back to article That's cute, Germany – China shows the world how fusion is done

Days after the German chancellor triggered the creation of hydrogen plasma for less than a second, China has announced that one of its fusion reactors has broken the record for plasma creation. On Friday the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced that its boffins had created the 98-second plasma burn in its Experimental …

  1. RIBrsiq
    Facepalm

    "the outer atmosphere of the sun is much, much hotter [than the sun's core or EAST's plasma. Context is unclear]".

    No, it isn't:

    http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/st5/SCIENCE/sun.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      No, it isn't:

      OOhhhhhh yes it is!

      There's a secret cooling system designed by aliens, and that means that the interior is kept cool from those high surface temperatures during the 4 billion year operating life of the sun. Mind you, the warranty ran out after the first billion years, and we've lost the maker's number.

      1. Bakana

        "and we've lost the maker's number."

        No we haven't. The number is 42.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lol science literature that uses Fahrenheit.

      1. schlechtj

        Farenheit

        And they forgot to add 32....

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: RIBrsiq

      I've tweaked the article. Please, in future, email corrections@theregister.co.uk if you spot anything wrong. If you'd done so, this article could have been fixed 14 hours ago.

      C.

      1. JosephEngels

        Re: RIBrsiq

        Thats a bit rich.

        As a journalist writing an article, you are supposed to get it right in the first place. If someone points out an error, then you should be grateful. Whining that they didn't email you about it, when they are under no obligation to do so, is a bit rich ... especially as you got paid to write it, and they have (by consuming your adverts) paid to read it ...

        1. Martin Budden

          Re: RIBrsiq

          It would be nice if authors could be bothered to reply "thanks mate" after I've gone to the effort of using the Tips & Corrections link. Usually I don't get any indication of whether it has even been read, and that makes me less inclined to use the link in the future.

          1. Jonathan Richards 1

            Re: RIBrsiq & thanks

            Oh, well, YMMV, I guess, but that's not my experience, I often get an ack. Tips and corrections are the right way to go, I think, unless you want to discuss large-scale problems with an article.

      2. Red Bren
        Trollface

        Re: RIBrsiq

        We come here for the articles, but we stay for the pedantry!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Headmaster

          Re: RIBrsiq

          Yeah, why slip the author a tip and save him some grief when you can pounce on his blooper instead? The temptation is just too great. Lord knows I've tried to resist...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RIBrsiq

          Speaking of pedantry, I'm puzzled by comparisons that state one temperature (50C) is more than three times another (15C). Why is that an interesting statement? It seems less arbitrary to me to say it is about 16% hotter. For whatever that is worth.

      3. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: RIBrsiq

        As long as corrections require me to conjure up some means to write an email from an address I never, ever actually send anything from (strictly used for logins only) instead of using my logged-in profile with some simple feedback form, It Ain't Gonna Happen.

      4. GhostSeven

        Re: RIBrsiq

        Snippy little response for someone who pointed out a mistake in the article you were paid to write. Got out of the wrong side of the bed or are you just a dick?

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: RIBrsiq

          FYI, for all you bashers - Iain Thompson != Diodesign

  2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Yes yes yes. What I want to know: who pushed the button?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Presumably Trump --->

      1. davidp231

        Shirley you mean "Tlump"?

        1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge
          Joke

          Get your racist stereotypes straight people. Japan is the one that confuses r and L; China is the one that pluralizes singular words and uses the singular for plural words...

          If you're going to be a little racist, at least do it right, sheez...

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Joke

            Naaah, if we start on stereotypes, we'd probably need to talk about "Golden Fortunate Dragon of Radiant Success and Joyous Fulfilment Fusion Facility"...

  3. petur

    Soon...

    We will be copying Chinese designs... gulp

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Soon...

      George went begging to the Chinese who will now build a reactor of their own design at Bradwell in Essex.

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/21/george-osborne-chinese-nuclear-power-station-bradwell-essex

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Soon...

      Those cynical amongst us might think that Chinese reactors placed strategically around Europe could be their version of Trident.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Soon...

        Nah, Chinese Restaurants alone are sufficient for that.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Soon...

          Nah, Chinese Restaurants alone are sufficient for that.

          But some think they're only dangerous to cats and dogs.... maybe rats also.

          Almost obligatory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOy2QCssTaI

      2. Ali Um Bongo
        Facepalm

        Re: Soon...

        *"..Those cynical amongst us might think that Chinese reactors placed strategically around Europe could be their version of Trident..."*

        They... are... not... your... enemy.. just... because... Uncle... Sam.... wants... you... to... fear... anyone... who... is... an... economic... rival... to... him...

        Come on. You can do this. Try really hard. Fight it. You can form your own opinions if you really really try.

        1. eesiginfo

          Re: Soon...

          Oh!

          So it's not true about those 5 booksellers going missing in Hong Kong?

        2. Fibbles

          Re: Not your enemy

          Not our friends either though.

          1. BasicChimpTheory

            Re: Not your enemy

            @Fibbles

            Surely that is up to us (at least in part)?

          2. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Not your enemy

            Under the neo-capitalist approach everyone is your enemy - especially the consumer.

            1. Green Nigel 42

              Re: Not your enemy

              Why do I immediately think of Apple when I read that!

          3. Steve 114

            Re: Not your enemy

            Not since we insisted on destroying their population with opium imports, and attacked their culture with missionaries. Long memories.

            1. Schlimnitz

              Re: Not your enemy

              OOOH, shut up, you're going to annoy me. Unless you're also against "attacking their culture" with human rights...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not your enemy

              And I'm pretty sure, Mao, for all his faults, didn't regard killing his own population as his *main* strategy for success .....

          4. NotBob

            Re: Not your enemy

            Maxim 29: The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. No more, no less.

            1. Red Bren
              Mushroom

              Re: Not your enemy

              @NotBob

              Do you have a handy Maxim for the situation in Syria? Let's see now,

              "My enemy's enemy is my enemy"

              "My friend's friend is my enemy"

              "My friend's enemy is my friend"

              "Anyone wanting to buy my weapons and sell me cheap oil is my friend!"

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not your enemy

                > Do you have a handy Maxim for the situation in Syria?

                We're all friends. We just get a bit argumentative sometimes.

        3. Steve Crook

          Re: Soon...

          "Come on. You can do this. Try really hard. Fight it. You can form your own opinions if you really really try."

          It is actually possible to be suspicious of the motivations of the Chinese without being remote controlled by the US...

          The Chinese have always taken an admirably long term view of things and are, generally, more inclined to tunnel under walls than engage in frontal assaults. Unlike the US. But they'll still do anything and everything to protect their interests, just the same way the UK did when it had clout. It's why they're making islands and putting military bases on them...

