back to article German Chancellor fires hydrogen plasma with the push of a button

Angela Merkel has witnessed the first hydrogen plasma being created by the Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor experiment as part of Germany's push to take the lead in future power generation. Chancellor Mutti, as the ex-research scientist is known by the German electorate, fired up the device – which then fired a two-megawatt …

  1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

    Germany - where politicians are sane enough to be allowed to press buttons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

      Germany - where politicians are sane enough to be allowed to press buttons.

      But a bit pointless because the German public will be easily stirred up by the Greens, and it can join fission reactors on the "we're scared, take it away now" list.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

      Well, she has a magna cum laude PhD in physics* (Dr. rer.-nat.) and isn't related to Douglas Fargo, so she's good to go re pressing buttons.

      * 1986: "Untersuchung des Mechanismus von Zerfallsreaktionen mit einfachem Bindungsbruch und Berechnung ihrer Geschwindigkeitskonstanten auf der Grundlage quantenchemischer und statistischer Methoden"

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

        Well, she has a magna cum laude PhD in physics* (Dr. rer.-nat.)

        Why do we never get a politician with a decent education? All those PPEs don't seem to result in a non-sociopathic Cabinet.

        1. Unep Eurobats
          Mushroom

          Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

          I bet Putin would have loved to push that button (sans shirt, natch).

          80 MEEEEELLION degrees.

          1. x 7

            Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

            "I bet Putin would have loved to push that button"

            No, its not gay enough. There's only one kind of button Putin likes pushing

        2. DJO Silver badge

          Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

          Why do we never get a politician with a decent education?

          We had one who was an industrial chemist and we're still suffering from the damage she caused.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

            You're right, the country has lost its quaint character since Thatcher defeated the unions. No longer are homes lit by candle-light for half of the week.

            1. DJO Silver badge

              Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

              You're right, the country has lost its quaint character since Thatcher defeated the unions. No longer are homes lit by candle-light for half of the week.

              Before Thatcher it took one average salary to be able to afford to buy one average house, after Thatcher it took 4 to 5 average salaries to be able to afford one average house. The knock-on effect of house price inflation is felt throughout the economy and Thatcher was almost completely responsible for it. (She allowed Building Societies to run Estate Agencies which was previously not allowed due to the obvious conflict of interest, this caused the first rocketing of house prices)

              1. boltar Silver badge

                Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

                "Before Thatcher it took one average salary to be able to afford to buy one average house, after Thatcher it took 4 to 5 average salaries to be able to afford one average house."

                Its called supply and demand. Look it up. And since labour let in 4 million immigrants who all needed somewhere to live, please explain how that helped house and rent prices?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

              "since Thatcher defeated the unions"

              +1. One of the best things a government has ever done for the country.

            3. BurnT'offering

              Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

              No, the UK still retains its quaint character with the Conservatives doing their best to reintroduce feudalism

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. TheVogon Silver badge

                Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

                "with the Conservatives doing their best to reintroduce feudalism"

                It's not their fault Labour elected a hopeless peasant with medieval beliefs as leader....

                1. x 7

                  Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

                  "hopeless peasant"

                  shouldn't that be "hopeless pedant"?

          2. boltar Silver badge

            Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

            "We had one who was an industrial chemist and we're still suffering from the damage she caused."

            FFS are people really still trotting out this lefty scapegoat? Get over it. Thatcher left power TWENTY SIX YEARS ago. We had THIRTEEN years of a Labour government who had more than enough time to sort out any issues. They didn't - they fucked the economy even more. So GTFU and stop blaming a dead woman for the Labour partys fuckups in the late 90s and 2000s.

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

              FFS are people really still trotting out this lefty scapegoat? Get over it. Thatcher left power TWENTY SIX YEARS ago.

              Exactly. It's a smokescreen. It complete hides the appalling policies of Pitt the Younger. That man should be vilified for the ongoing harm he caused this country!

              1. x 7

                Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

                "the appalling policies of Pitt the Younger. "

                Yes, my ancestral village has a pond named after him, which he pushed the local landowner into making. That valley has never been the same again. Appalling waste of good farmland (though it used to be a good source of ice for storing food - shame the global warming kicked in a couple of hundred years ago)

            2. Cuddles Silver badge

              Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

              "So GTFU and stop blaming a dead woman for the Labour partys fuckups in the late 90s and 2000s."

