Integrity
Write
Loading...
Katrina Paulson

Katrina Paulson

1 month ago

Dehumanization Against Anthropomorphization

More on Science

Daniel Clery

13 days ago

Twisted device investigates fusion alternatives

German stellarator revamped to run longer, hotter, compete with tokamaks

Wendelstein 7-X’s complex geometry was a nightmare to build but, when fired up, worked from the start.

Tokamaks have dominated the search for fusion energy for decades. Just as ITER, the world's largest and most expensive tokamak, nears completion in southern France, a smaller, twistier testbed will start up in Germany.

If the 16-meter-wide stellarator can match or outperform similar-size tokamaks, fusion experts may rethink their future. Stellarators can keep their superhot gases stable enough to fuse nuclei and produce energy. They can theoretically run forever, but tokamaks must pause to reset their magnet coils.

The €1 billion German machine, Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), is already getting "tokamak-like performance" in short runs, claims plasma physicist David Gates, preventing particles and heat from escaping the superhot gas. If W7-X can go long, "it will be ahead," he says. "Stellarators excel" Eindhoven University of Technology theorist Josefine Proll says, "Stellarators are back in the game." A few of startup companies, including one that Gates is leaving Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, are developing their own stellarators.

W7-X has been running at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany, since 2015, albeit only at low power and for brief runs. W7-X's developers took it down and replaced all inner walls and fittings with water-cooled equivalents, allowing for longer, hotter runs. The team reported at a W7-X board meeting last week that the revised plasma vessel has no leaks. It's expected to restart later this month to show if it can get plasma to fusion-igniting conditions.

Wendelstein 7-X’s twisting inner surface is now water cooled, enabling longer runs

Wendelstein 7-X's water-cooled inner surface allows for longer runs.

HOSAN/IPP

Both stellarators and tokamaks create magnetic gas cages hot enough to melt metal. Microwaves or particle beams heat. Extreme temperatures create a plasma, a seething mix of separated nuclei and electrons, and cause the nuclei to fuse, releasing energy. A fusion power plant would use deuterium and tritium, which react quickly. Non-energy-generating research machines like W7-X avoid tritium and use hydrogen or deuterium instead.

Tokamaks and stellarators use electromagnetic coils to create plasma-confining magnetic fields. A greater field near the hole causes plasma to drift to the reactor's wall.

Tokamaks control drift by circulating plasma around a ring. Streaming creates a magnetic field that twists and stabilizes ionized plasma. Stellarators employ magnetic coils to twist, not plasma. Once plasma physicists got powerful enough supercomputers, they could optimize stellarator magnets to improve plasma confinement.

W7-X is the first large, optimized stellarator with 50 6- ton superconducting coils. Its construction began in the mid-1990s and cost roughly twice the €550 million originally budgeted.

The wait hasn't disappointed researchers. W7-X director Thomas Klinger: "The machine operated immediately." "It's a friendly machine." It did everything we asked." Tokamaks are prone to "instabilities" (plasma bulging or wobbling) or strong "disruptions," sometimes associated to halted plasma flow. IPP theorist Sophia Henneberg believes stellarators don't employ plasma current, which "removes an entire branch" of instabilities.

In early stellarators, the magnetic field geometry drove slower particles to follow banana-shaped orbits until they collided with other particles and leaked energy. Gates believes W7-X's ability to suppress this effect implies its optimization works.

W7-X loses heat through different forms of turbulence, which push particles toward the wall. Theorists have only lately mastered simulating turbulence. W7-X's forthcoming campaign will test simulations and turbulence-fighting techniques.

A stellarator can run constantly, unlike a tokamak, which pulses. W7-X has run 100 seconds—long by tokamak standards—at low power. The device's uncooled microwave and particle heating systems only produced 11.5 megawatts. The update doubles heating power. High temperature, high plasma density, and extensive runs will test stellarators' fusion power potential. Klinger wants to heat ions to 50 million degrees Celsius for 100 seconds. That would make W7-X "a world-class machine," he argues. The team will push for 30 minutes. "We'll move step-by-step," he says.