          Can't help remember what the 'friends of China' said when there was opposition to China hosting the Olympics. 'It'll be a boost towards sorting out human rights issues and help make China more open'. Hows that working out guys? Thought so...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Soon...

            > The Chinese have always taken an admirably long term view of things and are, generally, more inclined to tunnel under walls than engage in frontal assaults.

            Or in the case of invading Russia, they would do it by discreet infiltration of small groups of one to two million people.

        4. NomNomNom

          Re: Soon...

          The red communist Chinese threat must be met with increased paranoia and nationalism. At all costs!

          1. herman Silver badge

            Re: Soon...

            ...and the best way to oppose China is to buy all the commercial junk they produce, to keep them distracted from producing military hardware instead.

        5. Martin Summers Silver badge

          Re: Soon...

          @Ali

          I'm British, my opinions are in no way informed by the US. I also said "those cynical amongst us" in my opening words. What I've said is not beyond the realms of possibility it also may not be true at all. I would like to think not. I would also like to keep an open mind when it comes to forming my opinions thanks very much!

          I'm not keen on China's human rights record as can be seen from my previous comments related to China and for that reason do tend to have what I feel is a reasonable distrust.

          1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

            Re: Soon...

            "I'm not keen on China's human rights record "

            Well, have you seen the west's records on Human rights? Its not that much better... How is China's suppression of the Tibetan people all that worse than the British Raj? Or the USA's Trail of Tears, or France and their persecution of the Buddhists in Vietnam? Dutch colonies in Africa,Spain/Portugal in Central/South America... Then there was all the shit from WW1 and WW2, the proxy wars during the cold war...

            In a purely objective point-of-view, China has performed slightly fewer atrocities per capita than the "west" or any other country that has found itself in the position of being more powerful than any other country. By no means am I defend China for their actions, I'm just simply pointing out that no country can claim to smell better than any other when we've all been rolling around in shit.

            1. elDog Silver badge

              Re: Soon...

              @Crazy - a great set of counterpoints. Unfortunately the US in large (politicians, populace) don't care about history, especially when in contradicts their biases and schooling. Do you know of a nice site that lists atrocities by country, by year/period? Sounds like the US would have several hot-spots.

              1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

                Re: Soon...

                "Do you know of a nice site that lists atrocities by country, by year/period?"

                No, but I'm sure there is one. If not, it really should be built... Might take a while to put together given the mass amount of terrible things we humans have done to each other. But then governments tend to cover those kinds of things up pretty well.

                In all my research, it seems that the only place that hasn't committed a horrible war crime in the past century is Antarctica. I wonder if there is an opening for an IT guy at McMurdo...

                1. Bakana

                  Re: Soon...

                  So, are you proposing an "Atrocities Only" version of Wikipedia?

                  Because I suspect it would require almost as many resources as Wikipedia to hold it all.

              2. Mage Silver badge

                Re: Soon...

                We hid it so the Aliens wouldn't know what we are like until after we sign the treaties.

              3. herman Silver badge

                Re: Soon...

                Yeah, but it is very difficult to outdo the European atrocities. Blokes like Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Lenin and Stalin were really special.

                1. ponga

                  Re: Soon...

                  Perhaps you should read up on those happy-fun-times of, say, the Mongol conquests, the An Lushan rebellion, and the second Sino-Japanese war? Sorry, mate, us Europeans ain't all that special.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Soon...

              >In a purely objective point-of-view, China has performed slightly fewer atrocities per capita than the "west"

              Assuming you forget about The Great Leap Forward - estimates vary from 45 to 80 million deaths in just over 2 years - which puts them easily at the top spot.

              1. herman Silver badge

                Re: Soon...

                No, he said 'per capita' . Mao's indiscretions pales into insignificance when compared to Hitler, Franco, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin using a 'per capita' approach, simply because there is never a shortage of people in China.

                1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                  Re: Soon...

                  45-80 million when the population was (guess) around 800 million is 5-10%. 6 million when the population under Nazi control at the time was (wilder guess) around 100 million, is similar. Also, the timescales are "a few years" in both cases. In both cases, those giving the orders knew the consequences and didn't care.

                  As far as I recall, Lenin and Stalin took longer, so you would have to extend your time window to make a fair comparison. Having done that, you might well find that they too, were comparably bloodthirsty.

                  All these are over-shadowed by the case of Pol Pot, whose own leap forward back to the stone age probably killed a quarter of the population in four years.

                  As for "who is most evil" I'm not sure the figures are an appropriate measure. Your average psychopathic despot isn't terribly numerate and kills by category rather than number. We also have to consider the historical context. Trajan walked into modern-day Romania and systematically either executed or permanently removed (to enslavement) 100% of the population. That was pretty much Hitler's model for the Slav populations of Eastern Europe. Was Trajan more evil than Hitler? Hmm, tricky.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Soon...

                    >45-80 million when the population was (guess) around 800 million

                    In 1958 China's population was 646 Million. The Mao regime killed many, many millions more outside this brief period - 'per capita' atrocity is an entirely fatuous construct.

                    A lot of confused people in this thread - eg 14 million Chinese soldiers were lost in WW2 - it was hardly a Western event. Vietnam was a proxy war between US & China. The Khmer Rouge were armed and funded by China.

                    While it's important to move on - it's equally important to ensure China's horrific recent history is not forgotten lest it be repeated - particularly when most Chinese (let alone British/US) people are unaware of it.

            3. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Soon...

              >Well, have you seen the west's records on Human rights?

              If you could move in time, you'd observe more distance travelling a few decades than you would a few thousand miles.

            4. Al Black

              Re: Soon...

              Human rights, now, in the present, not decades in the past...China is still performing atrocities on its own citizens as well as on the Tibetans.

            5. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Soon...

              Dutch colonies in Africa? .South Africa never was a Dutch colony, what African regions are you thinking of?

            6. The First Dave

              Re: Soon...

              There is a difference between "have been" rolling around in shit, (UK, France, Germany) and "Still are" (China, Saudi, USA ...)

            7. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Soon...

              "Or the USA's Trail of Tears"

              Really? One is happening right now, and you are going to compare it with something ~200 years ago?

              By that logic, anyone ought to be able to do anything (now, today) because the human race used to be a whole lot more barbaric.

        6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: Soon...

          Tell that to the Tibetans...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Soon...

            The butt-hurt feudalist monks (including the India-palace-based reincarnated Chinese-born CIA employee), or the actual population of Tibet? The ones who like toilets, railways no slavery and health, that kind of thing?

