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Some MIT researchers hope to be generating power through fusion within a decade

WBUR reports:

"If we succeed, the world’s energy systems will be transformed,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Maria Zuber. "An entirely new industry may be seeded potentially with New England as its hub.”

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Funny that they seem to be struggling for funds for a revolutionary device that the DoD will just appropriate when it's done.

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Fusion between MIT's mouth and DARPA's funding outlet is nearly complete.

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I took celebrities to the Media Lab and had to listen to them walk away like small children that had just been to FAO Schwarz for the first time and then watched them call their money people and dash off a check.

Then there's the tales I could tell about the great Nick Negroponte. A bigger douche has never existed in academia.Fuck MIT.

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Even the nicest family has that one jackass cousin who shows up at Thanksgiving. You can't let Nick Negroponte represent the entire MIT community

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Most of the faculty got tenure by being salespeople and media [prostitutes], and believing their own marketing story and the adulation of non-technical VIPs and bro sponsor reps.

I think they would've gone out of business 20 years ago, but for the MIT in the name. Their PR office puts the Media Lab name everywhere, but what keeps anyone else still talking to them is the MIT name.

They're allowed, because there's no scandal big enough to make MIT justify the reputation and balance sheet cost of shutting down the Media Lab.

Watch the Media Lab try to mine the new social responsibility craze, for money and publicity. MIT lets their least responsible people be the face of responsibility for MIT.

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He seemed to think he did.

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Sounds like a money laundering scheme.

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If this happens, the idea of basically limitless cheap electricity will transform almost every industry. It'll be great for many, but also harmful to anyone in the existing energy sector, including wind and solar, which could suddenly become obsolete.

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All fun and games until the Octoratkids start crawling out of the sewers.

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I've been seeing this headline every year or two for the past 30 years.

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We've been seeing headlines of AI for years too and now look at what exists.

Shouldn't write this off just yet

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Yeah, success is always just over the next hill. It would be nice if just once, these jackoffs would be chased down ten years later and call to account for their failed predictions.

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Difference today is material science. The super-conductors in these things are much smaller, more powerful, and easier to fabricate than anything before. The design is also predicated on modularity, to actually make it worth while for the energy Industry that can't just replace a reactor wholesale when it needs to be worked on.

MIT also didn't give up a chance for a nerd joke, as the first iteration was called ARC.

Ultimately fission has been around for 40 years. The problem was size and costs, and it appears we might finally be catching up in material science enough to miniaturized both the physical forms and the budget sheets.

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They've been talking about fusion being "right around the corner" since the days of Einstein!

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says my friend the physics PhD.

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They operate at the freezing point of neon: 40 degrees Kelvin or 388 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pretty substantial minus sign to leave out there.

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It's just "Kelvin", not "degrees Kelvin".

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Degrees Kevin... Bacon... Who wants bacon? Yo man, screw bacon. Grr bacon.

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With or without french toast?

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"There is an old joke that physicists like to wheel out every now and then. It goes like this: fusion power is just 20 years away and it always will be."

https://www.newstatesman.com/sci-tech/2014/11/forever-20-years-away-will...

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And self-driving cars are winning.

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So, it’ll be done in time to help finish the Forest Hills and Arborway renovation?

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I got a private tour in the Plasma Science and Fusion Center back in 2014. It hadn't been run for a while due to lack of funding IIRC, but that meant we got to go inside the reactor room itself. It was really something to behold. The main door was absolutely enormous, several inches thick. They create an energy spike to start the fusion process with a massive 75-ton flywheel attached to an equally massive alternator that Con-Edison once used to power part of New York City. The flywheel spins so fast, the outer surface is moving close to the speed of sound. When they switch on the alternator, it stops within seconds. That's a LOT of energy.

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it led to an interesting conversation about what would happen if it ever shook loose from its moorings. It would lay a swathe of destruction across much of Cambridge. And people worry about meltdowns.

I admit my reaction to this was "wow, that is so cool". And I live a few blocks away.

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Depends on how many pieces it fragments into, and which direction they fly.

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The odds that it manages to cross a body of water on a bridge is just about zero. Similarly, ain't no way it's got enough kinetic energy to make it all the way to Charlestown.

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If the flywheel were to crack and fragment, an airborne chunk traveling at 700mph could certainly cross the Charles, given the right trajectory.

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          ( Nina Flowers will be back again on Saturday, March 17th! )

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And we’ll use this unlimited power to:

a.) Reduce sea level rise by pumping water to the Middle East in exchange for oil
b.) Sequester carbon dioxide by building universities with dry ice
c.) Clear cut forests for cattle to graze and sustain global obesity
d.) Power morgues to accommodate the inevitable pandemic bumper crop

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