              It's not an "us or them" situation. It's entirely possible to blame said dead woman for her fuckups while also blaming the following Labour government for their own, independent fuckups. And blaming subsequent Labour, Tory and coalition governments for all of theirs. Just because someone dislikes Thatcher doesn't mean they're some rabid fanboy who thinks Labour can do no wrong.

              1. boltar Silver badge

                Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

                "Just because someone dislikes Thatcher doesn't mean they're some rabid fanboy who thinks Labour can do no wrong."

                True. But any changes thatcher (and major) made could have been reversed by 13 years of a labour government if they'd wanted to. They didn't. In fact they arguably made things even worse - Hospital PFIs anyone? A policy of such breathtaking stupidity that even the monster raving looneys would probably have discarded it as being too crazy.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

              There are those who would say it's perfectly reasonable to blame Mrs T for the mistakes of New Labour, since - it is argued by some - Blair and Brown were just continuing the Thatcherite project. Just like the current shower...

              If you're a real Lefty, you know it's been quite a long time since the UK has had a genuinely left-wing government - the last one got voted out in 1951.

        3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

          "All those PPEs don't seem to result in a non-sociopathic Cabinet."

          PPE was invented at Oxford to replace Greats - the study of the classics which ensured you had the best education money could buy - from the 1st century AD.

          Politics - keeping our class in power

          Philosophy - why it is right that we run the country

          Economics - how to ensure we get all the money.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

            FFS - can we get back to the science please? 17 threads and counting about Merkel...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

              The problem is AC, that Politics have become much more important to most readers than the odd Science article. Politics has more effect on our immediate futures. Merkel is using this announcement politically to make her look better than she really is.

              There are too many people concerned about politics to contain the fervor; regardless of how so many wish to cram the genie back in the bottle and silence dissenting opinion. This is the case on almost every forum I have visited. It is not limited to the Register.

            2. x 7

              Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

              "17 threads and counting about Merkel..."

              yes, her clothes style is naff

          2. gotes

            Re: PPE

            Politics - keeping our class in power

            Philosophy - why it is right that we run the country

            Economics - how to ensure we get all the money

            There was me thinking it referred to George Osborne's hi-vis and hard hat.

    3. joed

      Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

      I could you bring number of historical examples to the contrary (this in regard to sanity being particual virtue of German politicians).

      BTW, when she pressed that button I bet she was hoping to execute nuclear option against EPA harassing VAG;)

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

      Chancellor Mutti was new to me, so I asked my German wife, she has never heard the term either.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

        > ... she has never heard the term either.

        It's not "Chancellor Mutti" usually, but just "Mutti".

    5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

      Yesss... you know the world has gone mad when you have German, sane and politician in one sentence.

      Dunno, but the first thing that came to my mind was: "Now Witness the Firepower of this fully Armed and Operational Battle Station"

    6. boltar Silver badge

      Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

      "Germany - where politicians are sane enough to be allowed to press buttons."

      Given the chaos Merkel has caused in europe in the last few months I'm not sure "sane" is a word I'd use to describe her.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

        > Given the chaos Merkel has caused in europe in the last few months

        To be fair to her, she's teetering on the usual politician seesaw: "Do the right thing" vs "get re-elected". Her's seems slightly more tilted to the "do the right thing[1]" than a lot of other politicians..

        [1] albeit a "do the right thing" from a German perspective but you can't have everything..

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

          "[1] albeit a "do the right thing" from a German perspective but you can't have everything.."

          "Do the right thing" seems to translate into german as "Yet more WW2 guilt assuaging self flaggelation except this time lets whip the rest of europe as well as ourselves". I don't believe in Sins of the Father and I'm getting a bit sick of the elderly generation in europe trying to push inherited guilt onto the young. You have to be over 70 years old to have even been alive during WW2 and all the people responsible for it are long dead. Time to move on.

  2. ZSn

    magnetic coils

    A stellarator also uses 'magnetic coils to keep the plasma from burning its way out of the reaction chamber'. It's just that they aren't cylindrically symmetric the same way that a Tokamak is. The big problem with stellarators is that the 'bends' in the plasma containment vessel have to be very well designed and machined to ensure that there aren't points where there is a higher transport of the plasma across the field lines and thus a lower containment time. That said the ability to work continuously is a big plus.

    Though 80 million sounds a lot, it's only about 7KeV, which isn't that much compared to what a fully functional burning plasma needs to achieve (perhaps stellarators can run lower, I'm too rusty to remember that though).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: magnetic coils

      Even looking at the diagram of the Stellarator it's hard to picture - no wonder it's taken until now to be able to run the models to design the fields.

