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Comment Re: Running the numbers... (Score 1) 178

I've paid into this fund for over 70 line-years. Not sure what the rates were over that time (or how the inflation rate and other cost-of-money factors affected the value that was collected). If it had been at the current rate the dollar count would be maybe a quarter of one subscriber's subsidy. But the dollar has inflated by a factor of about ten over that period, so I expect I've paid in substantially more value than the average amount they'll be spending on one home's subsidy.

It will be interesting to see some of that money actually spent for the stated purpose. But given that this is a government operation I expect the usual level of SNAFU.

Comment Re:This is why (Score 1) 178

I love how the techbro libertarians exaggerate the amount of money "the parasites" have taken from them without ever acknowledging the benefits they have enjoyed, and the privilege they have gained from those benefits. They all believe they earned every cent from their natural talent and the sweat of their own brow.

It doesn't matter how much "benefits" the ruling class chose to trickle down on us. We didn't get the choice to forgo the alleged benefits and keep the money - just as we didn't get to opt out of the draft into the military and "service" in VietNam, along with the "benefits" accruing from that adventure.

Do you also support organized crime's operation, because they provide the benefit of services otherwise unavailable (because they're forbidden by the biggest gang), or in some cases suppressing other crime in the neigborhoods where the kingpins live?

Dirty little secret: They did it for THEMSELVES. What they "did for us" was what any farmer does for his cattle and sheep - keep them as healthy and happy as necessary to keep them productive, before slaughtering then when they've become a liability.

Comment Re:This is why (Score 1) 178

It's easy to snipe others for "sucking off the government teat" when you're young, healthy, and well-to-do. Try it when you're old, sick, unemployed or under-employed, and have been looted your whole working lifetime by that very government, to put milk into those teats for others to suck and ration you a few drops of your own back.

And don't dump on me for voting for it, either. I've voted against it since I was able to vote. (I was there for the founding of the libertarian movement - but didn't actually join the Party due to an issue with their wording of the non-aggression pledge.)

Comment Re:This is why (Score 1) 178

Man complaining about "the Soviet Left Coast" plans to retire comfortably collecting Social Security, using Medicare and sucking off the government teat.

Why not? These parasites sucked down OVER HALF MY PAY for DECADES. Then they'll pay me the social security pittance (and tax it) whether I want them to or not. I'll never get back the amount I paid (allegedly) "into the fund" on just THAT part of the money they took from me - assuming the whole thing doesn't go belly up before I do.

They might possibly end up paying me more inflated dollars if I live to be older than Methuselah. But it will pay nowhere near the actual value they stole. If I'd bought gold with that "social security deduction" instead of handing the money to Uncle Sam, I'd have been far, far ahead, even after storage, insurance, and commissions on both the purchases and the sales.

As for Medicare, they won't LET me do anything else (except pay for add-ons). The insurance companies, operating under the government's laws and mandates, DEMAND that I take the Medicare money: Even if I've paid full premiums for full coverage, and even when I hadn't signed up for medicare, once I was of age to be eligible for medicare they withheld the amount medicare is supposed to pay for a procedure and would only pay the miniscule difference if the doctor or hospital charged more or my deductable with medicare was higher than with the insurance. (Then, with Obamacare, they wouldn't renew.) If I try to refuse the coverage and try to pay it all out of pocket I'm either charged the massive
"uninsured patient list price" or just refused service.

It's easy to snipe others for "sucking off the government teat" when you're young, healthy, and well-to-do. Try it when you're old, sick, unemployed or under-employed, and have been looted your whole working lifetime by that very government, to put milk into those teats for others to suck and ration you a few drops of your own back.

Comment This is why (Score 1) 178

How is this worth posting to slashdot? Rural phone subsidies have been around forever. They recently got expanded to broadband.

They've been collecting it for decades. They've been giving it to the companies and not getting service to customers.

JUST NOW we have a company agreeing to take the money and use it to ACTUALLY ROLL OUT BROADBAND INTERNET to the rural areas.

That sure as hell is "news for nerds, stuff that matters".