W7-X's success has inspired VCs to finance entrepreneurs creating commercial stellarators. Startups must simplify magnet production.

Princeton Stellarators, created by Gates and colleagues this year, has $3 million to build a prototype reactor without W7-X's twisted magnet coils. Instead, it will use a mosaic of 1000 HTS square coils on the plasma vessel's outside. By adjusting each coil's magnetic field, operators can change the applied field's form. Gates: "It moves coil complexity to the control system." The company intends to construct a reactor that can fuse cheap, abundant deuterium to produce neutrons for radioisotopes. If successful, the company will build a reactor.

Renaissance Fusion, situated in Grenoble, France, raised €16 million and wants to coat plasma vessel segments in HTS. Using a laser, engineers will burn off superconductor tracks to carve magnet coils. They want to build a meter-long test segment in 2 years and a full prototype by 2027.

Type One Energy in Madison, Wisconsin, won DOE money to bend HTS cables for stellarator magnets. The business carved twisting grooves in metal with computer-controlled etching equipment to coil cables. David Anderson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, claims advanced manufacturing technology enables the stellarator.

Anderson said W7-X's next phase will boost stellarator work. “Half-hour discharges are steady-state,” he says. “This is a big deal.”

Nojus Tumenas

Nojus Tumenas

17 days ago

NASA: Strange Betelgeuse Explosion Just Took Place

Orion's red supergiant Betelgeuse erupted. This is astronomers' most magnificent occurrence.

Betelgeuse, a supergiant star in Orion, garnered attention in 2019 for its peculiar appearance. It continued to dim in 2020.

The star was previously thought to explode as a supernova. Studying the event has revealed what happened to Betelgeuse since it happened.

Astronomers saw that the star released a large amount of material, causing it to lose a section of its surface.

They have never seen anything like this and are unsure what caused the star to release so much material.

According to Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astrophysicist Andrea Dupre, astronomers' data reveals an unexplained mystery.

They say it's a new technique to examine star evolution. The James Webb telescope revealed the star's surface features.

Corona flares are stellar mass ejections. These eruptions change the Sun's outer atmosphere.

This could affect power grids and satellite communications if it hits Earth.

Betelgeuse's flare ejected four times more material than the Sun's corona flare.

Astronomers have monitored star rhythms for 50 years. They've seen its dimming and brightening cycle start, stop, and repeat.

Monitoring Betelgeuse's pulse revealed the eruption's power.

Dupre believes the star's convection cells are still amplifying the blast's effects, comparing it to an imbalanced washing machine tub.

The star's outer layer has returned to normal, Hubble data shows. The photosphere slowly rebuilds its springy surface.

Dupre noted the star's unusual behavior. For instance, it’s causing its interior to bounce.

This suggests that the mass ejections that caused the star's surface to lose mass were two separate processes.

Researchers hope to better understand star mass ejection with the James Webb Space Telescope.

Katherine Kornei

Katherine Kornei

4 months ago

The InSight lander from NASA has recorded the greatest tremor ever felt on Mars.

The magnitude 5 earthquake was responsible for the discharge of energy that was 10 times greater than the previous record holder.

Any Martians who happen to be reading this should quickly learn how to duck and cover.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reported that on May 4, the planet Mars was shaken by an earthquake of around magnitude 5, making it the greatest Marsquake ever detected to this point. The shaking persisted for more than six hours and unleashed more than ten times as much energy as the earthquake that had previously held the record for strongest.

The event was captured on record by the InSight lander, which is operated by the United States Space Agency and has been researching the innards of Mars ever since it touched down on the planet in 2018 (SN: 11/26/18). The epicenter of the earthquake was probably located in the vicinity of Cerberus Fossae, which is located more than 1,000 kilometers away from the lander.

The surface of Cerberus Fossae is notorious for being broken up and experiencing periodic rockfalls. According to geophysicist Philippe Lognonné, who is the lead investigator of the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, the seismometer that is onboard the InSight lander, it is reasonable to assume that the ground is moving in that area. "This is an old crater from a volcanic eruption."

