Thursday, October 30, 2008

New IEC Fusion Experiment Contract has a solicitation for a bid for more experiments by EMC2, Doc Bussard's company now being run (at least on the experimental side) by Rick Nebel.
The Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, China Lake, CA intends to procure on an other than full and open competition basis a service to provide: 1) Research of Electrostatic "Wiffle Ball" Fusion Device. The contractor is to specifically investigate the required instrumentation to achieve spatially resolved plasma densities and spatially resolved particle energies. This requirement is sole sourced to Energy Matter Conversion Corporation, 1202 Parkway Drive, Suite A, Santa Fe, NM 87501, as the only company in the world investigating and developing this type of device.
What does that mean in terms of progress with the Bussard Fusion Reactor? It means that the experiments delineated in the Fusion Report 29 August 2008 had at least enough success to warrant further work.

Dave Price has some thoughts and more details.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fusion Report 20 October 2008

Alan Boyle brings us up to date on the latest news from the world of fusion. Of course I'm especially interested in what he has to say about Bussard Fusion and their progress to net power. I'll give you the short version:
"We've been pretty busy, but it's the same situation," Nebel told me today. "We're kind of in a holding pattern."

He's been able to keep the five-person team together and "doing a few things" during this holding pattern. There have been some rumblings to the effect that EMC2's results have been encouraging enough to justify pressing forward, but Nebel has declined to make a prediction about the project's future.

Nebel worries about the same kind of budget limbo that the U.S. ITER team is worrying about, even though his budget is an order of magnitude lower. Among the factors on his mind are the change in the White House and the changes in economic circumstances.

"The thing that usually gets hit the hardest is what they call discretionary funding," Nebel said, "and that's what we're looking at here. That'd be the biggest fear everywhere."
So the news is the same as it was at the end of August. No news. Alan Boyle has more on fusion power in general and Bussard Fusion in particular. You can also read my previous Fusion Reports by following the links in: Fusion Report 29 August 2008.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A New Sigma

My friend Tom Ligon has just been inducted into the Sigma Society. Here is what Sigma does:
Many SIGMA members are Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers; all are science fiction writers who have spent careers applying their technical and literary talents in exploring the future of science, technology, society and cultures. SIGMA provides a significant pool of talent for volunteer pro bono consultation with the Federal government and other organizations which need the imagination that only speculative writers can provide.

SIGMA members have each committed to consult with Federal authorities for taskings on vital national issues for several days, for travel and lodging expenses only. For extended effort or research, compensation may be based on individual contracts, as appropriate. Current Federal employees may be available on detailee status.

All SIGMA activities are strictly voluntary, and any member can decline any proposed tasking or meeting for any reason, with no further explanation.
Tom was instrumental in starting the fusor movement (home made experimental fusion reactors) due to the encouragement of Dr. Robert Bussard. He also worked with Dr. Bussard on the Polywell Fusion power reactor (no net power though at the size of current experiments). You can read about that effort at: World's Simplest Fusion Reactor Revisited. There are links on the sidebar to the Fusor Consortium and lots of other good stuff.

You can also read a science fiction story Tom wrote on fusion which had its world premiere here in July of 2007. Getting Tuned Up.

Congrats Tom! And with any kind of luck you can help us to deserve the best future we can get, because if we don't deserve it the getting will be much harder.