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Saturday, January 09, 2010


tabletop nuclear reactor?

Cold fusion may not be fusion. It may be some completely unknown effect. However since Fleischmann & Pons announced producing fusion & many others attempting to replicate their results didn't there have been a substantial & replicable number of instances of people producing power. Partly because F&P, going public before demonstrating it under "peer review" had behaved more like showmen than scientists & partly because peers in this field had spent their lives trying to achieve fusion in the traditional way & weren't happy, there was eagerness to dismiss them.
tabletop device built by Osaka University physicist Yoshiaki Arata and his associate Yue Chang Zhang continuously generated excess energy in the form of heat and also produced helium particles.

“The demonstration showed their method was highly reproducible,” the report quoted physicist Akito Takahashi, one of the 60 persons from industry and universities who witnessed it, as saying.

The demonstration held on May 22 has drawn immediate praise from Mahadeva Srinivasan, a cold fusion pioneer and formerly associate director of physics at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai.

“The cold fusion community is excited and is reverberating with news of a live public demo,” Srinivasan told IANS from Chennai. “The field is truly ripe for Indian labs to enter and it is hoped that we won’t miss the bus once again.”

The fusion process that powers the sun requires extreme temperature and pressure to force hydrogen nuclei fuse and release energy. Achieving fusion at room temperature was considered impossible until 1989 when American scientists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons startled the world with their tabletop experiment.

They connected a battery to a pair of palladium electrodes immersed in a jar of water containing deuterium (heavier form of hydrogen) and showed their electrolytic cell produced heat energy in excess of what was consumed. They claimed that deuterium nuclei were being packed into the palladium’s lattice in such a way for fusion to take place.

Later it was shown by several groups including Srinivasan and Padmanabha Krishnagopala Iyengar at BARC in the early 1990s that the reaction produced tritium as well as helium indicating that cold fusion was real. However, further work at BARC was abandoned due to denunciation of cold fusion by mainstream scientists and the US government... more
That experiment has demonstrated production of energy in a manner not explicable by scientists outside the field cannot be denied. It would thus be worthy of research even were it not so potentially valuable. A tabletop device that can produce potentially unlimited fusion power without risk is potentially a world changer, but even if that weren't so, good scientific research into the unknown always pays off either in the expected way or serendipitously.

Such research should be supported & if it is only supported in India & China - well more fool us.

This seems to be another, though this time inadvertent, case where government public R&D funding tended to have negative consequences - not, as with "catastrophic global warming" where the state was constructing a deliberate scare story but simply that government grant giving has produced a self-referential community of experts who say it can only be done their way. Governments would almost always rather spend a billion in something which will work, or at least in which their asses are covered because everybody else says the same, than risk $100 million in something with a 20% chance of working, because they don't want to lose face. The same applies to big companies because very few of them are big enough to gamble that sort of money even on such good odds - this is somewhere where, in theory government should be able to take bigger risks than business can but in our present overcautious society that is no longer so.

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Friday, January 08, 2010


This is in Thursday's Morning Star, Britain's Communist Newspaper
My letter about alleged global warming and the how use of such scares by those opposed to economic growth is incompatible with traditional socialism (M Star December 21) has stirred some controversy.

Joe Clark says (M Star January 4) that I "have offered no evidence" that the promised catastrophic warming isn't happening. A short newspaper letter is hardly the place to lay out all the technicalities, though I could do so at length and many others have done so.

Philosophically, the real problem with Joe's point is that science requires us to use the simplest theory which fits the evidence with fewest assumptions. This is why the theory of evolution trumps creationism.

Evolution explains with no hidden assumptions. Creationism requires us to accept that God created the world in 4004BC and planted all the bones, geological formations and galaxies to fool scientists.

Both explanations actually work if you accept that God can do anything. But God, being infinite, does increase the complexity of the theory.

In the same way, the default assumption should be that weather will vary as it always has, but not in an unprecedentedly hot way. The onus is on those crying "catastrophe" to produce some evidence rather than saying that we must assume the end to be nigh unless someone provides indisputable proof that Armageddon will not arrive next year.