      And all this for the price of a couple of community catalyst catapults for a Shoreditch web design imagineering exercise.

      1. ZSn

        vulnerable

        They've had stellarators for at least 25 years that I personally know of. What has changed is that the magnetic layout - design and implementation - is computer controlled meaning that the confinement time and temperature had improved considerably.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "And all this for the price of a couple of community catalyst catapults "

        Or not even half a UK banks bonus budget.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: "And all this for the price of a couple of community catalyst catapults "

          Which is private money, so completely off topic.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: "And all this for the price of a couple of community catalyst catapults "

            Except for the £850bn in public money to bail them out.

      3. BenR

        Re: magnetic coils

        Upvoted just for "And all this for the price of a couple of community catalyst catapults for a Shoreditch web design imagineering exercise."

    2. Col_Panek

      Re: magnetic coils

      So a stellerator uses magnetism, but a tokamak uses current. Glad they cleared that up.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    "Wendelstein 7-X"

    With that kind of Perry Rhodan styled naming, this MUSS SEIN EIN success!

    Did the assembled button-pushing politicians carry rayguns and wear spacesuits of zany design?

    Bum icon because 1) A tear for the outrageously fascistic storytelling of my youth and 2) That photo vaguely looks like there is a homeless person in the plasma chamber

    1. Rafael 1

      Re: "Wendelstein 7-X"

      Upvoted because it was the fascistic storytelling of my youth too. Even today I consider learning German just to see what happened after issue 500-ish.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Rhodan

        Thank you guys for bringing this to my attention.

        According to Wikipedia, the later editions that weren't translated to English were more sophisticated and less pulpy than the earlier stories.

        ,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Rhodan

          In Brazil we got up issue 536, IIRC. Issues 200-299 were really interesting.

          Sometimes I think about getting some digital versions available online (if you catch my drift) and running through Google Translate, but I think I will be so disappointed...

  4. oldtaku
    Trollface

    And here I thought this would be about too much sauerkraut for lunch.

  5. frank ly Silver badge

    re.Mutti

    'Mutti' is the German word for 'Mum'. Can any German commentards tell us if this is used affectionately or in a different way?

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: re.Mutti

      It is meant affectionately, i.e. mother of the nation... Mutti der Nation. ;-)

      1. x 7

        Re: re.Mutti

        "It is meant affectionately, i.e. mother of the nation... Mutti der Nation. ;-)"

        She'd have got on well with Kemal Attaturk then

      2. dotdavid

        Re: re.Mutti

        "It is meant affectionately, i.e. mother of the nation... Mutti der Nation. ;-)"

        In Britain we have a Nanny of the nation, perhaps we should call Cameron "grossmutti" ;-)

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: re.Mutti

          No dotdavid, then he (David Cameron) would certainly *not* be called 'Grossmutti'. A nanny is not the same as a grandmother (or an 'Omi' or 'Oma' in colloquial German, certainly not a 'Grossmutti').

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: re.Mutti

      In her case: more or less evenly distributed between affection and (gentle) mocking.

    3. fritsd
      Mushroom

      Re: re.Mutti

      Not a German commentard, but let's put it this way:

      If e.g. Berlusconi had been chancellor of Germany instead of Merkel during the subprime mortgage crisis, Ukraine crisis, Greece crisis and IS/refugee crisis, politicians would've been frantically pressing buttons on "a different kind" of fusion reactors by now.

      Well, they'd probably have stopped by now, because there wouldn't be any left (politicians and launch buttons).

      Hence Mutti. Well-deserved, in my opinion...

    4. ZSn

      Re: re.Mutti

      That depends upon the German. The ones I know - she generates a white knuckled foaming at the mouth. It's safe to say that for them Mutti is *not* affectionate term. The term they tend to use is the description that Berlusconi bestowed upon her involving lard.

      1. Diogenes

        Re: re.Mutti

        Earlier this year my cousin,a Frl Dr.-Ing who lives in Hamburg, has stopped calling her Mutti, and has started calling her another name, replacing the M with an F in her regular emails to me.

        1. big_D Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: re.Mutti

          @Diogbenes this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home

    5. big_D Silver badge

      Re: re.Mutti

      Although I've never heard the term (living here since 2002) and my German wife hasn't heard the term either.

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: re.Mutti

      It's a bit of both: "mother knows best" and "mother hen" come to mind when thinking of her consensus-driven style of politics.

