Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

Fusion Breakthrough

October 21, 2013

This is a story from earlier this month that I have been meaning to write about, but somehow didn’t get around to it until now. It may be that there has been a breakthrough in the efforts to produce a controlled thermonuclear reaction on Earth which produces more energy than it consumes. If there is anything at all to this story and fusion power becomes practical, we could be on the verge of a golden age of unlimited energy. If.

I read this report from the BBC.

Harnessing fusion – the process that powers the Sun – could provide an unlimited and cheap source of energy.

But to be viable, fusion power plants would have to produce more energy than they consume, which has proven elusive.

Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion.

NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world’s most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place.

The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel – the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.

This is a step short of the lab’s stated goal of “ignition”, where nuclear fusion generates as much energy as the lasers supply. This is because known “inefficiencies” in different parts of the system mean not all the energy supplied through the laser is delivered to the fuel.

But the latest achievement has been described as the single most meaningful step for fusion in recent years, and demonstrates NIF is well on its way towards the coveted target of ignition and self-sustaining fusion.

For half a century, researchers have strived for controlled nuclear fusion and been disappointed. It was hoped that NIF would provide the breakthrough fusion research needed.

In 2009, NIF officials announced an aim to demonstrate nuclear fusion producing net energy by 30 September 2012. But unexpected technical problems ensured the deadline came and went; the fusion output was less than had originally been predicted by mathematical models.

Soon after, the $3.5bn facility shifted focus, cutting the amount of time spent on fusion versus nuclear weapons research – which was part of the lab’s original mission._70337942_70337940

However, the latest experiments agree well with predictions of energy output, which will provide a welcome boost to ignition research at NIF, as well as encouragement to advocates of fusion energy in general.

If this story has anything to it than it could be the biggest story of the year, far more important than all this idiotic political theater about shutdowns and defaulting. I will look forward to hearing about any additional progress this team makes.

 

Let the Wookie Win

March 6, 2012

Because droids don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose.

 

I think of that scene from Star Wars whenever I see a story like this one from The Christian Institute courtesy of Jihad Watch.

The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.

He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed might have the “emotional force” of “grotesque child pornography”.

But Jesus is fair game because, he said, Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.

Mr Thompson says the BBC would never have broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera – a controversial musical that mocked Jesus – if its target had been Mohammed.

He made the remarks in an interview for a research project at the University of Oxford.

Mr Thompson said: “The point is that for a Muslim, a depiction, particularly a comic or demeaning depiction, of the Prophet Mohammed might have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography.”

Nobody cares if Christians are offended because we don’t blow people up or riot.

Qaddafi Dead

October 20, 2011

Well, they got him. I’m surprised, really. I thought he would have fled the country. Drudge has the story along with a link to some graphic video that I really don’t need to see. The details are still a bit hazy but here is an account from the BBC.

Libya’s ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has been killed after an assault on his birthplace of Sirte, officials say.

The circumstances of his death are not yet clear. Video has emerged purporting to show Col Gaddafi being captured alive and bundled on to a truck.

Fighters loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC) said they found him hiding in a hole, and shot him when he tried to escape.

Col Gaddafi was toppled in August after 42 years in power.

Western leaders welcomed the news.

US President Barack Obama said this was a “momentous day” for Libya, now that tyranny had fallen. He said Libya had a “long and winding road towards full democracy”, but the US and other countries would stand behind it.

The colonel was fighting in Sirte alongside his two sons, Mutassim and Saif al-Islam, according to reports.

An NTC fighter told the BBC he found Col Gaddafi hiding in a hole in Sirte, and the former leader begged him not to shoot.

The fighter showed reporters a golden pistol he said he had taken from Col Gaddafi.

Arabic TV channels showed images of troops surrounding two large drainage pipes where the reporters said Col Gaddafi was found.

Later, another video emerged of the colonel being bundled on to the back of a pick-up truck after being captured alive.

NTC fighters said he was shot when he tried to escape.

None of the video footage has been independently verified.

Later, the NTC’s acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril confirmed Col Gaddafi’s death: “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed.”

Mr Jibril promised that NTC chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil would give more details of how Col Gaddafi was killed.

His last words were reported to be “What have I ever done to you?”

There is no doubt the world is a better place without Qaddafi in it but Libya is in for a very rough time. They don’t really have any institutions that hold the whole country together. Before Qaddafi’s rule they were still largely a tribal society and he didn’t go out of his way to develop the sort of institutions that might have integrated Libya better, and challenged his government. I think the most likely scenario now is something like Somalia on the Mediterranean.

 


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