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Soon...

      >We will be copying Chinese designs... gulp

      For much of the last five thousand years, Chinese technological and organisational superiority has been the norm... the Twentieth Century was just a blip.

      Well, kind of... Glass technology (what we Occidentals used for drinking wine) opened the doors of chemistry, microscopy, astronomy, perspective in art...

    4. Bakana

      Re: Soon...

      See? Jos Whedon got it Right in Firefly.

    5. CarbonLifeForm

      Re: Soon...

      Copying and or stealing.

      Par for the course considering how much IP they pilfer. We pilfer back.

      It's all in fun.

  4. Lomax

    Only, the German reactor is of a different type. There are basically four reactor designs being developed:

    1) Electrical confinement "Tokamak" (EAST, ITER)

    2) Magnetic confinement "Stellarator" (Germany's W7-X)

    3) Laser confinement (Lawrence Livermore's NIF)

    4) Inertial confinement (the Z-Machine)

    The W7-X is a more complex machine than EAST, and has taken longer to develop, but also promises a steadier plasma than any of the other technologies (the latter two of which are pulsed designs).

    Btw - where's the British effort in this area? Thought so.

    1. smartypants

      Have you never heard of JET at Culham?

      http://www.ccfe.ac.uk/

      (Ok, not just British, but hardly an insignificant effort, though I agree that we should all be spending a lot more on future energy research)

      1. Lomax

        Fair enough - just me being a little grumpy. Perhaps after reading this http://epc.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/151214-FINAL-EPC_CaSE_Research-and-EU-Report_Dec-2015.pdf and realising that we're about to give all that up - because of I forget.

    2. quattroprorocked

      British efforts

      IIFR we're part of the ITER group and of course a major prior project https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_European_Torus is based in Oxfordshire.

      Personally I'm backing the Stellarator concept. It has the coolest name so it has to work :-)

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      British efforts

      Btw - where's the British effort in this area? Thought so.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Fleischmann#Cold_fusion

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: British efforts

        Following any lead into cold fusion always seems to lead to pseudo science and outright scam. Just in case you were not kidding.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: British efforts

          "Cold fusion" has such a bad press that it's now termed "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions".

          There's quite a lot of serious science going on in the field, too: http://lenr-canr.org/

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: British efforts

            "LENR-CANR.ORG A library of papers about cold fusion"

            If it were legitimate, the website would by subtitled "A library of papers about some experiments that produce some as-of-yet unexplained data"

            A clue is that they have jumped to a conclusion. The other clue is the name 'Rossi' on the page.

        2. LesC
          Go

          Re: British efforts

          Project Zeta from (get the date, commentards) 1958???? just about old enough to remember the unlimited energy this device was promising... believe this was the granddaddy of the tokomak type design and was a false dawn at the time as the device was releasing neutrons :(

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7190813.stm

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: British efforts

            @LesC

            I am sorry, but the article you refer to seems to be written by a "jeremy clarksson" type of Brit who is not particularly interested in facts. Lets give credit where credit is due. If facts hurt then our "national pride" is just on a too high level.

            From the Wiki.

            Tokamaks were invented in the 1950s by Soviet physicists Igor Tamm and Andrei Sakharov, inspired by an original idea of Oleg Lavrentiev

            Experimental research of tokamak systems started in 1956 in Kurchatov Institute, Moscow by a group of Soviet scientists led by Lev Artsimovich. The group constructed the first tokamaks, the most successful being T-3 and its larger version T-4. T-4 was tested in 1968 in Novosibirsk, conducting the first ever quasistationary thermonuclear fusion reaction.[3]

            In 1968, at the third IAEA International Conference on Plasma Physics and Controlled Nuclear Fusion Research at Novosibirsk, Soviet scientists announced that they had achieved electron temperatures of over 1000 eV in a tokamak device.[citation needed] British and American scientists met this news with skepticism since they were far from reaching that benchmark; they remained suspicious until laser scattering tests confirmed the findings the next year.

    4. smartypants

      Tokamak is magnetic confinement too.

      The stellarator and tokamak both confine the plasma with magnetic fields.

      The tokomak employs a central coil to create a field to confine the plasma in a 'donut' ring. Though 'simpler', the plasma tends to migrate outwards. The stellarator dispenses with the single coil and instead confines the plasma with a helical ring - like a twisted ribbon. The device is geometrically more complex, but removes the bias, hopefully resulting in better containment.

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

      They both unfortunately share the characteristic of being very complicated ways to generate electricity, so even if a design eventually proves to be technically workable, their price per KWh will still be horrific unless we finally start making fossil fuel consumers pay for the impact of the pollution, which in 2016 seems as far off as ever...

      1. Lomax

        Re: Tokamak is magnetic confinement too.

        You'll always struggle to separate electricity from magnetism, being the two sides of the same coin that they are - but the point about a Tokamak using "electric" confinement has to do with it requiring an electrical current to pass through the plasma itself, in order to generate a sufficiently strong magnetic field. As you can imagine maintaining this current is rather tricky and this is the main short-coming of the Tokamak design and one of the reasons they tend to go out like wet matches in a storm. The Stellarator, while more complicated to build, achieves its confinement solely by means of an external magnetic field and promises a much more stable plasma.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tokamak is magnetic confinement too.

        The impact of pollution here on the east coast of Canada is noticeable. We've had two very strange winters back to back. Aside from the general trend in warming that, as a cross country skier, I've noticed since the late 70's.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tokamak is magnetic confinement too.

          You appear to have mistaken weather for pollution AC.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Tokamak is magnetic confinement too.

        "their price per KWh will still be horrific unless we finally start making fossil fuel consumers pay for the impact of the pollution"

        Fission-based nukes will still be cheaper, easier to run and already produce "acceptably low" levels of waste (which next-gen systems could turn into "very low")

    5. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      > Only, the German reactor is of a different type.

      It also has much more Reaktorgefühl. Plus our elementary particles are better engineered. I could give you many more pertinent facts if I knew any.

    6. NomNomNom

      not true, I am developing a UK based fusion reactor in a garage in Swindon, that has to date seen some very promising results.

      Did you know it's possible to run 23 microwave ovens off a single home plug socket, after a bit of rewiring?

      So far I have managed to contain an apple turnover within a high energy microwave field for over 20 minutes, to the point that the internal temperature of the turnover became hotter than the Sun.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        That's crazy

        For really high temperatures you need a jam-based pastry.

        1. davidp231

          Re: That's crazy

          Or dried on Weetabix.

