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Forum Post: 100 Congressmen Tell Obama - Back Nuclear Fusion Research

Posted 11 years ago on Aug. 19, 2012, 7:57 a.m. EST by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

On Aug. 3, 100 Congressmen sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, on the need to get rid of the "burdensome bureaucracy" that is threatening the ongoing successful R&D work on achieving nuclear fusion, at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Their term "bureaucracy" is a polite expression for the impediments perpetrated by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which the letter condemns as imposing "administrative, managerial and budgetary hurdles."

Such anti-science practices by the Obama Administration are coherent with the fact that Obama also called for crippling budget cuts to the U.S. domestic fusion research program, in his 2013 budget proposal, released in February. Obama's fusion budget cuts will shut down one of the three major research facilities at MIT, the Alcator C-Mod, which is the largest single U.S. training facility for students in the field. This will set back scientific research, as LPAC's Peter Martinson warned on the Aug. 15 LPAC TV Weekly Report.

In February, Obama proposed cutting the already paltry annual fusion budget line (in 2011 and 2012), down from $401 million, to $353 million for 2013, by both trimming off $3 million outright (down to $398), then calling for a sneak-diversion of another $45 million, away from the U.S. domestic programs (at Lawrence Livermore, MIT, Princeton, etc.), and sending the funds to the Europe-based ITER project, to meet international obligations for co-funding fusion research! So-called Science Adviser Holdren defended this, saying it was focusing resources on "burning plasma", and allowing domestic programs to revert from "research status," down to "routine operations in support of stockpile stewardship."

Scientists raised alarms, and formed a petition drive against this treason. A bi-partisan group of 48 House members, led by Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), conducted a drive for fusion R&D support, culminating in June, when the House of Representatives authorized $76 million to the Department of Energy fusion budget line, exceeding the $53 million Obama proposed removing. But the Senate remains in support of the Obama cuts.

The Aug. 3 letter was spearheaded by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California), and is signed by lawmakers cross-country. It points out that, "NIF recently achieved a major milestone: the world's first successful firing of a 500 terawatt laser. While technical challenges remain to be solved before ignition is achieved, this milestone demonstrates major progress and provides even greater capability to address the remaining challenges. Recent technical reviews by independent experts indicate that there are not fundamental technical reasons that would preclude eventually achieving ignition."

The letter then states, "It would be severely disappointing to get so close to a tremendous scientific breakthrough — fusion ignition at NIF — only to see it prevented by bureaucracy. We must not let science be stifled by bureacracy." Rep. Lofgren's office refers science-supporters to a forthcoming National Academy of Sciences report on "The Quality of the Management and of the Science and Engineering Research at the Department of Energy's National Security Laboratories." The report is available on line. www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13367

Lofgren is a backer of the HR 1489 bill to re-instate Glass-Steagall — a gateway to setting up a full credit system for economic activity and scientific advance, and she is also a collaborator of Holt and Frelinghuysen, for bi-partisan support for all the U.S. domestic fusion projects.




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[-] 3 points by bensdad (8977) 11 years ago

I have a degree in nuclear physics
but I have been out of touch with the field, but not THAT far.

Nuclear fusion IS the sun
Nuclear fusion requires a "working" temperature of millions of degrees
Lasers can achieve this level for a very tiny part of a second on a few atoms.
containing any fusion recator requires a huge magnetic containment field

how much did this laser cost?
how many of these lasers would be required to maintain a reaction on a pound of material?
how much would each laser cost?
how much would the magnetic container cost?
spending $1,000,000,000 / year how many years till this is practical?
would it be cheaper & faster to move a piece of the sun to earth?
how many of the 100 signers represent districts that get some of this money?
do you have any SANE INDEPENDENT sources that advocate for this technology?

[-] 0 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 11 years ago

Perhaps not by your definition. I do believe that from your perspective, any body who supports this technology must be insane.

[-] 2 points by bensdad (8977) 11 years ago

again- anyone not larouche, not getting money working on this, not fox

do you know the answers to ANY of my questions?

[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 11 years ago

According to the "frogman", below, the Chinese support this technology.



[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 11 years ago

China syndrome? Birth of a nuclear volcano? Ummmm . . . somehow I don't think we want to let that experiment run. {:-/


[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 11 years ago

Freaky mutations besides a lot of cancerous death is no doubt happening at the dump site.


[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 11 years ago

I have heard of the north sea dumping ground - a lot of upset people about it too.


Thanks for the link - I bookmarked it. One of the Russian sites was started with the loss of a nuclear powered submarine ( The arctic site ) - then I guess they started decommissioning other nuc powerd craft there as well.


[-] 1 points by mserfas (652) from Ashland, PA 11 years ago

Fusion power is interesting science, but practically it seems like everything difficult about high technology - capital intensive, centralized, and very risky. What America really needs is for (a) American researchers to get the public funding needed to ensure that most of the next 10 years of world patents on improved photoelectric cells are invented HERE, and (b) in exchange for that public funding, all American companies (and only American companies) get free rights to use those patents for any solar cell they want to make for export or domestic use. We know solar cells are viable in some applications, we know there's huge room for improvement, and we know people are getting rich making those improvements. We just have to avoid handing over money to companies like Solyndra wholesale, trusting to luck that some return will trickle down somehow - we should be funding research, good public research and carefully and frequently assessed private research that is licensed to the public.


[-] 1 points by frogmanofborneo (602) from New York, NY 11 years ago

Fusion energy if it could actually be produced could solve so many problems the human race is confronted with. I do think the doubts and questions raised by commenters here deserve answers.


[-] 1 points by arturo (3169) from Shanghai, Shanghai 11 years ago

Thanks for the contribution.