat. Hungry men are hard to civilize.

The second is to act civilized. No fighting in the war room. The corallary to that is give up Tribalism.

Funding Delayed For Troops?

It looks like Congress is intent on withholding funds from our troops by delaying passage of a bill they know Bush will veto.

The Republicans under Newt Gingrich pulled a similar stunt and it cost them.

H/T Instapundit

Educating Diplomats

Michael Ledeen has a few complaints about American Diplomats. What I would like to do is suggest a remedy.

They really need to read some Retief novels.

Our military reads Starship Troopers and used to read the Dorsai Novels. The official reading list. Evidently it changes from time to time.

Maybe Foggy Bottom needs a Book of the Month Club.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

I'd Rather Be A Republican

I'd rather be a Republican. I'll have more effect moving that party an inch in my direction, than I would have moving the Libertarians a mile.

Milton Friedman was a Republican. He often said that he was in very good harmony with the Libertarians. Yet he was a Republican.

Any idea why?

Cross Posted at The Astute Bloggers

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pulling Out Under Fire

I was visiting the Democratic Underground where they are actually having an intelligent discussion of the logistics of a pull out. The thread is kind of short (probably not many military experts at DU) but one commenter cuts right to the chase:

Moving the initial invasion force took three months, and nobody was shooting at us, and Halliburton started with the bases I believe six months in advance of intial forces

Pulling out also involves force protecion, since it will be under fire.
Let me look at my military dictionary for "pulling out under fire" and see what I come up with. I come up with retreat and defeat.

Not a surprise.

Cross Posted at The Astute Bloggers

Advance Warning

It looks like the Russians are giving us advance warning of an American strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

WASHINGTON DC, — The long awaited US military attack on Iran is now on track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 am on April 6, the Good Friday opening of Easter weekend, writes the well-known Russian journalist Andrei Uglanov in the Moscow weekly “Argumenty Nedeli.” Uglanov cites Russian military experts close to the Russian General Staff for his account.

The attack is slated to last for 12 hours, according to Uglanov, from 4 am until 4 pm local time. Friday is the sabbath in Iran. In the course of the attack, code named Operation Bite, about 20 targets are marked for bombing; the list includes uranium enrichment facilities, research centers, and laboratories.

The first reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, where Russian engineers are working, is supposed to be spared from destruction. The US attack plan reportedly calls for the Iranian air defense system to be degraded, for numerous Iranian warships to be sunk in the Persian Gulf, and for the most important headquarters of the Iranian armed forces to be wiped out.
I have a number of problems with this report.

Let me start with some comments by reader linearthinker.He looks into the channel this information was disseminated in:
Checking background of source article on Operation Bite at IntelDaily reveals following:

IntelDaily carries leftist, peace movement, IndyMedia articles, although they present themselves as objective sources for issues.

"...The Intelligence Daily is an independent, uncensored news site that draws in information from a variety of credible sources about important and controversial issues."

They appear to be a mouthpiece for leftwing sponsered agendas and Bush/Neo-Con bashing.
OK. That still doesn't tell us anything about truth or falseness of the info. linearthinker has this to say about the order of battle: i.e. that it will be a B-52 strike.
ONLY B-52s? What about the B-1s, B-2s, F-118 Stealth Fighters, FA-18s, F-16s, F-15Cs and the newly operational F-22 Raptors? Doesn't prove anything one way or the other, but it would seem top grade intelligence would have a better rundown on the key items in the order of battle.
Here is a bit more from the "report":
"Observers comment that this dispatch...deserves to be taken with the utmost seriousness by pro-peace forces around the world."
To which linearthinker replies:
In other words, prepare to take to the streets with your cardboard signs and face paint?
Here is my thinking on the nature of the report:

Operational details (time of strike) would not be released to operational units until 24 to 48 hours before the strike. Standard operational security.

If the Ruskys are giving out operational details this far in advance they have just blown their mole in the Pentagon. I think that is unlikely.

If you add in the recent Russian denial of fuel for the Iranian reactor, it may be that this is all a cover for what the real strike will attack and when it will happen. Or it may just be a "recon in force" type operation to see how the Iranians will react. Or it may be an attempt to get the Iranians to strike the first blow out of fear. Or any number of other possibilities.

I'd put this report in the rumor category for now. linearthinker tells me this is getting a lot of play in Europe and that Pat Buchanan's Pitch Fork Brigade is blaming the usual suspects. (Hint: Begins with a J ends with a W and has a vowel in the middle.) Pat blames Pelosi for taking out the "no strike on Iran without prior approval" language from the military appropriations bill just passed by the House. Pat says Pelosi caved to AIPAC pressure.

If this is true and it is designed to set back Iranian weapons production by a couple of years it could fit in with the economic blockade of Iran. However, the necessity of a strike is dependent on what the analysis of Iranian intentions are once they have nukes and how close Iran's enemies think the Iranians are to series production of nuke weapons.

Additional thought: Maybe we are trying to get the Iranians to "bite". Funny name for an operation if it is a true name. Plus what better way to see that this gets widely reported than to put it in the hands of the Bush haters.

Speaking of Bush haters here is the DU reaction.

Just for balance Free Republic chimes in.

H/T commenter linearthinker

Monday, March 26, 2007

Inherited Rights

Palestinians are claiming the "right of return" is an inherited right.

The right of return “is my right, which I have inherited from my parents and grandparents,” said Maha Bseis, 39, a Palestinian whose family comes from Jerusalem. “But if I have the right, I will not return because I was born and grew up here.”
There is no such thing as an inherited right along the lines the Palestinians claim.

In any case the whole idea is bogus. When 5 Arab Armies attacked Israel in 1948 the Israelis asked the Arabs living in Israel to stay. The attacking Arab Armies asked the Israeli Arabs to leave to make fighting easier. Those that stayed are Israeli citizens. Those that left are not. I think that is a pretty good resolution of the problem. No residency, no rights.

Other wise the Sudenten Germans will be asking for return and recompense. Or the Jews driven out of Arab countries for that matter.

H/T Israpundit

Cross Posted at The Astute Bloggers

The Captured 15 Brits

I'm wondering if Iran is repeating the Jimmy Carter/Iran hostage crisis prepratory to British elections?

Squeezing Iran

The Washington Post reports: Iran Feels Pinch As Major Banks Curtail Business.

More than 40 major international banks and financial institutions have either cut off or cut back business with the Iranian government or private sector as a result of a quiet campaign launched by the Treasury and State departments last September, according to Treasury and State officials.

The financial squeeze has seriously crimped Tehran's ability to finance petroleum industry projects and to pay for imports. It has also limited Iran's use of the international financial system to help fund allies and extremist militias in the Middle East, say U.S. officials and economists who track Iran.

The U.S. campaign, developed by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, emerged in part over U.S. frustration with the small incremental steps the U.N. Security Council was willing to take to contain the Islamic republic's nuclear program and support for extremism, U.S. officials say. The council voted Saturday to impose new sanctions on Tehran, including a ban on Iranian arms sales and a freeze on assets of 28 Iranian individuals and institutions.

"All the banks we've talked to are reducing significantly their exposure to Iranian business," said Stuart Levey, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. "It's been a universal response. They all recognize the risks -- some because of what we've told them and some on their own. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to see the dangers."
What are the dangers? Any project started now could be repudiated by the next government in Iran. Who is scaring the bankers the most? Iran's President. The feller I like to refer to as Ahmanutjob.
Ahmadinejad's rhetoric -- from denying the Holocaust to comparing Iran's stock exchange to gambling -- has helped, experts say. "There is very little foreign investment in Iran not because of sanctions, but because of the atmosphere created by Ahmadinejad's crazy statements," said Jahangir Amuzegar, former Iranian finance minister and executive director of the International Monetary Fund.
In recent news a possible naval blockade due to the capture of 15 Bitish marines by the Iranians could hasten their decline.
The Bush administration has taken several other actions in recent months to contain Iran, including deploying two Navy carrier strike groups near the Persian Gulf, arresting operatives of the Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds Force in Iraq and pressing for two U.N. resolutions to punish Iran for not suspending its uranium enrichment program.
Iran is having problems with its gasoline supply. For another it is not maintaining its oil production infrastructure. Iranian net oil output is declining at better than 10% a year. By no later than 2015 its net oil output will be zero. Since oil accounts for 80% of Iran's export revenues the pinch is already starting to hurt and will only get worse.
In December, Iranian oil minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh acknowledged that Tehran was having trouble financing petroleum development projects. "Currently, overseas banks and financiers have decreased their cooperation," he told the oil ministry news agency Shana.
This is a regime on the decline. The question is how fast. In the early days of any blockade the pinch does not seem serious. The longer things go on the more trouble multiplies. Production is cut in industry A due to lack of resources which affects industry B which has not felt the external crimp. This cascades.
Iranian importers are particularly feeling the pinch, with many having to pay for commodities in advance when a year ago they could rely on a revolving line of credit, said Patrick Clawson, a former World Bank official now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The scope of Iran's vulnerability has been a surprise to U.S. officials, he added.

