Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Instapundit has brought up a topic near and dear to my heart. Nerds. He gives a few links.

I clicked on this one and got Tom Maguire's view on the subject. Very nice. There was a long discussion in the comments about gangsta culture and its aversion to numbers and all things technical (white).

Some one in the comments was trying to define humanus nerdus and came up with a list which included the following:

unusual conversation skills/topics

There is nothing unusual about wanting to talk about neutron scattering cross sections vs absorption cross sections. Or heat transfer and fluid flow.

Well, I was a Nuclear Reactor Operator in the Navy. About as geeky as you can get and still be a member of the fighting forces. Lotsa numbaz. LOL.

BTW I had some trouble with dating until I put on a Navy uniform. That is when I went from rags to riches. Even better was looking like a hippie (after I got out of the service), ah the 60s.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Home Gun Smitth

The Home Gunsmith.com Has some very neat plans for a home shop built SMG (submachine gun). Here is what the site owner has to say about gun control:

My own view is that the gun not only belongs in the hands of the agents of the state (they can never be disarmed) but in the hands of the people as a whole. This is the surest way of maintaining the correct balance of power between state and citizen. The mad rush of government to create a 'gun free' Utopia will not, of course, have any effect on the crime rate. The criminal, by definition, does not obey the law and is therefore unaffected by any anti firearms legislation. Gun control will, however, create more and more victims of violent crime as long as we allow ourselves to be disarmed behind the smokescreen of 'Crime control'. This is the unpalatable truth you will never read in the media or hear from any politically correct politician.

Unfortunately, while we continue to allow the media anti gun propaganda mills to churn out their lies, myths and misinformation we will continue to see the destruction of the ancient liberties and freedoms once securely enshrined under the "Common laws of England".

When any government deprives a citizen of his freedom or property, the individual must take action to publicise his grievances. To this end, I hope to illustrate in the following pages, the futility of gun control, and that no amount of arbitrary legislation can ever prevent those wanting firearms from owning them. The individual who has the ability to construct his own homemade gun can never be permanently disarmed by any level of gun control legislation.

So as to allow you to get a 'feel' for the subject of homemade guns, the following pages illustrate how a reasonably light weight and portable homemade Machine gun was assembled from readily available 'Off the shelf' materials and components. No lathe or milling machine was required or used.

The firearm that can truthfully be described as "a homemade gun" should be one built using the type of hand tools and materials that the average individual could easily acquire.
The barrel is unrifled so this device will not produce a tight pattern. Where spray and pray is an appropriate tactic this could be an excellent weapon. Spare parts should be easy to come by. Until pipe fittings are made illegal. Don't laugh. Cold medicine is now a behind the counter medicine in the hopes of reducing meth manufacture. As a government tactic this seems to have worked. Now much of our illegal meth is imported. Nice to see our government supporting international trade. This policy also has the advantage of making those with colds suffer if they need more than the government approved cold medicine allowance. The perfect government policy. The War On Some Drugs was always a prototype for the War On Guns. If American gun owners really took this to heart the Drug War would be over in America in short order.

H/T Commenter PRCalDude at Hot Air

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Minding The Campus

I just found a new site (via Instapundit) called Minding the Campus that concerns how the Race, Class, Gender (RCG aka Angry Studies) people are undermining liberal education.

A good place to start is this piece on the Ward Churchill case, recently in the news, by KC Johnson of Durham in Wonderland/Duke Lacrosse case fame.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Saturday, July 28, 2007

It Is Coming

I have a friend who reports on the defense industry. Nice Jewish boy.

He says via e-mail that it is no use wasting your time trying to convince idiots of the obvious (morally it is sound though).

He says a big war is coming. BIG war. Like Pearl Harbor it will unite us. He says it is a waste of time trying to talk to the idiots. He used to blog a lot on the subject. Now he doesn't bother. He says events are the best convincers. Why does it feel like October 1939 all over again? The period of the "Phony War".

Which reminded me of this piece by Herbert E. Meyer at the American Thinker.

For better or worse, it's part of the American character to wait until the last possible moment - even to wait a bit beyond the last possible moment - before kicking into high gear and getting the job done. It's in our genes; just think of how many times you've ground enamel off your teeth watching your own kid waste an entire weekend, only to start writing a book report at 10:30 Sunday night that, when you find it on the breakfast table Monday morning is by some miracle a minor masterpiece.

However horrific it may be, the knockout punch won't knock us out. Instead, it will shift us from playing defense back to offense - and this time we won't hold back. The president will ask Congress for a declaration of war and he, or she, will get it. We'll bring back the draft, send our troops into battle without one hand tied behind their backs by lawyers, and we won't waste time and energy pussyfooting with the United Nations. And if we've closed GITMO by this time - we'll reopen it and even double its size because we're going to pack it. All of this will take longer to organize, and cost more, than if we'd done it right in the aftermath of 9-11. That's unfortunate, but that's the way we Americans tend to do things. And when we do finally start fighting for real -- we'll win.
That would be my assessment as well. In my opinion once Bush took on Iraq and then won the 2004 election the die was cast. What ever political winds were blowing after that the die was cast.

H/T Reliapundit who got me to thinking about this subject with his reports of recent terror alerts.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Friday, July 27, 2007

I Get Around

From time to time I post things at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers that I don't post here in order to keep the bandwidth low. Like Station Of Record which has a picture of one of our official weather stations on which climate modelers depend for their data.

So check out those places from time to time if you want to keep up with all of my writing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Getting Tuned Up

I was reading this article about the revival of the Wankel engine for use in aircraft. However, this is not just any Wankel. It can burn kerosene.

There's nothing wrong in sticking with what works but those motors require 70 to 80 moving parts and still use 100-octane low-leaded (100 LL) fuel that has long been displaced by kerosene for commercial aircraft. There are some new advances in combustion chamber design and electronic management systems that are making it possible to develop a reliable rotary engine for small planes running on standard kerosene jet fuel.

The effort is called EUREKA project E! 2743 KERO and it came into being because Mistral Engines saw the demand for a safer, more reliable motor that could be easily adapted to any model of light aircraft and able to run on industry standard fuel.

Safety and reliability most important in aviation. Advantages of the design include excellent reliability as there are few moving parts, a high power-to-weight ratio, compactness and smooth running compared with conventional piston-engine designs. Moreover, the engine will run on widely available standard commercial aviation fuels.

The Wankel engine has a rotor instead of reciprocating pistons, doing away with any need for crankshafts, pistons and springs and reducing the number of moving parts to only two or three. Modern electronics has now made it possible to overcome timing and injection control complications, resulting also in similar fuel consumption figures to piston engines.
Reading that reminded me that my friend Tom Ligon gave me permission to post something he had sent me in an e-mail. He said Dr. Bussard had seen it and liked it.


Inertial Electrodynamic Fusion and the Internal Combustion Engine

By Tom Ligon

17 June, 2007

Copyright 2007. This article may be copied and used freely to promote Inertial Electrodynamic Fusion. Please attribute the source.


The internet is all abuzz about the fusion experiments of the Energy Matter Conversion Corporation, conducted in the fall of 2005, which Dr. Robert W. Bussard claims demonstrate “proof of concept” of a new way to produce fusion, which he believes will lead to workable powerplants.

A few critics of this approach have used various arguments to either claim that the method won’t work, or that the experiment itself did not produce meaningful results. This article will attempt to show, by analogies to an earlier and well-known technology, just where I believe Inertial Electrodynamic Fusion (IEF) now stands, and what some of the misunderstandings are that limit the critics appreciation of IEF.

At least some of the technical criticisms of the approach are the result of misunderstandings of how the device works. The IEF approach, while it is a “hot fusion” method, is a vast departure from mainstream “thermonuclear” (Maxwellian heat-based) methods. The closest relative to IEF is Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusion, typified by the Hirsch-Farnsworth fusor. The physics of IEC and IEF devices are so different from the heat-based approaches that the critics often simply make the mistake of applying the same assumptions and analysis to IEF machines that they would to a tokamak.

Four test runs of a device called WB6 were run in November of 2005. Each of these produced short but intense bursts of deuterium-deuterium fusion. Each test produced only a few neutron counts. The final test attempt burned out one of the magnets that control electron confinement, ending the experiments. So one of the main questions is, are test results, each well less than a millisecond in duration, and producing only a few counts, truly significant?

The WB6 experiments were conducted as the last of the available funds were running out. EMC2 was forced to close its doors. At present, a non-profit organization, EMC2 Fusion Development Corporation, is attempting to gather funds to re-start the research.

Very early in my involvement with IEF research, I recognized a parallel with internal combustion engines, and could imagine that the earliest developers of that technology might have faced similar criticism from critics who misunderstood their engines. This little parable uses the internal combustion engine to illustrate where IEF is, and what needs to happen to overcome the objections.