        2. Jan 0

          Re: That's crazy

          or tomatoes!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Windows

        I'm afraid your research is not novel NomNomNom. I'd succeeded in achieving the same more than twenty years ago using a lemon meringue pie containment structure. The lower thermal conduction coefficient of the superstrate and remarkable thermal capacity of a curd-based interior more than compensated for the slightly inferior efficiency of the primitive apparatus of the era. Sadly that avenue of investigation will lead you to ruin. Stop before it's too late. The process yields a horrendous endothermic form of fusion and the cleanup liabilities are unbearable.

      3. Captain DaFt

        "So far I have managed to contain an apple turnover within a high energy microwave field for over 20 minutes, to the point that the internal temperature of the turnover became hotter than the Sun."

        Your turnover is weak compared to the energy of the AMBB.

        Anomalous Microwaveable Burrito Bean - In every Microwave Burrito, there is that one bean that not only seems to absorb most of the microwave energy into itself, but will continue to radiate massive amounts of heat long after the rest of of the burrito has dropped to room temperature.

        The only thing that seems to quench its energy production is the inside of a human mouth.

        Researchers are baffled by the AMBB's secret, "How the hell does it get that hot without glowing?"

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Boffin

        "not true, I am developing a UK based fusion reactor in a garage in Swindon, that has to date seen some very promising results."

        Pah! REAL boffins do it in sheds.

    7. akeane
      Mushroom

      where's the British effort in this area?

      Too busy selling houses to each other to muck about with all that science rubbish...

      On the plus side maybe Escape to the Country will be replaced with Escape to the Bunker...

    8. ZSn

      Already corrected

      Ok, the first two points have already been corrected. A) = B) (according to a topologist at least)*

      However the last two points are plain confused, laser confinement *is* inertial confinement. The outer layers ablate off by the laser energy deposited in them and the resultant recoil implodes the pellet. This is a similar way in which a two stage nuclear weapon works and so this leads to the joke that all they are doing is getting around the comprehensive test ban treaty.

      The z-pinch is *not* inertial confinement, it's to long to explain here, have a look at wikipedia (yes, I know):

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z-pinch#Tokamak

      Incidentally the main thing holding back the inertial confinement is not the physics, but the economics. When (if, but probably when) it work, the tokamak will be far cheaper to produce electricity. It's still expensive, but once you factor in the cost of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by other methods of electricity production, not *that* expensive comparatively.

      *a topologist is someone who can't tell the difference between a coffee cup and a doughnut after all

      1. elDog Silver badge

        Re: Already corrected

        @ZSn - very embarrassing for those Joes in Blue (US police) who always stop at Dunkin Donuts for a cuppa and a doughnut. Every topologist amongst them spills the shitty coffee in their laps while trying to eat the pastry.

        1. Old Handle
          Headmaster

          Re: Already corrected

          But donut store coffee cups very rarely have a handle... which I assume makes them spheres or something.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Already corrected

            >But donut store coffee cups very rarely have a handle... which I assume makes them spheres or something.

            Topologically the coffee cups are like spheres, whereas donuts are similar to tea-cups with handles. Teapots with one handle and no lid are similar to figure-of-eight pretzels.

      2. Lomax

        Splitting the hair

        "Already corrected"

        True, the Z Machine and NIF are both inertial confinement reactors, but still different designs - one uses laser light pulses (NIF) and the other pulses of electricity (Z Machine) to achieve fusion conditions. They are also both pulsed designs, in that these conditions can only be maintained for very brief periods of time (on the order of a few hundred nanoseconds), whereas Tokamak and Stellarator designs can sustain fusion (at least in theory) for days, weeks or even months at a time. Ultimately though, they are all four the same kind of thing - at least to a topologist looking at it from some distance ;) I mean they all use some aspect(s) of the electromagnetic force to heat up and compress lighter elements in order to fuse them into heavier elements, releasing large amounts of energy in the process. My reason for posting my initial remark, and attempting to make a distinction between the different types of reactors being developed was purely to to point out that the German experiment (W7-X), being a very different beast to EAST, is at least as interesting as the Chinese one, and that the "That's cute, Germany" twist was dishonest and unfair. I freely admit that the exact wording I used was less than clear, and that it is possible to slice the cake in other ways - but the point remains the same; there are basically four different types of fusion reactors being developed, and the Chinese and German machines are not of the same type. The physics may be similar (well, duh), but the engineering challenges, physical nature and operational characteristics of each machine are _enormously_ different. In my quest to find four simple words to describe these differences I settled on electrical, magnetic, laser and inertial. I apologise if this was too simplistic, or even misleading - but they are still different designs and that was the point I was trying to make.

        How Wikipedia describes the Z Machine:

        "Since its refurbishment in October 1996 it has been used primarily as an inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research facility."

        And NIF:

        "The National Ignition Facility, or NIF, is a large laser-based inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research device"

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Splitting the hair

          @Lomax, strictly speaking both the NIF and Z-machine arent really intended for research into continuous fusion for power generation. They are primarily for extremely short pulsed fusion research (aka the US nuclear weapons arsenal) no matter what they keep saying to reassure the public.

    9. calmeilles

      Re 3. Laser refers to the ignition method. The confinement in that case is inertial.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $14 Billion buys you and awful lot of oil

    Perhaps China should have spent it invading the Middle East...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: $14 Billion buys you and awful lot of oil

      But the US alone spent 3 trillion on The Fifteen-Year Shufti and it's still not over (actually getting worse and more UN-unchareterish by the week, and Saudi Arabia may yet cooly implode)

      Oh well, money printing and fintech will still save us. Right?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: $14 Billion buys you and awful lot of oil

        Oh well, money printing and fintech will still save us. Right?

        That's right. And all that good stuff like 100% LTV lending, subprime lending, CDOs and MBS, they're all back. Not to mention budget deficits, and borrowing more than your economy grows by each year. Lucky all the money is being spent productively, isn't it?

    2. Tom Womack

      Re: $14 Billion buys you and awful lot of oil

      At the current unusually low prices, it buys you five hundred million barrels of oil, which is a little more than the amount China has so far burned in 2016.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: $14 Billion buys you and awful lot of oil

      The basic premises behind using fusion are the required isotopes are extremely plentiful and easy to obtain, electrical transmission has been solved, once perfected the expected energy production costs are expected drop significantly, and the byproducts are supposedly not as nasty as those from conventional plants or fission power plants.

      The vision is for fusion to provide the required energy for all electrical generation, possibly some transportation (ships most likely), and reduce fossil fuels to being used for transportation. The political fallout would be cheap energy prices with limited dependence on foreign oil for many countries and possibly none for Europe, China, India, and the Americas. The geopolitical implications are the Middle East goes broke as oil prices and world wide demand drop while mature economies of the West along with China and India may see an economic boom as energy costs drop.