The financial institutions cutting back business ties are mainly in Europe and Asia, U.S. officials say. UBS last year said it was cutting off all dealings with Iran. London-based HSBC (which has 5,000 offices in 79 countries) and Standard Chartered (with 1,400 branches in 50 countries) as well as Commerzbank of Germany have indicated they are limiting their exposure to Iranian business, Levey said.
America has a lock on the international banking system. Only friends get to play.

Let me add the biggest risk factor. What do socialist countries (which Iran is) do when economics gets tough? They nationalize. i.e. they steal the investment. Returns have to be very high to make such risks worth while.

H/T Captain's Quarters where ajacksonian has left a very good comment, as have others.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Palestinians Want Revenge - Against Palestinians

The Palestinians are at it again.

Fatah supporters in Gaza clamored for revenge against Hamas on Saturday as they buried the fourth victim of factional fighting this week. The renewed violence, which also claimed the life of a 4-year-old boy caught in crossfire, raised concerns that the power-sharing deal between the rivals might not hold.

Arafa Nofal, an officer from a security force loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Gaza on Friday.

Nofal's family carried his bruised body, wrapped in Fatah's yellow flag and a Palestinian flag, through the streets of Gaza City. The response is coming, the response is coming, shouted the mourners, including dozens of gunmen.
Rumor has it that Condi Rice is cooking up another peace plan. This plan like all the others will depend on Palestinians wanting peace.

So let me ask. If they don't want peace with each other, why are they going to want peace with Israel? Because they are tired of fighting?

In Islam Does Sex With an Aunt Count As Incest?

I was just looking through my referer logs and found the above search term that led someone to Power and Control.

There be some strage goings in in Islam.

Cheney Captured In Baltamore By Algerians

Bernard Lewis tells us how it happened

In the meantime the Islamic world, having failed the first time, was bracing for the second attack, this time conducted not by Arabs and Moors but by Turks and Tartars. In the mid-thirteenth century the Mongol conquerors of Russia were converted to Islam. The Turks, who had already conquered Anatolia, advanced into Europe and in 1453 they captured the ancient Christian citadel of Constantinople. They conquered a large part of the Balkans, and for a while ruled half of Hungary. Twice they reached as far as Vienna, to which they laid siege in 1529 and again in 1683. Barbary corsairs from North Africa--well-known to historians of the United States--were raiding Western Europe. They went to Iceland--the uttermost limit--and to several places in Western Europe, including notably a raid on Baltimore (the original one, in Ireland) in 1631. In a contemporary document, we have a list of 107 captives who were taken from Baltimore to Algiers, including a man called Cheney.

Allies Cheerfully Betrayed - In Advance

It's Vietnam Time again. The House of Representatives has passed a Cut and Run Bill disguised as a Support the Troops Bill. How clever.

However, we have a lot of clever citizens in America. One of them has something very useful to say.

We must stop this "Hate George Bush" war at any cost.

It is a tremendous roadblock, stalemating the Iraqi war, and tying up the Congress as it tries to come up with more ways to thwart or embarrass the President through the war. Mistakes have been made. But Hating George Bush isn't going to correct them.

"Hate George Bush" involves waiting another two years during which we expend money and troops while awaiting a Democrat president who will inherit, in the least, the same conundrum, two years and perhaps two trillion dollars later. Meantime we will still owe this tremendous moral debt to the Iraqi people.
Here we have another case, like Vietnam, of not supporting our allies.

At least in the case of Vietnam we had the decency to wait until most of the American troops were out of the country.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Polywell - Adding Details

Tom Ligon, a researcher who worked witth Dr. Bussard on the Polywell machines has added a few points to Polywell - As I Currently Understand It. Let me note to start that he thinks the basic description is excellent (with minor corrections). You can read what Tom has to say at General Fusion Theory. I'm going to put it here in my own words to make sure my understanding is correct. If I make a mistake I'm sure Tom will correct it when he gets back from vacation in a couple of weeks or so. Keep your eye on this space.

First point of minor correction. The magnets can be all North poles facing in or all South poles facing in. I picked one just to make the explanation simpler.

The next part is trickier. Here is where the electromagnets come in. We replace the ordinary magnets with coils of wire. You put a current through them and you have an electromagnet. The coils will be shaped to match the face of the solid it conforms to. If the solid is a cube the coils will be square. If the solid is an octahedron the coils would be triangular.

Now here is a part that wasn't clear to me earlier. Once you have the coils all wrapped up nice and tidy like you cover them with a metal sheath which then becomes the + grid.

Here is a nice picture of what it looks like in the WB-6 experimental version:

Fusion Reactor

Note that the coils do not conform to the shape of the solid picked. That is definitely an experimental error and will be corrected in the next version. This is what the Bussard folks call the MaGrid which stands of course for Magnetic Grid. Cooling is definitely going to be a problem because the cooling properties of a high vacuum are not very good. It is why we use vacuum bottles to keep things hot.

Tom points out that the Deuterium should be injected inside the grid so that the atoms are quickly ionized. That gives you a number of engineering problems I'm not going to go into here. Let us get the theory down first. You can't engineer what you don't understand.

Tom says that the plasma physics is probably the hardest thing to understand in the machine. I'd agree with that. You have electric fields, magnetic fields, coils, and charged particles. This is probably one of the toughest areas of physics because of the interactions. Every thing affects everything all at once.

Let's start this next stage with the magnetic field. Here is a nice drawing of what it would look like before any particles are circulating:
Fusion Reactor Magnetics Used by permission of Tom Ligon, copyright 2007
Used by permission of Tom Ligon, copyright 2007

Next lets look at it with electrons in the mix:
Fusion Reactor Magnetics Used by permission of Tom Ligon, copyright 2007
Used by permission of Tom Ligon, copyright 2007

So the electrons are injected into the center of the machine and last a long time. Any electrons that leak out are attracted back in by the grid. As long as the magnetic fields keep the electrons from hitting the grid they can just keep cycling along inside the machine. Long electron life time is one of the keys to net energy production.

Tom claims that in operation the circulating currents inside the machine are very high. Maybe millions of amps. This current of course, like any current, generates a magnetic field. This new magnetic field pushes back on the field around the coils making the field stronger near the coils. Now I'm having trouble visualizing a spherical current that creates north poles on all sides of a shere. Of course if the circulating currents were mirrors of the currents in the coils that could happen. However, I don't see how that happens naturally without creating forces that drive the electrons out of the center of the machine. We will put this down to details to be explained later.

OK some how you have electrons madly circulating around the center of the machine. When I get a better explanation of how this happens I will give it to you. These electrons form a potential well between the electrons in the center and the grid. The potential difference is about 80% of the grid to shell voltage. This is good because it means the electrons are less likely to have enough energy to reach the grounded outer shell where they are lost.

Now you start injecting fuel into the machine.The fuel either comes in as ions from an ion gun or it comes in without a charge and some of it is ionized by collisions with the madly spinning electrons. The fuel is affected by the same forces as the electrons but a little differently because it is going much slower. About 64 times slower in the cae of Deuterium fuel (a hydrogen with one neutron). Now these positively charged Deuterium ions are attracted to the virtual elctrode (the electron cloud) in the center of the machine. So they come rushing in. If they come rushing in fast enough and hit each other just about dead on they join together and make a He3 nucleus (two protons and a neutron) and give off a high energy neutron.