The following account is pure fiction, but one can imagine that it could have happened that way.

Dr. Heinrich Klauss greeted his visitors as they entered the dingy industrial building that served as his offices and laboratory.

“Greetings, mein herrs”, he said. “Please, this way to the demonstration room. Refreshments await you. Please, make yourselves comfortable.”

John Bullock sniffed haughtily. “I certainly hope this is not as great a waste of time as I expect. At the very least, I hope you serve decent tea.”

Dr. Klauss bowed politely. “I humbly apologize if the tea is not to your liking, my good sir. But I believe you will find the demonstration interesting. And, I hope, convincing.”

The visitors found their tea and pastries on a tray set up near the door, and then found their seats. Dr. Klauss stepped to a lecture bench at the front of the room. “Mein herrs, do you have any questions before we start?”

Dr. Douteur nodded. “Oui, monsieur. Am I to understand that you propose to use liquid fuel in this contraption? That seems absurd. It is a simple fact that liquids do not burn.”

Klauss sighed. “Upon what do you base that assertion, Dr. Douteur? I do assume you have used oil lamps, and have an alcohol burner in your own lab.”

Dr. Douteur snorted. “But of course. However, in both of those devices, the fuel is conducted via a wick to the point of combustion. The wick holds the fuel in the presence of heat, and the heat vaporizes the fuel, so that it is actually gas that burns. Surely, you will not have a wick in this engine?”

“Why, certainly not a wick,” Klauss agreed. “Fuel is fed to the engine as a liquid, but must burn as a gas. I can either vaporize it, or perhaps use a fine mist of fuel which will quickly vaporize by itself. I chose liquid fuels because they are easy to deliver to the engine, simpler to store on a vehicle than gas, and because solid fuels such as coal are difficult to ignite explosively.”

John Bullock laughed. “I was wondering if you would admit to that. The entire industrial world knows coal is the ideal fuel. And you propose an engine that cannot burn coal? This absurd contrivance of yours will never compete with the good, reliable, safe steam engine … steam engines that burn coal, a fuel that will not explode into a great ball of flame.”

Klauss shrugged. “No, steam engines explode in a great ball of steam.”

Raul Jinete drew a small notepad from his coat. “My good Dr. Klauss, I am mystified how you intend to burn this fuel at all. I have here a set of calculations I have done in which I have calculated the entire range of possible mixtures of your liquid fuel … I believe you say you use ethyl alcohol … and air. I have calculated for a mixture of 100 percent air, and no combustion occurs. I have calculated for a mixture of 100 percent fuel, and no combustion occurs. And I have calculated for a mixture of equal parts air and fuel, and no combustion occurs. That, obviously, covers the entire range of possibilities, so clearly it is not possible to operate your engine on a mixture of liquid fuel and air, wouldn’t you agree?”

Dr. Klauss reached under the lab bench and pulled out a large graduated cylinder, and a small bottle of alcohol. He poured a small amount of alcohol into the cylinder, placed his hand over the top, and shook the cylinder vigorously. He placed a playing card across the top of the cylinder, wiped his hand on his coat, and fumbled in the drawer for a box of matches. He lit a match, moved the card slightly to one side of the mouth of the cylinder, and applied the flame to the gap. A blue flame propagated from the match into the cylinder. The card shot into the air, and a front of flame propagated down the cylinder with a soft “whoosh.”

“Evidently not, Señor Jinete. Perhaps you should have calculated for a mixture between 3.3% and 19% of ethanol in air.”

Dr. Douteur raised an eyebrow. “Do you propose to operate your engine by flipping playing cards in the air? I have a teakettle in my kitchen that produces more pressure than that!”

Dr. Klauss shook his head. “No, no, you fail to understand. That demonstration was at ambient pressure. But the engine compresses the fuel and air to a pressure of about ten atmospheres, and then ignites it. The resulting combustion is far more vigorous that what you just witnessed.”

Señor Jinete began scribbling furiously in his notebook.

John Bullock simply laughed. “So you will force a cylinder to compress this mixture? My dear sir, don’t you realize that this will require work? How can you possibly expect to get work out of this engine if you must put work into it to make it operate?”

Dr. Klauss turned to the blackboard, and drew a pair of Cartesian axes, then drew a figure of two vertical, staggered lines connected by a pair of curves. “Did none of you read my papers? This bottom curve is the compression stroke. Yes, it takes work to compress the mixture. But here,” he tapped the chalk on a vertical line, “I apply a spark to the mixture and it ignites, releasing heat, and, by the ideal gas law applied to a fixed volume, the pressure rapidly, almost instantly, increases. The piston then moves down until it reaches the bottom of its stroke, doing work, but at much higher pressure, so more work is produced than consumed. Finally, here, we open a valve to release the spent gases. The area enclosed by this figure represents the useful work performed.”

Dr. Douteur tugged thoughtfully at his beard. “It would seem to me that your figure must be incorrect. You seem to believe that the combustion will cause the pressure in the cylinder to rise. What you fail to appreciate, monsieur, is that what will actually rise is temperature, and the temperature of the gas will be much greater than that of the walls of the cylinder, and your piston, and so the heat will flow from the gas into the walls until equilibrium is reached, and so you will wind up with no increase in pressure.”

Dr. Klauss closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Releasing it, his face noticeably relaxed a grimace. “Were I so foolish to operate this engine at the pace of French winemaking, then certainly the heat would be lost to the walls. But any reasonable implementation of this technology will operate at many hundreds of cycles per minute, and very little of the heat will be lost to the walls. I have done these calculations, and will happily share them with you should you care to partner with me on the development of this engine.”

Dr. Douteur smiled. “Ah, then it runs at the pace of German lovemaking.”

Señor Jinete cleared his throat. “Pardon me, but it is abundantly clear from these calculations I have just made that there is absolutely no way such an engine can possibly operate. It is very clear that the temperatures produced will be absolutely hellish. At least a steam engine operates at temperatures easily tolerated by metals. But what you propose is to set off high pressure explosions, hundreds of times a minute, far too rapidly for the heat to be extracted. This will shortly raise the temperature of the engine to temperatures far too high to be withstood by any known materials.”

“But the engine will have a cooling system,” Dr. Klauss retorted.

“Ah ha!” John Bullock held his belly as he laughed riotously. “First you say the gas will not lose heat to the walls because you will run it fast, then you admit that it will need to be cooled. And won’t cooling it suck away all the energy that you should be using to do work?”

Dr. Klauss threw up his hands in despair. “Ach, such fools. There is nothing incompatible with these things. Yah, the engine will lose some heat to the walls. Yah, any practical engine will need some cooling to protect the materials of the walls. But properly designed and run, the rate of loss of heat to the walls will be minor compared to the utilization of that heat to do useful work.”

“I will believe it only if I see it,” Dr. Douteur stated bluntly.

“At last, the first reasonable suggestion I have heard all day.” Dr. Klauss smiled. “Hans, please bring the engine in.”

The faithful assisistant opened the door to an adjoining lab, and pushed a heavy cart into the lecture hall. On top of the cart sat a complicated machine, featuring a vertical pipe, on top of which were two levers and a porcelain projection. Various pushrods and wires connected to devices lower down. The pipe was bolted to two heavy brackets rigged with jack screws, which were bolted to the table. Below the pipe was a crank supported on a pair of bearing blocks, with a connecting rod from the crank projecting up into the pipe. The crankshaft had a large flywheel on one end and a hand crank on the other. Hans brought the cart to rest adjacent to the lecture bench.

Dr. Klauss found an eyedropper in the drawer, and filled it partly with some alcohol. “Please notice, mein herrs, that to start this engine, it is not necessary to build a fire and heat water for half an hour. It is necessary only to enable the spark system, make a small quantity of fuel available, and start it moving. Hans, will you kindly turn the crank?”

The assistant carefully took position and placed his hands on the hand crank of the crankshaft. Dr. Klauss stood beside the engine, his eyedropper positioned over a valve on top of the pipe, evidently operated by one of the levers. Klauss nodded, and Hans turned the crank. After several turns, the doctor squeezed the dropper and the engine barked once. Hans staggered as the crank jumped from his hands, and Klauss jumped back.

“Sorry, gentlemen,” he said to his clearly alarmed audience. “Even after running it a number of times, it does take one off-guard. Once again, Hans, and I’ll try to keep the fuel flow steady this time.”

Hans dutifully took position, and turned the crank. This time the engine fired twice.

“Better,” Dr. Klauss said as he re-filled the eyedropper. “Again.”

Hans cranked the engine again, and again it fired twice.