      Her premiership has been characterised by her reassuring Germans that they were doing well while everywhere else was going to hell. Until recently she has studiously avoided adopting a position on any issue until the prevailing opinion in the country became clear. She has also demonstrated considerable skill in removing opponents, particularly putative alpha-males, within her own party and out-flanking the others by shamelessly adopting their positions and reversing policy if necessary. For this she has been rewarded by a population worried by change.

      The wheels have started to come off recently ever since she surprisingly adopted a position on refugees and proceeded to break EU law (Dublin II). This initially suited the "mother hen" image and was wildly popular for a couple of months.

      As for her record on nuclear power: once, when referring to nuclear accidents she made a comparison with baking noting that when you bake a cake not everything stays in the bowl… Of course, this was long before Fukushima…

  6. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

    Bollocks

    I've been railing against the present direction of nuclear fusion for the past 30 years and the idiots have repeatedly spent the last 'it will work in 50 years' getting it completely fucking wrong.

    Now the Germans join in...

    Herr Ubersturmbarfuher. It ist not fusing!!!

    Gott in Himmel. Gift Umbeelerdang einst HammerungMachininenBerlicktBiggerZumpf!!!!

    Yetz!!! Neu Im Programme!!

    Probably just as well because if Patrick Stewart turned up on my doorstep he would get his fucking egg head kicked in.

    There you go folks. Planets fucked. No salvation. Go program Internet of Fucked.

    1. Chris Harden

      Re: Bollocks

      Hey, I have a couple of GPU based servers I need to power, could you send me one of your fully working free infinite power sources to power them please? Will really help with my 'leccy bill.

      Much Appreciated.

      1. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks

        Mash the thumb from your left hand up the VGA port. Use your right hand to wave your fluorescent tube at the Overhead Aluminium Wires and you are good to go.

      2. kmac499

        Re: Bollocks

        Free Infinite Power Devices!!!. Wow I'll have two please...

    2. cbars

      Re: Bollocks

      1) Your taking it a bit further than you usually do, stop it, it's weird.

      2) Since when did 'old technology' become bad technology? The wheels on my car, and the car itself, are working very well. They are old technology because they work very well.

      3) Tokamaks (et al) are awesome! Intense electromagnetic fields are pretty much the only way to contain the raging power of the stars. Practising containment is extremely important if you want to run a continuous reaction for 50+ years as a power station, not for safety, for durability. We just need a big enough machine, come on ITER!

      For reasons why this is true, please see theoretical physics.

      A picture speaks 1000 words:

      http://clivebest.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/F3.large_.jpg

      Based on that, I hope you'll see, the direction for the past 30 years has been bang on! Yay physics!

      1. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks A picture speaks 1000 words:

        http://clivebest.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/F3.large_.jpg

        That will do nicely and thank you very much.

        This is the state of dysfunctional fusion research based on The Lawson Criterion. Energy, Density, Time.

        So. Since 1968 the numpties have been building bigger and bigger hammers in an effort to match some dream-line related to the combined three parts of that misplaced Criterion and every time it does not work they go and build a bigger hammer.

        "Wow.. Like Awesome."

        "Big Science Dude!"

        "Does it Work?"

        "Not Yet. We need a bigger one."

        "Will it work when you have a bigger one?"

        "Errr... maybe. We need more Data."

        "Why didn't you build a bigger one in the first place?"

        "Stop asking fucking questions! Man you are oppressing me!!"

        As Oprah once said...

        "It's not the Size of Your Knob. It's how you Row The Boat."

        1. cbars

          Re: Bollocks A picture speaks 1000 words:

          @Camilla

          "Thank you very much"

          You're welcome.

          Can you post a link to a research paper (not Arxiv) which is generally accepted to have discredited the Lawson criterion?

          Otherwise, I suggest you stop judging things by your infinite wisdom, and think properly about them first. I eagerly await ITER, and then the actual power plant that will follow (if I'm still alive, it is a government project after all).

          The nice thing about science is that when you're right, it doesn't fucking matter what some ignorant chump says. That applies to you as well as me, so let's just sit back, bookmark this argument, and see what the experimental physicists can (dis)prove.

          1. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

            Re: Bollocks A picture speaks 1000 words:

            @cbars

            Cheers.