      This is a long term play. Both reports indicate that there may a major breakthrough in a few years.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: $14 Billion buys you and awful lot of oil

      Amongst other things, the chinese govt has been buying up and storing large quantities of cheap oil.

      Whilst the stuff is dirt-cheap now, it's well below the price of extraction of the harder resources (US Bakken shale costs more to survey/drill/frack/extract than the current per-barrel price and tar sands run about 2-3 times the per-barrel cost)

      What's happening is that those with large cheap resources and deep pockets are selling at or below costs in order to drive the alternative sources out of business - the resulting price rises would give them breathing space before fracking businesses can reestablish themselves again. Those countries who didn't go along with this ploy are forced to sell more oil at lower prices to keep their income up and/or start domestic cutbacks, driving the prices down ever further.

      This is economic warfare at work. Consumers may benefit for a short time but when oil prices snap back to more realistic rates they'll overcorrect and make 1974 seem like a mildly bad dream (gas prices will track oil). It'd be better to be ahead of the curve and not be reliant on fossil fuels when it happens, but it's far too late to hope for that, so the next best thing is to be on the way to being less dependent when it happens.

  6. Pronounce

    I Wonder....

    What would happen if fusion began to consume more than time, money, and energy? You know how it often goes with humans and their very best ideas: Antibiotics ---> Superbugs; Fission reactors ---> Core meltdowns leading to uninhabitable environments; Industrial revolution ---> Raise the temperature of the planet, melting the ice caps, causing droughts, and starving people; etc. etc.

    You don't suppose it might be possible to lose containment on super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star, do you?

    The Fermi Paradox supposes there is some technological advancement that leads to the end of every advance civilization.

    There is a high likelihood that in time we'll locate that technology even if fusion isn't it.

    1. smartypants

      Re: I Wonder....

      The answer is that humans would be snuffed out a few moments earlier in the history of the universe, so no real damage done!

    2. Lomax

      Re: I Wonder....

      I've played this game I think!

      Fusion reactors -> Terraforming -> Extrasolar colonisation -> Dyson Sphere

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Dyson Sphere

        Is that an updated version of the Hoover Constellation?

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Dyson Sphere

          Is that an updated version of the Hoover Constellation?

          I think it's a personal obsession of James Dyson. In the 1970s I worked in the department of Times Newspapers that handled special offers. There was a bloke who kept trying to sell us on a wheelbarrow with a ball instead of a wheel, but the gardening correspondents all said it was useless. 40 years on, James Dyson (for it was he) produces a vacuum cleaner with a ball at the front.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

      Um, no. I'm not a physician, but I'm certain that no fusion reactor Man can make will turn Earth into a star. We might be able to return it to the molten slag state it started in, but we have nowhere near the mass, nor the hydrogen required to make Earth sustain fusion reactions in its core.

      Personally, I admit that there will be mistakes - to think otherwise wold be foolish, given Man's history. I also think that a broken fusion reactor will simply make one spot rather hot for a bit, and that should be it.

      Maybe we should always build them underground ?

      1. Lomax

        Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

        A "broken" fusion reactor is cold, and has very low levels of radioactivity - certainly compared to a fission reactor at least. The problem with fusion is not that it's a runaway process (like fission) but that it's so damn hard to initiate and maintain. The tiniest fluctuation is enough to cool and/or disperse the plasma beyond the fusible region - any accident, even in the worst possible case, is highly unlikely to cause any significant damage beyond the immediate vicinity. This is one of the main reasons why we're investing all this time and money in trying to perfect them:

        1) No radioactive waste (well, nearly)

        2) No need to mine/transport/process/store fissible material

        3) No risk of runaway processes

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star" - @Lomax

          You're carefully ignoring the uranium blanket that is needed to absorb all the neutrons, and is therefore similar in composition to spent fuel rods in a fission reactor.

          The Sun has a really, really thick blanket surrounding the fusion reaction, which is why most of what escapes is low energy photons. On Earth its going to be a little more of a problem.

          1. Mage Silver badge
            Angel

            Re: Uranium Blanket

            Build Fission based power stations on same site. The Fusion waste neutrons then turn blanket made from Fission waste into safer radioactive waste, a process which can make additional electricity via steam heated in the "blanket".

            Win - Win: Fusion efficiency increased and regular Nuclear power station waste made safer. This has been tested and boosts power generation even of current test fusion plant to net positive.

          2. Lomax

            Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star" - @Lomax

            "You're carefully ignoring"

            No I'm not, that's the "well, almost". You are correct that the shielding material does become irradiated, and it also needs to be replaced with some frequency - a fact that goes to the heart of how ITER has been designed: a lot of effort has gone into developing a system for replacing the shielding elements with minimal downtime (and risk). I don't know where you read that the shields are made from uranium - AFAIK the ITER design uses stainless steel, lead and lithium as shielding materials (the lithium actually breeds more tritium when exposed to neutron radiation). But while used shielding elements will need to be disposed of safely, the level of radioactivity and amount of material is far lower than in a fusion reactor of comparable size.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star" - @Lomax

              "the lithium actually breeds more tritium when exposed to neutron radiation"

              Most of which will probably immediately exit the reactor into the surrounding building.

              Tritium gas is notoriously hard to contain(*). It's one of the big bugaboos surrounding thorium designs if you choose to use natural lithium instead of enriched stuff in the LiBeFl. At least in a Thorium system you might be able to add something to the mix to chemically bind the tritium as it's produced(**) (and MSR tech lends itself far better to basic industrial bucket chemistry than Fusion or Uranium systems ever will)

              (*) It may be better to not contain it at all, but just vent to atmosphere.

              (**) In a thorium system the amount of tritium which will be produced is known. Only 6% of natural lithium is susceptable to conversion.

          3. oldcoder

            Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star" - @Lomax

            Depends on the fuel. Duterium already has the neutrons needed for helium. Free neutrons are at a minimum, and more useful by reflecting them back (use graphite or beryllium instead).

          4. Elephantpm

            Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star" - @Lomax

            There is no Uranium blanket. Actually rather than a heavy element you need a light one such a Beryllium https://www.iter.org/mach/blanket.

        2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

          I have heard for decades now that a fusion reactor would be inherently safer than a fission reactor because of basic physics of the two processes. I have also heard its byproducts are less environmentally damaging than another power source. The last point may be somewhat over-promised but expected problems are apparently much smaller scale than with current methods (highly radioactive, long life isotopes, fly ash for coal, etc.)

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

            "highly radioactive, long life isotopes"

            These are diametrically opposed.