Dr. Klauss adjusted four jack screws on the cylinder mounts. “I am lowering the cylinder to increase the compression ratio. This should make it run more strongly. Hans, you know, of course, to be ready for more resistance. Ready?”

Hans turned the crank again, and this time they were rewarded by three solid firings.

Dr. Klauss bent over to inspect the crank. He picked up an oil can and applied a few drops of oil to the bearings, then adjusted the compression screws again. “One more time for good measure,” he said as he refilled the eyedropper. “Of course, you realize, mein herrs, that any practical engine will have a proper fuel-metering system, perhaps a burette and an air valve.”

Hans clearly needed more effort to turn the crank this time. The engine responded with a single loud bang, and a ragged disk of metal the size of a large coin shot out of the bottom of the cylinder and bounced onto the floor. The engine continued to turn for several seconds, evidently with no compression.

Hans gingerly turned the crank, and felt no resistance. “Sorry, doctor, but the piston evidently failed.”

Dr. Klauss sighed. “Well, that will be all for today, then. Please understand, this piston is cast from bronze, and it is not the best choice. With proper funding I can find a metal which will better withstand the heat and pressure. Bronze is all we can work with in the present facility.”

John Bullock laughed. “Well, I, for one, enjoyed this immensely. Sir, you have, without a doubt, developed the most elaborate, noisy, and impractical means of wasting perfectly good alcohol imaginable. Good day to you, sir. I shall return to my company and tell them that this new engine will never be a threat to our steam engines.”

Señor Jinete picked up his notebook. “I, too, shall now take my leave. You have proved only that it will work for a very short time, and then, as I said, it will not take the heat.” He followed Bullock to the exit.

Dr. Douteur stood pensively, stroking his beard as he gazed at the machine. “A cooling system, you say? Stronger pistons? Have you considered building a case around the crank and filling it with a lubricant? Hmmm. But no, the piston would be uncooled, and then oil striking it would burn. And I think you will never be able to seal the piston well enough to prevent the hot gasses from escaping. And then there is the noise. This will terrify the horses. I am sorry, Dr. Klauss, but call me back if you ever get it working well, and then I will invest in it. Good day, monsieur.”

As the last man left, Dr. Klauss turned to Hans. “Sorry, Hans. We’ll have to shut down then. The landlord has given us only until the end of the week.”

Hans shook his head. “You’ll not be rid of me that easily. I’ll go back to work for my old employer at the machine shop. I’ll find some spare time and make you some better pistons. You work on that fuel burette idea. You and I both know that this engine is the future of transportation. It will be built, mein herr.”

Critics of IEF have four major points of objection.

1) They expect the device will quickly “thermalize”, that is, lose its nature as a particle accelerator and become simply a container full of hot plasma. This is based on the idea that non-fusion collisions in this device will do what they do in a tokamak: create a random distribution of particle energies and directions of movement rather than the orderly motion IEF theory predicts.

2) Because they believe the device will thermalize, they also believe that the resulting energy distribution will cause some ions to acquire more energy than the average, allowing them to escape the “potential well” that confines them. Notice that objection 2 relies on objection 1.

3) The most desirable fuel to burn in an IEF machine is the fusion of a hydrogen nucleus (a proton) with the nucleus of the most common isotope of boron, B11. A criticism has been raised that this fuel is impossible to utilize, with the primary objection being a phenomenon called bremsstrahlung radiation. This phenomenon makes this fuel absolutely hopeless for a tokamak fuel.

4) The objection has been raised that the means of confining electrons in an IEF machine is inherently leaky, and this will pose so great a loss that net power operation will be impossible.

Please realize that nothing a little parable like this will be able to convey will have the scientific rigor to prove or disprove these objections. All I am trying to do is illustrate that there are two sides of the issue, and suggest that the truth requires a correct understanding of the way the device works. If objections are based on incorrect assumptions, the objections will be invalid, just as making assumptions about internal combustion engines based on an understanding of steam engines would likely lead to wrong conclusions.

In my internal combustion energy analogy, the presumption of thermalization might be analogous to the presumption that the machine cannot make power because all of the heat will be lost to the walls. That would be true enough if one simply put hot gas in a cylinder and waited long enough. Someone with a steam engine background might, in fact, be preoccupied with the problem of loss of heat from their boiler. But an internal combustion engine is a dynamic machine, the parts in constant motion, and the combustion occurring in short pulses. Some heat is lost to the walls, but the motion is so fast that the engine still works. Likewise, the term Electrodynamic in IEF emphasizes the fact that everything in these machines is dynamic. While there is some tendency of these machines to thermalize, the opportunity to do so is brief, and not much occurs on any given pass through the machine. And Dr. Bussard describes a self-correcting mechanism of the machine, which he calls “annealing”, which tends to remove any thermal scatter on every pass of the ions.

It is important to know that the process Dr. Bussard describes will only work over a fairly narrow range of density. If the density is raised too far, the number of collisions occurring in the wrong places in the machine will, indeed, cause it to thermalize, but if the density is too low, the reaction rate suffers. Here, the internal combustion engine analogy is very strong, as an internal combustion engine must control the fuel/air mixture fairly precisely. This might have seemed a difficult problem to overcome in the early days, but they invented the carburetor, and later electronic fuel injection. The same will be true of any workable version of IEF.

If this mechanism does, indeed, work as described, it will automatically remove objection 2. If there is no thermalization, there is no upscatter.

Objection 3, bremsstrahlung radiation, is a very complex subject. The essence is that high-velocity electrons, at high density, especially in the presence of ions that have a lot of electrical charge on their nuclei, will cause the electrons to lose energy in the form of x-rays. This objection is not a serious problem for deuterium and deuterium-tritium fuel systems, even according to the critics. The objection does apply to p-B11, which requires much more severe conditions to cause fusion.

Here, we might even extend the analogy to the diesel engine. Diesel fuel is terribly prone to being ignited by the heat of compression, and will cause premature detonation if burned in a spark ignition engine. Alcohol is very resistant to this phenomenon, and gasoline is relatively resistant to it. In fact, diesel engines don’t even have spark plugs, they control ignition by injecting the fuel once the compression stroke is completed. Overall, the Otto and Diesel cycles are very similar, but the more “exotic” fuel requires special measures to achieve proper operation. But diesels are desirable because they can operate at higher pressure, and so more efficiently, than the spark ignition fuels, and the fuel, at least in the early days, was cheaper.

The first way in which the bremsstrahlung problem is mitigated is a natural process of the machine itself. The electrons that form the potential well are at very high energy at the outer boundaries of the machine, but their density is lower there. In the center, where their density is high, they have given up most of their kinetic energy in the process of creating the potential well that drives the fusion reaction. Still, the ions are at their most energetic in the center of the machine, so the objection has been raised that they will “heat” the electrons and make them produce bremsstrahlung. The machine has its own mechanism for correcting this, a process similar to the edge-annealing process, based again on the Electrodynamic nature of the machine. The electrons never spend very long in the center of the machine, so they limit the amount of energy they can pick up there, and they tend to lose that energy back to the ions at the outer edge where that annealing is going on. In addition, the “virtual anode height” in the center of the machine is a function of ion density there, and it can be manipulated to reduce the problem (this might be seen as analogous to changing compression ratio of a spark ignition engine to control detonation). Finally, control of the relative abundance of hydrogen and boron can be used to mitigate the problem. Using all three together, Dr. Bussard predicts that bremsstrahlung can be reduced to easily manageable levels.

That leaves the electron leakage problems from the cusps. That phenomenon was, in fact, a valid objection for one form of these machines, which has been abandoned. The newer form (utilizing a “magrid” accelerating anode for the electrons) is essentially immune to the problem, as it simply recirculates any electrons that leak out. Here, the internal combustion engine analogy is a bit strained, but the closest approximation might be the invention of piston rings.

Finally, WB6 admittedly did not run very long. But it did, in fact, run. Would it be correct to abandon it because it because it burned out a coil after a few brief fusion operations? Had the early internal combustion engine developers felt this way, we might all still be walking. WB6 clearly proved this idea can pop a few times. So the question now is, can we build it bigger, and stronger, and get it firing on all eight cylinders?

I say it is easily worth a try. If you agree, visit EMC2 Fusion, and make a donation.


You can learn more here:

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

The Navy cut off the Drs. funding just as he was getting results. So I have decided to do an end run around the government by designing an open source fusion test reactor.

Any one care to help? You can start here:

IEC Fusion Newsgroup

Details on the design of an open source fusion test reactor.

IEC Fusion Technology blog

Update: 20 Sept 007 1015z

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.

Keep the pressure on your Congress critters. We need to push this as hard as possible if the experimental results are positive.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fusion - False Alarm

I have good news: Navy funds experiment. Official confirmation to follow in the coming weeks. Updated: 26 Aug 007 1040z.

