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Thursday, March 23, 2017

NIF update

  1. NIF Update. Spoiler alert: It's still a failure.

    https://lasers.llnl.gov/news/experimental-highlights

  2. comment:

    Odd, it looks like a hopeful future. In any case science is not about success or failure, it is about truth and what may seem as a failure at first may turn out to be the one of the biggest discoveries since Newtons gravity. Let the discoveries began! Lux Lux Lux!!!!!

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course it looks like a hopeful future, this is a PR story intended to leave you with the feeling that there is a hopeful future. I hope no one expects an unbiased story from a NIF web site.

Anonymous said...

I hope no one expects an unbiased comment here.

Anonymous said...

Throw another billion or two on red. Maybe we'll get lucky....or fleeced.

Anonymous said...

NIF threads never progress well, and never end well. Best to just give it up. Nothing new will be said. If you delight in rehashing old arguments, have at it. Those who think their technical arguments are irrefutable, state them yet again. Bitterness and hatred, against self-promotion and aggrandizement,knock yourselves out. No one here will see anything they haven't seen before. Please stop. No one gives a shit about NIF, any longer.

Anonymous said...

The rest of us do give a shit. NIF soaks up hundreds of millions of NNSA dollars every year, that could be spent on other things.

Anonymous said...

OK, let me rephrase: No one gives a shit about funding NIF.

Anonymous said...

NIF Is the biggest failure of "big science" and deserves discussion.
NIF has also become a blueprint for other projects in the complex.
For instance, both Omega and SNL Z fusion efforts have adopted the NIF a model - fund us until we fully understand why we failed.

Anonymous said...

That's not really fair. Both Omega and Z are research facilities, and Z is used mostly for very successful experiments that have nothing to do with fusion. Neither facility promised the world that they would ignite anything, and neither facility has "ignition" in its name. NIF is unique in the world of big, bad science because it did those things.

Anonymous said...

DOE could have spent the money on the SSC instead of NIF. What a difference that would have made for science in the USA!

Anonymous said...

"The sunk cost effect is the tendency for humans to continue investing in something that clearly isn't working. Because it is human nature to want to avoid failure, people will often continue spending time, effort or money to try and fix what isn't working instead of cutting their losses and moving on."

NIF has been the "tail wagging the dog" at LLNL for some time. If NIF were to be defunded now, it would be a devastating budget blow to the LLNL mission and workforce.

Anonymous said...

With change comes opportunity. And with the ICF mission defunded and eliminated, there would be a lot more money available to do more important experiments.

Anonymous said...

Symmetrical compression of the hohlraum has been the biggest show stopper for the last 10 plus years. If it hasn't been resolved by now, it probably never will, or the cost of return on the investment will not prove out. Its the cornerstone of a theory that has not panned out. Time to give up on it, and move on. This coming from me who worked on Shiva, Nova and NIF over 35 years. Gotta know when to hold em and when to fold em.
Not agreeing with the Bechtel idiots, just my scientific opinion.

Anonymous said...

No NIF thread would be complete without mention of "Ed Moses". Satan in the flesh, and the creator of this mess.

Anonymous said...

How much has been spent on "LIFE" so far, and is that concept still being quietly funded?

Anonymous said...

How do you "quietly find" something? Funding levels for non-classified programs are public record.

Anonymous said...

"Quietly" funded does not imply a projects funding is not a public record, but such a project can be low key. "Low key" in the previous sentence doesn't mean a key used where the lock is low, it means muted, subtle, or inconspicuous.

Anonymous said...

Public record unless you hide them, like Moses did, https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/07/f33/OAI-M-16-13.pdf He probably would have been fired over this, except that he had already been fired, twice.

Anonymous said...

I know George Miller actively promoted LIFE, even claiming he was spending 20% of his time on it. Other managers were convinced that billions of $$$ were waiting for the LIFE program.

Anonymous said...

It seems that any thread here that refers to NIF will draw out the same old, tired arguments and grievances, indicating that all those LLNL and ex-LLNL employees just cannot let it go. This is very sad. They are making fools of themselves rehashing stuff that the country, and the weapons complex, no longer cares about. Get over yourselves, people, and just make a new life and shut up about it already. It's over. For good.

Anonymous said...

It is not over, because NIF continues to suck up hundreds of millions of dollars from NNSA every year under the auspices of ICF. An experiment that will never work, and the weapons complex cares a great deal. Look for large budget cuts to ICF (and NIF) under the Trump regime, as what remains of NIF gets focused on experiments that might actually inform us about weapons physics.

Anonymous said...

"No NIF thread would be complete without mention of "Ed Moses". Satan in the flesh, and the creator of this mess."

Actually, it was Mike Campbell (now at LLE) and various colleagues in X-division who started the idea that a 1 - 1.4 MJ capsule design would ignite ! At least Moses thought that we ought to have available 1.8+ MJ to be safe. LOL

Anonymous said...

NIF is important because ICF is a hard problem which attracts young talent into the field. Maintaining the nuclear stockpile is not as exciting as searching for a clean energy source using a giant laser. These physicists also have knowledge of high energy density matter and nuclear reaction physics which is important for the US if the US ever decides to start testing weapons again.

Anonymous said...

We tested bombs starting in 1945, with no cadre of experienced high energy density matter and nuclear reaction physicists waiting in cold storage. We could do it again. At least have them work on experiments related to stockpile issues, which is not ICF.

Anonymous said...

In 1945, we had many high class physicists working on the problem due to the war and the exciting new discovery of energy storage in the atom.

Today, what is going to motivate new talent to join the field?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't new talent be motivated to work at a LANSLLNS "at wlll" job shop with dwindling benefits?

Anonymous said...


"The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts"

- H Jackson Brown Jr.

An unlimited energy source for the world is a very powerful dream. No matter how many times the naysayers try to put us down, we will never give up!

Anonymous said...


"An unlimited energy source for the world is a very powerful dream..."

Yes, but in a world of limited budgets, one must consider all paths to reach that dream, not just the NIF path. Like any large project that did not reach established objectives, NIF can be a reference on what to do and not do for future energy projects. In that sense, NIF can still contribute to your "powerful dream" outside of its own echo chamber where some of the "naysayers", or just scientists with other opinions, reside.

Anonymous said...

Look, let's face the facts. NIF proved that ICF will not work at the energy levels and size scales that we can access in a $5B dollar facility. You want to spend more (like $50B), then OK we can build a 1000 arm UV laser or particle beam facility that will reach break-even. I thought ICF would work 40 years ago, but I know differently today.

Anonymous said...

Some of us took a hint when every 15 years, the prediction was "in 15 years...".

Anonymous said...

Well, some of us were more hopeful than that ! Obviously 15 KJ on Shiva or Omega would not be enough.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link:

https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/07/f33/OAI-M-16-13.pdf

Title: AUDIT REPORT
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Laser Inertial Fusion Energy Endeavor

"Specifically, we determined that LLNL incurred G&A costs for independent research and development (R&D) activities outside its LDRD program, which is expressly unallowable under the terms of its management and operating (M&O) contract."

The document also details the large and ambitious scope of work for LIFE. The R&D teams by the end of the project in FY 2013 had made major progress in the LIFE design, but the project ended when the NIC did not achieve success.

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