            Unless I write one then I cannot point you to such a paper. I should also state that I am not suggesting that Lawson is discredited... just that its thinking is not deep enough inside the box because the big hammer guys are simultaneously working on the 'three dimensions' to that box, Energy, Density, Time, because they are fixated on Lawson rather than trying to isolate and specifically control any one particular 'variable' in order to leverage a possible advantage...Just building bigger piles of wood in the expectation that things are going to spontaneously combust and drive the steam engine hung off the back of it?

            Of course if I were to write such a paper and I will state all I could do is 'postulate' because I do not have the required knowledge to fully argue my case... as in... Blah, Blah, Blah and by the way here is one that is working, unlike your pieces of big hammer shit so go suck on that one. I'd be pilloried, excommunicated and burned at the stake before the status quo got back to building bigger Big Physics hammers.

            Still since you appear to be interested and prepared to lend an ear... Assuming I have not misunderstood The Lawson Criterion then which is the important part of Energy, Density, Time that does not nominally involve probability and is therefore utterly, completely and thoroughly wasted by the other two according to some huge combined power loss law as identified by Lawson, and others, in their search for a 'self sustaining' reaction?

            1. x 7

              Re: Bollocks A picture speaks 1000 words:

              " I'd be pilloried, excommunicated and burned at the stake "

              about time too, so go for it

              I've got the matches and oil ready

    3. ZSn

      Re: Bollocks

      Not entirely sure why I'm replying but here goes:

      a) fusion works, firstly thermonuclear weapons prove the general principle, and secondly they got a burn 20 years ago in JET (but JET is too small so it didn't do much apart from make the machine radioactive);

      b) tokamaks are the best current bet (stellerators may be coming up from behind but at the present tokamaks are where the clever money is);

      c) inertial confinement, apart from the physics, is actually mainly sunk by the economics of the design (look it up if you don't believe me);

      d) it's been 50 years because governments aren't willing to spend the money when oil is so cheap (it's what sunk the effort 20 years ago), the required parameters have been known about for at least 20 years and they require a lot of money to achieve. They seem to be happier spend untold billions in wars in the middle east instead.

      Perhaps you can enlighten us as the to the more sensible course of action? Colliding rose petals together in an atmosphere of aromatic oils to the sound of whale-song?

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Fusion works

        "a) fusion works, firstly thermonuclear weapons prove the general principle, and secondly they got a burn 20 years ago in JET"

        Or, you could go outside and look at that really, really bright thing above you.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Fusion works

          Or, you could go outside and look at that really, really bright thing above you.

          A street light?

          There's a vague and distant memory of the thing you appear to refer to, but I may have to move back to 12°7′N 68°56′W to verify that.

        2. Eltonga
          Boffin

          Re: Fusion works

          There are theories however that due to the low neutrino count (lower than the expected low count, it is), it is more probable that the big shiny ball of hydrogen is keeping warm and shiny due to gravitational contraction than due to fusion reaction.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Sorry

          I'm Irish, what are you referring to?

      2. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks

        b) tokamaks are the best current bet (stellerators may be coming up from behind but at the present tokamaks are where the clever money is);

        Disagree. Tokamaks - especially ITER is where the dumb money goes to die. I.M.O. Tokamaks are a technological rat trap. They will always be an infinitesimal amount away from "break even", performing juust well enough to suck in money but never actually delivering. Back in the day, ITER was "the biz", the Germans disagreed and built Wendelstein (which I and many others believed would never work) and now Wendelstein has gone and lapped ITER.

        To really move forward it is often necessary to take a step back in finances, performance, whatever - we see this in computing, the top-of-the-range, best performance per dollar kit, is ruined by the worse (on all parameters), yet more adaptable technologies that can be evolved.

        d) Controlled fusion is really hard to do. Pouring money on it does not really change this (much) unless one goes "Full-On Apollo" on the problem - Which I do think that we should, actually, both for our own and for the planets sake. Every dollar spent on oil is a direct donation to terrorism and the destruction of the ecosystem.

        An Apollo-style program, several alternative paths - because this is hard and therefore will take real time and effort - is what we should do.

        We can still use ITER, but ITER should be just one of many bets made.

        1. ZSn

          Re: Bollocks

          @ fajensen

          No, you're wrong there. They've been a long way from break even and as I've said several times before the parameters required to break even have been known about for at least 20 years. If they built it big enough it would (probably) work. That would cost a lot of money and governments have pointless wars that they prefer to finance. The big problem with development has always been the American senate for some reason. They've done their best to scupper any international agreement for ITER. The usual joke is that they don't see the point when oil is so cheap (and it is cheap compared to the damage that it does).