It turns out California To Fund Bussard Fusion is a false alarm:

Here is Joe Strout's comment at Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:09 pm at Talk Polywell.

UPDATE: I got a call back from Bill Maile in the Governor's office. He spoke with the Governor's policy advisors, and in brief, the story is false. This is the first anyone in the Governor's office has even heard of the idea.

He is going to do some research to try and find out the source of the story. Hopefully he'll have better luck reaching somebody at nextenergynews than I have; the site lists no name or phone number, and is registered through domainsbyproxy.com. But maybe a Governor's office carries enough weight to shake loose some real contact information from them. We'll see... He promised to call me again within two hours, and when he does, I'll let you know what he found.
This is very disappointing. However it does raise the visibility of the effort and has gotten some exposure at the Governator's office. It is possible that this may have some good fall out. It is starting to reach political circles. Well, I loved the buzz while it lasted.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

California To Fund Bussard Fusion

Update 02 Sept 007 0217z

It is actually the Navy that is funding Bussard's reactor tests:

Bussard Reactor Funded?

I have inside info that is very reliable and multiply confirmed that validates the above story. I am not at liberty to say more. Expect a public announcement from the Navy in the coming weeks.


False Alarm.

Wonderful News!!!! Governor Schwarzenegger of California is planning to fund Dr Bussards IEC Fusion project.

In a move sure to impress environmentalists and further cement his Earth friendly image, Governor Schwarzenegger is set to launch a multimillion dollar research effort into a revolutionary new source of clean non-polluting power.

The project is focused on the Inertial Electrostatic Fusion reactor invented by the award winning American physicist Dr. Robert W. Bussard. The Radiation Free Fusion Reactor has the potential to change the whole landscape of energy generation, which is usually a choice between bad and worse options that include Nuclear, Coal and Natural Gas systems.

The State of California peak energy usage is about 40,000 Megawatts and is only expected to grow steadily over the coming years . Fusion opens a whole new avenue of cheap clean energy that could not on

ly satisfy growing energy needs but also fuel massive water desalination plants that could help solve California’s acute water shortages.

Fusion is the energy that powers everything in the universe. The sun's energy comes from fusion. Alternatively, fission is the process whereby heavy atoms, which are nearly unstable, are split into two radioactive atoms. Fusion, on the other hand, is when two light atoms merge.

The fusion process invented by Dr. Bussard takes boron-11 and fuses a proton to it, producing, in its excited state, a carbon-12 atom. This excited carbon-12 atom decays to beryllium-8 and helium-4. Beryllium-8 very quickly (in 10-13 s) decays into two more helium-4 atoms. This is the only nuclear-energy releasing process in the whole world that releases fusion energy and three helium atoms -- and no neutrons. This reaction is completely radiation free.
It is not completely neutron free. However, the neutron production is minimal.

This is the break though in funding I have been looking for for the last nine months.

Better than sex.

Here are a couple of links explaining what the excitement is all about:
Bussard Fusion Reactor
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Wonkette Threatens To Sue

Wonkette is threatening legal action against My Right Word for asking is "Wonkette Antisemitic?"

If I understand you and Wonkette correctly, you thought it was cute/clever or whatever, to borrow a term, "Jew--liani", from that clip and, without any comment about its specific ethnic frame of reference, slap it up on a new post the following day. And someone at Wonkette thought that it was so cute/clever or whatever, that they added "Jew York Times" for increased effect, if I am following the thinking over at Wonkette.

Well, I don't think the way you think. I think it was the grossest of manners on Wonkette's part to repeat the "Jew-liani" bit. Even you, now, seem to admit that it was, at the very least, a slur. But where does the "Jew York Times" come in? Are we now in a Jesse Jackson redux of that 1984 "Hymietown" remark? I'm sure you know what I am referring to but since proper blog manners are to send links, try this one: washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/frenzy/jackson
You'll note that Jackson made an emotional apology in the end of the affair.

I reviewed my blog post. I am pretty sure I did not malign, defame, libel or otherwise use any deprecatory term and phrase that is any worse that anything that appears on your site.
When Wonkette was new and actually blogged by said Wonkette, I asked her if she had pictures of ass fn (since at the time, according to her own words, she was reputed to be an expert in the subject). She replied that I would have to find my own pictures, which even then were common on the 'net (I did the research). To go from the sublime (so I hear) to Jew hatred is quite a fall.

In any case given the a f routine I can't imagine how such musings might defame Ms. W. As is usual, threatening law suits against bloggers only brings more attention to matters that the sewers would prefer hidden (and no, that is not a misspelling).


Same As It Ever Was

Commenter haskell at Durham in Wonderland brings to my attention this interesting quote:

Hiram Revels, an African-American senator from Mississippi, wrote President U.S. Grant:
"Since reconstruction, the masses of my people have been, as it were, enslaved in mind by unprincipled adventurers, who, caring nothing for country, were willing to stoop to anything no matter how infamous, to secure power to themselves, and perpetuate it..... My people have been told by these schemers, when men have been placed on the ticket who were notoriously corrupt and dishonest, that they must vote for them; that the salvation of the party depended upon it; that the man who scratched a ticket was not a Republican. This is only one of the many means these unprincipled demagogues have devised to perpetuate the intellectual bondage of my people.... The bitterness and hate created by the late civil strife has, in my opinion, been obliterated in this state, except perhaps in some localities, and would have long since been entirely obliterated, were it not for some unprincipled men who would keep alive the bitterness of the past, and inculcate a hatred between the races, in order that they may aggrandize themselves by office, and its emoluments, to control my people, the effect of which is to degrade them."
Same as it ever was. Only the parties have been changed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Democrat Party Supports Sweatshop In USA

Well if you look at it it appears that the sweat shop was actually supporting the Democrat party. It seems Chairman of the Party, Howard Dean has some 'splainin to do.

..for the last four years, a company Chairman Dean hired to fundraise and do campaign work for the Democratic Party have been breaking labor laws right under his nose. The facts about this story have been rumored over the Internet for years, but late last week, the story officially broke in the Daily Journal, a law publication based in Los Angeles. In the article, Gary Scott reported that Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. (GCI), the contracted company employed by the DNC since 2003, is being sued by four former employees because of labor law violations. The workers claim they were forced to work 10-15 hours per day, six to seven days a week, at a salary of $24,000 per year. The workers allege they received no overtime pay and often had to pay for work related expenses out of pocket. Furthermore, breaks were limited, and lunch and dinner hours were frequently cut short or removed completely. Not only are these hours, wages, and conditions illegal in many states across America, they are, according to the plaintiff’s attorney Robert Nelson, “like something out of Upton Sinclair’s famous labor novel from 1906, The Jungle.”
It appears that the party of the working man (the Democrat Party - according to the party) exploited workers for their own benefit. This is really going to tarnish their image.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fourth Class Porn

Lubos Motl is complaining about the invasion of personal gossip into physics.

David Goss has sent me a flawless article from the July 19th issue of Nature, pages 297-301. Everyone who prefers articles about physics itself over fourth-class porn about physicists sleeping with other physicists - the kind of junk that numerous Woits and Smolins offer to their highly undemanding readers - will enjoy it.
I personally love the idea of protons coming together indiscriminately in a great orgy of fusion. Changing partners until they find one that is sufficiently excited.

After a thrill like that male and female mating connectors just don't have the same level of excitement.

More of that sort of porn is available at IEC Fusion Technology blog. Or you can try: Mr. Fusion.

Commenter Larry R. at Motl's place thinks I have explained gay physics. It is quite possible. However, not being an expert, I defer to others for the definitive explanation . I do know quite a bit about male and female mating connectors.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hamas Has To Be Engaged

Colin Powell says Hamas must be engaged.

I say no to engagement. We should go straight to the shotgun wedding. Two blasts and then last rites. Til death do us part.

What part of active diplomacy doesn't Powell understand?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Genocide Is Alright With Me

Actually genocide is not all right with me. Our esteemed Junior Senator from Illinois has a different opinion.

SUNAPEE, N.H. - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.
Then he brings up Sudan and the Congo and says we have no interest in those places and need do nothing about genocides taking place there.

I think he misses one important factor: we are not already in the Congo and Sudan.

H/T Instapundit

A. Jacksonian has some further thoughts on the subject of American tolerance for genocide.

I Support Democracy In Iraq

Respecting Tradition

Randy Barnett has been doing some writing on Libertarians and War. Most recently this Wall Street Journal piece. Which has spawned a lot of discussion with Randy at the Volokh Conspiracy.

A number of commenters have noted that the Iraq War started without a declaration of war, but instead Congress gave the President an authorization to use military force (AUMF) and gave him the money to back up that authorization. Not good enough for some Libertarians.