Ions that miss will go rushing through the center and then head for one of the grids. When the voltage field they traveled through equals the energy they had at the center of the machine the ions have given up their energy to the grids (which repel the ions), they then go heading back to the center of the machine where they have another chance at hitting another ion at high enough speed and close enough to cause a fusion.

Hopefully this happens often enough so that there is more energy coming out than going in by a lot.

As you can see there are a lot of loose ends to be tied down on this. There is lots more to understand what is actually happening. Fortunately there are a lot of amateurs working on this and progress is being made with electrostatic machines.

More details on these experiments are going to have to come out before any serious engineering could start.

There is more than enough information here for a serious experimenter to build a test machine to see if this path to fusion holds promise. You might not even need to try fusing Deuterium to do diagnostics on virtual cathode formation and other details on what is going on in the plasma.

Since diagnostics, and not power, are the object, the electron guns could be made oversize to compensate for electron losses. If you could cool the grid with something like Flourinert or liquid nitrogen and crank up the electron injection really high despite the losses a lot of useful information could be found.

So I see two steps at the very beginning:

1. Verify virtual cathode production in a magneto/electric field of minimum size.

2. Scale it up to a test reactor capable of operating the grid at around 30KV (max) at useful currents with Dueterium fuel. It should be possible to test how reaction rates scale with voltage on the grid and current through the coils. You can also monitor electron gun currents vs reaction rates (neutron production) to get some idea of the losses.

The next step after you have some good data (you might need 4 or 5 proto types) is to scale it up to a machine with 1 KW energy production, follow that with 100 KW, then 10 MW. Start the scale up when you are at least 70% confident of the next design. For experimental purposes lots of things can be fixed along the way. In fact depend on the fact that problems that are insignificant at 1 KW will be serious obstacles at 10 MW. That is the key to development. Fixing problems as they come up so as to meet targets for cost, development time, specifications, etc. Solvitur Ambulando.

WB-6 coils were .15 meter across and looked like this under construction:

WB-6 under construction

They were run at around .1 Tesla for .25 milliseconds.

The final article in this series is:

Polywell - Making The Well

Friday, March 23, 2007

Polywell - As I Currently Understand It

I have been trying to understand the Polywell Fusion Reactor invented by Robert Bussard. Here is my understanding to date.

You have six magnets. They are on the face of a cube. The north poles of the magnets all face into the cube. There is no magnetic field in the center of the cube, because identical poles repel each other's fields.

Behind the cusps formed in the magnetic field is a grid. The grid conforms to the cusps of the field.

Surrounding all this is a vacuum chamber.

The vacuum chamber is at ground potential. The grid at some high + voltage (H).

There are gas atoms in the chamber. Deuterium (D).

Electrons are injected into the chamber from the chamber walls.

The electrons are accelerated by the high voltage to H ev (electron volts - a measure of energy).

Some electrons moving into the center of the vacuum chamber ionize some of the D to D+ due to collisions.

Through some mechanism I'm not yet clear on the electrons clump in the center of the chamber forming a virtual cathode (negative electrode) and in conjunction with the + grid forms a field internal to the grid.

This field attracts D+ to the center of the chamber.
Stuff happens.

Electrons repelled by their clump in the center of the machine and attracted by the field made by the clump and the + grid, head for the + grid. The magnetic field deflects them so they do not contact the grid. As they get outside the grid the field between the + grid and the chamber walls attracts the electrons back towards the grid wich they sail through because it is mostly empty space and decelerate towards the center where the electrons are clumped.

You can follow my evolving understanding of the Bussard Reactor at:

Polywwell - Adding Details
Polywell - Making The Well

Thursday, March 22, 2007

See CO2?

Thanks to Eric at Classical Values I have come across some very interesting numbers about CO2.

Let us start at the beginning. Before the advent of fuel burning industry the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 288 parts per million (ppm). By the year 2000 man had added 11.88 ppm to that total and nature has added 68.52 ppm to the total. Which means that if the effect is linear (it is not for reasons I won't go into here) and man has added about 15% of the CO2 that has been added to the atmosphere and the temperature rise has been about 1.1 deg F (.6 deg C). Then man made CO2 has been responsible for at most about .15 deg F (.1 deg C) of climate change. Which fits in well with Nir Shaviv's analysis, which says that solar variations accounts for .9 deg F (.5 deg C) of global warming.

That is the best case for the global warming guys. Because parts of the argument are wrong. It assumes that the whole of the warming is caused by CO2. For the sake of argument let us say that the solar contribution is 80%. That would mean that the increase in CO2 is responsible for about .22 deg F (.1 deg C) of the global warming. Man's contribution would then be 15% of that or about .033 deg F or (.015 deg C).

I wonder if any one has told Al Gore?

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Fusion Newsgroup

I have just started an IEC Fusion newsgroup. IEC stands for Inertial Electrostatic Confinement. Devices like the Farnsworth Fusor or Dr Bussard's Polywell machine. It will cover technology. Research advances (or set backs). Financing more research. etc.

For starters here is a message from the second person to join the group Tom Ligon:

MSimon, you successfully dragged me over from Helps that I just joined a Yahoo bicycling group and had not yet forgotten my user name and password!

For the newcomers, I worked for R. W. Bussard on his fusion project for over 5 years, and think he's figured out how to save the world. I am a science fiction author for Analog, and wrote a fact article
[pdf-ed.] for them on IEC that won an Analab award for 1998.

I'm sometimes credited, due to that article, with starting the amateur fusion movement centered on, but actually that was mostly the doing of Richard Hull. I got Richard started, then he turned it into a movement. Writing that article was Dr. Bussard's idea.
If the subject interests you and you would like to be kept up to date go to IEC Fusion and join up. We will be happy to have you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Helpful Bunch

Popular Science looks at Thiago Olson's fusion reactor.

How did he do it? Olson pored over graduate-level physics textbooks, studied vacuum-pump manufacturers’ manuals, and scoured the Web for cheap parts. Though mostly self-taught, he occasionally solicited advice on a fusion Web site. Once, he posted photos of a cheap photomultiplier tube he’d bought online because he had no idea how to rig it up. Another fusioneer on the site who had the same model promptly told him which wires went where. Amateur nuclear engineers are, it seems, a helpful bunch.
Yes we are.

BTW there is a short video of the reactor in operation at the Popular Science site. Or if you prefer you can go directly to Youtube.

Israel Promises To Help

The EU monitors of the Gaza - Egypt border are afraid for their lives.

Fearing for their lives, European Union monitors stationed at the Rafah Crossing that connects the Gaza Strip and Egypt have asked the defense establishment for help in drawing up escape routes from Gaza in the event of an attack on the border terminal, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The monitors, led by Italian Maj.-Gen. Pietro Pistolese, have raised concerns in recent weeks for their safety following a series of threats to their lives. An Israeli defense official told the Post that several weeks ago a large bomb was discovered on a route used by the monitors to drive through Gaza.
No worries mates. Israel has promised to help. They have accepted the third of three proposals.
The third proposal, which was accepted by the EU monitors, was to make a dash for the Gaza security fence that separates Israel from Gaza, where they would be rescued by the IDF.

"They want to know that we will help them escape if the need arises," the defense official said. "Their concerns are understandable if you take into account the large number of threats they face."

The increasing threats against the monitors have raised concerns in Israel that the EU would refuse to extend the monitors' mandate, leaving the Gaza-Egyptian border completely open. Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem rejected this possibility and said the agreement would be signed in the coming days as planned.
So there you have it. The Italian military is afraid of threats. Not of actual attacks carried out. Just threats. It looks like another case of the West being burdened by the Italians in a war. Winston Churchill said it best when asked about Italy's alliance with the Germans in the WW2 era. "It's only fair. We had to have them in the last war." My first mate is Italian. Wonderful people. However, their fighting spirit is nothing like it was 2,000 years ago. Well, you go to war with the allies you have...

ITER - The Other Side

I have been going hot and heavy on the Bussard Fusion Reactor. I think it is time to present the other side. DNA India reports: ITER is ‘the way’ to the future of energy. Well I don't believe it. I think ITER (The International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor) is doing wonderful physics. The chances for a working power plant from this effort, in my opinion, are slim and none. From DNA India:

Ever wondered what makes the sun so hot? The process is called fusion and it involves the coming together of four hydrogen nuclei to form a helium nucleus. It is accompanied by the release of huge amounts of energy which we get in the form of light and heat. Now, scientists are trying to replicate the fusion process in an experimental project and India is playing a crucial role in it.