          In case you don't know there are many different approaches taken to fusion, ITER is the biggest and best funded precisely because it is the most promising. For example the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik runs Wendelstein and a fairly large tokamak ASDEX. There is MAST in Culham and various other piecemeal projects. There is also inertial confinement, but again the usual joke is that this is in fact a way to get around the nuclear test ban treaty.

          1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            Re: tokamaks

            "If they built it big enough it would (probably) work. That would cost a lot of money and governments have pointless wars that they prefer to finance."

            Ah, they're just following the genie from this old story:

            A Princeton plasma physicist is at the beach when he discovers an ancient looking oil lantern sticking out of the sand. He rubs the sand off with a towel and a genie pops out. The genie offers to grant him one wish. The physicist retrieves a map of the world from his car an circles the Middle East and tells the genie, 'I wish you to bring peace in this region'.

            After 10 long minutes of deliberation, the genie replies, 'Gee, there are lots of problems there with Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, and all those other places. This is awfully embarrassing. I've never had to do this before, but I'm just going to have to ask you for another wish. This one is just too much for me'.

            Taken aback, the physicist thinks a bit and asks, 'I wish that the Princeton tokamak would achieve scientific fusion energy break-even.

            After another deliberation the genie asks, 'Could I see that map again?'

          2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Bollocks

            @ZSn

            But Tokamaks aren't going to be the soln for continual power generation while Stellarators might be.

            So is ITER a necessary engineering exercise to learn practical details or is it a giant white elephant - like a Victorian program to develop kevlar sails so tea clippers can keep beating steam ships ?

            Frankly given the politics I'm amazed ITER has done anything at all. The plan was for a bunch of countries that aren't quite at war with each other to build the highest tech bit of nuclear physics on the planet. But instead of putting money into a design they each build the bit that their govt/industry feels like. So the cool bits with industrial applications are built by multiple countries all building the same part. Some bits nobody wants to build because they want it to be secret or would take years of R&D and have no other uses.

            Then you try and assemble the whole thing in France, with French labor laws and to French nuclear safety inspection standards.

    4. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Bollocks

      Sense: you are not making any.

      [This is in reply to Camilla Smythe, just to be clear.]

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks

        Danke, @GrumpenKraut! *thumbsup*

      2. x 7

        Re: Bollocks

        she never does

        doesn't even succeed as a troll

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

      I did not downvote you, but cod German hasn't been funny for many, many years. I think the Blinkenlichts were the end of an era.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My English also not

        The Germans do cod German better anyway:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC_9GwTb6TE

        Every word individually correctly translated - and the sentence scuppered by the pesky word order

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

        You've got to do a funny walk as well to pull it off.

      3. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

        Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

        I'll get this wrong but appreciated. My parents bought me 'Victor' as I child and I never grew up. I did meet some Germans once and they claimed not to have a sense of humour. I think they may have been joking but... that one went totally over my head because they did not follow it up with the "Did you hear about the Indian Bloke who tried to get out of the Goat Sex Farm by becoming part of Microsoft Support Services?" Naturally I do apologise. If Ms Merkel wishes to spend the next, repetitive, 50 years investing in a repetitively bigger hammer to twat against old technology I should bite my tongue and not take the piss out of those who elected her. Gosh... I suppose it would not help if I reminded you that I think the other races in respect of fusion research are idiots as well?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

          I didn't know Germans were a full-fledged race.

          Well, Hitler did think that, so maybe...

        2. kyza

          Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

          'other races'

          Pretty much sums up how lost you are in the modern world.

          There are no 'races'. The whole concept was debunked at least 2 decades ago.

          Probably also explains why you don't think fusion is attainable - scary modern world!

          1. Dr Scrum Master

            Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

            There are no 'races'. The whole concept was debunked at least 2 decades ago.

            Excellent! That means there can't be any racism!

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

              >I've been railing against the present direction of nuclear fusion for the past 30 years

              You've railed against other things as well, whereas if you were to concentrate your railing (possibly in a toroidal containment chamber, or perhaps in a spherical chamber if your railing was delivered femto-second pulses) you might exceed a threshold level where your railing becomes self-sustaining and thus requiring no further energy input from you.

            2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

              "Excellent! That means there can't be any racism!"

              I think you miss the point. There is one human race (and people have been saying that for hundreds of years, not just the last 20 - how long has the expression 'the human race' been around?)