What ever resources (including judgment) Congress put in the President's hands with respect to our jihadi (a term from the American Colonial period) enemies can be rescinded if the Congress sees fit. In fact some Dems are trying to do just that.

This is not a usurpation of power. It is delegating to the executive the implementation of the wishes of Congress. Just as the executive enforces laws Congress passes. That is the traditional role of the executive. Don't Libertarians have any respect for tradition?

Sometimes, I think reality makes Libertarians crazy.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I just read a bit touting Bill Richardson as a strong Democratic contender for President. Here is a bit of what he stands for:

...he advocates complete and total withdrawal of troops from Iraq within six months...
You don’t make babies or win wars by total withdrawal.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

American Morality

Eric at Classical Values is discussing Clayton Cramers's piece on the prevalence of abortion before Roe. His conclusion about abortion is that it may actually be happening at a lower rate since Roe.

His most important point is his conclusion.

If you have to arrest and try your own citizens for a crime on a massive scale (as would be necessary to enforce a general ban on abortion), it is usually a bad indicator for the moral health of your society.
I wonder when we are going to apply this kind of thinking to drug prohibition? I look forward to a return of American morality.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

America Fights The Jihadis 1776 - 2007

Michael Totten has a fascinating interview up with historian Michael Oren.

PORTLAND, OREGON – Renowned American-Israeli historian and best-selling author Michael Oren is touring the United States promoting his new book Power, Faith, and Fantasy a sweeping history of America’s involvement in the Middle East from 1776 to the present. It’s the first and only book on the subject ever written, and it’s currently inching toward the top of the New York Times best-seller list for non-fiction.

I first met Michael Oren under Katyusha rocket fire when he worked as a Spokesman for the IDF Northern Command in Israel during last summer’s war against Hezbollah, and I met him again when he came to my home town of Portland, Oregon, last week on his book tour.
You can read Michael Totten's war time interview with Michael Oren from last summer here. Michael has a new interview of Oren.
“You cannot withdraw from Iraq and be confident that the enemy is not going to follow you. Because the enemy is going to follow you. America can’t detach from the Middle East because the Middle East is not going to detach from America. And America’s going to have to learn to fight this fight to win in a much more prudent and effective way. And there are ways America can fight it more effectively.” — Michael Oren
I wish some one would tell that to Harry Reid and the cut and run Democrats.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Monday, July 16, 2007

Physicists Should Stick To Physics

I was visiting a physics blog (well the Duke case has lost my interest so I have to do something) and came across this astonishing discussion of economics. They are discussing how stupid the Laffer curve is as presented in a recent Wall Street Journal article. It seems like our vaunted physicists believe a linear curve better fits the data than the third or fourth order curve the Wall Street Journal presented. He shows the two curves with some comments and then says:

No, I am not being unfair. I did not draw the “Laffer Curve” on top of those data in order to embarrass the WSJ or AEI. They did it themselves; the second graph is how the plot was actually published by the Journal, while the first one was Mark Thoma’s subsequent reality-based-community version of the plot. As Kevin Drum says, it’s “like those people who find an outline of the Virgin Mary in a potato chip.”

Among other features, we note with amusement that the plotted curve implies that tax revenues hit zero at a corporate tax rate of about 33%, and become dramatically negative thereafter. As of this writing, it is unclear what advanced statistical software package was used to fit the Laffer Curve to the data; the smart money seems to be on MS Paint.
So I have a question or twenty:

Can you explain why tax revenues in America have been rising at double digit rates despite the tax cuts of 2003? They started going up as soon as the reductions were passed and have been rising ever since.

It seems that the experiment is being done and it proves that the Laffer curve guys may be right.

As a good aerospace engineer I trust the data over theory every time.

There is a very good reason that, for the most part, money decisions are made by engineers and rarely by scientists. Engineers are expected to make things that work.

I would like to see more engineers in Congress. More scientists would be a disaster due to insufficient contact with the real world.

Let me note that the WSJ graph (mistaken in derivation or not) most closely fits the evidence. Lowering tax rates raises government revenue. At least in America.


B said: If the people in country X want more (public transport? social security? health insurance? unemployment insurance?) to be shared responsibility, the thing to do so is to use taxes.

Let me rephrase that:

If the people in country X want to steal other people's money the responsible way to do it is to use taxes.

I agree.

Hey physics guys. The USSR failed. Europe can't support its welfare state. America will be severely strained by its welfare state. And you guys want more of the same? With Big Physics on the government dole I understand your orientation. However, it may not be popular with the run of mill citizen who dislikes having his pocket picked.


I know how you can get back in the good graces of the average citizen. Give them the physics to build a low cost p-B11 (proton - Boron 11) burning fusion reactor which can deliver power to the grid and your esteem in the eyes of the average citizen will go way up. They might be more willing to open their wallets.

Get cracking.

BTW I'm working on an open source test reactor along the Bussard Polywell lines. I'm short a plasma physicist. Any one care to join in?

IEC Fusion Technology blog

If you are not familiar with Dr. Bussard's work here is a good place to start:

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion. Actually it is not no radiation. A 100 MW reactor will produce about 1 Kw of neutrons. Not too hard to shield. Not significant for making plutonium. So I learned a bit since I wrote that.


You really want to do something for the poor of the world? Forget Socialism. Reduce the cost of energy. That is actually within your means.

Better yet get us off the oil standard.

Yeah. The LHC (Large - they are not kidding - Hadron Collider) is sexy. And the superconducting magnets are thrilling. Well they thrill me, but I've been known to have some strange fetishes. Evidently that is one of them.


You guys need to focus for a few years on providing benefits to society. Don't you know there is a war on? It could be ended with physics and I don't mean bigger bombs.

There are a number of IEC fusion devices out there. From my studies the Bussard Reactor looks to be the most likely to succeed. However, if you don't like that there is a commercial venture Tri Alpha Energy. Or the guys at the University Wisconsin. Or Champaign Urbana.

Here is a look at some of the small fusion projects [pdf] currently going on in America.

Give what you can. An hour a week would be a start.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Class Stratification

Commentary Magazine has an interesting article by Charles Murray discussing the origins of Jewish Genius.

Since its first issue in 1945, COMMENTARY has published hundreds of articles about Jews and Judaism. As one would expect, they cover just about every important aspect of the topic. But there is a lacuna, and not one involving some obscure bit of Judaica. COMMENTARY has never published a systematic discussion of one of the most obvious topics of all: the extravagant overrepresentation of Jews, relative to their numbers, in the top ranks of the arts, sciences, law, medicine, finance, entrepreneurship, and the media.

I have personal experience with the reluctance of Jews to talk about Jewish accomplishment—my co-author, the late Richard Herrnstein, gently resisted the paragraphs on Jewish IQ that I insisted on putting in The Bell Curve (1994). Both history and the contemporary revival of anti-Semitism in Europe make it easy to understand the reasons for that reluctance. But Jewish accomplishment constitutes a fascinating and important story. Recent scholarship is expanding our understanding of its origins.

And so this Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa hereby undertakes to tell the story. I cover three topics: the timing and nature of Jewish accomplishment, focusing on the arts and sciences; elevated Jewish IQ as an explanation for that accomplishment; and current theories about how the Jews acquired their elevated IQ.
He doesn't come to any firm conclusions. He does ask a lot of interesting questions.

In the letters to the editor section of the magazine he gets asked a few questions. Here is one.
To the Editor:

Charles Murray’s consideration of the historical sources of higher-than-average Jewish intelligence and cultural achievement is the most informed and intelligent on the subject that I know of. That it is written by a non-Jew is, I believe, instructive for many of us who tend to take pride in Jewish achievements. We must always keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of great cultural creators of mankind have not been Jewish, and that achievement is by no means a Jewish monopoly.

We should also be aware that a number of factors—rising rates of intermarriage, the increasing insularity of some religious Jews—raise considerable questions about whether Jewish cultural and creative achievement will be as disproportionately great in the next 200 years as it has been in the previous 200.

Shalom Freedman
Jerusalem, Israel
Charles Murray replies:
Shalom Freedman’s first point is of course correct: Jews are disproportionately represented in the ranks of outstanding achievers but, in raw terms, non-Jews are in the great majority. I proudly join Eoghan Harris in noting that among them are Scots and Irish, and even the occasional Scot-Irish. Mr. Freedman’s worries about intermarriage are justified if the question is the survival of a robust Jewish culture, but less so with respect to IQ. On average, Jews do not marry randomly selected Gentiles, but ones they meet in college or workplace, which in turn means spouses whose own mean IQ is also considerably above the Gentile mean. Increasing cognitive stratification independent of ethnicity or social origins is the ignored story of today’s evolving class structure—the story that the late Richard Herrnstein and I tried to bring to public attention in The Bell Curve (1994).
I discusses The Bell Curve and other sources extensively in Inequality. What it comes down to is that these days the big advances in science, technology, and business tend to come from the smartest people. These kinds of advances make us all absolutely richer (the poor in America are fat - some call this a bug, I call it a feature) while it makes the poor relatively poorer (income inequality grows). Personally I think that giving these huge incentives to our brightest people is what makes America what it is. Murray thinks there should be some noblesse oblige provided through government and he is a libertarian. I tend to agree.