The International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor (ITER) project is a joint international research project that will demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power. The countries involved in this one-of-its-kind project are USA, European Union, Japan, Russia, India, China and South Korea.

Carlos Alejaldre, deputy director general of ITER, who was in Mumbai to attend a colloquium at BARC spoke extensively on the project. Terming it as one of the most challenging projects ever, Alejaldre said the project would integrate together key technologies from various fields.

So what is the project all about? “The project involves production of 500 MW of power for a considerable amount of time by fusing deuterium and tritium (both are isotopes of hydrogen),” Alejaldre said.

And this is no ordinary power production by any means. “Deuterium and Tritium would be fused at temperatures ranging from 100 to 200 million degrees and at pressure of 106 atmosphere,” he added.

The construction of the reactor would begin in 2009 and it will become operational in 2016.
That is seven years of effort. Added to the 40+ years already invested in the project.

The one thing you have to say about it is that it is training a lot of plasma physicists.
Alejaldre believes the advance in fusion technology has been faster than Moore’s law which predicts advances in the power of computer processor. “ITER represents a quantum leap in fusion power production. The maximum amount of power generated in a fusion power plant so far was 16 MW. In ITER, this number will swell to 500 MW,” he said.

So when will the fusion power of ITER actually reach home? “ITER is a purely experimental project. The 500 MW power won’t be connected to the grid. However, if all goes well with ITER, a machine considerably bigger than ITER should start generating electrical power by 2040.”
He neglects one important detail. It is easy to get 500 MW out if you are putting 1,000 MW in. So far no reactor in the ITER series has produced net power. The ITER will have lots of superconducting magnets. Be 31.5 meters (103 ft) high and weigh as much as an aircraft carrier. That would put it in the 100,000 ton range.

It will also be a huge neutron generator, making it excellent for producing plutonium from uranium.

By contrast the Bussard design, Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion, when fueled with Boron 11 produces no neutrons, would be about 6 ft across for 100 MW output and about 8 ft across for 500 MW output. Plus it could deliver power to the grid without the need for steam generators, turbines, generators, steam condensers, and the rest of that kind of thermal plant that ITER requires to turn its output into electricity. BTW such a plant operationg at the highest standard temperatures for steam plants could turn maybe as much as 40% of the thermal energy into electricity. Sixty percent is a big giveaway in terms of making the ITER monsters practical.

The Bussard design is a better bet and if it works power plants could be in mass production in 15 years or less from the day the final research and development work starts.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Children As Decoys

Using children as decoys is not the worst part.

They killed the kids.

Canada's National Post reports Children used as decoy in Iraq bombing

WASHINGTON — A U.S. general Tuesday said Iraqi insurgents used children in a suicide attack this weekend, raising worries that the insurgency has adopted a new tactic to get through security checkpoints with bombs.

Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations in the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, said adults in a vehicle with two children in the backseat were allowed through a Baghdad checkpoint Sunday.

The adults then parked next to a market in the Adamiya area of Baghdad, abandoned the vehicle and detonated it with the children still inside, according to the general and another defense official.
And yet our lefty friends tell us this is another reason to leave Iraq to the tender mercies of this scum. Such humanitarianism.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What If The Chinese Beat Us To It?

I have been obsessed the last couple of days with the Bussard Fusion Reactor.

While reading around I have gotten the most depressing news. What if the Chinese get there first? Or the Russians. There is a lot of technical stuff in the article and Dr. Bussard talks about why raising funds is so hard. Then he gets down to his current situation.

Bussard is getting discouraged.

"The [U.S.] government, I don't think, is going to do anything," he said.

So he has begun to look elsewhere. Last October he published a paper detailing his work for the 57th International Aeronautical Congress in Valencia, Spain. In it he named eight countries, including China, India, Russia and Venezuela, that "could logically develop interest" in his research.

In November, Bussard presented his work in a 90-minute lecture at the headquarters of the Internet search engine Google.

The lecture is archived at [here with a text preview of the geo-political points - ed.] and had been viewed 87,700 times by early March.

The lecture generated a lot of e-mail, but so far, no funding, Bussard said. His next effort may be a book-length publication detailing his fusion work.

Much as supporters Gay and Triola want to see Bussard's fusion work resume, they worry about the broadening appeal for funding.

"My concern is China," Gay said. "If they have more vision than we do, they could jump on it."

Triola shares the worry. "I think it's a matter of engineering now, not physics any more. Once Bussard gets enough publicity, one of our not-so-friendly allies, probably the Chinese, will go do it."
It will all depend on who owns the patents.

Current grid structures with no magnetic shielding are about 98% transparent. Dr. Bussard says he has improved that by a factor of 100,000. That would make the losses in the range of 2E-6 much better than the expected requirement of 1E-4 or 1E-5.

The critical thing to do now is to go ahead with the low power pulsed experiments with better instrumentation to verify the results and if that proves out go whole hog. Dr Bussard says that the full scale reactor will take 4 to 5 years to design and build. However, if a full scale reactor was run in a short pulse mode. Say 1 millisecond pulses once a second. Copper coils could probably do the job and test out the full scale reactor while the superconducting coils for actual power production were being contracted for and fabricated.

For a 100MW reactor operating in a 1 millisecond per second pulsed mode the total power involved would be about 100 KW. Very tolerable for a system designed for full load operation at 100MW.

Such a program would allow for faster evaluation and design changes before every thing is completed.

It might allow for a full scale proof in much less than 5 years and possibly reduce the cost to $20 million to $50 million instead of the $200 million required to build a power plant. Once we know what to do we can pour on the coal (so to speak ) with higher cost but much lower risk.

That is the big deal for every business. Managing risk.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Bussard Fusion Discussion

There is a very interesting on going discussion of the Bussard Fusion Reactor at NASA Space Flight Forums. I'm going to excerpt some choice bits but if you are nerdy like me you will want to read the whole thing. Here is a bit from Dr. Bussard explaining why funding is hard to come by.

As for energy companies "stampeding" to support us -- It is clear that a view like this is ignorant of the reality of energy companies. There is only one thing the oil cvompanies want, and that is to sell oil, and more oil. So long as the fields pump, the oil companies will squeeze. They have NO, absolutely NO interest in anything new, ins spite of all their foolish ads in magazines for wind mills and solar-PV roofs. It is all just show and tell. I know these guys, and there is no way they would support anything that might get in the way of oil. The only way to stop oil, from their view, is when it does run out. And then they''ll go for deeper drilling, new fields, Gulf geopressure gas, LNG, etc, etc, and keep raising the price, until finally foolish solar and windmills become competitive.
Tom Ligon gets technical:
At one point in his paper, Rider seemed to make the assumption that the machine would maxwellianize because all plasmas maxwellianize. That's how plasmas are usually taught. But a properly designed IEC machine has a very non-maxwellian energy distribution, and ions reaching the center are nearly mono-energetic. IEC machines are particle accelerators, not heat machines. The only place where a properly-run machine maxwellianizes is close to the inner surface of the MaGrid, where the ions slow down and turn around for another pass. At that point, the density is high and they actually do maxwellianize ... and in the process equalize out any kinetic energy imbalances they developed due to collisions at higher energies. Rider raised the objection that the high energy non-fusion collisions would result in maxwellianization, and the machine itself responded by using maxwellianization to fix the problem!

The whole key is finding a density low enough to allow decent mean free paths for the ions when transitioning most of the radius of the machine, but still high enough that fusion is likely in the high-density central focus region. Done right, you find this sweet spot, which is not unlike finding the right fuel/air ratio to make an internal combustion engine run.
Maxwellianize means that the plasma would have the energies of its particles thermally distributed. That means few at high energies most at a lower energy peak and almost none with zero energy. It would look like this. As the temperature rises the peak flattens and the peak also moves to a higher velocity. You don't see this effect in the Bussard reactor because it is in effect a linear accelerator and the atoms and electrons are not in any kind of thermal equilbrium. They are constantly exchanging energy with the electric field as they move in and out of the reaction volume.

There is lots more including lots on space flight possibilities and more on Dr. Bussard's funding problems.

To view the thread with posting options go here.