            That which is highly radioactive has a short halflife and therefore becomes significantly less radioactive over a relatively short period of time (example: the Elephant's Foot at Chernoybl is already "cold" enough that you can stand close to it without being killed. See also U233 and Pu238)

            That which has a long half life isn't particularly radioactive and as such isn't radiologically dangerous (eg, U238, U235, Pu239)

            The chemical effects of some of these things are another matter. Uranium and plutonium are both toxic heavy metals. In the same way, the Polonium210 in a smoker's lungs decays to toxic elements which are probably the nucleus for lung cancers in ex smokers (the chemical effects of smoking itself are gone in less than 6 months after quitting)

            To keep bad guys at bay, you _want_ your reactor "stuff" to be fiercely radioactive. If it is fiercely radioactive then it produces heat and should stay inside the reactor, but you want your "waste" not to be - and unsurprisngly, that's what happens in a MSR-non-fuel-rod system, where you can take out the more annoying waste products (like Xenon - which actively gets in the way of the nuclear process) as they're generated rather than having them build up in fuel rods, generating massive internal pressures, etc etc.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

          "The problem with fusion is not that it's a runaway process (like fission) but that it's so damn hard to initiate and maintain. "

          Fission processes are self-limiting at about 1300C thanks to doppler effects. Most of the problems we see are due to poor choice of coolant/moderator (ie, water) which can't run at these temperatures or anything close to them, or which has a nasty tendency to catch fire when exposed to air (ie: molten sodium, graphite)

          Whilst the materials in question might be ok for lab experiments and proof of concept (or the odd nuclear submarine or other low power requirement), you'd have to be barking to use them in large production systems, yet that's precisely what's done.

          Unfortunately the "civil nuclear industry" doesn't do any actual research into better systems and for the most part that's deliberate - they don't WANT to.

          Most reactors are sold on a "Gillette" model (the reactor is cheap, but fuel supply is locked into one vendor. You can't put GE fuel rods in a Westinghouse Reactor, etc) and moving to next-gen systems takes a lot of R&D money they are unwilling to spend (cuts into profits) plus runs a high risk of nixing the vendor lockin (cuts even more heavily into profits)

        4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

          "A "broken" fusion reactor is cold, and has very low levels of radioactivity"

          In support of this, consider the fact that every fusion experiment so far attempted has produced a broken fusion reactor as its only tangible outcome and in each case the experimentors have simply rebuilt the bits and tried again. (I don't see that happening at Chernobyl.)

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

        I'm not a physician

        I think you mean physicist. A physician deal with different sorts of piles.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

        Maybe we should always build them underground ?

        I reckon if we screw up, that will more or less happen automatically anyway :)

      4. Martin Maloney
        FAIL

        Re: "super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star"

        @ Pascal Monett

        "Um, no. I'm not a physician..."

        BWA-HA-HA-HA

    4. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: I Wonder....

      Insufficient materiel - the amount of hot deuterium in any of the proposed designs is too small to have any very large scale impact even if it suddenly all fused at once. (Even a production sized multi GW reactor would only have a few ounces at most of hot plasma as you get 93.6 GWh of energy from the fusion of 1kg of deuterium.)

      If you want something that could produce an earth shattering KABOOM - an antimatter reactor (if mankind learns how to convert matter to antimatter) might be a better candidate.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: I Wonder....

        Anti-matter power generators are really inefficient but massively powerful batteries. You'll use more energy making the anti-matter, perhaps using fusion power. Probably in a automated facility in space well away from human habitation. Then a space-ship has to carry a tiny fraction of the mass for power, compared to a Fusion powered ship.

        Storing anti-matter safely is an interesting problem.

        1. elDog Silver badge

          Re: I Wonder....

          Would anti-matter have anti-gravity forces - at least the earthlike gravitational forces? Would it be really hard to get that spaceship to land on Earth, fighting the gravity/anti-gravity forces? Oh well - I think I should have stayed awake in my 3rd grade physics lesson...

      2. davidp231

        Re: I Wonder....

        Would that be a MtM* reactor?

        *Marvin the Martian

    5. Paul Shirley

      Re: I Wonder....

      We don't live in a deep enough gravity well to confine the atmosphere enough to sustain fusion. The rest of the planet is waste material from stellar explosions and massively harder to ignite. The iron won't fuse at any temperature. Pretty safe from a runaway reactor...

      1. Graham Dawson
        Boffin

        @paul Re: I Wonder....

        Hate to nitpick (actually when I'm right love to nitpick) but iron will fuse quite happily with enough energy and pressure. What it can't do is produce more energy in that fusion than is consumed by the process which, as you rightly say, kills the whole reaction stone-dead in short order.

        Either way, earth isn't going to turn into a flaming ball of self-sustained nuclear fusion any time soon.

        1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: @paul I Wonder....

          Hate to nitpick (actually when I'm right love to nitpick) but iron will fuse quite happily with enough energy and pressure

          Oh, the cobalty.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I Wonder....@ Pronounce

      You don't suppose it might be possible to lose containment on super-heated plasma that turns the Earth into another star, do you?

      You're not a member of the German Green Party, are you, by any chance? If not, I'd join now, because your sort of thinking will fit a treat with their Calvinist eco-guilt complex.

      In a few years time, some shitty coalition government will be formed in Germany with the Greens as a minority partner, and they once again can wield their "golden ticket" to ban something. A few scaremongering headlines in Bild, and some more measured but still fearful coverage in Der Spiegel, wind up the Green Party, and they'll be pushing to ban this dreadful tech that might one day ignite the planet.

      1. fritsd
        Meh

        Re: I Wonder....@ Pronounce

        The Greens don't say that nuclear fusion is scary; the Greens complain that nuclear fusion (ITER) is expensive and unproven:

        http://www.sven-giegold.de/2015/forschungsreaktor-iter-eu-parlament-verweigert-dem-rat-der-eu-mitgliedsstaaten-haushaltsentlastung/

        "Die EU sollte die Forschungsgelder in erneuerbare Energien und Energie-Effizienz stecken. Das schützt das Klima, schafft Innovation und zukunftsfähige Jobs. "

        where they don't see ITER as "erneuerbare Energien", obviously.

        1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: I Wonder....@ Pronounce

          The Greens appear to be talking out of both sides of their mouths; just like your average Congress critter. All fusion technology is currently unproven which is way the work is called research. Unfortunately, the engineering challenges as well as the scientific challenges means some of the research projects are going to be pricey at some point in time. There is an old American advert tag line that is appropriate here: "Pay me now or pay me later."

    7. oldcoder

      Re: I Wonder....