As my friend Jose Arias used to say: welfare is the price we pay to keep the lower classes from revolting. I think what we have done with welfare in terms of encouraging work is a good idea. If for no other reason that it provides some cultural cohesion. We all have our shoulders to the wheel. My friend Bob used to say that "Liberty is just equality in school". There is no way equality in school can be accomplished without destroying the effectiveness of our schools. I might add that Bob was a lot older when he first said that. He is younger than that now.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Saturday, July 14, 2007

ITER Is No Damn Good

Physics Essays has a symposium every two years to discuss the status and interesting papers dealing with fusion research.

Here is a description of their purpose in relation to the Seventh Symposium

The objective of this series of Symposia is to assess the benefits, applications, and spin-offs of nuclear fusion research, including both conventional and alternative approaches......

A Seventh Symposium is scheduled for 5-9 March 2007. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory, Osaka University and Sandia National Laboratory endorse the Symposium. Invited and contributed papers will be part of the Symposium. Invited observers will also be included.
Vincent Page of GE wrote a very interesting paper on the commercialization of fusion energy for the Sixth Symposium.
  • Fusion reactors must be sized reasonably.

  • Current cost estimates for the ITER project are approximately $6 billion.

  • GE’s present quarterly earnings are “only” $4 billion.

  • We don’t want governments to build fusion reactors, we want private industry to build them.

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

  • (MWe = MW electrical, KWe = KW electrical)

  • More expensive machines will not be commercially viable.

  • Competition will only occur if private industry is involved.
Page has a lot more details on the economics, but those are his main points. One other important point he makes is that the real target is coal base load plants at $1,000 capital costs per KWhe or gas turbine peakers (without a steam cycle) at about $500 KWhe.

I think his main point is correct. Other than the physics, ITER and other similar tokamak fusion reactors are a waste of money. It will not lead to viable fusion power plants even if it works, because working size is estimated to have to be in the 10s of GWe range. Even if the fuel is free capital costs are a killer. On top of that you have to figure out how you are going to get all that electricity from where it is generated to where it is used.

Dr. Robert Bussard makes the same point in his video "Should Google Go Nuclear" which you can watch here. He gets a good laugh from the audience (about 12 minutes into the video) when he says about physicists working on ITER, " they don't think it will ever work, but is really good science". His friend, Plasma Physicist Dr. Nicholas Krall said, "We spent $15 billion dollars studying tokamaks and what we learned about them is that they are no damn good."

ITER is costing the USA $400 million a year. It would seem to me that it ought to be possible to come up with $20 million in government funds to try out some of these other ideas.

One thing that gives me hope is that private venture capital is supporting Tri Alpha Energy. I expect to see more venture capital in the field over time.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tim Leary And Ron Paul

Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine takes a look at Timothy Leary.

Never too comfortable with politics (he dismissed student activists as "young men with menopausal minds" and proclaimed that LSD stood for "Let the State Disintegrate"), he nevertheless hosted a Los Angeles fundraiser in 1988 for the very buttoned-down Libertarian Party presidential candidate Ron Paul (now a congressman from Texas).
I voted for Ron Paul for President. in 1988.

I got reminded of the Gillespie article by this Althouse article.
"Absolutely meaningless. Was I a criminal? No. I was a good member of society. Only my society and the one making the laws are different." LSD folkhero Owsley speaks. More:
"I never set out to change the world," he rasps in recalling his early manufacture of LSD. "I only set out to make sure I was taking something (that) I knew what it was. And it's hard to make a little. And my friends all wanted to know what they were taking, too. Of course, my friends expanded very rapidly."

By conservative estimates, Bear Research Group made more than 1.25 million doses of LSD between 1965 and 1967, essentially seeding the entire modern psychedelic movement....
He found the recipe for making LSD in the Journal of Organic Chemistry at the UC Berkeley library.
Those were the days of competing chemists. The Jefferson Airplane was supposed to have a Shell Oil chemist who grew his own ergot. It wasn't called Bezerkeley for nothing in those days.

Well just to get in the mood I have a Dead version of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away on in the background.

Oh yeah. Ron Paul. Ron Paul. Ron Paul. Ron Paul. Ron Paul. Ron Paul.

However, I'm leaning Fred Thompson these days.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Fusion: The Russians Are Coming

Zee News reports on a Russian scientist who wants Russia to export fusion power plants.

Tokyo, July 13: Russia is eyeing on designing thermonuclear plants for domestic and international market in the next 20 to 25 years, nuclear physicist Yevgeny Velikhov said.

He expressed confidence that Russia will be able to begin commercial production of thermonuclear reactors in 20-25 years.

"Russia's final goal is clear. We should at least get necessary knowledge to design and build thermonuclear plants for Russia's domestic purposes and for export," Velikhov said.

He believes that it is high time "to prepare Russia's science and industry to the next stage of commercial production."

"Our goal depends on ITER not by 100 percent. We should work ourselves as well. We have to prepare the new generation to this as the stage of commercial production will begin in 20-25 years as a minimum," he said.
America had better get a move on. At this point it looks like ITER will be 50 years from commercialization.

There is a shorter path. The direction taken by Tri Alpha Energy is one of those paths. The work by Dr. Robert Bussard is another.

A few of us are so convinced that this work has to go forward that we are working on an open source fusion reactor. You can find out more about it at IEC Fusion Technology blog. If you want to join in the fun you can visit or join the
IEC Fusion Newsgroup. We talk about the science, the technology, and funding the project, among other things.

We need to get a move on. The Russians are coming.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Climate Change Caused By Dust?

Here is a report from 2005 that may explain recent climate changes or not.

This web page documents the increase in severe weather throughout our entire solar system and relates it to the obvious cause, increased solar activity. The increase in severe weather suddenly appeared in 2002, too suddendly to be caused by greenhouse gasses which have been slowly building for generations.

And Now Cosmic Dust

Cosmic dust might be the reason for the sun's other strange performance. We are currently in a solar minimum which has aspects of a solar maximum. In the last solar max (2001), there were 3 severe geomagnetic storms and 17 X-flares (the largest of solar flares). As of Sept 2005 there have been 4 severe geomagnetic storms and 14 X-flares even though the number of sun spots is low as you would expect in a solar min (see the Updates section for links to articles).
Well we are back to the sun. That old nemesis of the AGW believers.
Sunspots have Increased 1825%

From a New Scientist article of 02 Nov 2003, "There have been more sunspots since the 1940s than than any other period (of same duration) in the past 1150 years." This is something like a 1825% increase. Sunspot numbers were derived from levels of a radioactive isotope found in ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctica. Sunspots are the precursors of solar flares and coronal mass ejections and reflect the internal state of the sun. It is interesting to note that the number of sun spots during the last (2000 to 2002) solar maximum was fairly low.

Cosmic Dust Causes Intense Weather

The increase in sun activity is related to increases in cosmic dust. In 2000, cosmic dust into our solar system increased threefold. The following years saw exceptionally server weather such as the 2003 hurricane Isabel with wind speeds over 300 MPH (second highest ever recorded). Also in 2003 Arkansas was heavily damaged in one of the most intense outbreaks of tornadoes in 53 years of record-keeping, and a heat wave in Europe killed 12,000. From European Space Agency's online news story of 01 Aug 2003 "we can expect even more interstellar dust from 2005 onwards, once the changes become fully effective." But, that is only the first volley of dust, the second one is three times more intense.

It seems that the more dire a discovery is, the longer NASA will delay its release. Such a delay discourages the media from reporting the discovery. For example, on 10 May 99, the solar wind "stopped" for two days. This is very scary, because no one seems to know what caused it. NASA delayed the release of the information for six months so the media didn't touch it. BUT, NASA sat on the cosmic dust story for THREE YEARS.

Much More is Coming

Between 2005 and 2013 cosmic dust will increase by another factor of 3. Thus making the second increase three times more intense. We are in for a rough ride. Of greatest concern is volcanic activity which has increased 500% over the past 100 years. The timing of this cosmic dust increase is disturbing because the usually dependable (every 600,000 years) Yellowstone super volcano (30 x 50 miles wide) is 40,000 years late.
So far these predictions have not been borne out in recent history. Global temperatures have been flat to slightly declining for the past 5 to 8 years. Confounding the CO2 folks and this cosmic dust guy.

