Nuclear Fusion, achievement unlocked

A team of scientists in California announced they are one step closer to developing the almost mythical pollution-free, controlled fusion-energy reaction, though the goal of full “ignition” is still far off.

Researchers at the federally-funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory revealed in a study in the peer-reviewed journal Nature that, for the first time, one of their experiments has yielded more energy out of fusion than was used in the fuel that created the reaction.

In a 10-story building the size of three football fields, the Livermore scientists “used 192 lasers to compress a pellet of fuel and generate a reaction in which more energy came out of the fuel core than went into it,” wrote the Washington Post. “Ignition” would mean more energy was produced than was used in the entire process.

“We’re closer than anyone’s gotten before,” said Omar Hurricane, a physicist at Livermore and lead author of the study. “It does show there’s promise.”

The process ultimately mimics the processes in the core of a star inside the laboratory’s hardware. Nuclear fusion, which is how the sun is heated, creates energy when atomic nuclei (hydrogen basically) fuse and form a larger atom (helium, in the case of the sun).

“This isn’t like building a bridge,” Hurricane told USA Today in an interview. “This is an exceedingly hard problem. You’re basically trying to produce a star, on a small scale, here on Earth.”

A fusion reactor would operate on a common form of hydrogen found in sea water and create minimal nuclear waste while not being nearly as volatile as a traditional nuclear-fission reactor. Fission, used in nuclear power plants, works by splitting atoms (uranium) and creating a large number of residues, which are sealed afterwards in nuclear graveyards.

Hurricane said he does not know how long it will take to reach that point, where fusion is a viable energy source.

“Picture yourself halfway up a mountain, but the mountain is covered in clouds,” he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. “And then someone calls you on your satellite phone and asks you, ‘How long is it going to take you to climb to the top of the mountain?’ You just don’t know.”

The beams of the 192 lasers Livermore used can pinpoint extreme amounts of energy in billionth-of-a-second pulses on any target. Hurricane said the energy produced by the process was about twice the amount that was in the fuel of the plastic-capsule target. Though the amount of energy yielded equaled only around 1 percent of energy delivered by the lasers to the capsule to ignite the process.

“When briefly compressed by the laser pulses, the isotopes fused, generating new particles and heating up the fuel further and generating still more nuclear reactions, particles and heat,” wrote the Washington Post, adding that the feedback mechanism is known as “alpha heating.”

Debbie Callahan, co-author of the study, said the capsule had to be compressed 35 times to start the reaction, “akin to compressing a basketball to the size of a pea,” according to USA Today.

While applauding the Livermore team’s findings, fusion experts added researchers have “a factor of about 100 to go.”

“These results are still a long way from ignition, but they represent a significant step forward in fusion research,” said Mark Herrmann of the Sandia National Laboratories’ Pulsed Power Sciences Center. “Achieving pressures this large, even for vanishingly short times, is no easy task.”

Long-pursued by scientists dating back to Albert Einstein, fusion energy does not emit greenhouse gases or leave behind radioactive waste. Since the 1940s, researchers have employed magnetic fields to contain high-temperature hydrogen fuel. Laser use began in the 1970s.

“We have waited 60 years to get close to controlled fusion,” said, Steve Cowley, of the United Kingdom’s Culham Center for Fusion Energy. He added scientists are “now close” with both magnets and lasers. “We must keep at it.”

“In 30 years, we’ll have electricity on the grid produced by fusion energy – absolutely,” Prager said. “I think the open questions now are how complicated a system will it be, how expensive it will be, how economically attractive it will be.”

Martial Arts and Sports

My intention was to create a “top5 things” post, talking about martial arts, but I’ll save it for the next update, since I felt it would be wrong to write it before clearing something to the world, or at least to this particular number of people who would like to spend some of their time to read it.

First of all, mostly of it it’s just my opinion, but in this case I’m more than 3sigma sure (around 99,9%) that it’s the reality, no matter how people want to change it to put it in nicer words, or to get it sell better. Let me explain:

There’s a HUGE difference between Martial Arts and Sports, and, by no means, are related one with each other.

Martial Arts come from a long tradition, passed through generations, and are not only a bunch of techniques arranged so they can look fancy on a TV show or a movie.

When someone practices Martial Arts, they don’t just train techniques, there’s also a great deal of psychology, meditation, personal improvement and maturement that come along with it. One thing the world should understand (and that it did, but so long ago it was already forgiven) is that Martial Arts are not violence.

It may seem weird, but martial artists don’t seek violence, on the contrary, they train to avoid it. If you, by anyhow, don’t understand this last statement, please, go to any dojo where they practice a “traditional” martial art, such as Aikido, Iaido, Budo Taijutsu, Japanese Jiu Jitsu, traditional Karate, any style of Kung Fu,… and you’re going to understand this statement quite more!

Having <no violence> as a paradigm, an obvious question arises: Then how come there are competitions?

Oh please! there lies the difference: there are no competitions among martial arts! the closes you’ll find are Kata competitions, where people demonstrate one each other who has the greatest technique, but not by fighting, but exhibiting.

“but karate, taekwondo, boxing, muay thai, mma,… all these compete without violence, because they do it in a competitive way”

keep on lying to yourselves, it may be fun.

Now take a deep breath and think: at what point, putting a couple of people at a ring so they can hit one each other till they’re tired is not violence?

The basis of their training is not the personal completition, the growing of your inner self in order to become a better person, across the way of the martial arts… their objective is just to win a prize, and so they train for it, there’s no deeper meaning.

There’s also another separated theme, which is SelfDefense, where generally they teach you how to use your violence towards the “enemy”, a great example would be Krav Maga, a self defense system based on applied violence in order to solve the situation.

I’ll put here 3 links, in order to show you what I just described above: one from a Karate Tournament, from a Krav Maga Training, and from a Iaido show

From these videos you’ll see the difference in each of the styles. Everything shown here is: Iaido as a Martial Art, Karate as a sport, and Krav Maga as a self-defense system, please, don’t mix them up.

One last phrase people say over and over: “but Iaido won’t solve a real problem if you’re in the street and get attacked, since you won’t be always carrying a katana”

I’ll put 3 different answers to that:

1st ) Do you really think people who practice martial arts do it only in case they get attacked on the street?

2nd) When you’ve practiced for long enough, there won’t be a fight in which you’ll take part, since the fight won’t even start

3rd) In case the fight start, since you’ll have trained long enough, you won’t need a katana, my friend.

Again, if you don’t belive me (which you’re free to do), I’d strongly recommend you to look for a good dojo and try something there. 8 years ago I did, and still today is one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken.

This post is taking a little bit too long, really, I could be talking about this for ages, but I’ll stop here, maybe, if people ask strongly enough, I’ll continue it in a close future 🙂


Oh yeah! one last sentence, and that’s really the end 🙂 :

if you plan to learn self defence, think it quietly:

want to learn how to transmit your violence, and be able to defend from nearly everything in a fast and effective way in a matter of months? take self-defense courses and try stuff like Krav Maga

want to train you body, compete with others and learn a way more effective way to defend from nearly everything that can appear in front of you, in a matter of a few years? take an sport based on a martial art (karate, taekwondo, muay thai,…)

want to train you body and soul, dominate it till unimaginable limits and even further, and become someone able to overcome any situation that appears in front of you, even if it’s non-related to the martial arts world? try something traditional, like Iaido (as shown), or Aikido, or any of the listed! there’re plenty to choose! but know that: it’s a long and difficult way, at first it won’t seem like you’re achieving anything, but it’s growing it’s exponential, you’ll only need patience and tenacity to keep it up till the end.