This is the difference between science and religion.

Paul Levy, in his letter on the subject (M Star December 22), correctly pointed out that Marx was a scientist. If Marxism is to be scientific it must retain the intellectual rigour to examine both its own history and the fads of the moment by such scientific principles. That is the way forward. It is the only way that has ever worked.

Neil Craig
This gives me a much better publishing ratio here than among Scottish, let alone UK papers & on a subject which is clearly as controversial among them as anything I have ever said in the MSM. Clearly, by orders of magnitude, a far more liberal & freethinking organ than the Guardian.

The letter itself is relatively convoluted since I am trying to get across a basic point about the philosophy of science & why Luddism, Creationism any form of Communism that treats Marx's words as holy scripture, are faith based religions, ultimately doomed to be wrong & that the principles of science are the only way to truth. I am not a "believer" in Marx but a classic liberal but that is because being an absolute "believer" in anything without evidence makes finding truth impossible. Communism moved a very long way to being a religion but I think it can come back. The collapse of the USSR may be one reason for hope. That collapse came about because the USSR was evidently failing to run the means of production as well as the capitalist states. However that could only be recognised in a system which did indeed respect evidence. Islam & indeed Christianity have lasted far longer despite never once having provided evidence of anybody achieving heaven, or anything else. "Environmentalism has repeatedly had all their professions of doom disproven yet they move on to the next. That communism could not do that is to its credit.

I also sent this letter a week ago which they didn't publish but 2 out of 3 is fine.
I am rebuked by Paul Levy (letter Weds) for saying that evidence of catastrophic global warming depends on data collated by a few well funded scientists at the CRU but that is the truth. They collated the world figures, nobody else. They are the ones who "juggled" with them to "hide the decline" in global temperature - nobody else. If the global temperature is not rising & at an unprecedented rate then there simply is no evidence that we are seeing catastrophic warming.

The rest of his argument is simply name calling - saying that because Uncle Tom Cobley & numerous other reactionaries doubt alarmism it is thereby true. The same could be said about the phlogiston theory of matter. Paul says he is using catastrophic warming as a scare to enforce "the need for massive government intervention to reduce our fossil fuel use" but this is exactly the sort of false leftism I was decrying. Firstly it is immoral to try to frighten people into an unnecessary poverty. Secondly when the scare is discredited, as is clearly happening, it not only discredits those who said it but runs the risk of discrediting all parts of the left (& much of professional science) that has not openly dissociated themselves from the Luddites (paradoxically it also may discredit David Cameron who is apparently not one of the "reactionaries" Paul brings in to bolster his case). Thirdlythe question whether socialism should develop by supporting massive government telling us what to do or by some more ground up co-operative system should be based on the real technological facts underpinning society not on an attempt to bring in false & spurious, government funded, arguments.

The particular example he uses of draconian powers to cut carbon is a very clear example of how the Luddites are trying to displace scientific socialists. The obvious way to cut CO2 is by a mass nuclear build. This could, as it does in France, cut ordinary bills to about 1/4 of what they are here. That absolutely represents Marx's view of the ultimate triumph of societies that utilise the means of production most effectively. It is in the tradition of Lenin who said, perhaps uncharacteristically naively, that communism would be achieved by "the electrification of the whole country." That the Greens are primarily re-emerging Luddites, simply opposed to modern technology, is shown by their attitude to new nuclear. If truly convinced of the catastrophic nature of CO2, they would embrace it as the only practical way to keep the lights on. Instead they denounce it & revere poverty & technologies which were modern in the age of feudalism.