              Denying that and claiming that there are superior and inferior human populations based on irrelevant factors like skin colour - that's racism. Racist behaviour is discriminating against groups or individuals based on the false idea that there are multiple races.

              1. x 7

                Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

                "Racist behaviour is discriminating against groups or individuals based on the false idea that there are multiple races."

                why is it a false idea?

                current research seems to indicate that various "races" have different genetic starting points with various mixes of neanderthal / cro-magnon / denisovan / african - and if some Chinese theorists are to believed, they come from late Homo erectus stock

            3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: 1(3) Thumb(s) Down!!?

              Excellent! That means there can't be any racism!

              What a bizarre conclusion. Do you think the existence of religion proves the existence of a deity?

              Here's a tip: widespread belief in something does not constitute evidence of the independent existence of the thing in question.

              Now, that said: There's a great deal of ontological hand-waving in a statement like "there are no 'races'". It's a sort of extreme logical-positivist claim. Even if race is a social fiction - that is, there's no set of objective criteria that could be used to reliably partition humanity into groups that align with perceived races - it's rather dubious to pretend that the social construct of race doesn't exist and have consequences.

  8. Michael Hoffmann

    Disappointed...

    And not one single shopped photo of Merkel as Palpatine with a "and now witness the power..." caption.

    Or would that now be the General Hux speech?

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Violation...

      Surely that MUST be a violation of the terms of 'The Treaty'..?!?

  10. x 7

    "a lifetime of a quarter of a second"

    really useful, yeah

    fifty or so years of fusion research and the best we can do is a quarter of a second?

    so who's taking the piss? This is never going to work

    You'd stand more chance of something useful by taking another look at Fleishmann and Pon's theories

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "a lifetime of a quarter of a second"

      really useful, yeah

      fifty or so years of fusion research and the best we can do is a quarter of a second?

      so who's taking the piss? This is never going to work

      You'd stand more chance of something useful by taking another look at Fleishmann and Pon's theories

      You're just pissed because they got your name backwards in the naming, but yes, the duration suggests it has been designed by smartphone manufacturers :)

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Joke

      "so who's taking the piss? This is never going to work". Perhaps, but I suppose some said the same about the bike.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle#History

  11. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    How do they plan to get the heat out?

    A comment about fusion power and plumbing. Perhaps aimed more at L-M than anyone...

    At some point they're going to need gawdawful big pipes carrying away hot medium. Fusion appears to be a very high power density scheme. But there's no point making a gigawatt matchbox-sized device (<- trying to make the point clear), nor (this is for you Lockheed-Martin) a 100MW fusion reactor that "...fits on the back of a truck..."

    If it's near gigawatt class, then it needs to be the size of a large building just to have space to interface to the heat-engine plumbing. Unless they plan to use some exotic media like gaseous tungsten in one-inch plumbing, LOL. Not to mention the cold side cooling towers, turbines, generators, transformers, switch yard, offices, cafeteria, parking lot, guard house.

    Lockheed-Martin must be envisioning a pretty big truck.

    I've not seen any evidence that they (anyone) are working on a fusion concept with a power/volume ratio scale that's practical in terms of allowing room for the necessary plumbing to shift the energy flux out towards the steam turbines.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: How do they plan to get the heat out?

      You forgot the gift shop... where would you buy the t-shirts?

      Maybe Lockheed-Martin's truck is something like a land-based aircraft carrier.

      On a more serious note, I guess they have given the plumbing some thought already*, but will really get into it when they can sustain reactions lasting longer than fractions of seconds.

      *Maybe not the physicists, but definitely the engineers building the thing.

    2. annodomini2

      Re: How do they plan to get the heat out?

      They intend to use Neutron heating, same as Tokamak.

      This is a research reactor, there is no intention of generating power with it.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. annodomini2
          Boffin

          Re: How do they plan to get the heat out?

          @Zsn, nope, NBI is used to heat the plasma inside the reactor.

          The neutrons from the reaction exit the system through the reactor walls and are intended to be used to heat water, probably heavy water, to produce steam and conventional generation takes place.

          Direct generation cannot be done with a Tokamak or a Stellarator, it requires an Aneutronic reaction to do direct generation. Neither of these are capable of reaching the required temperatures and pressures for Aneutronic Fusion.

    3. Yesnomaybe

      Re: How do they plan to get the heat out?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_energy_conversion

  12. Diodelogic

    They stopped using helium

    because the reactor sounded like Donald Duck every time they fired it up.