Build Your Own Fusion Reactor

As many of my readers know, I have become obsessed with the Bussard Fusion Reactor.

There is a bit of amateur scientist in me so I've been on the look out for general directions for making a fusion reactor in a garage or basement. So far 18 amateurs have replicated this experiment.

You could be next. Total cost if everything is bought new should be under $2,000. If you are a good scrounger $500 might do.

Fusion Reactor Experiment

Simple demonstration device, built by Worcester Polytechnic Institute sophomore Joshua Resnick as an extracurricular project, sets up a high voltage between two sets of spherical electrodes made from joined metal rings. A transparent bell jar allows the assembly to be placed under low pressure without obscuring the view of the glowing plasma when the device is energized.

The amazing thing about such a device is how amazinly simple it is. There is a fair amount of support equipment required - high voltage generators, vacuum pumps, gas supply regulators, etc. , but the reactor itself is just some grid wires and a vacuum chamber.

Now for the more technical details. Richard Hull[pdf] of Tesla Coil Builders of Richmond, 7103 Hermitage Rd., Richmond, VA 23228, has done an excellent job of explaing the how tos. Microns an torrs refer to levels of vacuum.
The “fusor” can work in several modes based on the materials used, the gas included in the device, and the pressure of the gas. Experimental possibilities are endless and the device itself is interesting to watch. At its low end of operational performance (above 1000 microns) it is working as a conventional glow discharge device but is still more interesting than a plasma globe. Near the top end of its operational performance curve it can produce neutrons through the D-D reaction. This performance curve is still not well defined! The large number of variables make for a great research opportunity.

Nothing is particularly critical in the fusor’s physical construction regardless of mode of operation. A good scrounger with a modest vacuum system that can go to 10 microns should be able to assemble the entire device for under $50.00. Buying every thing new except for the vacuum system might drive the cost to $300.00. With a high vacuum system (10-6 Torr), bell jar or stainless steel chamber, and about $400.00 you can be producing neutrons.
There are quite a few technical details given in the article plus a design for a high voltage power supply.

One modification I would suggest is dividing the bleeder resistor into two strings each with an LED in series (at the ground end) as indicators of high voltage. Use the highest efficiency LEDs you can get so even relatively low voltages can be seen. In addition I would add a third divider for exact voltage measurement. That divider should be designed so that it shows 2.0 volts for a 20 KV output. Current through that divider should be on the order of 100 uA for 20 KV output. As in all high voltage work the low voltage part of the divider should consist of two parallel resistors so that a malfunction of one does not leave the low end of the divider disconnected.

All the wiring should be done with solid core spark plug wire. All connections well soldered and covered with glyptol to prevent corona discharge.

If any one in the local area needs help I'd be glad to lend a hand. If you are a distance away e-mail will work.

Nice resource page by Richard Hull.

A good overview with some construction details and safety precautions by Tom Ligon.

High Voltage Tips

Overall Construction Tips

Cross Posted at Classical Values

High School Student Builds Working Fusion Reactor

I just came across this over at the Netscape blog.

This is amazing news, a high school student name Thiago Olson managed to build a fully-functioned nuclear fusion reactor in just 2 years.
There are a number of non believers. However, the first such device of this kind was built in 1959.

Since then there have been a number of advances in the field like the one's detailed in Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion.

Latest Gadget has more:
...Olson’s nuclear fusion reactor won’t work for generating commercial power because it takes more energy to run it than to produce.
Which is true. Grid losses prevent net power gain. However, if the grids are replaced with magnets as is done in the Bussard design, net energy production looks like a very likely prospect.

Money is being raised (on a donation basis for now) to build a small prototype to repeat earlier experiments (with refinements) and to get a better definition of the reaction constants.

Using this reactor as a power source would lower the cost of alcohol distillation into the range where alcohol would be a cheaper fuel than gasoline.

This is a high risk venture. I'd guess the chances of succes are around 80% although it might be as little as 10%. In any case the cost of the experiment ($200 million for a working prototype) is about .002% of GDP. Certainly we can afford such a risk given the rewards.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Worst President Of The US

Lincoln was the worst president of the US. Look at how many Americans he killed.

Look at his corrupt draft system.

Look at the corruption in buying war supplies.

His Secretary of War was continuously beat up by the press.

He illegally suspended habeas corpus.

He had traitors in Congress removed.

He had terrible Generals and a Generals revolt. A General ran against him in 1864.

The Democrats reviled him and wanted him to stop the war and make peace with the South and forget about slavery.

He was the reason that for over 100 years Republicans couldn't get elected in the South.

Bush? Not even close.

See also Copperheads

Let's Make It Happen

There is a site up to collect donations to make the Bussard Fusion Reactor a reality.

If you are interested have a look at EMC2 Fusion.

I have no idea how reputable the organization is so you might want to look into that before sending money. They do have some nice pictures of Dr. Bussard's experimental devices.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Man Who Beat the DC Gun Ban

Robert A. Levy is the man who beat the Washington DC gun ban.

Meet Robert A. Levy, staunch defender of the Second Amendment, a wealthy former entrepreneur who said he has never owned a firearm and probably never will.

"I don't actually want a gun," Levy said by phone last week from his residence, a $1.7 million condominium in a Gulf Coast high-rise. "I mean, maybe I'd want a gun if I was living on Capitol Hill. Or in Anacostia somewhere. But I live in Naples, Florida, in a gated community. I don't feel real threatened down here."

He is 65, a District native who left the city 40 years ago for Montgomery County, a self-made millionaire who thinks the government interferes too much with people's liberties. He was an investment analyst before he sold his company for a fortune and enrolled in law school at age 49. Now he's a constitutional fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, working in his luxury condo 1,000 miles away.
There is lots more. GRTWT

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Mr. Fusion

Instapundit says that we will need coal, oil, and natural gas for some time even if some one invents Mr. Fusion tomorrow. Which is true.

However, Mr. Fusion was invented yesterday (several years ago actually).

It was invented by Dr Robert Bussard formerly of the AEC fusion office. He did the work under a Naval contract.

The Bussard Fusion Reactor will lower electrical costs at the busbar by at least 10X over coal or fission nuke power plants. Capital cost for electical plants using the Bussard Fusion design will decline by at least 5X mainly because no turbines, condensers, steam generators or electrical generators are required. With such a lowering of costs and simplicity of required equipment, roll out will be very fast.

The reactor is just a big sphere surrounded by electro-magnets. The main cost of the plant is converting the 2 million volts DC output to AC for local use. The direct 2 million volt output would be great for long distance transmission. Although the plants could be sited in just about any reasonably sized electrical yard since any required cooling would not requre a water supply. Air cooling would work fine.

The power generator is about 10 to 12 ft across for an output between 100 MW and 1,000 MW. Power output scales as the 7th power of size. Double the size and you get 128X as much power.

No thermal plant is required. Thermal plants - steam generators, turbines etc. - are long lead time items. They can take from 3 to 5 years from start of production to delivery. The Bussard Fusion Reactor output is direct 2 million volts DC. (a very large battery).

Unlike fission plants there is no fuel stored in the reactor core = no Three Mile Island kind of problems. Turn off the electricity or turn off the fuel and the reaction stops.

It would make a good rocket engine for fast interplanetary travel.

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion - video plus technical details.

Dr Bussard needs $2 million in start up funds to verify reaction constants. He will need $200 million for a test reactor.

The fuel is Boron 11 which is very abundant. We have 200,000+ years of reserves on the planet if it is used exclusively for power. Most borax is used now for borosilicate glass.

Let me take this time to specifically thank the crew at Classical Values, Justin and Eric, for giving me a heads up on this.

Update: 11 May 007 2002z

There is a petition started on 20 Nov 2006 calling for Congress to support the Bussard Fusion Reactor.

The short version: Dr. Bussard has a Navy contract that is unfunded.

Also please write your Government to urge them to fund the Navy contract:

House of Representatives
The Senate
The President

In addition Dr. Bussard is taking donations to help fund his work at EMC2 Fusion.

Update: 30 Aug 007 0032z

The US Navy has funded the next phase of Polywell research. This is no reason to let up. The Navy plans a five year program to construct a 100 MW test reactor. With more money they could speed up development. With enough cash a three year time line ought not be difficult. Two years is an outside possibility if we really pour it on.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Great Global Warming Swindle

Google has the video. (a little over an hour)

Eric at Classical Values discusses why the "warming is man made" folks want to shut down debate. Lots of good links.

