Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sites For Movie Lovers

They Shoot Pictures is a website devoted to listing the 1000 greatest films of all time.

An impressive task!

Even more interesting is the site it inspired, Shooting Down Pictures, in which a film devotee has decided to watch every film on that list and write an essay for you, the reader. These typically include clips of the films from youtube to illustrate various points.

It's the sheer volume attempted that is interesting.

And, that some of my favorite films are discussed!

Such as, Evil Dead II, Inferno, and Night of the Demon, as video essays.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fusion Moving Forward


The Emc2 team has been ramping up its tests over the past few months, with the aim of using WB-7 to verify Bussard's WB-6 results. Today, Nebel said he's confident that the answers will be forthcoming, one way or the other.

"We're fully operational and we're getting data," Nebel said. "The machine runs like a top. You can just sit there and take data all afternoon."

So was Bussard correct? Will it be worth putting hundreds of millions of dollars into a larger-scale demonstration project, to show that Bussard's Polywell concept could be a viable route to fusion power?

Nebel said it's way too early to talk about the answers to those questions. For one thing, it's up to the project's funders to assess the data. Toward that end, an independent panel of experts will be coming to Santa Fe this summer to review the WB-7 experiment, Nebel said.
The [other] really interesting thing about this news item is the interactive nature of the online world.

A skeptic who knows enough about fusion to speak intelligently left the following comment below the story:
It's fun to daydream, isn't it? And it's easy, too, as long as you don't know too much.

There's more reasons than you can shake a stick at that this won't work. For starters, you can forget about aneutronic fusion. It's not just the temperature, Bremstrahlung is almost to certain radiate more energy than you produce by fusion no matter how good your confinement is. Even if you somehow manage to get a decent power balance, for a given plasma pressure and fusion power, a p-B11 reactor would have to be about 1000 times bigger (and more expensive) than a corresponding D-T reactor.

The next thing to worry about is the electrons. The magnetic configuration has not only lines of radial field from the center to the edge, which is bad enough judging from the experience with mirror machines, it also has lines of *zero* field along which the electrons will gush out. The idea of recycling electrons lost through the cusps won't work because they will come out almost parallel to the field but hit the return cusp with a large perpendicular velocity component they picked up going around the bend.

And the ions? The device is conceived to utilize a bi-modal velocity distribution, which will be destroyed very quickly by the two-stream instability. The anisotropy of the velocity distribution is also know to be a big problem, again from experience in the mirror program.

We haven't even started to talk about energy loss to the grids, the consequences of tiny field misalignments, charge-exchange ion losses, energy coupling between electrons and ions, and whether the potential distribution envisioned is even possible at a non-trivial ion density.

Since they managed to sweet talk somebody into giving them money, let them finish and publish their results, but let's not stop looking for ways to save energy and trying to develop other, less sexy but more reliable energy sources.

Art Carlson, Munich, Germany
But the even cooler thing is Dr. Nebel who is running the experiment was able to post a reply! Talk about getting the inside story in near real-time!
Just a few comments for Mr. Carlson

1. The theory says that you can beat Bremstrahlung, but it's a challenge. The key is to keep the Boron concentration low compared the proton concentration so Z isn’t too bad. You pay for it in power density, but there is an optimum which works. You also gain because the electron energies are low in the high density regions.

2. The size arguments apply for machines where confinement is limited by cross-field diffusion like Tokamaks. They don't apply for electrostatic machines.

3. The Polywell doesn't have any lines of zero field. Take a look at the original papers on the configuration. See :
Bussard R.W., FusionTechnology, Vol. 19, 273, (1991) .
Krall N.A., Fusion Technology. Vol. 22, 42 (1992).

Furthermore, one expects adiabatic behavior along the field lines external to the device. Thus, what goes out comes back in. Phase space scattering is small because the density is small external to the device.

4. The machine does not use a bi-modal velocity distribution. We have looked at two-stream in detail, and it is not an issue for this machine. The most definitive treatise on the ions is : L. Chacon, G. H. Miley, D. C. Barnes, D. A. Knoll, Phys. Plasmas 7, 4547 (2000) which concluded partially relaxed ion distributions work just fine. Furthermore, the Polywell doesn’t even require ion convergence to work (unlike most other electrostatic devices). It helps, but it isn’t a requirement.

5. The system doesn’t have grids. It has magnetically insulated coil cases to provide the electrostatic acceleration. That’s what keeps the losses tolerable.

6. The electrostatic potential well is an issue. Maintaining it depends on the detailed particle balance. The “knobs” that affect it are the electron confinement time, the ion confinement time, and the electron injection current. There are methods of controlling all of these knobs.

We'll know more soon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Drill Here. Drill Now!

Sign the petition to Drill Here, Drill Now, and Pay Less!

What are we hoarding our resources for? A rainy day?

If not here, where?

If not now, when?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Manufactured Messiah

Today's example of a steady stream of reports designed to demoralize:

Iraq, perceived hypocrisy fuel record anti-Americanism: report
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Anti-Americanism is at record levels thanks to US policies such as the war in Iraq, and Washington's perceived hypocrisy in abiding by its own democratic values, US lawmakers said Wednesday.

A House of Representatives committee report based on expert testimony and polling data reveals US approval ratings have fallen to record lows across the world since 2002, particularly in Muslim countries and Latin America.