Marsquakes, which are similar to earthquakes in that they give information about the interior structure of our planet, can be utilized to investigate what lies beneath the surface of Mars (SN: 7/22/21). And according to Lognonné, who works at the Institut de Physique du Globe in Paris, there is a great deal that can be gleaned from analyzing this massive earthquake. Because the quality of the signal is so high, we will be able to focus on the specifics.

You might also like

Jason Kottke

9 days ago

Lessons on Leadership from the Dancing Guy

This is arguably the best three-minute demonstration I've ever seen of anything. Derek Sivers turns a shaky video of a lone dancing guy at a music festival into a leadership lesson.

A leader must have the courage to stand alone and appear silly. But what he's doing is so straightforward that it's almost instructive. This is critical. You must be simple to follow!

Now comes the first follower, who plays an important role: he publicly demonstrates how to follow. The leader embraces him as an equal, so it's no longer about the leader — it's about them, plural. He's inviting his friends to join him. It takes courage to be the first follower! You stand out and dare to be mocked. Being a first follower is a style of leadership that is underappreciated. The first follower elevates a lone nut to the position of leader. If the first follower is the spark that starts the fire, the leader is the flint.

This link was sent to me by @ottmark, who noted its resemblance to Kurt Vonnegut's three categories of specialists required for revolution.

The rarest of these specialists, he claims, is an actual genius – a person capable generating seemingly wonderful ideas that are not widely known. "A genius working alone is generally dismissed as a crazy," he claims.

The second type of specialist is much easier to find: a highly intellectual person in good standing in his or her community who understands and admires the genius's new ideas and can attest that the genius is not insane. "A person like him working alone can only crave loudly for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be," Slazinger argues.

Jeff Veen reduced the three personalities to "the inventor, the investor, and the evangelist" on Twitter.

Stephen Rivers

Stephen Rivers

3 months ago

Because of regulations, the $3 million Mercedes-AMG ONE will not (officially) be available in the United States or Canada.

We asked Mercedes to clarify whether "customers" refers to people who have expressed interest in buying the AMG ONE but haven't made a down payment or paid in full for a production slot, and a company spokesperson told that it's the latter – "Actual customers for AMG ONE in the United States and Canada." 

The Mercedes-AMG ONE has finally arrived in manufacturing form after numerous delays. This may be the most complicated and magnificent hypercar ever created, but according to Mercedes, those roads will not be found in the United States or Canada.

Despite all of the well-deserved excitement around the gorgeous AMG ONE, there was no word on when US customers could expect their cars. Our Editor-in-Chief became aware of this and contacted Mercedes to clarify the matter. Mercedes-hypercar AMG's with the F1-derived 1,049 HP 1.6-liter V6 engine will not be homologated for the US market, they've confirmed.

Mercedes has informed its customers in the United States and Canada that the ONE will not be arriving to North America after all, as of today, June 1, 2022. The whole text of the letter is included below, so sit back and wait for Mercedes to explain why we (or they) won't be getting (or seeing) the hypercar. Mercedes claims that all 275 cars it wants to produce have already been reserved, with net pricing in Europe starting at €2.75 million (about US$2.93 million at today's exchange rates), before country-specific taxes.

"The AMG-ONE was created with one purpose in mind: to provide a straight technology transfer of the World Championship-winning Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 E PERFORMANCE drive unit to the road." It's the first time a complete Formula 1 drive unit has been integrated into a road car.

Every component of the AMG ONE has been engineered to redefine high performance, with 1,000+ horsepower, four electric motors, and a blazing top speed of more than 217 mph. While the engine's beginnings are in competition, continuous research and refinement has left us with a difficult choice for the US market.

We determined that following US road requirements would considerably damage its performance and overall driving character in order to preserve the distinctive nature of its F1 powerplant. We've made the strategic choice to make the automobile available for road use in Europe, where it complies with all necessary rules."