You might also find Climate Alchemy - Turning Hot Air Into Gold of interest.

Michael Berg Blames Bush

Michael Berg blamed Bush for the death of his son Nick. (see the video at the link).

I'm sure it had nothing to do with Nick being Jewish and American.

Gateway Pundit has lots more on the small rally. Pictures, videos, comments.

Cross Posted at The Astute Bloggers

Friday, March 16, 2007

Making A Favicon

For some time now I have wanted a custom icon for my browser tab. It is really simple to make one. Here is how to do it for Blogger blogs.

Make a picture with your digital camera or scanner and save it as a .jpg on your hard drive.

Go to FavIcon from Pics and hit the browse button to get your saved image from the directory you saved it in.

Then hit Generate FavIcon.ico button. It will ask you where you want to save the .zip file. Save it.

Go to the directory the .zip file was saved and right click on the file and do an Extract All....

You will have a file called Favico its extension is .ico You can change the name of the file if you like.

Post this file as a web page. I use My Web Page by Netscape.

Once the file has a url, save the url some place useful like a text file.

Then go to your blogger editing tools and click on Template. Then click on Edit HTML

Look for the tag <head>

Right below that tag add the following HTML

<link href='url of Favicon' rel='shortcut icon'/>
<link href='url of Favicon' rel='icon'/>


All done. Refresh your blog page and your FavIcon will show up.

If you need more help this Google page has lots of good links.

For more help with other blogging tools go to this Google page which is more general.

Thanks to Luboš Motl for the hints that got me started.

Cross Posted at The Astute Bloggers

Climate Alchemy - Turning Hot Air Into Gold

I have been having an ongoing discussion at Jane Galt about climate change. The discussion has been wide ranging, but what I want to focus on is the input data for the climate models and some of the problems with the models themselves.

I'm going to reprise my remarks here with block quotes. Block quotes in italics will be saved for other commenters. Revised and extended of course.

So let us look at the temperature record and how much reliance we should place on the data:

Temperature measurement instruments are not well enough calibrated to measure a 1 deg F signal over a 100 year span. A really expensive and well calibrated instrument re-calibrated weekly could probably measure down to the .1 deg F level in the field. If you have an above average instrument calibrated yearly you might get 1 deg F. Now try extrapolating that back to the days of glass thermometers and humans reading the numbers.

And you want to tell me that within that error band you can find a 1 deg. F (.6 deg. C) signal (temp rise over the last 100 years)?

Oh yeah. Moving the measuring site 30 ft could easily cause as much as 1 deg F difference due to micro climate. Would you care to bet on how many measuring stations have moved 30 ft in the last 100 years? Would you want to make a trillion dollar bet?

OK. We are all libertarians here. When do I get my share of the really good hemp?
I never got offered the hemp. Just as well. :-)

I'm an electronics engineer by trade. I worked in aerospace which is one step below rocket science. Let me add that my aerospace specialty was instrumentation and control. So it is quite possible that I actually know something about the problems of measurement and control.

Commenter Brian Despain (who is excellent on this topic BTW) on March 14, 2007 5:28PM said in a list of talking points:
d)Sorry the urban heat island effect has been accounted for in the models.
The urban heat island effect is about the idea that a measuring station will be in part measuring the heat output of the surrounding population and industry if the monitoring station has a city grow up around it. This is basically the idea that heating and air conditioning will affect the local temperature and give a long term signal that will look like global warming when there is no actual change in the local temperature. Or it will exaggerate the warming. Or reduce the cooling signal. Depending on what is actually happening. I cribbed some of my information from Climate Audit which looks at the heat island effect in Russia. The comments are chock full of stuff you never hear about from the "CO2 is causing global warming" folks.
There is some doubt as to whether the heat island correction is correct.

Hard to tell since the models and the data used in them is hard to extract from the "scientists".

In any case the error band is assumed to be .006 deg C per decade. Which is .06 deg C per 100 years. 10% of the ESTIMATED global warming signal. And that is the best case estimate of uncorrected error from one cause. How many other causes of error are there? Enough so that the signal = the noise?
When the signal equals the noise the value of the data is very questionable. Typically at minimum you want a signal that is twice the noise contribution FROM ALL SOURCES.
Brian says.

Why is it that we don't see critiques in specific climate models?

I think he means "Why is it that we don't see critiques of specific climate models?". Which is the question I answer.

Simple really. The "scientist" do not make their models or data sets public except under duress. Even with pressure the releases are often partial.

I have designed servo systems where the models are excellent and based on first principles (physics and control theory). A very good model will give results within 10% of real performance. And we are to assume that the much more complicated climate models are within 1%? I don't think so.

Climate models (as far as is known) are full of fudge factors to make the numbers come out right. So the models are proably not good predictors and are not based on first principles.

Just one example - an error of 1% in the "cloud" factors would destroy model validity. Do able you say? The data sets are no better than 1% accurate. Probably worse. Plus it is not known if the sign of the cloud factor is positive or negative let alone within 1% of the real value. It is just assumed to be some value.


We are to spend trillions based on models that are poor and data that is far from solid at the required accuracy?

Measurement to high enough accuracy is very difficult today. Then go back 100 years (the start of the data) and the accuracy is worse.

Based on unknown models (where the transfer function factors are not known to the required accuracy) and poor data sets you want to place a trillion dollar bet?

It is a con game.

Which just goes to show that if stuff is complicated enough you can design a good con without too much effort if you can conceal your methods. Better than alchemy.

Hot air into gold. Climate alchemy.
Some posters in the thread are suggesting places to look for honest sceptics.
Nir Shaviv's blog, in particular the CO2orSolar post and comments.

I also highly reccommend Nir's stuff.

For the more technically minded:
From Nir Shaviv's blog:
Another interesting point is that the IPCC and the climate community as a whole prefer to rely on global circulation models which cannot predict the sensitivity (to better than a factor of 3 uncertainty!), and they choose to ignore the empirical evidence which shows that the climate sensitivity is actually on the low side.

IPCC bias
More from Nir:
Second, if he would have sent me that article before publishing, I would have pointed out various inaccuracies in it. Here are some details in the article:

* "Against the grain: Some scientists deny global warming exists" - given that I am the only scientist mentioned in the article, I presume it is meant to describe me. So, no, I don't deny global warming exists. Global warming did take place in the 20th century, the temperature increased after all. All I am saying is that there is no proof that the global warming was anthropogenic (IPCC scientists cannot even predict a priori the anthropogenic contribution), and not due to the observed increase in solar activity (which in fact can be predicted to be a 0.5±0.2°C contribution, i.e., most of the warming). Moreover, because empirically Earth appears to have a low sensitivity, the temperature increase by the year 2100AD will only be about 1°C (and not 2°C and certainly not 5°C), assuming we double the amount of CO2 (It might certainly be less if we'll have hot fusion in say 50 years).

No Interview
Did he say hot fusion? You know how that gets me going.
Hot fusion has very good prospects:

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

So far this program can't even get $2 million in funding for the preliminary research. Or the $200 million for a test reactor.

So tell me. If AGW is real why haven't the AGW folks latched on to this?

I claim politics. A cheap and easy solution is not in the interest of the control freaks.

If spending trillions on reducing CO2 output is a good idea why is it so hard to raise .02% of that amount for a program that will reduce electrical costs by a factor of 10X and be ready for production in 5 to 7 years?

Such a lowering of electricity production costs would insure a very quick roll out.
Then I look at some of the known model uncertainties. Nir again.
The 15% temperature variations were a misquote by Kathleen Wong from a long ago published article in the California Wild. Her error was that she accidentally omitted "cloud cover". It should have been "as much as a 15% variation in the cloud cover, which cause large temperature variations" (of order 5 to 10 degs).