The Luddites are engaged in what is sometimes called The War Against Fire. Marxism & progressive socialism have always been about promoting technological progress because it liberates ordinary people. They are not fellow travellers. They may both wish to change society but in polar opposite directions. The traditional left should not allow itself to be flattered into promoting those who wish to deny their progressive future

Up to about the time of the Moon Landings the left was universally enthusiastic about progress & reactionaries, well, reactionary. It is paradoxical that though such spectacular achievement has virtually & unnecessarily stopped since then the right has been largely unopposed in nominally supporting progress. I find that unfortunate & signals a loss of nerve on the left which is also unnecessary.
Would it not be fitting if the Communist Party & UKIP were to be the first to adopt an X-Prize Foundation as official policies.

Just to prove Luddism is not a particularly leftist phenomenon, nor my opposition to it purely on the left side here is a comment I put about BBC scientific illiteracy on Douglas Carswell's site.

"I am reminded of a Newsnight frontman, I think Gavin Esler, doing an item on the "dangers" of a space probe with nuclear reactor on board, on being told by the scientist that he was interviewing that the laws of orbital mechanics would permit it to crash on Earth "unless the law of gravity changed". Gavin pounced on that by asking why the scientists hadn't taken that possibility into account?"

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Senator DeMint
Sarah Palin

Lets see if the US Constitution holds up in internal matters. Some years ago Clinton broke the Constitution with impunity by making war on Yugoslavia without asking Congress despite the Constitution making it unambiguously a prerogative of Congress. He got away with it. This one is arguably more basic because it is an internal matter & however wrong it is to bomb foreigners it is a more basic violation of a Constitution's purpose if it is broken to affect US citizens.

The particular instance is less important than war crimes. It is an attempt to circumvent the constitutionally mandated rules on the power of Congress & in particular to prevent a future Republican majority repealing laws. This is from Sarah Palin's Facebook
Last weekend while you were preparing for the holidays with your family, Harry Reid’s Senate was making shady backroom deals to ram through the Democrat health care take-over. The Senate ended debate on this bill without even reading it. That and midnight weekend votes seem to be standard operating procedures in D.C. No one is certain of what’s in the bill, but Senator Jim DeMint spotted one shocking revelation regarding the section in the bill describing the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (now called the Independent Payment Advisory Board), which is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients – also known as rationing. Apparently Reid and friends have changed the rules of the Senate so that the section of the bill dealing with this board can’t be repealed or amended without a 2/3 supermajority vote. Senator DeMint said:

“This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law. I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. If you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates. I mean, we want to bind future congresses. This goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical
majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future congresses.”

In other words, Democrats are protecting this rationing “death panel” from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to “bend the cost curve” and keep health care spending down?
The Constitution says the Senate make laws on a majority basis. Amendment X says specifically that if a right is not in the Constitution they can't make it up. So I have less doubts about its illegality than Senator DeMint. The question is will the Constitution, as written be upheld by the Supreme Court? Theoretically they could say that makes it a Constitutional Amendment which does indeed require a 2/3rds majority & that that makes the whole Bill such - that would be pushing it a bit. They could just say that part is unconstitutional. They cannot legally say it is allowed - but they may.

If it stood it would clearly be a precedent which could destroy the entire Constitution since it would allow any group with a temporary 50% + 1 majority to pass a law saying the President or any other appointee can do anything & require a 99% majority for repeal. However I am not arguing that the Constitution be interpreted in the spirit of freedom but simply interpreted according to what is written.

It should be noted that ultimately the law is not what any judge says it is but what it says. This is a dangerous doctrine since it allows, arguably requires, anybody who disagrees with the judges to resist. On the other hand anything else is more dangerous.

It is probably only a coincidence that this illegality has been carried out on the section which Sarah Palin was so widely condemned & supported for describing as a "death panel". My opinion is that she was technically right, in that a panel of people having the power to decide that some medical treatment required for survival is to expensive is a "death panel" but wrong to suggest it was new. There is an infinite amount of treatment available which has or may have a small chance of preserving life for a limited time. No society, capitalist, socialist or theocracy can give it all so there will be some sort of "death panel" under any system. What I am arguing against here is purely the fact that this section of the law is unambiguously contrary to the Constitution.