If this is the first time US customers have heard about it, which it shouldn't be, we understand if it's a bit off-putting. The AMG ONE could very probably be Mercedes' final internal combustion hypercar of this type.

Nonetheless, we wouldn't be surprised if a few make their way to the United States via the federal government's "Show and Display" exemption provision. This legislation permits the importation of automobiles such as the AMG ONE, but only for a total of 2,500 miles per year.

The McLaren Speedtail, the Koenigsegg One:1, and the Bugatti EB110 are among the automobiles that have been imported under this special rule. We just hope we don't have to wait too long to see the ONE in the United States.

Caleb Naysmith

Caleb Naysmith

1 month ago   Draft

A Myth: Decentralization

It’s simply not conceivable, or at least not credible.

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

One of the most touted selling points of Crypto has always been this grandiose idea of decentralization. Bitcoin first arose in 2009 after the housing crisis and subsequent crash that came with it. It aimed to solve this supposed issue of centralization. Nobody “owns” Bitcoin in theory, so the idea then goes that it won’t be subject to the same downfalls that led to the 2008 crash or similarly speculative events that led to the 2008 disaster. The issue is the banks, not the human nature associated with the greedy individuals running them.

Subsequent blockchains have attempted to fix many of the issues of Bitcoin by increasing capacity, decreasing the costs and processing times associated with Bitcoin, and expanding what can be done with their blockchains. Since nobody owns Bitcoin, it hasn’t really been able to be expanded on. You have people like Vitalk Buterin, however, that actively work on Ethereum though.

The leap from Bitcoin to Ethereum was a massive leap toward centralization, and the trend has only gotten worse. In fact, crypto has since become almost exclusively centralized in recent years.

Decentralization is only good in theory

It’s a good idea. In fact, it’s a wonderful idea. However, like other utopian societies, individuals misjudge human nature and greed. In a perfect world, decentralization would certainly be a wonderful idea because sure, people may function as their own banks, move payments immediately, remain anonymous, and so on. However, underneath this are a couple issues:

  • You can already send money instantaneously today.

  • They are not decentralized.

  • Decentralization is a bad idea.

  • Being your own bank is a stupid move.

Let’s break these down. Some are quite simple, but lets have a look.

Sending money right away

One thing with crypto is the idea that you can send payments instantly. This has pretty much been entirely solved in current times. You can transmit significant sums of money instantly for a nominal cost and it’s instantaneously cleared. Venmo was launched in 2009 and has since increased to prominence, and currently is on most people's phones. I can directly send ANY amount of money quickly from my bank to another person's Venmo account.

Comparing that with ETH and Bitcoin, Venmo wins all around. I can send money to someone for free instantly in dollars and the only fee paid is optional depending on when you want it.

Both Bitcoin and Ethereum are subject to demand. If the blockchains have a lot of people trying to process transactions fee’s go up, and the time that it takes to receive your crypto takes longer. When Ethereum gets bad, people have reported spending several thousand of dollars on just 1 transaction.

These transactions take place via “miners” bundling and confirming transactions, then recording them on the blockchain to confirm that the transaction did indeed happen. They charge fees to do this and are also paid in Bitcoin/ETH. When a transaction is confirmed, it's then sent to the other users wallet. This within itself is subject to lots of controversy because each transaction needs to be confirmed 6 times, this takes massive amounts of power, and most of the power is wasted because this is an adversarial system in which the person that mines the transaction gets paid, and everyone else is out of luck. Also, these could theoretically be subject to a “51% attack” in which anyone with over 51% of the mining hash rate could effectively control all of the transactions, and reverse transactions while keeping the BTC resulting in “double spending”.

There are tons of other issues with this, but essentially it means: They rely on these third parties to confirm the transactions. Without people confirming these transactions, Bitcoin stalls completely, and if anyone becomes too dominant they can effectively control bitcoin.

Not to mention, these transactions are in Bitcoin and ETH, not dollars. So, you need to convert them to dollars still, and that's several more transactions, and likely to take several days anyway as the centralized exchange needs to send you the money by traditional methods.

