The New Manhattan Project – Part II

December 30, 2010

 

…continued from Part I, here.

Energy Independence

Fusion power has so much potential that we could have so much energy that  there would be no strain on the system’s supply to have electric car docking stations at every person’s house and place of work   They’re already paid for with the stimulus money ‘free’ of cost to the tax-payer.  How many people could you put to work over the coures of 10 years with that project in a country as large and developed as ours?  Gas stations would be paired (and eventually replaced) with rapid battery swap shops that take your cars standardized old battery that is drained and give you a freshly charged one.  Going back to the shah in Oman…100% of the money in your pocket is paying for your power from American sources because we invented the economy that the money all goes to. 

     100% of the money also means we are not dependent upon the shah for his oil anymore.  We don’t need him – we can run our economy on our own energy sources.   American sources mean dollars back into your community.  By not having to worry about a supply of oil, we are free to let the Middle East fight itself instead of us once again.  No more wars of foreign involvement.  Our soldiers aren’t there spilling their blood, we aren’t spending our treasure on waging war, and the radicals there get what they want by not having the US in their lands.  I say let them descend into a 9th century level of barbarism again.  Tell them we don’t need their oil and so they get what they want – the US to leave…and we would.  It’s not that easy though, I’m not naive liberal.  Realistically, that wouldn’t be good enough for the jihadists; they would still blame us for our past involvement and try to send more terrorists our way.  That is a solvable problem though, but not for today.  

  Carbon Reducing Green Energy

Lastly, we can reinvent our country all while being green.  Fusion power doesn’t emit hydrocarbons – like fission reactors, you’re not burning anything.  Fusion power emissions are energy and water.  That’s it.  There is no radioactive waste with a half-life of 20,000  years that you have to dispose of.  Guess where you get the fuel for nuclear power reactors?  Salt water.  Yes, the fuel deuterium comes from ‘heavy water’ commonly found in sea water.  You mix that with tritium (which is merely a hydrogen atom with two protons in it) and a whole lot of energy and the two atoms ‘fuse’ together to make even more energy, a helium atom, and a neutron.  That’s it.

The Problem and Reality
  The only reason that fusion is so hard is that like the sun, the process is extremely hot.  So hot that the plasma produced can melt anything.  The only way to contain it is to basically make an electromagnetic shield of energy around the reaction.  It’s similar to shields in Star Trek, but instead of keeping energy from a  weapon out, it keeps energy from the reaction in and thus prevents the plasma from melting the reactor chamber.

   Our current reactors take more energy to power up and run than the process makes.  Improving the technology takes research and eureka moments.  You get that with the best minds working together, being excited about their work and pulling long hours over the concentrated effort of 5-10 years, not the snail’s pace of 100 years like the current proposed rate of progress.  Talk about a pathetic, flacid approach.  Real research with the best of minds means that the money has to be there to spend. 

 My Vision

Unlike a devalued dollar and papered-over banking problems, fusion power is a solution for the ages.  What is a half a trillion dollars to the hundreds of trillions of dollars that near limitless energy is worth?  The world is not running out of sea water anytime soon and with limitless energy, things are far more possible.  First, we stop heating up the planet.  Global warming is real.  It may come from a hotter sun too, but throwing an extra wool blanket around the plant from more carbon dioxide than plants can take in doesn’t help.  Secondly, energy intensive processes like reverse osmosis water purification can desalinate and purify salt water or poisoned water.  So much of the world’s suffering comes from having a poor water supply.  You could now do grandiose civil engineering projects like fueling california’s agriculture industry from reverse-osmosed sea water that is pumped to the farmland.  The energy from fusion power could drive the massive pumps and purifiers that you would need.  You could even take the idea a step further and slowly terraform deserts and make them arable again – combating their slow spread.  Other things even more grandiose are possible.    Remember how hydrogen is the key ingredient, well it is also the most abundant element in the universe and floats freely around the vacuum of space.  Space ships, space travel, space colonies, and asteroid mining and the inherent resources there, are all far more possible because you have now have an efficient engine to power your spacecraft and a ready source of fuel to power it.

