Fission or Fusion? A Nuclear Prediction
Back in 2010 I made a prediction, based on my theory of Invasive Species, that the pre-IPO Tesla would go on to be a successful business. On Thursday, February 13, 2014 the company’s stock temporarily passed the $200 mark, giving the company a market value of half that of GM. Not bad for a car company that has only made two models.
Buoyed by this success I am now ready to make another prediction, this time based on my theory of Silos (to be described more fully in future posts). So here goes: Fusion, as yet an unproven technology, will take over from Fission, the current technology in all of the world’s active nuclear power plants, as the nuclear energy solution of the future. And here’s why:
Our dominant attitude towards resources, natural or otherwise, is to extract maximum value from them by isolating, accumulating, and protecting them from others, an attitude perhaps best described as silo mentality. Silos are everywhere, and they’re not just protecting grain and ICBMs. Banks, dams, batteries, factories, farms, strategic reserves, zoos, prisons, seed vaults, schools, databases etc., are all types of silo designed to control, and sometimes to process, their precious resources, and always with a view to maximizing their value to us or minimizing their potential harm.
In vitro fertilization is a silo process, aimed at maximizing the reproductive value of the sperm and the egg. These resources are isolated from their natural environments (male and female bodies respectively), recombined within a pristine controlled environment (the “in vitro” fertilization itself) and then replanted in the female body. Despite its difference in nearly every other respect, physicist Lene Hau’s remarkable achievement of trapping light in a Bose Einstein Condensate is also a silo process, where the BEC acts as a highly exotic silo for its resource, the pulse of light, and is itself contained by another silo, in this case a magnetic field.
And, by the same argument, nuclear fusion is a silo process too, but fission is not. We isolate, decouple or split resource elements from each other before containing them, or as part of the process of containing them, but hardly ever within the silo itself. Once in the silo our job is to recombine the resource elements to maximize their value to us, like the sperm and egg. And for that reason alone, because we overwhelmingly adopt silo solutions for resource management problems, whatever the resource, I believe fusion will ultimately be adopted, even though there are still many challenges to overcome.
And I will go even further. Despite the recent news that scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have made a significant step forward in proving the feasibility of fusion, using a gold capsule as the silo, I think the approach taken by the multi-billion-euro ITER facility, currently under construction in Cadarache, France is likely to be more successful. And that is because ITER will use magnetic fields to contain the hot fusion fuel - a concept known as magnetic confinement – which is a more highly evolved silo that creates a more pristine environment than a physical container. It would be truly awesome if they could throw in a Bose Einstein Condensate somewhere as well just to get superfluidity involved. Unfortunately, near absolute zero temperatures and core-of-the-sun temperatures probably don’t get long too well.
So, there you have it. Fusion beats fission and magnetic field fusion beat gold capsule fusion, and ultra cold fusion would be best of all. How d’ya like your eggs, Hon?