I do worry about Yellowstone. As A. Jacksonian says:
Much, much, much more worrying is a caldera event in Yellowstone National Park. That sucker will be huge.

And it is overdue.

And the ground is moving there... slowly...
Well, it was a lovely park while it lasted.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I have had to get in rather deeper into geometry than is my usual for the past 30 or so years (since my dome building daze - I built 3 or 4 and even lived in Bucky's Dome in Carbondale - he was no longer a resident alas) because of my design work on the Bussard Fusion Reactor which is ongoing at the IEC Fusion Technology blog and on the IEC Fusion Newsgroup.

There is a plan for the design of the second demonstration reactor to change from a cubical arrangement of magnets to an arrangement that forms a dodecahedron. Which got me doing some research on the matter of edge lengths vs radius and other such questions in order to work out the geometry.

In doing my research I came across an extraordinary book on the platonic solids. It explains how the cube is related to the dodecahedron. Through the magic of computers this is the clearest explanation of the connection I have yet come across. In other words - pretty pictures.

Another thing that makes this interesting is that it is an e-book. I recently blogged about a friend of mine (Sgt. Mom) in Plan B From Outer Space who is going a similar route although in her case an actual book will be delivered. I wonder how the ISBN system will cope?

Book selling and buying is going to face an earthquake from this direction. Or to mix the metaphors, this train is just starting to get up some steam.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Assault On The Red Mosque

For a full chronology of what has caused the Red Mosque explosion in Pakistan the International Herald Tribune runs down the happenings since January.

Jihad Watch has the short version.

The mosque is surrounded by several thousand heavily armed government commandos and rangers. The siege began Tuesday, after a vicious gun battle that left 19 people dead. Clerics at the Red Mosque, in a residential neighborhood in the heart of the normally tranquil capital, had been provoking the government for months with operations aimed at stamping out vice. Students from a madrassa, or religious school, affiliated with the mosque abducted police officers and alleged prostitutes, and they threatened music store owners with attacks.

The mosque standoff comes as Pakistan faces a growing threat from religious extremists, who have been moving eastward from the Afghan border in recent years.
Attacking music stores seems to be a recurrent theme among the jihadis. Now if they were just against rap music I could understand it. This seems excessive. Don't they have any respect for culture? I think I know the answer to that one.

Bill Roggio has the play by play.
10th July 7:00 AM
A part of Lal Masjid on fire!! Black smoke rising from the complex. Intense fighting going on, and severe resistance from the militants.

10th July 7:15 AM
Commandos enter the basement!. The top of complex has been cleared. 10 big buses dispatched towards Lal Masjid. Intense shelling of tear gas and firing continues and rounds of automatic weapons can be heard from here. Ghazi Rasheed says he will fight till martyrdom. Security forces dead bodies being rushed to PIMS. 50 people arrested from the complex till now. Residents of G-6 advised not to leave their homes. 70 resistants killed or injured in the operation so far.

10th July 7:20 AM
3 special forces personal die. 20 militants casualties. 15 militants injured. Nerve gas used in the basement. Firing has reduced a somewhat probably due to causalities within the complex. 40% of the complex under security forces control. A significant portion of the complex was bobby trapped according to the army spokesman

10th July 7:30 AM
Firing has subsided a lot, which could probably mean that security forces have essentially taken over a major portion of the complex. Operation probably has moved into it’s final phases. Media persons not allowed near the quadrent off site, and security personal have been ordered to shoot them on sight. Media people not allowed near the hospitals too. Scout helicopters flying over the complex.
Evidently it is all over, except for the postmortems. I have seen reports of six families going to the school before the shooting started to retrieve their children. So far there are no reports of the return of the families. With or without their children.

That is really a tragedy. Kids suffer because of their parent's. Later in life kids get to return the favor. With interest. We are in fact today suffering from what children of the Middle East were taught 15 to 20 years ago. Our current difficulties are of recent origin in terms of proximate causes. In terms of more general cause we are suffering from banditry disguising itself as religion. Ultimately it breaks down as it always must because there is no honor among thieves. Starting with the Shia-Sunni split.

The BBC has pictures.

Bloomberg has some more detailed news.

H/T Instapundit

NASA Picture of the Day

NASA Picture of the Day.

I have added a link on the sidebar for those of you who would like to check this out daily. Just below the Amazon link in the "More About Me" section.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Do Not Disturb Hibernating Bears

I was responding to a comment at Lalbadshah's Domain by Lalbadshah himself about how we need to "understand" the jihadis to defeat them. I don't think so.

It is like saying we must understand the Nazis to defeat them. It is the only way we can stop them. Crap. Utter crap.

Every few decades Islam gets a new savior and wars ensue. This time the savior is a return to "the old time religion", the glory days of Mohammed the conquerer and a time when what he preached in terms of civil organization was an advance.

Civilization has come a ways since the 7th century. The "jihadis" want to take us back. Equal rights for women? Not in the jihadi trick book.

Let me give the jihadis a subtle warning: Do not meddle in the affairs of Westerners. They are slow to anger but utterly ruthless when aroused. Remember who dropped the bombs in the world's first atomic war?

Read Wretchard's three conjectures:

Wretchard's Three Conjectures

Kicked often enough an even a hibernating bear will wake up.

H/T Instapundit

The Biofuel Future

Interesting bit on using cow manure to make alcohol. Sort of.

E3 BioFuels inaugurated the world's first closed-loop ethanol plant fueled largely by biogas from animal waste instead of coal or natural gas on June 28. The energy-efficient, low-cost Genesis Plant, located in Mead, Neb., began commercial operation in April 2007, doesn't contribute to global warming and actually reduces air and water pollution.

E³ BioFuels' patented technology brings together three proven components into a single, closed-loop system:
1. A large cattle feedlot or dairy that produces large quantities of cow manure needing treatment.
2. An anaerobic digester that transforms the cow manure into biogas.
3. An ethanol plant that runs on the biogas instead of natural gas or coal, and whose leftover wet grain is fed back to the cattle.
Now the reason for doing all this is to reduce the net CO2 output of man's various activities.

As I see it, if we are going to get a major portion of our energy from biomass higher atmospheric CO2 will be an advantage. Plants become more efficient. Both in collecting solar energy and in water use. It seems like that might be helpful.

Lebanon On The Brink

Syria looks to be creating new troubles for Lebanon.

Syria has called on its citizens to leave Lebanon ahead of an expected "eruption" in that country, Arab and Iranian press reports have said.

The media reports were translated and made available by MEMRI in a special dispatch on Sunday.

"In the past few days, Arab and Iranian media reports have pointed to the possibility that Lebanon's current political crisis may become a violent conflict after July 15, 2007," the MEMRI dispatch said.

July 15 comes one day before a special UN Security Council meeting which is expected to discuss the possibility of stationing international experts on the Syria-Lebanon border, in order monitor the ongoing illegal cross border arms traffic to Hizbullah, thought to be originating from Iran and Syria.

The UN Security Council is also expected to meet next week to discuss a key report on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a development which may bode badly for Syria.
It is well known (though not definitely proved) that Syria was behind the Hariri murder. I don't understand why a UN Security Council investigation scares Baby Assad so much. I wonder what other skeletons are hidden in the Syrian closet?

H/T Michael Totten who also mentions this report from Al Mustaqbal
Syrian troops on Thursday reportedly have penetrated three kilometers into Lebanese territories, taking up positions in the mountains near Yanta in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

The daily Al Mustaqbal, citing sources who confirmed the cross-border penetration, did not say when the procedure in the Fahs Hill overlooking Deir al-Ashaer in the Rashaya province took place.

The sources said Syrian troops, backed by bulldozers, were fortifying positions "in more than one area" along the Lebanese border, erecting earth mounds and digging "hundreds" of trenches and individual bunkers.
No mention of this in your regular newspaper? Now what if Israel had done the same thing?

The Bekaa is a strategic location for Syria. They make a lot of money by protecting the drug trade. You can learn more about it by listening to this Youtube bit.

Update: 09 July 007 1925z

Syria is removing checkpoints from the Golan.
The London based Al-Hayat reported Saturday that Israel was "concerned" that Syria's decision to remove military checkpoints on the road to Kuneitra on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights could be a preparation for war.

According to the report, the checkpoints in question had been in place for 40 years, ever since the Six Day War.

Al-Hayat also claimed that foreign journalists were being barred from covering IDF maneuvers conducted on the Golan Heights.
Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Criminals Arrested

Criminals? What criminals? Fatah criminals.