From the above "No Interview" link.
Then there is this great reply from one of the commenters:
M. Simon:
Thank you for the points as to the relative accuracy of air temperature measurements. I have similiar experiance and training (MSEE) and agree that a +/- 1 degree F accuracy over any reasonable time span is about the best one could expect from the current location and equipment contained in the typical NOAA site. Considering those records and comparing them to prior records obtained from mercury thermometers adds another source of variance. Yet, we are told that a supposed increase of 0.6 degrees C in mean annual "Global" temperature since 1900 (?)is not only accurate but meaningful. Prior to November of '06, NOAA's records indicated that the decade of the 1930's was the warmest decade of the recent past and that, at least in Ohio, the warmest year was not 1998 (or 1999 depending on what news conference one selects) but rather 193x. However, Dr. Hansen, et al, have now quietly "adjusted" those records so that the 1930 temperatures are now in "3rd place". Reportedly, a "computer error" resulted in the loss of the prior data. Additional comments about this development can be found at Of cource, this is just my opinion and according to previous posts, I am biased against science-see my posting "name" to confirm that.
Posted by: MikeinAppalachia on March 15, 2007 1:07 PM
Then I respond to another of Brian's points.
Brian says:

However the speed of the current change is different than previous climate changes.

Are you telling me we can go back say 3 million years and get data in even 10 year increments for that period?

If your data points are less than 2X of the frequency you are trying to assess they are useless. It is called the Nyquist limit for those interested in data reconstruction. Normally for rate of change stuff, if you want an accurate value, you would like data at 5X or 10X the frequency you want to see.

Looking at data points 1,000 years apart tells nothing about 100 year rates of change. For 100 year rates of change data every 10 years would be good and every 5 years would be better.
Then in response to the general discussion:
Re: clouds,

We don't even know if we have the sign right let alone the magnitude and yet clouds are admitted by all to be one of the most significant variables.

Since clouds are so significant and the latest experiments show that the sun's magnetic field has a very large influence on clouds (through cosmic rays) then the current models which do not include solar effects on cloud formation are USELESS except for doing very general sensitivity studies.

If current models can predict the past without getting clouds right the models are either lucky or faked.

So are ya feeling lucky?
Back to Brian again:
So Brian,

What is your opinion on the Nyquist limit vs the current data sets? For prehistoric data sets? For geologic data sets? The resolution gets worse the farther back you go.

Given that micro-climate can have a large (1 deg F) impact on the data and a move of as little as 30 ft can cause such a change do we have the information on the location of the climate stations to within 30ft for the last 100 years?

Real science is hard.
Brian eventually gets back to me on the Nyquist question and admits I have made a good point. First I'm goint to cover another of Brian's points about clouds.
This is an assertion - the experiments showed an effect. You have added qualifiers such as "very large" - how large is yet to be determined

Yep. And until we know how large the models are not to be trusted for making trillion dollar bets.

BTW we do not even properly know (leaving out the cosmic ray stuff) if the cloud factor should be reinforcing or deinforcing currently. It is assumed reinforcing. i.e. worst case.

So OK the models show the worst case based on our present state of knowledge.

So do you want to place a trillion dollar bet based on the dice showing sevens 10 times in a row?

I work with model builders for servo systems where everything is bounded. The environment benign. Measurement is easy and accurate (better than 1%) and we still feel good about a result within 10% of the real world. Climate is 100X harder. Data accuracy is worse and you want me to believe that you can come in at better that 1% (3 deg C) accuracy?

You know I find that hard to swallow.

It has to be base on faith not engineering (my field) or science.

I'm looking forward to your exposition on the Nyquist limit with reference to data reconstruction.
Brian gets back to me on Nyquist:
"What is your opinion on the Nyquist limit vs the current data sets? For prehistoric data sets? For geologic data sets? The resolution gets worse the farther back you go."

Background for everyone else.

Simon has a good point. The proxy data we have for older climate data is in my mind crap. Other than ice cores, the various other proxy data (Bristlecone pines etc) are not too trustworthy. Modern data sets are vastly superior (and far larger)

"do we have the information on the location of the climate stations to within 30ft for the last 100 years?"

This might surprise you but yes we have their location. Weather stations are largely used in weather prediction which is pretty important in modern society. I am a little interested in your resolution of 30 ft - How did you determine it? Most weather stations have had fixed locations for a number of years. It makes forecasting difficult to randomly move things around.
Posted by: Brian Despain on March 15, 2007 9:45 PM
Brian is starting to think about the data and its reconstruction. Excellent.

Good on ya re: Nyquist. However that calls your "unprecidented rate of change" statement into question.

Yes the models are on to something. They bound the problem. However, they are suspect because they all come in at the high end of the range. If the cloud sign is negative they would come in at the low end. Or possibly even show that CO2 in the current range makes no difference.

As to moving 30ft for recording stations. That is a heuristic I gathered form a guy who has multiple sensors in his back yard. (comment #75)

BTW did the Russian or Chinese stations move in the last 100 years? Did they keep good records during their many political upheavals? I trust American stations. We have been very politically stable since about 1865. The rest of the world is not so fortunate.

Apply the 30 ft rule to ocean air temperatures measured on the bridge of a ship. Maybe 10 ft off the ocean in wooden ship days and maybe 90 ft with steel vessels. Then you have the problem of powered ships changing the micro-climate vs sailing ships.

Climate Audit

has some good bits on the location stability of recording stations around the world. In any case we are placing our bets based on a measuring system not designed for climate measurements.

Then we went from glass thermometers with human readers to electronic instruments with automatic data recording. The older measurements are only as good as the person doing the measurements. Were they done by random duty officers (for ocean data) or some one who cared? Were the thermometers recalibrated at the ends of the voyage and corrections made for instrument drift? Were the logs faked (a common practice if measurements were inadvertently skipped - I'm ex Navy Nuke so I know how these things are done in the real world). How accurate was lat. and long. known? Before GPS it depened on the skill of the navigator. Errors of 1 mi. in sailing days were very common. Errors of 10 mi. frequent. Errors of 60 mi. not unknown. How well were chronometers kept in 1865? Was recalibration done at the end of the voyage and corrections of position for chronometer drift made at the end of the voyage?

Also. Increses in solar output over the last 100 years accounts for .5 (+/- .2) deg C of the .6 deg C change. Meaning that increased CO2 probably accounts for maybe 20% of the "recorded" temperature change. The cloud thingy could cover the rest.

So it is more than possible that increased CO2 accounts for aproximately zero of the change in "evidence". Do the models show this possibility? None that I've seen reported.

At best the models tell us what kinds of things to look for. At worst they are totally useless.

i.e. if cloud sign and magnitude are this CO2 is important. If cloud sign and magnitude are that CO2 is unimportant.

Yet we hear the multitudes croaking that the science is definite and results confirmed.

I smell a rat.
Brian wants some help with Nyquist. So naturally I volunteer.

Let me help with Nyquist. At a sampling rate of 2X the frequency of interest it is possible to determine if a frequency is present if the sampling rate and the frequency to be determined are not coherent. A long data set would be required to determine the magnitude.

However, if higher frequencies than 1/2 the sampling rate are present at a decent magnitude you have an aliasing problem. i.e the high frequencies are translated to a lower frequency band making low frequency bins higher (or lower) than they should be.

In engineering we like to have low pass filtered data with a sampling frequency of 5X for a sharp cut off analog filter (which smears the high frequency data - phase and magnitude gets screwed) or 10X or even 20X for a first order analog filter (which would smear the high freqencies much less).

Look at the early digital audio stuff. Filters very sharp and sampling at about 2.2X the highest frequencies. OK for audio since the ear is not very phase sensitive at 20KHz. Today the filters are much less sharp (which means the filters themselves are less likely to produce artifacts - which sharp analog filters do) and we sample at higher frequencies and then reduce the data with digital FIR filters which do not have the artifact problem. Which means the recordings are pretty accurate these days. Playback still has the sharp filter problem.

BTW misunderstandings in communication between us have been excellent with respect to giving laymen an understanding of the problems involved in the science so I count that as a gain and not a loss.

Let me also note that if the high frequency events are transient you need the higher sampling rates - 5X to 20X - for good fidelity. Other wise the high frequencies are time smeared.

In the control area these days we like to sample at 100X or even 200X to get precision control. Not possible in the early days of relatively slow computers. The high sampling rates insure peaks will be recorded accurately.
The discussion sort of petered out there so I'm going to leave it at that - for now.

