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Man-made stars

Scientists are planning to ignite a tiny Man-made star, according to this Daily Telegraph article. I wonder if the scientists or the journalists writing on their activities have seen the film, Sunshine, about which reviews have been mixed?

8 comments to Man-made stars

  • It’s like the contraption from Spider-Man 2!

    But where’s the guy with the crazy tentacles?

  • The article doesn’t mention the investment costs for the project to date. If they’ve been at it for ten years, I’m guessing millions is an underestimation. And they’re still not ready to test. . .a device which will fire ‘every couple of minutes. Makes one wonder how many of these devices would be necessary to create a stable power flow, or what the follow on ‘harnessing’ costs might be.

    This looks like a rough equivalent to the EU’s efforts with the Tokamak design – which several theoreticians are convinced will never actually work as envisioned, because of inherent fatal concept design flaws.

    Truckloads of money, plenty of researcher rice bowls, lots of governmental beauracratic self licking ice cream cone activities on the periphery.

    The most promising effort I’ve read about (from my lay perspective, at any rate) is the Bussard design – developed, true, via a governmental contract vehicle let by the US Navy – which has so far cost the whopping sum of around 10 million (those familiar with large project government contracting will recognize the sarcasm), and a team of less than 10 individuals (by accounts I’ve read) involved at any given time. And oh, by the way, the most recent design has actually been ‘tested’, with apparently very promising (but not completely positive) results.

    If I has a spare 5 million or so, I know which group I’d hand it to. . .

  • MDC

    It’s already been done, at JET in England for instance. This is just a different method of achieving fusion.

    Whether it is really much immediate use for providing energy is much less clear, though. It is by no means obvious that fusion would be cheaper than fission or clean coal, even account for compensating property damage caused by GW or for storing nuclear waste (which fusion also produces, albeit less).

  • Alice

    From the article: “Until now Livermore has had only the dubious honour of being home of the US government’s nuclear weapons research laboratories”

    If you ever wonder why no-one takes the Brits seriously anymore, just contemplate the monumental historical stupidity wrapped up in that word “dubious“.

    Brits of the author’s age grew up in a world where the heavily-armed USSR was on the other side of a tense border, only a few hundred miles from the English Channel. In the aftermath of WWII, only one thing prevented another European war (one which the Brits would inevitably have lost) — and that was the Soviet’s justifiable fear of triggering a response from those same US nuclear weapons that the spoiled little Brit now looks down upon.

    When presumably-educated Brits come to despise the technology which saved them from Soviet slavery, there is no hope for the empty shell of Brit-dom.

  • I first heard of laser fusion in about 1967. 40+ years and still trying. Nope, not an immediate energy source. For god’s sake send the money to Nebel and co. for their Bussard fusion experiments.

    MDC: Ain’t no property damage caused by “global warming” c’os’ there ain’t been much of the same. For heavens sakes get an education and I don’t mean what you read in the MSM.
    Nuclear waste from fission won’t be a problem either. Read up on Gen 4 reactors. If it weren’t for the greenies we’d have them now.

  • Blake

    Add this to the list of things that will destroy the earth right next to the LHC. :P

  • Laird

    Wind Rider, the article says that the cost is £1.2 billion. I suspect that is only the tip of the iceberg.

    A couple of points in this article confused me. The first (and least important) is how they can be using “1,000 times the electric generating capacity of the United States” for this experiment. Where is all that power coming from? Won’t the rest of the country (if not the world) go dark when they suck away all of our electricity?

    More important is the statement that these scientists will need to build a laser which can fire “around 10 times a second” to create a sustainable fusion reaction. I thought the whole point of fusion (as demonstrated by the sun) is that it is self-sustaining. Aren’t we supposed to be able to use some of the energy produced to create even more? If we need to pour what is essentially a continuous stream of laser beams into it, this doesn’t seem to be a particularly useful technology. Am I missing something?

    As has been noted already, the Bussard design seems far more promising, but I’m certainly no expert. I’m waiting for Dale to weigh in on this one.

  • This really is about weapons testing on a micro scale disguised as energy research.

    Since weapons testing is despised sell it as “green”.

    As to power: you store the energy up over hours and let it go in nanoseconds: thus high power.