Especially for me:

- A my Nevada place I get dialup that can't make it past 28k most days (and only works if I hotwire my DNS server selection: AT&T has had their routing tables fouled for over a year and won't route packets the dialup POP and the DNS servers specified by the dialup's DHCP server.) DirecTV/Hughes Net satellite has bad latency and a track record of throttling. The local phone company doesn't do DSL there - reselling HughesNet, see above. The local WISP doesn't point in my direction (and would want >$100/month for reasonable speed if they did). The only high-speed I've got there is via the Verizon LTE service (which is big $$$ for the gigs I'd need to work remotely for more than a weekend at a time - and SUPPOSEDLY doesn't have coverage there).

  - If I could get decent internet (at a decent price) I could work from the ranch, sell off the California townhouse, and live for a year on less than it costs to live in CA for a month. (Or retire and live comfortably on my savings, investments, and Social Security - which would crap out in a few years on the Soviet Left Coast.)

Comment Wait until the terrorists get hold of this tech. (Score 1) 180

It would be useful both for disrupting "business as usual" that they don't like and herding crowds into range of a more lethal device.

I can imagine several of them being flown into, and triggered in, sessions of a legislature that authorized them. But I somehow doubt that would actually happen, even in tyrannical foreign regimes. If the legislature is giving the tyrant and his security forces what they want, why use it on them? And if the opposition can get them in there with "less than lethal" weapons packages, "more than lethal" would be even easier, and have a more lasting effect on future legislation. (Realpolitik is a bitch.)

Comment Re:Not that far when you think "voltage" (Score 1) 96

It looks to me like the field-reversed configuration does the same sort of thing, compressing the plasma in a way that maps the electric fields (both directly applied and created by the magnetic field change) into particle acceleration during the compression, and thus into temperature.

Then again, this machine also builds TWO plasma donuts and crashes them into each other (where they combine) at "a million kph" - no doubt also by electrical-field acceleration. Another opportunity to scale up the heating by scaling up the voltage (or its magnetic equivalent).

Comment Re:Not that far when you think "voltage" (Score 4, Informative) 96

First off, there is a big difference between something like a fusor which is basically accelerating a beam of particles to some amount of eV that is similar to the applied voltage, and something going for a thermal distribution with same amount of eV spread out with a tail of the distribution that does most of the reactions

Fusors and polywells aren't about beams. They're about assembling a plasma object that is already hot, by compressing it during the assembly.

The fusor does this by having two concentric spherical electrodes, the inner one skeletal, with a large voltage between them. Positive ions fall inward essentially radially, accelerated by the field until they pass through the inner electrode, and fly on orbits that pass through the center of the spheres. They "pile up" as they pass through the center, thus mapping the acceleration voltage directly into compression temperature as well as high average density. (Unfortunately a small number of ions hit the inner electrode on each pass and are lost. So though it's a great fusion-neutron source breakeven isn't in the cards.)

The polywell does the same thing to electrons - with the added tweak that the inner electrode contains a set of magnet coils that get the electrons to travel in paths that mostly miss the electrode. As they orbit through the center the high average density there is effectively a third high-voltage negative electrode, producing a radial electric field between this "virtual electrode" at the center and the inner physical electrode. Positive ions fall in toward the virtual electrode (nearly neutralizing it) and again you get a high density and inward velocity, mapping the electric field into temperature.

It looks to me like the field-reversed configuration does the same sort of thing, compressing the plasma in a way that maps the electric fields (both directly applied and created by the magnetic field change) into particle acceleration during the compression, and thus into temperature. Unlike Tokamaks and similar devices, you don't "put a low-density plasma in a (magnetic) can" and then have to heat it up. You heat it by squeezing it when you initially assemble it, accelerating the particles toward each other, and that maps your compression forces into temperature - which turns a moderately high voltage into a relative particle speed that has a hysterically high number when expressed as temperature (at the same time that you're also raising the density) Hold it together long enough, don't let it interact with solid matter to cool it, and you've got the holy trinity for fusion. No ongoing heating required.

Also, you don't just easily scale up voltage past several 10s of kV, as you start reaching a lot of material limits for break down (even in vacuum), and engineering gets more difficult for 100+ kV in a small space.