Hamas security forces detained at least 30 members of a large Fatah clan in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, in what the movement said was a raid targeting criminals but the family said was politically motivated.

According to Reuters, witnesses said Hamas forces made the arrests after entering a group of houses in Gaza City belonging to the Fatah-affiliated Abu Amra clan. Hamas security officers said the raid was aimed at confiscating weapons and drugs.
Sounds like Compton.

In this case I think the police want a the drug trade all to themselves. Say, it might not be too different from Compton after all.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Progressive Future

Hoot's buddy thinks the leftys are ripe for a comeback:

Make no mistake about it. A great swing of the pendulum is about to get underway. This is not a short clip. It will take a quarter of an hour if you don't pause and reflect on what she says. If you do, it may take longer. But Digby, this previously pseudonymous blogger, comes across as one of the most articulate voices of what is emerging as a new American Left. (That would be "new" with a lower-case "n" and "American" with a capital "A.")
Hoot's Buddy thinks that "progressivism" is popular in America. In fact "Digby" the blogger interviewed in the article Hoot's mentioned says this:
I actually feel very confident about it because there is this new political debate going on that is allowing us to make arguments that have not been made in a very long time. I don't think people have heard the progressive argument explicitly in a long time, not filtered through the right wing and the conventions of their media and interpreted by the mainstream media. I think as a lot of people are going directly into the blogosphere people are going to be hearing our arguments again. Now, whether we make them all and whether they are effective you never know; I don't think there are any guarantees there. But I think there is a new political debate that has opened up at a very propitious time for us as a result of the unfortunate failure of the conservative project under George W. Bush, and let's just say there will never be another time like this one.
Her mistake is in thinking that Democrats got elected to implement Progressive (socialist) policy. They did not. They got elected because of Republican corruption.

The "progressive" argument is "rob from the rich and give to the poor". Which is how I understand it. Robbery was never a popular American value. Hard work is way more popular. By a great margin. In any case "rob from the rich..." has its selling points.

However the actual performance turns out to be "rob from the poor and give to the well connected". This is not going to fly.

Digby thinks the low approval rate of Congress doesn't matter because the "progressives" have a vision of utopia. Evidently she didn't understand the last election.

Another case of blinded by the light.

My mother and I are on different sides of the political divide. When we are done arguing politics we kiss and make up with "but they are all crooks".

Americans did not give up on Republicans because they wanted different policies. They gave up on them because of corruption. With Congressional approval sliding lower than the President's some might say the body politic is nostalgic for Republican corruption.

Here is the home of Take Back America.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Love Songs For Physicists

Here are some very quarky girls you might like to know. When ever I see them my hadrons start to vibrate and my liquid nitrogen begins to boil over. They are The Cernettes.

For those of you not familiar with CERN here is a video tour of a CERN LHC project. Especially check out the description of the superconducting magnets at 4:20 into the video (15 minutes total).

Now that you know something about CERN what is so special about the Cernettes? They sing. Physics songs like:

Strong Interaction

You quark me up
You quark me down
You quark me top
You quark me bottom

You quark me up (yeah yeah, I feel your charme)
You quark me down (tau tau, I feel so strange)
You quark me top (go go on hypercharge)
You quark me bottom (shoot shoot on isospin)

You spin me 'round 'round 'round 'round yeah
You spin me 'round 'round 'round 'round yeah
You spin me 'round 'round 'round 'round yeah
You spin me 'round 'round 'round 'round yeah
I feel your attraction It's a strong interaction
You can hear them in Real Audio or Mpeg 3

The Cernettes are the official band of The Great Convincer. Which relates to the design of a Bussard Fusion Reactor for testing. Which reminds me of a song they haven't written yet. I Want to Fusion With You.

H/T Lubos Motl

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I Support Democracy In Iraq - Winner

We have a winner (finally!) of the I Support Democracy In Iraq contest. No more fitting day either.

I Support  Democracy In Iraq

Thanks to Karl Egenberger of Envision Design/ Plum Creative Associates, Towson, Md 21286, who did the design. And Coyote Organics who supplied the contest prize.

Instructions for joining the campaign and putting up the graphic of your choice are at Join Up!

July 4th Bikinis - 2007

I did a 4th of July Bikini edition last year. It was so popular (with me) that I'm doing it again. I love doing the research. BTW not work safe. Probably not wife safe. Unless you have a forgiving mate such as I do.

A thrifty little number. Just enough material to make things interesting.

A favorite from last year. They have links to lots of bikini companies.

Big tops in a patriotic motif. This is not about the circus.

American Flag Bikini

This woman has no clothes on under whatever it is she is wearing.

Jessica Simpson

Flags, actual flags.

Suits mostly for men.

Check out the stars on this young woman. For those of a more green persuasion.

A whole page of flag bikinis. Not much material to study. Which is just the way I like it.

Two Ujena girls model one bikini. And no. It is not as good as it sounds. It is still pretty good.

When I tell you I had to browse through the whole Ujena bikini catalog to find these you will appreciate the all the hard effort that went into this project. I love America!

Here are some more from Ujena. You know those could just be different models in the same suit. I'll have to pay closer attention.

A tasteful little number.

American, Confederate, and Texas flags. They say every thing is bigger in Texas. Judging by the illustrations I'd have to agree.

Fourth of July is traditionally an outdoor holiday. Here are some folks who say that you shouldn't neglect the indoor fire works either.

I think this young lady is celebrating Texas. What ever she is celebrating I want to assist in any way I can. Maybe she needs her exposed parts covered with suntan oil. To avoid burning. I'm told that even indoors sun screen can be an essential safety requirement.

I wish they had a flag motifed suit like this one. Oh well.

This one just says, "Hey Sailor". And here is one ready for Fleet Week. This one prefers officers, this lady says make love not war. How about we do both? And yes. I know. Not a bikini in the lot. Well I have this thing for sailors see. And. Well. Never mind....

Fisher men love these. Navy men are quite fond of them as well. That makes them patriotic and thus their inclusion here. You were expecting a red, white, and blue fishnet? Maybe next year. Here is one with a bigger mesh. Probably for bigger fish.

The ad copy says this model comes with a skirt. With just string ties holding it on I'm sure it will not impede progress. In fact this is just the suit for semi-radical progressives. And you know me. I'm here to help progress any way I can. "That skirt a little to tight on you honey? Here, let me help with the strings."

Here is a girl with her heart in the right place

Keep a look out for this Air Force Drill Instructor. She is being investigated by the Air Force to see if she is a threat to good order and discipline. Not work safe. Not wife safe. And no flags. I hate it when that happens.

The DI is posed here in a bikini so tight it looks painted on. In fact it is painted on. The only thing connecting this with the Stars and Stripes is the name of the paper it appeared in. A real morale booster. Boosted mine.

The Stars and Stripes has a picture of the paint being applied. That has got to be a tough job. I'd likely get distracted and have to erase my mistakes. It could take days. Especially the bottoms. I can just hear the DI now, "What are you doing down there, MISTER??" "Just erasing my mistakes Mam."

A cute couple. A very nice pair.

Sequins and glass beads your thing for your Las Vegas Holiday Review or a production of Yankee Doodle Dandy? We have just what you are looking for.

Here is one for the ladies. I never knew you could stick that many rolls of quarters in a man's bikini. Stars and stripes too! Any way you look at it the guy has a small fortune in his underwear.

I like the cut of her jib. She is with a gentleman wearing half as much as she is. I hate discrimination. Here is a lady who will not be discriminated against. Let's hear it for women's lib.

This one is from a UK company. Accompanied by a guitar. It is listed as seriously chic. Is it possible that America is more popular in the UK than we have been lead to believe?

This one is from an article in a newspaper. I have skipped the dull boring part. What is left is only a picture. "Only", he says. Well it is very nice. And patriotic. There is just something about two smiling girls who appear friendly with each other.

A large young lady in a large bikini top. Despite all that, the lady appears to be winning or losing the battle with the bikini. Depending.

America bound and gagged. Some people have very weird fantasies.

I just had to include this one. It is on sale. It says 30% off. Looks more like 90% off to me. Actually it says take 30% off until gone. Given what is already gone taking another 30% off won't leave much.

For patriotic Brits this one is in lime.

The red and white are missing, as is most everything else. They got the blue right. Patriotism is still alive. There is a red, white, and blue model.

Another lady who looks good in blue. More or less in blue.

Here is the most amazing bikini I have seen so far in my researches. One string (well maybe two) that cover the top and the bottom. Rather inadequately I might add.

A look at the history of Flag wear with a focus on American girls. The top of the article is not work safe. The very bottom is not wife safe. In a tasteful sort of way. Sort of.

That is all for this year. I hope you all give thanks to the men and women who have made this possible.