Yes, my ideas for the future may be grandiose, but with near limitless energy, it is possible.  All it takes is leadership and vision.  I wish we had more of it.

The Bottom Line

You can’t do something like this on the cheap.  Its going to cost hundreds of billions to do it on the scale and pace of breakthrough I’m talking about, both in infrastructure development and technology.  Politicians can spend the same amount of money bailing out banks, printing fiat currency, and generally kicking the can of economic collapse down the road, but they can’t do what I propose.  Its all because special interests in DC and Congress’ general lack of vision prevents it from actually being the body politic it needs to be.  There are too  many politicians and not enough statesmen; we need less power grubbing and more visionary leadership.   

This is our silver bullet, but we’ve got to fire it or its of no use.

– G.S.


The New Manhattan Project

December 22, 2010

Worship Me! I Am The Solution To All of Your Woes.

  I have hinted at this post in the past and now it’s here.  This is my non-scientific stab at:

 – The Next ‘American Innovation’

–  American Reinvestment

– Effective Stimulus

– High-Paying, Sustainable Job Creation 

– Energy Independence

– National Security

–  and A Carbon Reducing, Green Energy Source

     The caption says it all.  Fusion power – the source of energy for the suns and thermonuclear weapons is the answer.  Name one thing, only one thing that can realistically accomplish all of the above bullet points and I’ll eat my hat.  Lets get started.  There may be overlap as some pertinent factors can be shared.

  The Next ‘American Innovation’

     This country has maintained its greatness because it has an edge.  The ideas and entrepreneurship that are part of our identity have given rise to our modern world and the standard of living that we so enjoy.  Since the industrial revolution and throughout the 20th Century, this country’s economy is generally propelled by some sort of new innovation.  It might be something great like Carnegie and his telegraph and steel empire, or it could be something as terrible and destructive as the First and Second World Wars.  All three examples drove American innovation forward and provided new technologies, industries, jobs, and money for this country’s citizens.  Why not use this technology and its benefits today – providing that next needed industry.  We could corner the market and benefit as we spread the technology to the world instead of dragging the development process out for the next 50 years.  I am serious.   The development of the most promising reactors take decades with further designs behind them.  The pace and the money are a pittance.  My one source said it was a total of about a billion dollars a year.  Yes, that is a lot of money, but not for a country that builds a plane that cost $1.2 billion back in the early 90’s and doesn’t blink to spend $20 billion on foreign aid a year and $787 billion to bail out Wall Street. 

American Reinvestment

    This technology would be an investment in America because we have to spend the money here to make the technology and integrate it into our economy and lives.   This case alone should be enough when I say that with a serious committment and expenditure of dollars, we can not only keep that money in our nation’s collective pocket, but spend more on power grids, power plants, turbines, electric cars, cement, and training.  This doesn’t even begin to account for all of the other supportive roles that put people to work while making something that is real and actually is a return on investment.  Real product you say?  Return on investment…that sounds like manufacturing!?! 

    Yes it is.  We used to be really good at it.  This is just manufacturing a new energy economy.  Why send over $400 billion a year overseas when we can keep that money here while also reinvesting in America?

Effective Stimulus

    This stimulus comes in two parts.  The first is the one we are all too familiar with;  the one from the government.  It means we spend money we generally don’t have on something in the hopes we get a greater return than what we put in.  These days, government stimulus is considered a ‘win’ when it gets back the  money it put in.  Now here is the hard part…stuff like this always involves Congress approving, creating, and managing a program that would be what I call ‘The New Manhattan Project’.  Instead of making fission bombs, we are making fusion energy.  The scale is debatable, but if we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars time and time again on terrible and perversely incentivized stimulus, why can’t the government pony up say $500 billion ($50 billion a year for 10 years) to invent fusion power that gives us more energy than it takes, and also completely revamping our nation’s energy grid in preparation for the technology and as a way to repair it.  Yeah, if you didn’t know, our energy grid is far from smart – its crumbling in a lot of places. 