  13. Winkypop Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Who's ya Mutti then?

    Up with this kind of thing.

  14. herman Silver badge

    The Wendelstein is a mountain peak in Bavaria. It used to have a lung function sanatorium a the top - now a restaurant. Very beautiful:

    https://www.google.ae/search?q=wendelstein+pictures&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjL4oiTsd3KAhUHOBQKHVE0ARoQsAQIGg&biw=889&bih=463

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    Is pulse operation a design "feature" of Tokamaks or just what you can do so far?

    Enquiring minds.

    If the exact details of the Stellarator path are critical to its function I'm not surprised it didn't work in the 1960's.

    Wheather it's "better" will remain to be seen.

    It's certainly cheaper than ITER.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Is pulse operation a design "feature" of Tokamaks or just what you can do so far?

      No it's a core feature. It's like a big transformer it can only work while the field is changing.

      To make it worse the more power you need to contain the faster you need to raise the field so you can make it cycle on-off over hours at low power but minutes at GW powers.

      Even worse-worse, like a transformer you go through zero field switching between +/- and at that point there is no field to hold the plasma which then hits the walls and melts your machine. So you need to dump the plasma and start again every half cycle.

      The big advantage of the stellarator is that the plasma generates it's own permanent containment field, the drawback is that you have an amazingly complex job to control it.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Is pulse operation a design "feature" of Tokamaks or just what you can do so far?

      "Cheaper than ITER" - catchy!

  16. Chris Hainey

    Igor, Raise ze lighnink rod

    These labs should all be powered in this way, and have big red levers to start ze devices, not buttons...

    Buttons are just so amateur.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Igor, Raise ze lighnink rod

      I agree, there is a sorry absence of drama and machines that do "ping".

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Igor, Raise ze lighnink rod

        Machines that go "ping"? That's for the accountants to decide! You see, if we buy the machine, the money is capex, but if we lease it, its opex. Or the other way round in the months with an "R" in their name.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Igor, Raise ze lighnink rod

      Old school, that's more like it! Enough with the there's-an-app-for-that wipey stuff already!

  17. Richard Boyce
    Joke

    Be afraid

    I have noted that this discussion involving very long german words has attracted some posters with very long user names without even the occassional upper case letter to assist the reader.

    This appears to be strong evidence that disgustedoftunbridgewells and allthecoolshortnamesweretaken are sleeper agents among us just waiting for the day when this ubertechnology will make germans proud again.

    1. Nixinkome
      Pint

      Re: Be afraid

      Fokkers Pub

      Home of the Mutti ...

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Be afraid

      Damnivebeenrumbled.

    3. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: Be afraid

      Zey fount uss out! Alarm! Run for ze Bunkeren! Das muss schneller gehen!

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Be afraid

      "Übertechnologie". (If it has nothing to do with minicabs.)

  18. TRT Silver badge

    I've got a Bosch microwave as well...

    That can also heat to 80 million degrees, but by using a McDonalds Apple Pie that temperature is sustained for at least 30 minutes.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O tempora o mores!

    80 years ago our chancellor would have fired a plasma CANON, at the enemies of the Great Germanic Race... Oh, how low have we fallen!

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: O tempora o mores! - 80 years ago our chancellor would have fired a plasma CANON

      That's right - bombard us with vapourised cathedral clergy. Seems an odd choice of weapon though.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: O tempora o mores! - 80 years ago our chancellor would have fired a plasma CANON

        Well, you could always use the number-14-to-Saint-Joseph-the-somewhat-divine-on-the-hill ballistic missile. It's in the attic.

        1. Andytug

          Re: O tempora o mores! - 80 years ago our chancellor would have fired a plasma CANON

          Or the more simply used Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, making sure thou countest to the correct number after pulling out the pin.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

            Re: O tempora o mores! - 80 years ago our chancellor would have fired a plasma CANON

            5 is RIGHT OUT!

            Also, there is NO rule 6!

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: O tempora o mores!

      > O tempora o mores!

      O Times, O Daily Mirror?

      (I make no apologies for stealing this joke from Flanders & Swann)

  20. Chozo

    Don't Worry

    When electricity becomes to cheap to meter, the electricity providers will find another way to gouge us.

  21. speedbird007
    Facepalm

    I give in

    I give in, my head hurts. I only got O level Biology

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I give in

      I only got O level Biology

      Think of it as a premature ejaculation. Too short a duration, not much heat generated and in general unsatisfactory for all participants.

      Does that help?

      :)

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