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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Devastating assessment of NIF in MIT Technology review:



Exhibit A in this counterargument could be the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. With close to $10 billion spent and no tangible results in sight, the Ignition Facility, as Bill Sweet wrote in IEEE Spectrum magazine in 2012, is “the mother of all boondoggles.” Yet it trundles along, consuming hundreds of millions of dollars and countless scientist-hours each year, bringing delight to its congressional supporters but not much to anyone else.

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/541636/weighing-the-cost-of-big-science/

Perhaps "high-floor break even" was a mistake?

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, that's what happens when science writers without the necessary technical background weigh in on fusion energy research. They make dreadfully naive statements. Absolutely nothing will come from fusion energy research, by anyone, without a lot more government dollars, so you either decide it's worth it and keep paying, or you give up and just build more fission plants.

Anonymous said...

Well said above !!!

"Just shutting down the National Ignition Facility and redirecting those funds to some of the smaller-scale, innovative types of fusion being developed by private-sector companies would be a huge boost to the technology. And it would encourage more investors to back R&D that might, one day, actually produce electricity for customers."

Well NIF taught us that ICF is very challenging. Not likely that some startup with VC funding is going to do anything but eat investors money.

Anonymous said...

I think the the entire "high-foot break even" has been exposed as a sham. It clearly hasn't led to more funding or even any follow-up articles in the press. It's pretty typical of Livermore - a lot of talk and fanfare but, in the end, everything fizzles out. I guess NIF will spend the next 20 years performing perturbation theory around the high foot design. Good luck with that guys!

Anonymous said...

NIF can't even do the stockpile stewardship experiments correctly. The PIs are just taking existing data and picking and choosing parameters so the extrapolations line up. Not actually a true measurement from those NIF experiments. Too bad...

Anonymous said...


So the security guards get a tour of the place and very limited access. So who's gonna respond to an emergency? The Sheriff's Department..??? Ya....right. Plus, you gotta love the building(s)location right next to Greenville Road and the knee high fence surrounding the place.

Anonymous said...

MIT is nothing if not self-centered. Their criticism of others work reeks of self interest, more funds for them. Their insignificant tiny old magnetic fusion tokamak is a 25 year old obsolete eyesore.

The East Coast science mafia, with a revovling door between Boston professorship and DC appointments is very jealous of any government science money not under their influence. Just crooked Boston politics in tweed jackets.

West Coast has just as much wealth, paid taxes, solid scientists and technology.

Eat beans, Boston.

Anonymous said...

This asshole is worried his cold fusion device wont get funded so he'll lose his tenure track and have to take a lecture position at a state school in Texas. His wife will leave him and will force him to take the kids.

Self interest. Boston Irish Parable. "More for me, taken from you."

Anonymous said...

MIT had a strong presence in the superconducting super collider then, and ITER now. No complaints about large science there. Crickets....

Self interest and jealosy ( tools of the academic trade)

Anonymous said...

Who cares? Someone gonna break in and steal some laser glass or flashlamps?

Anonymous said...

Wanna ask a MIT DC lackey how to screw West coast scientists, ask DOEs Marvin Cohen, trickster.

Anonymous said...

So the security guards get a tour of the place and very limited access. So who's gonna respond to an emergency? The Sheriff's Department..??? Ya....right.

September 24, 2015 at 5:10 PM

You have obviously misunderstood the role of the protective force from the beginning. Theirs is not a police function - they were there to protect nuclear material and classified material only. Employees were always to be protected if necessary by local police agencies. Nothing has changed there. Sorry if you thought the AR-15s were for your personal protection. Not so much.

Anonymous said...

NIF is to fusion energy as pigs are to flight.

Anonymous said...

Police helicopters?

Anonymous said...

NIF can't even do the stockpile stewardship experiments correctly. The PIs are just taking existing data and picking and choosing parameters so the extrapolations line up. Not actually a true measurement from those NIF experiments. Too bad...

September 24, 2015 at 3:26 PM

So we are paying LLNL to get interpolation data?

Anonymous said...

Well NIF taught us that ICF is very challenging. Not likely that some startup with VC funding is going to do anything but eat investors money.
September 23, 2015 at 10:34 PM

That's exactly what many, maybe most startups are for: Taking investor money and redistributing it. First to VC fund managers and partners (who never lose money on anything), second to the founders and executives in the form of salaries and bonuses. Only if the company takes off, which a fusion energy company will never do, will the founders get rich and the investors make money.

RMH said...

It's been a long time since the last NIF prediction. Can anyone tell me when NIF will achieve design objectives? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It did achieve them, I think all of them. Making a ICF capsule go boom with 1+ megajoules of neutron yield was never one of them. It was a milestone in the NIC project that was promised by Moses et al and then missed.

Anonymous said...

No, NIF was predicted to achieve 2 MJ of neutron yield in the NIC campaign. See any of Lindl's talks on this. That was the design objective, laser energy = neutron yield energy. After this failed, we were given "Moses-Hurricane break even". This is energy absorbed by the fuel = neutron energy yield. This redefined success as being only 1% of the original prediction. The press bought this as a breakthrough for a short while, but no longer, as indicated in the MIT article.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but that was a NIC milestone, not a NIF design objective. NIF is a facility with capabilities, laser performance requirements, etc., and as far as I know it did exactly what it was designed to do. The failures were with management and X-div target designers, also politicians who listened to them.