     The reality is that this government and that of the whole EU might invest $40 billion over the next 50 years.  Might.  They’ve only put up about $10 billion to get where they have so far.  BP has a claims fund twice that size for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  That is a paltry sum for a slow process that doesn’t have enough impetus behind it to create leap-frog breakthroughs.

High-Paying Job Creation & Sustainment

     The second part of the stimulus is that it directly equates to American jobs and careers.  No, this is not seasonal or temporary work for minimum wage but high-tech jobs that pay well and will not go away.  Linemen, mechanics, power plant workers, engineers, professors, surveyors, the list goes on – these are jobs that can’t be exported because that are manufacturing something that can’t be exported.  The power lines and the power plants aren’t going anywhere.  This investment in the American worker and American infrastructure is money put back into our own pockets.  It is spent by you and your family and also by the company you work for in goods and services.  Some of that money ends up in the hands of the cement factory owner across town, who then has to get his cement trucks serviced by a local truck garage that your neighbor works at.  Like in this example, the same $1 goes a lot further went it is spent multiple times in a community instead of lining the pocket of a shah in Oman.  Why take 65 cents or so of every dollar and give it to people over in the Middle East who we shouldn’t trust because they really don’t like us that much…but they are all to glad to take our money? 

… Part II is now complete and is here.


Remember The Greeks

December 16, 2010

...and then they stick fire-crackers on their Molotovs. BRILLIANT!!!

     

So I will keep this short.  I’ve pontificated about the Greek debt crisis here before.  However,  I have to point something out to you that probably escapes everyone’s notice.  No, I’m not going to say how this could be us one day, the previous article talks about that.   What I am going to say is simple:  Notice.  Notice that the problem doesn’t go away once some fund comes and bails you out.  It isn’t a magic panacea.  Your credit rating is still crap and investors have little to no faith in you.  Once the genie is out of the bottle and the world has no confidence in you, things stay that way.  Your problems have only begun.  These Greeks have it easy, there is still a financial world left over to escape to after their country’s economic collapse.  You better learn to speak Mandarin or Cantonese and walk with a serious stoop after the US implodes financially.  There will be no where else to go.  By the way, you’ll have to give up your Starbucks mocha latte, your organic Wholefoods hummus, and your 60″ HDTV as well.

If the austerity measures and rioting can happen over and over in Greece, they’ll happen here the same way too.  It’ll make the riots of the 60’s look like a walk in the park.

-G.S.


The Road To Hell…

December 10, 2010
Where Is Our Modern Day Cerberus?

 

…is paved with the hopes of our unborn.  And mortared with the ground up then watered down dreams of our forefathers.  We run rough-shod and headlong over them with nary a thought of where we are going.  The age of the hero has drawn to a close, and the age of the charlatan has begun.

And you thought I’d say “with good intentions…”
    Well kids, you can take the above passage to the bank.   I wish I could say this rather apocolyptic bit is mere prose, but I honestly, truly, from the bottom of patriotic heart believe the rhetoric I throw at you today.  I could point to a number of troubling man-made issues that our great nation can’t solve – Chinese dominance, N. Korean sabre rattling, Iranian recalcitrance, general global recession, etc, etc. 
    I haven’t even talked about the ones we didin’t control or haven’t convinced everyone on yet (who would have thought that global warming hangs out with big foot, the moon landing, and Elvis’ death)
 