      Nope. The plasma goes cold the instant the plasma makes contact with walls of the container... and the fusion goes out.

    8. Emmeran

      Re: I Wonder....

      So long as the world ends after I've shuffled off of this coil who really cares?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can make fusion come out my arse after many pints of Stellarator and a Vindaloo - I claim my five pounds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are such an unhealthy fellow.

    2. Captain DaFt

      "I can make fusion come out my arse after many pints of Stellarator and a Vindaloo - I claim my five pounds."

      Lighting farts does not count as fusion.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Lighting farts does not count as fusion."

        A Farnsworth fusor does though. Just don't expect it to generate more power than is put in.

  8. Alister Silver badge

    During the experiment, sensors recorded the plasma's temperature at 50 million degrees Celsius (90 million degrees Fahrenheit). That's more than three times as hot as the core of the sun, which NASA estimates is a toasty 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit) – although the outer atmosphere of the sun is much, much hotter.

    Please forgive what may be a stupid question, but why is it necessary to create temperatures hotter than the Sun's core? I would have thought that one of the goals of fusion experiments would be to create self-sustaining plasma at the lowest possible temperatures.

    Is it the case that the lack of an equivalent to the gravity conditions at the Sun's core mean that we have to create higher temperatures to get the plasma to form?

    1. LaeMing Silver badge

      I think your last paragraph has the gist of it - we need higher temperatures because we can't produce the pressures required for lower ones.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Yes

      Fusion requires that you bang the rocks together really hard.

      You can either do that by physically squashing them together, eg by gravity, or by making them go really fast and hope some of them hit each other.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re the stupid question

      Put it this way - the sun is huge. The pressure in the core and consequent density of the plasma is equally fucking huge so the chances of things banging together AND fusioning is really high even at the lower temperature.

      On planet earth (I used to live there once) we can only get small amounts of relatively vapour like plasma and the only way to get a usable amount of fusion is to get it really really really hot so they bang together more and stand a higher likely hood of fusioning.

      Its really really hard to do and may not be feasible but like all good science should produce some fantastic by products - I'm hoping for some decent coils for my next set of headphones!

    4. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      The fusion rate in the sun is VERY SLOW - in the core the energy production is well under 1kW per cubic metre. To get the fusion rate up to something the is useful for a human power plant, two things are needed

      (1) Deuterium instead of ordinary hydrogen and (2) much higher temperatures than in the core of the sun.

      (Low temperature fusion is possible but all efforts to date consume far more energy than they produce - see the fusor and muon catalysed fusion for examples.)

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Boffin

        Fun fact: per weight the sun generates about as much heat as a well going heap of compost (I think 300 Watt per ton).

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Compost

          Though a star lasts rather longer than a Compost heap.

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

            Re: Compost

            Depends on the size of compost heap. Indeed a compost heap with same mass as sun should last longer than the sun, as it's constituent elements mostly have heavier nuclei. Not sure though, still collecting leaves.

            1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Compost

              My experiments with heaps of the plentiful beech leaves in my garden suggest that a sun-size heap of these things would produce no heat and last for ever.

        2. DougS Silver badge
          Alien

          So you're saying the Sun is essentially an 865,000 mile wide ball of garbage? Good thing smell doesn't travel through space!

    5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "Please forgive what may be a stupid question, but why is it necessary to create temperatures hotter than the Sun's core?"

      The rate of energy production at the Sun's core is quite astonishingly low. Wikipedia notes "At the center of the Sun, fusion power is estimated by models to be about 276.5 watts/m3.". That's about a tenth of a kettle from a volume that would hardly fit on your kitchen worktop. (The same article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_core, notes that it then takes about 170,000 years for the energy to escape, but that's not relevant to the current discussion -- merely a fun factoid.)

      I imagine that most physics graduates would guess a much larger figure, so your question is not stupid at all.

      As for the answer, I would imagine that by raising the temperature you raise the reaction rate exponentially. (That's how these thermodynamic scenarios usually play out.) Therefore, to achieve your (correct) objective of a self-sustaining rate of energy production at the lowest temperature, you need to be a little hotter.

      The plasma, by the way, forms at a few *thousand* degrees because plasma is just matter so hot that the electrons fall off.

  9. Ali Um Bongo
    Thumb Up

    Well Done the Chinese!

    "A great bunch of lads!"

    Sad to see that, a dozen or more comments in, I seem to be the first to actually applaud the technical achievement.

    Seems whatever China does, the commentardery will still mostly consist of; reds under the bed paranoia, snidey insinuations that they stole someone else's idea, or dire predictions about what will happen when it inevitably falls to bits, or blows up.

    The Western brain-washing is strong in these ones!

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

      Re: Well Done the Chinese!

      Fair comment. The Chinese seemed to have pulled level and are overtaking the rest of the world in so many areas.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Well Done the Chinese!

        "The Chinese seemed to have pulled level and are overtaking the rest of the world in so many areas."

        They were never far behind to start with and in a lot of instances it's been a matter of regaining abilities which China used to have that got lost over decades of instability, wars, invasions, etc (the last 200 years have not been kind to the Middle Kingdom)

        At the start of the industrial revolution, China and the UK's abilities and scientific development were about the same - if anything China was well in advance of the UK. The difference is that the UK had easy access to coal whilst chinese coal was hellaciously difficult to transport from where it is (far inland and behind several large mountain ranges/impassable rivers) to where it was needed (the coastal provinces).

        I can't see China picking wars. It's never fared well in expansionist ones and the market for chinese technology (especially nuclear reactors) is thousands of times larger in poorer countries than it could ever be in the West so it's not in their interest. Most of the sabre rattling is simply a reminder that the dragon exists and invading would be a bad idea (unlike russian sabre rattling, which is looking more and more like desperate plays to keep support of the russian electorate whilst their economy is on the verge of tanking again - or perhaps already has)

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Well Done the Chinese!

      Yes, I did notice the same.

      Reminds me of an American astroboffin who had to say, in a program I had a look at on YouTube, that most of his students are Chinese. I don't think he was pissed off in any way but wanted to send a message to the American people.

      Then there is Dr. Michio Kaku, an American who also has a message:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrE9z1JFT1Y

      I would advice Brits to listen carefully too. Then, of course, China was an advanced country long before Europe.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Well Done the Chinese!

      What do you expect? What have the Chinese ever done for us? Have they invaded the Americas and wiped out the aboriginal population? Have they turned the Middle East into a zone of conflict with millions of refugees, to the enormous benefit of their armaments industry? Have they sent missionaries to Africa to tell people to kill gay people and not use contraceptives? Have they invaded Russia and killed twenty million people?