It says the problem arises not from a rejection of US culture, values and power but primarily from its policies, such as backing authoritarian regimes while promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Never mind the contradiction that the Iraq war was to remove an authoritarian regime...

This is part of a pattern: make everyone miserable from a diet of negative reporting, then dangle salvation, the Obamamessiah who will make everyone love us again.

All laid out in this comprehensive essay:
There was a pre-Lewinsky time, before moral relativism blurred America's vision, when associating with people like Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers would have automatically excluded someone from attaining the highest office in the land. Back then, anyone with well known connections to such America-averse personalities would have been rejected by a super-majority of the electorate during primary season and almost certainly blocked by the Democratic Party before they could have gotten to within a mile of the White House.
Until recently in our history, a President Barack Obama would have been an impossibility. But given the political and ideological climate that exists today in America, the ascension of a leftist like Barack Obama into presidential politics makes perfect sense. Beliefs like domestic terrorist William Ayers's and racist, anti-US preacher Jeremiah Wright's are no longer met with utter scorn or a trip to behind the woodshed, but are embraced, promoted and defended by many Americans.
The Democratic Party has devolved into a club for the illegitimately aggrieved, the self-absorbed, the self-hating and the perpetually pissed-off.
So what does all of that have to do with the propulsion of Barack Obama to within a whisker of the Presidency? Everything. It could not have happened without the existence of a substantial, organized, internal anti-US Left and the approval and guidance of the Democratic leadership I describe.
The opening event setting the stage for Obama's ascension was the contentious 2000 election. When Bush was declared its winner, Democrats fumed that the election had been stolen by the Republicans. The promotion of that canard within leftwing and media circles and the personal quality of the resentment of Bush it provoked within the Democratic Party is important to mention, since a similar canard that morphed from it and became popularized -- "Bush Stole the Election," -- became the base justification for the future blizzard of untruths used to disparage the President.
Whatever patriotism was stoked within the hearts of Democratic Party leaders by that September Day of Infamy was likely tempered by an unsettling reality: If America stayed united behind George W. Bush and the Republicans during the coming military response to 911, the Democratic Party would be out of power for a long time.
As the Democrats weighed their narrow, post-911 political options and saw a grim future, at least a few of them might have considered Jimmy Carter's triumph on the heels of Vietnam and Watergate, and felt a flicker of hope.

A Vietnam strategy develops

Soon after 911, as America shifted into a wartime footing, leftists in academia and in the Legal Left began testing the waters of dissent by deconstructing Bush and the Republicans and blaming American foreign policy for the 911 attacks. Several professors at major Universities openly proclaimed their wishes to see America defeated and disgraced.
Deliberately or not, the Democratic Party and the leftwing media, with their endless criticisms of the Iraq conflict, and their endless public comparisons of that war to Vietnam, sent a direct message to the rag-tag army of ultra-violent terrorists in Iraq who were detonating car bombs in crowded marketplaces, beheading and mutilating civilians and killing American and Coalition soldiers: "Keep the violence up just a bit longer. We'll take care of wearing down America's will to win from within, just like during Vietnam."

Even violent, under-equipped sociopaths facing the most powerful military on earth know a gift horse when they see one, and react accordingly.

On the other hand, nearly every bit of positive war news was whispered in quiet sentences or totally ignored. Today, with the Iraq venture steadily closing in on success, the amount of news about Iraq has slowed to barely a drip. That is quite telling.
"Bush lied us into war" became the catch-phrase of almost the entire Democratic Party leadership, even though before the war had commenced many of those same Democrats had access to the same information that the Bush Administration used to justify it.

Power at any cost indeed, even at the defeat and humiliation of one's own country.


Now the 2008 election is upon us. Whether it is Iraq or Afghanistan, the economy or the overblown dangers of anthropogenic global warming, the Democratic Party and its media shills continue crafting and pounding home messages telling us that our national problems, real and imagined, are caused by Bush and the Republicans, They tell us that due to Bush and his policies, our nation is an evil one, our nation is hated by the world, our nation is fractured into pieces, our nation is murdering innocents, our nation is the world's biggest polluter, our nation is a den of racism, our nation is stingy, our citizens are impoverished, our economy has been destroyed. Collectively, this endless stream of buckshot propaganda adds up to a single, powerful and demoralizing statement: America has come apart at the seams - and George W. Bush and the Republicans are to blame for it.

Though the Democrats and their media shills are responsible for creating that illusion, Bush and the Republicans are to blame for generally ignoring or responding weakly to the Left's relentless assault on America's war-time morale.
It is no wonder the American electorate has slipped into a foul mood -- little wonder why it seems that its heart is not in the fight against the totalitarian theocrats who threaten it. For seven years Americans have been pounded with messages that their country and its leaders are unjust, warmongering, and evil and hated by all -- it deserves whatever evil it gets.

America now has serious doubts about itself. Its citizens have been pummeled with those terrible messages for so long now, that many of them believe them to be true. They are vulnerable to the Democratic Party's sudden mantra of Hope and Change and Progress.
It is truly audacious of the Democrats to entice us with their slick-tongued messiah, one who appears out of nowhere and graciously offers to scrape clean and sanitize the same plate of defeat he, his party and their assistants in the media served to America for nearly eight years in the middle of a war. Soon we will see if a majority of the American electorate accepts that offer, or if it rejects it, sending the Democratic Party back to confront the same irrelevance it risked the safety and security of our nation to avoid.
Don't be fooled!