StevePoling wrote:But it is falsifiable at least ultimately in an engineering way. Either you get more power out than you put in or you don't.Can anyone articulate an experiment that would falsify either proposition? I mean something cheaper than building a fully-operational Wiffleball-N?I spent some more time pondering this. I was thinking in the direction of leaving out the cusp itself and just investigating a pencil of plasma propagating along a field through hoops of various potential. Then I realized this is pointless because whiffle-ball theory is not falsifiable.
I mean, suppose I set up an experiment involving cusp physics and electric fields and I showed that it all worked as I expected. What would the polywell proselytes say? That the real polywell has (unspecified) non-Maxwellian effects that my setup didn't take into account. That is basically the last answer I got from Rick Nebel. Of course I can't refute that because nobody has ever said what those effects might be in detail. Maybe if I worked real hard for a year or so (Are there any volunteers to pay my salary?), I could prove a fairly general theorem that would rule out a large class of options. (My shining example for this type of calculation is Todd Rider.)
Basically, there is no whiffle ball theory, only some handwaving with manifest inconsistencies. On the experimental side, there is no published, robust evidence that anything unusual is happening at all. What are we doing here?
For $10 million we build the Super Conducting coil job and that should tell us if a power producer is possible. It should also be possible to measure the wiffle-ball. Lasers. Microwaves. Field probes. Whatever.
Or we might go with a lower cost liquid nitrogen cooled copper magnet coil version. It would have a much lower magnetic field than a superconducting coil. But you can build it faster. Vary the current through the magnet coils and see how the losses scale.
I must say though that I'm starting to feel like a tokamak guy: "there are problems that can only be worked out at the next larger level". It must be a plasma physics disease.