Anonymous said...

To those who would recast NIF goals to those achievable by simply being a big laser, I would remind you all that it was named the National Ignition Facility. Ignition is its middle name because that was its objective. Not merely a NIC objective as if ignition were grafted on to NIF as an afterthought. No, Ignition = The Objective from the beginning. Ignition, as in exactly what the name sounds like, which NIF did not achieve and never will.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Mount Everest would beg to differ with you:

https://www.llnl.gov/news/climbing-mountain-fusion-ignition-interview-omar-hurricane

Anonymous said...

So we are paying LLNL to get interpolation data?

September 25, 2015 at 4:59 AM


That is what they always have done. Interpolation, incompetence, or even outright fabrication. Think the search terms "EoS", "Phase Transition", "Dynamic Strength"

Anonymous said...

What's the status of doing polar direct drive on NIF. I think those crackpots at Rochester Omega were proposing that.
Sounds like a good waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

Polar direct drive would be the Great Couloir route.

Anonymous said...

http://news.sciencemag.org/scientific-community/2015/07/abrupt-move-president-giant-magellan-telescope-resigns

Change is afoot at the offices of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO), which is building one of the world’s largest telescopes. Today the group announced that its president, physicist Edward Moses, is stepping down after less than a year in the job. Moses is leaving to “deal with family matters that require his attention,” according to a statement on the GMTO website.

Prior to joining GMTO, Moses had been at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where he was director of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), a laser fusion lab, during the latter stages of its construction and its early operation. He was sometimes seen within the fusion community as a divisive figure, in part because of his relentless promotion of NIF and his overly optimistic forecasts of future progress. He instigated a project at Livermore, known as LIFE, that aimed to design a prototype power-generating fusion reactor using similar technology to NIF that could be built in just 10 years. “Under Ed’s leadership, the LIFE project damaged the reputation of the research field. It was premature and its timescale was unrealistic,” says Robert McCrory, director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester in New York.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how these fusion scientists build entire careers on concepts that are failures. You can do a literature search on any of the big names in the field and see article after article describing concepts that don't work. Then you have people like McCrory at Omega criticizing Moses. Whose ego-inflated side do you take in that case? The field needs to be flushed down the toilet. I know that these people are essentially rent seekers, receiving money to "certify" the stockpile every year. The money goes into their sandbox projects like Omega, NIF, and Z. But really, enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, I guess you don't understand much about the fusion energy field.

Anonymous said...

The National Ignitions Facility (NIF) should receive funding from the Department Human and Heath Services that provides welfare and unemployment to people in need and/or out of work. Why, because let's face it the NIF Program is nothing more than a welfare program that for scientists that would otherwise be unemployed. Also, NIF has provided nothing in return for the money invested.

Anonymous said...

Every site needs a MOX Facility.

Anonymous said...

" Why, because let's face it the NIF Program is nothing more than a welfare program that for scientists that would otherwise be unemployed. Also, NIF has provided nothing in return for the money invested."

LANL and Sandia colleagues are jealous for sure - good job Ed in getting our salaries and pensions paid !!! Bravo !!!

Anonymous said...

"Who cares? Someone gonna break in and steal some laser glass or flashlamps?"

Actually the beautiful absolutely defect free purple phosphate laser glass is very very cool !

Anonymous said...

LANL and Sandia colleagues are jealous for sure - good job Ed in getting our salaries and pensions paid !!! Bravo !!!

September 29, 2015 at 8:59 PM

Are you guys at LLNL proud of producing nothing? I guess this is not surprising. LLNL has a history of working and producing failures and lying. The X-ray laser, National Ignition Facility, Magnetic Fusion Test Facility, Brilliant Pebbles, etc, and the four clowns they sent to LANL. Yeah, bravo Livermore!

Anonymous said...

Well well, there is at least one defender of Ed Moses still working at LLNL! Surprising, most have already left, been forced out, or retired, including Ed himself.

Anonymous said...

Are you guys at LLNL proud of producing nothing?

September 30, 2015 at 3:12 AM

Yet another failure to recognize and appreciate sarcasm. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Yeah NIF is a welfare program for many smart scientists and engineers, that's for sure. But Sandia is just an empty husk of a bad joke, with the few good people retired, sidelined or ignored, while the mediocre majority sit around bitching all day about how bad LANL and LLNL are. Their values place importance in accommodating to the lowest common denominator.

Anonymous said...

The head of Sandia's pulsed power fusion program voted with his feet and ran back to NIF. That tells you something.

Anonymous said...

He was never in NIF before, and NIF made him a really good offer. Meanwhile the founder of the NIF went to Sandia, and then went to LLE, which tells you something too.

Anonymous said...

He was in AX division. That's NIF to me. Just like PAT became NIF when Goldstein let all the laser EOS bozos come over and take things over. NIF must have made that offer to silence one of their big outside critics. Pulsed power fusion has always been embarrassing, sort of the bastard brother of laser ICF. Their latest dud is called MagLIF, a regurgitation of old schemes that date back to the 1960's.

Anonymous said...

Stealth Scooby deletions!

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