Commenter AMcGuinn has posted this link on weather station siting.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Looking at Doctors and Drugs

Hootsbuddy's Place has a look at how doctors prescribe psychoactive drugs. Not a pretty picture. As Hootsbuddy says:

This remarkable young woman is changing the way I look at people, medicine and just about everything else.
So go read the whole thing.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Meaningless Sacrifice

The New York Times has an excellent report on the dead end of the Palestinian fight to destroy Israel. Even victories like expelling all Israelis from Gaza look like defeats.

“It was always our choice to be fuel for the struggle,” he said. “But our problem now is that the car burns the youth as fuel but doesn’t move. There’s a problem in the engine, in the head. These kids are willing to be fuel, but many have been burned as waste.”

Mr. Zubeidi was a hero of the first intifada. “When I was younger I thought, ‘if I die, that’s natural, it’s for a cause,’ ” he said. “And today I think differently. To die? For what? For these people who can’t agree? That’s what this generation fears. It’s lost, and its sacrifices are meaningless. Is the Palestinian dream dying? In these circumstances, yes.”
Actually this is a very hopeful sign. Wars end when one side loses all hope.

One must also look carefully at what the Palestinian hope is. The destruction of Israel and the expulsion of all Jews from "Moslem" lands. The end of that hope could be the beginning of reality.

A Palestinian father talks about his children's future.

For the Id al-Fitr festival, the boys asked for toy Kalashnikovs and Uzis, and they know all about the crude rockets, the Qassams, that militants fire into southern Israel. “They classify the weapons, they want a particular gun,” Mrs. Assar said. “And when you think of the violence, and what future will we have here? It will be a very violent future.”

Mr. Assar broke in. “The world is moving ahead, and we’re moving backward,” he said. “We’re back to 1948.”
What was 1948? The first Arab war to exterminate the Jews or drive them from Israel. It was a failure for the Arabs.

They commemorate their defeat with Al-nakba Day. Nakba means “catastrophe” or “disaster.” So far Palestinian Arabs have one disaster after another to celebrate. Every few years they come up with a reason for a new holiday.

What happens when a culture is just going through the motions and no longer believes in its own myths? It collapses. The fall of the USSR is a prime example that is less than 20 years old.
In another part of the refugee camp, four black-clad fighters gathered in self-conscious secrecy, members of the Abu Rish brigades, a militant Gazan offshoot of Fatah that opposed the Oslo accords with Israel and has moved closer to Hamas.

Raed, 30, was arrested in the first intifada, when he was 16. He felt a hero at the time, but the political result, the 1993 Oslo accords, “were useless and benefited Israel,” he said. “No one can resist with stones or build a nation without violence.”

Like his comrades, he says he is fighting for the future of his own children, but he has small hopes for them, and large fears. “Hamas and Fatah are so divided, the goal of Palestine disappears,” he said. “I talk about willing my children to be martyrs for Allah, but I honestly wish for them to be safe and healthy, that’s all.”

There is bravado there, but also frustration. None of the fighters, who agreed to talk if their last names were not published, believes a Palestinian state will be established; none can imagine living next to Israel. All of them want to leave and start again, somewhere.
What do you do when your dreams of conquest turn into a nightmare of defeat? If you can, you go some place else to start over.

Where that some where might be is not yet determined. Their Arab brothers certainly don't want them. With their propensity for violence they will not be welcomed in any civilized place. Even conquest only gets you so far when you run out of victims. Then you must return to productive pursuits and produce real fruits. Martyrdom produces no fruit.
Gaza is a poor, chaotic place of 1.5 million people, 70 percent of them refugees or their descendants. Younger, more conservative and more religious than the West Bank, Gaza is the heartland of Hamas, and the people of Gaza are even more constrained by Israeli and Egyptian security restrictions on their travel. There are fewer jobs than in the West Bank, and even more weapons.

With the economy of Gaza shutting down, much of the work available for young people is either in the swollen and disorganized security forces or in the armed militias or gangs, many of them built on clan loyalties, and some of which engage more in racketeering than in fighting. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with considerable financial help from Iran and Syria, are known at least to pay their people, even if Hamas cannot pay full salaries to all Palestinian Authority employees.

Hassan, 21, ran out of money before finishing university, but cannot imagine what he would do in Gaza with a degree. “I look at the graduates here, and their diplomas are useless,” he said. “That’s why I’m in the resistance.”
Before the start of Intifada II the Palestinian and Israeli economies were integrating. Unemployment among Palestinian Arabs has declined from about 35% to about 15% over a four year period. That ended in 2000 with the start of the latest war between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

One of Arafat's henchmen gave the reason for the start of the latest war - well fed people do not wish to fight. So it was Arafat's policy to start wars when the people stared progressing. Economic independence makes rule difficult. People start gaining a measure of independence. Alternate power centers are created. What dictator wants that going on in his back yard?
Khader Fayyad, 46, lives in Beit Hanun and works as an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent, dispatched to every horror.

“I call these kids the destroyed generation,” Mr. Fayyad said. “Nobody pays attention to this generation, except to recruit them, and it’s very dangerous.”

He is proud of 16-year-old Ayman, the brightest of his sons. But he feels unable to provide him a valuable future.

Mr. Fayyad’s own father died when he was 17. But it was a different time, he said — the peace talks, the Oslo accords, the return of responsibility to Palestinians over their lives, Camp David. “We were exposed to the world, to politics, and yes, to Israelis,” he said.

“Resistance and politics must go together,” he said. “Yasir Arafat knew how to use one for the other. Now, there is no politics, no talks, so the sacrifices of the youth are wasted and empty.”

Ayman, however, like most members of his generation, cannot imagine living in peace next to an Israel that has ripped up his town, or becoming friends with an Israeli who has rolled over his schoolyard in a tank.
Which only indicates that their defeat is not yet sufficiently complete. The Germans and Japanese found a way to work with their enemies. To get to that point however they needed to be utterly crushed and face starvation.

Short of that they will have to live with hopelessness for probably another decade before the reality of the situation crushes them utterly.
Mr. Hussein says he has never spoken to an ordinary Israeli. “The only Israelis I see here are either settlers or soldiers,” he said. “They all have guns.”

He hates waiting on people and washing dishes, and says he is still looking for a decent job. But he is also looking to get out — to the United States, if possible, where his sister lives, but “almost any place,” he said, “where I can work and live a normal life.”

He is a Palestinian patriot, he insists. “But there’s no hope here,” he said. “You see the situation. It’s useless to think it will improve. You see it; it just gets worse.”
Just how bad can it get? Very bad even for those trying to leave.
Even the young fighters of the Abu Rish brigade have tried to leave. Muhammad and Saado, both 27, sold their weapons, took bank loans and paid $2,000 for visas and tickets from Cairo to Beijing on Austrian Airlines. They made it out of Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, but the Egyptians put them on a bus, locked the door and drove straight to the airport. For the four days before their departure, they said, the Egyptians then locked them into a crammed airport waiting room.

“A dog wouldn’t use the toilet,” Muhammad said. “They charged us 150 Egyptian pounds a day ($26.30) to use a seat, even the little kids. One Egyptian said, ‘Even a dead body has to pay.’ ” They bribed guards to bring them food and water.

The day of their flight, a Friday, they were brought to the departure hall. But an airlines security guard examined their documents and turned them away. Presumably, the visas were fake. “He looked at us as if we were evil,” Saado said. “There was no respect for us. I hate the Israelis, but I hate the Egyptians more.”

They were returned to the fetid waiting room, and a day later, when there was a busload, they were shipped back, first to El Arish. There they waited for days in an even more disgusting detention area, they said, until the Rafah crossing opened.

“When we finally got back to Gaza, I kissed the soil,” Muhammad said, laughing at his humiliation. “We said, ‘Gaza is paradise!’ ”
In time it is possible the Palestinian Arabs will figure out who their real enemies are. Their leaders and their Arab "brothers" who use them as cannon fodder.

Some want to leave at any cost.
What about those who would accuse you of giving up your rights in your land?

Mr. Hussein turned away. “I don’t care,” he finally said. “I want to live happily.”
First the myth dies. Then the struggle to uphold it even with lip service ends. Once that is over, and it could take a decade or more, new beginnings are possible. Provided they change their operating myth. Building must replace fighting as the motivating ideal. It is very difficult. Not impossible.

Cross Posted at Classical Values