So:
  - Expand the space (which also gives you more plasma volume and thus more power output at a given density), and
  - Keep anything but ionized, under-control, gasses out of the working region

100+ kV is not all THAT difficult to handle in an industrial-sized volume. Air at atmospheric pressure has a breakdown of about 40,000 v/in (though this drops as pressure is lowered). A clean vacuum (except for the working plasma itself) isn't too tough either: Television picture tubes worked fine with no arc-over at acceleration voltages of about a kilovolt per diagonal inch (i.e. 25 kV for a 25" picture tube) and far more than a kV per inch inside the tube. A machine twenty feet across would have substantially lower electric field at 200 kV.

Which is not to say that there won't be issues trying to scale this. But I wouldn't expect anything insurmountable from what you've alluded to here.

Comment Re:This looks familiar from 37 years ago (Score 1) 96

As far as I can tell from the article this looks familiar from 37 years ago.

As I read the article in your (corrected) link, the project 37 years ago got the plasmid to form and last for 5 MICROseconds, then ran out of money and got mothballed for a couple decades and had their equipment reactivated in a (never heard from again) lab around the turn of the millenium.

Maybe if they'd had funding to keep going, and figured out what these guys did (or something else) to keep things stable for three orders of magnitude more time and beyond, we'd have fusion power by now. It's been the perpetual 30 years and then some. B-b

Comment Not that far when you think "voltage" (Score 3, Interesting) 96

to do what they want means they need 3 billion degrees to ignite and they are at 10 million

Each electronvolt is equivalent to 11,500 degrees Kelvin. So they need to run at about 200 kV instead of 870V. Piece of cake.

This is whyFarnsworth fusors are tabletop "gassy vacuum tubes" and the issues with polywell machines are things like geometry and electromagnet wiring rather than applying excitation energy.

Kelvin is the same size degree as celsius but offset by a couple hundred degrees so zero is absolute zero. At 3 billion degrees the difference between water freezing and absolute zero is noise. If TFA's degrees are fahrenheit the offset is still noise but scale the voltage back to 144 kV.

Comment Start expecting it in five. (Score 5, Insightful) 96

We have been expecting cold fusion in 30 years for about 50 years now.

Actually it's HOT fusion we've been expecting in 30 years for a long time. (Cold fusion, other than the apparently useless muon-catalyzed form, was a "maybe it's possible - no apparently not" flash in the pan)

But THIS one is big: It's not that it lasted 5 ms. It's that it lasted 5 ms WITHOUT DECAYING. That almost certainly means that:
  - either they've completely solved the instability issues and it's just a matter of scaling up (and using superconductors or adequate cooling so they can run continuously),
  - or they've solved them well enough to hold the plasma ball together until it's paid for itself several times over, then make another one (repeat continuously) and it's just a matter of scaling up (and using superconductors or adequate cooling so they can putt-putt-putt continuously).

Now if other problem show up (but aren't a fundamental refutation of this indication of stability) we might end up expecting fusion in five years for another fifteen or so. But I think the "30 years forever" thing has just been evicted from fusion and is living with its brother in copyright extension.

Comment Re:"Smokers" (Score 1) 106

Bird deaths caused by wind and solar are minimal compared to the bird deaths caused by traditional fossil fueled infrastructure.

Thanks.

I was already aware that wind power, despite the "bird kill" hype, was not all that large a problem. (I'd also thought it might be overestimated, too: Birds die where they live, and wind farms are good hunting sites for raptors and feeding sites for other birds.) It's good to have references to studies actually comparing it to other sources of power - and the comparison to power TRANSMISSION is a really big deal - and might swamp any bird-death issues with heliostats.

Unfortunately, that article seems to be addressing only wind power and not large central-focus collection systems.

I'd be happy to see a study estimating the magnitude of the problem (and whether it IS a substantial problem), and will be overjoyed if the problem is trivial, or at least no more than on a par with "traditional" power sources.

Meanwhile I just wanted to caution that there MAY BE a problem, which needs to be examined.

Life is a healthy respect for mother nature laced with greed.

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