We will seE what happens - acquiescence could be fatal to the USA.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010


From the newspaper that all politically correct fascists hate, the Daily Mail, comes this unofficial government forecast of our coming energy crisis (all achieved as part of the war against the catastrophic warming so widely evident)
Household gas and electricity bills are expected to rocket fourfold to nearly £5,000 a year by the end of the decade to meet Government-imposed green targets.

And the price heavy industry will have to pay by 2020 is so high that energy-dependent firms could be wiped out, causing thousands of job losses, said an industry spokesman.

A massive rethink on the cost of 'green energy' is taking place in Whitehall among senior regulators and industry, leading some to question whether the public will be prepared to pay increasingly high bills for the UK to become greener than most countries.

Officials at regulator Ofgem now privately admit that a report they issued only last year severely underestimates the cost of cutting carbon emissions
by building a new energy infrastructure for the UK.

The watchdog's earlier report suggested that gas and electricity prices could double to £2,000 by 2020 to meet the £233.5 billion cost of going green by investing in nuclear energy and wind and wave power.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said the Government-imposed 2020 target of a 34 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 and the 2050 target of an 80 per cent cut in greenhouse gases, both from 1990, were among the most ambitious in the world.

Ofgem's worries about those figures are backed up by new research from an energy-switching company that calculates £548 of the average household bill of almost £5,000 in 2020 would be to pay for the investments in nuclear and renewable energy. note there will be no government investment in nuclear - suggests this article is still being overly kind to the eco-fascists

Already energy bills are loaded up by five separate charges to help fund the battle to combat climate change and become greener. They are the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, the Renewables Obligation, the Community Energy Saving Programme and shortly there will be a levy on investing in clean coal projects.

Although householders will be badly hit, the damage to industrial energy users will be even more dramatic. These companies, which range from steel and chemical plants to industrial gas companies, are dependent on reasonable energy prices that can, in some cases, account for 70 per cent of their entire costs...

'We are not against cleaning up the environment, far from it,' he said. 'If every country faces these costs then so be it, but the UK has decided to be greener than any other country. The huge costs involved will make us totally uncompetitive.

'We are already highly efficient and cannot cut our costs further. If we find ourselves faced with these sort of increases, there will not be any heavy industry left in this country. We will be wiped out and with that thousands of jobs will go.'
Over recent years electricity prices have gone up from +£600 to +£1,200 per household. The Ofgem report in question said another 60% was coming - to £2,000. Thus £5,000, or anything even remotely close to that means either nobody in Ofgem or the Department of Energy & Climate Change (a title that shows the department to be at best lukewarm about its duty of keeping the lights on) is remotely competent at arithmetic or, more credibly, that they figures in the original report were total & deliberate lies intended to help the government. My guess is that there are some people in government capable of counting. If so somebody among the Tories should be asking if this semi-leaked figure is truthful. Despite Cameron's windmillery most Conservative supporters are sane on this subject. Despite his windmillery the Conservatives could & should come out fighting on the government's apparent dishonesty in saying it would only go up to £2,000 per household.

As further background only about 1/3rd of electricity is domestic. That would mean the net cost to the whole country of this will be £15,000 a year per family. It is easy to see why sensible investors aren't investing here.

The total cost looks like about £100 bn a year which doesn't quite match our budget overspend but not far short. It is also something which will visibly hit voter's pockets. It seems unlikely this will encourage people to vote Labour.

Nobody interested in government not taking £5,000 extra from them (well OK £4,700 since nuclear would cost about £300) is going to vote LiDem if this gets properly reported, since the LDs say windmillery is, along with "fairness", the only big reason to support them.

Of relevance to Scotland note that the particular lunatics running our asylum in Holyrood voted unanimously for far tougher restrictions in Scotland, together with the total abolition of nuclear. That looks likely to cost Scotland £10,000 per family directly & £30,000 in total.

Of course the 25,000 annual toll of unnecessary deaths each year is now rising because of this but don't expect the politicians responsible for it, & who have always been willing to "pay the price" in human lives to shed anything more than crocodile tears on this.

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