   The one I do want to point out to you and one we can control is this pathetic rabble we have in Congress.  Look at these thieves and then look at yourself.  Everyone is SO concerned about the debt just one month ago in the mid-term elections that the sides were tripping over each other on how they can spend smartly.  The reason Republicans won wasn’t from a mandate, but  from dissatisfied voters who wanted less government and LESS spending.  Its a message that is more believable from them.
   Instead, what we get is a masked stimulus package part III.  There is no way that the President and Republicans could have outright gotten away with a two year $990 BILLION increase in spending and cut in taxes paid for by borrowed Chinese dollars.  It had to be surreptitious; this result from Congress doesn’t surprise me at all. 
Any semblance of responsible leadership has long been edged out by power politics and special interests.
  Fool us once, shame on you.  Fool us twice, shame on US. 
    Americans ‘want’ their children’s future to be secure, but they are not willing to sacrifice in the present to give it up, no matter what the cost and no matter how bad the policy.  Past generations certainly have sacrified for you, but you can’t bring yourself to return the favor. 
  You America – yes you, you are who I lament about in this article.  Look at what our leaders are doing to ‘stimulate’ the economy when we know it won’t stimulate jack AND YOU JUST LET IT HAPPEN!  There is no free lunch.  Those tax cuts were MEANT to expire.  Those rates for estate taxes were MEANT to go up.  Your uninsurance claims WERE meant to go tits up after 99 weeks – so you’d finally be forced to get a job!
    Just like the temporary national budget and our doctor’s medicare payment gap, its really easy to say ‘in 2 years rates will revert to the higher rates’…but its much, much harder to actually get callow Congressmen voted in by fickle constituents to actually do it.  The charlatans in Washington aren’t willing to fall on their political sword to do the right thing and you’re dumb enough to think this facade of a parade will go on forever. 
      This ‘stiumulus’ might help us bump along the bottom and not ‘lose’ 2.2 million jobs…but Congress and the President are not smarter than the invisible hand of the market.  We are losing those jobs because we are not competitive as a nation and are doing all the wrong moves to get competitive.  They only forestall the inevitable when they borrow more of your children’s money.  We’re going to lose those jobs anyways if you don’t actually invest the money borrowed.  There I said it.  I’m not opposed to spending, but it has to be an investment, not a bridge loan to the Chinese! 
    Our leaders refuse to invest in things that give us returns – REAL infrastructre reivestment – not repaving of perfectly good roads; subsidizing the renewable energy industry – to get the leg up on China; or doing a Manhattan Project like crash program on nuclear fusion (want to solve your energy problems, national securty woes, global warming, and job problem in one fell blow? – more to come in another blog post).    Instead, those same leaders rely on the overly touted and calculated consumer spending (cuts in taxes) and rewarding indolent behavior (extending unemployment) to ‘stimulate’ things.  Honestly, who really can’t find a job in 99 weeks? – you can, but you just don’t want to flip burgers at McDonalds.  You get paid the same (or more for some while being on unemployment) for doing nothing with your 40 hours a week.  That may be ok for the first month or two, when you are looking for a job that pays better and utlizes your skills and maintains your way of life…but eventually reality sets in.  You’re near the end of your recorded Tivo shows and your very meager savings (I am after all, talking about the AVERAGE American) with all of that free time on your hands.   Go work at McDonalds and if you are half the worker you think you are, you can be a manager in 6 months making more than what you were on unemployment AND you now have career prospects.  Or, do the same thing at Wal-Mart. Or start you own business.  That’s the only leg up on China we’ve got – we are an industrious and creative society when we aren’t killing ourselves with consumerism. 
   This false sense of entitlement that is out there has to stop.  We are literally destroying our future and our nation because no one is willing to admit the ugly truth and take the pain inherent in the generally 30 years of poor policy choices our ELECTED officials have made.  Eventually the tab is going to come due.  The longer we forestall it, the more we have to borrow with interest to pay it back – if ever.  Hence, the worse it will be.  There is no such thing as a free lunch. 
   
    For once, I agree with the rank and file Democrats, just not for the same reasons.  This libertarian says enough is enough.  I am willing to pay MORE than my fair share of taxes to secure my son’s future.  I certainly can afford it – and most people I know can too.  If you are so poor that you can’t, well the government helps you anyways and you aren’t paying taxes, so why do you care?  The problem is, no one else seems willing…and its all because they had no idea how to manage their finances personally or nationally.  How is that fair to future generations? 
 
   You think things are bad NOW?  Go ask some 90 year old how bad it was during the Great Depression.  It’ll be worse in the Second Great Depression when this game of musical chairs comes up one chair short for this nation.  Too much self-entitlement and not enough hard skills to go around.
The road to Hell indeed…
–   G.S.