They are not distributed

That takes me to the following point. This isn’t decentralized, at all. Bitcoin is the closest it gets because Satoshi basically closed it to new upgrades, although its still subject to:

  • Whales

  • Miners

It’s vital to realize that these are often the same folks. While whales aren’t centralized entities typically, they can considerably effect the price and outcome of Bitcoin. If the largest wallets holding as much as 1 million BTC were to sell, it’d effectively collapse the price perhaps beyond repair. However, Bitcoin can and is pretty much controlled by the miners. Further, Bitcoin is more like an oligarchy than decentralized. It’s been effectively used to make the rich richer, and both the mining and price is impacted by the rich. The overwhelming minority of those actually using it are retail investors. The retail investors are basically never the ones generating money from it either.

As far as ETH and other cryptos go, there is realistically 0 case for them being decentralized. Vitalik could not only kill it but even walking away from it would likely lead to a significant decline. It has tons of issues right now that Vitalik has promised to fix with the eventual Ethereum 2.0., and stepping away from it wouldn’t help.

Most tokens as well are generally tied to some promise of future developments and creators. The same is true for most NFT projects. The reason 99% of crypto and NFT projects fail is because they failed to deliver on various promises or bad dev teams, or poor innovation, or the founders just straight up stole from everyone. I could go more in-depth than this but go find any project and if there is a dev team, company, or person tied to it then it's likely, not decentralized. The success of that project is directly tied to the dev team, and if they wanted to, most hold large wallets and could sell it all off effectively killing the project. Not to mention, any crypto project that doesn’t have a locked contract can 100% be completely rugged and they can run off with all of the money.

Decentralization is undesirable

Even if they were decentralized then it would not be a good thing. The graphic above indicates this is effectively a rich person’s unregulated playground… so it’s exactly like… the very issue it tried to solve?

Not to mention, it’s supposedly meant to prevent things like 2008, but is regularly subjected to 50–90% drawdowns in value? Back when Bitcoin was only known in niche parts of the dark web and illegal markets, it would regularly drop as much as 90% and has a long history of massive drawdowns.

The majority of crypto is blatant scams, and ALL of crypto is a “zero” or “negative” sum game in that it relies on the next person buying for people to make money. This is not a good thing. This has yet to solve any issues around what caused the 2008 crisis. Rather, it seemingly amplified all of the bad parts of it actually. Crypto is the ultimate speculative asset and realistically has no valuation metric. People invest in Apple because it has revenue and cash on hand. People invest in crypto purely for speculation. The lack of regulation or accountability means this is amplified to the most extreme degree where anything goes: Fraud, deception, pump and dumps, scams, etc. This results in a pure speculative madhouse where, unsurprisingly, only the rich win. Not only that but the deck is massively stacked in against the everyday investor because you can’t do a pump and dump without money.

At the heart of all of this is still the same issues: greed and human nature. However, in setting out to solve the issues that allowed 2008 to happen, they made something that literally took all of the bad parts of 2008 and then amplified it. 2008, similarly, was due to greed and human nature but was allowed to happen due to lack of oversite, rich people's excessive leverage over the poor, and excessive speculation. Crypto trades SOLELY on human emotion, has 0 oversite, is pure speculation, and the power dynamic is just as bad or worse.

Why should each individual be their own bank?

This is the last one, and it's short and basic. Why do we want people functioning as their own bank? Everything we do relies on another person. Without the internet, and internet providers there is no crypto. We don’t have people functioning as their own home and car manufacturers or internet service providers. Sure, you might specialize in some of these things, but masquerading as your own bank is a horrible idea.

I am not in the banking industry so I don’t know all the issues with banking. Most people aren’t in banking or crypto, so they don’t know the ENDLESS scams associated with it, and they are bound to lose their money eventually.

If you appreciate this article and want to read more from me and authors like me, without any limits, consider buying me a coffee: buymeacoffee.com/calebnaysmith