      They have had their internal disasters - the Cultural Revolution - they have invaded Tibet, which is a bit of a 50-50 (Tibetan Buddhism was pretty horrible for 99% of the population.) But compared to Britain and the US they have been incredibly good neighbours. Of course they have to be bad mouthed. British politicians were extremely dismissive of the US in the 19th century.

      (And that's before we get to the highly paid Apple employees and shareholders shitting themselves over Huawei and Xiaomi. It's pretty clear some of the analysts are factoring that into their predictions, which is one reason why the share price has been falling.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well Done the Chinese!

        Err you obviously know nothing of China's history.

        China's enemies is and has always been it's own citizens. The number of deaths documented civil wars, prosecutions and genocides through internal struggles is more than you think.

        1. Elmer Phud

          Re: Well Done the Chinese!

          We had a go at buggering up China - that business where we tried to persuade the Chinese to produce opium by setting light to farms where folks objected, sometimes the Brits even let the people out first.

  10. Emo

    It's that black orb in the field I'm worried about..

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ali Um Bongo

    You're either a China government affiliate or an idiot or both.

    Yeah form your own opinions people, by looking at facts that you can verify and then look at all the lies the Chinese government spouts. As a general rule, never believe what a Chinese official say.

    Here are a handful of examples of the lies they spout:

    1) Financial statsitics and data (know why stock markets have been going down recently? They finally realised government published numbers does not reflect realities)

    2) Chinese government official kidnappings

    3) Chinese interpretation of "laws" and human rights.

    4) Chinese crack down on groups they deem "offensive" or "dangerous"

    5) Chinese crack down on LAWYERS standing up for the little people and fighting against the government on human rights issues.

    6) Chinese commercial espionage in western technology companies.

    7) Chinese blatent disregard of FOREIGN intellectual properties.

    People have every bloody right to be suspicious and take a large pinch of salt at what any Chinese government affilate say. That is their style, their track record is proof enough.

    Before you go on about how great China is, yeah, they are great, the people that is, we do have the most population in this world, some of us are bound to be great! The government and government affilates? Not at all.

    I'd much rather believe statistics from independent NGOs published in the west than take what any Chinese government officials or affilated institutions or companies at face value TYVM.

    The Chinese government works in a black box, they control through deceit and fear. I personally take offence from your comment as you type of idiots thinks everything the Chinese (government) is doing is fine and dandy.

    I'm speaking as a Chinese inside China and not as "Uncle Sam" or whatever non-sensical "foreign" influenced entity the Chinese likes to make up and blame and I'm telling you no, it's not ok. I wish western governments grows some bloody backbone and stand their ground against China for once and not just look at the money and sign contracts to the devil.

    BTW the Chinese government realised they've got a "perception" problem from western countries, or what they'd like to call "PR", which is why they've begun media campaigns on the Internet, not too disimilar to ISIS, to try and influence western audience's perception of China. They have armies of social media sweat-shop workers just to find media like this and make shit up and boost artificial likes and dislikes.

    How do I know? I used to work with them and contract them for the advertising industry.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      @Ali Um Bongo

      You're either a China government affiliate or an idiot or both.

      Yeah form your own opinions people, by looking at facts that you can verify and then look at all the lies the Chinese government spouts. As a general rule, never believe what a Chinese official say.

      Here are a handful of examples of the lies they spout:

      1) Financial statsitics and data (know why stock markets have been going down recently? They finally realised government published numbers does not reflect realities)

      You mean like the deregulation of the finance industry and the resulting housing asset bubble in the West, which was denied by Government economists right up to the 2007-8 crisis?

      2) Chinese government official kidnappings

      3) Chinese interpretation of "laws" and human rights.

      4) Chinese crack down on groups they deem "offensive" or "dangerous"

      5) Chinese crack down on LAWYERS standing up for the little people and fighting against the government on human rights issues.

      I'm personally prepared to believe these are all worse than they are in the West, but all those unrecorded deaths due to police shootings in the US, the anti-Muslim propaganda and some of the legal cases due to religion-obsessed prosecutors in the US do suggest it is mainly one of degree.

      6) Chinese commercial espionage in western technology companies.

      As compared to US ditto, plus their tendency to buy any foreign companies which have superior technology.

      7) Chinese blatent disregard of FOREIGN intellectual properties.

      This basically translates as "daring to think differently from the US". But once upon a time the US was the world's worst IP pirate - when it was growing.

      People have every bloody right to be suspicious and take a large pinch of salt at what any Chinese government affilate say. That is their style, their track record is proof enough. - You might be able to believe a Swiss or a Costa Rican government official, but beyond that I think my correction applies.

      The Chinese government works in a black box, they control through deceit and fear. I personally take offence from your comment as you type of idiots thinks everything the Chinese (government) is doing is fine and dandy.

      I don't think the OP was saying what you think. Chinese governments tend to be pretty detestable. So do Russian ones. American and British politicians tend to be pretty detestable too. But as we have seen everywhere with politics, it's like doing the washing up without detergent - the scum rises to the top. The question is, are the Chinese past WW2 and the Cultural Revolution and making serious progress? You would have to be an idiot not to think that they are.

      1. MarBru
        Linux

        The analysis is fundamentally correct.

        I would add that Black-Box types of governance are not new or rare in history. Not all them dure and bleak autocracies. The Republic of Venice being one example.

        Fusion technology is just an example of the potential and failure of our species. As we, collectively, have managed to expand our reach and influence the destiny of the planet, our ability of do so efficiently or rationally has not.

        When talking about the West, china, USA etc we all make the mistake to consider that any solutions have now to be global to be significant.

        The fact that one Country accumulate the means to destroy the world rother than another is marginal to the rational resolve of not doing it.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "The fact that one Country accumulate the means to destroy the world rother than another is marginal to the rational resolve of not doing it."

          Perhaps, but you must also consider the philosophies of those countries, particularly in regards to warfare. For example, are we taught to accept inevitable defeat gracefully or to find a way to take the enemy with us instead if all else fails? Are we taught that there's something beyond our everyday lives so we become willing to gamble on annihilation because losing still means something to look forward to? That's why MAD Doctrine was always such an iffy thing: it depended on all sides caring about their continued existence. The moment someone comes along that doesn't think that way, the whole works falls apart.

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          "The Republic of Venice being one example."

          Singapore is a modern Venetian Republic. An oligarchy can work very well, and for a long time, so long as it delivers economic prosperity, low corruption and an effective and honest judicial system. Rich secure people don't usually tend to make rebels.

          China has problems with the second and third points but they seem to be improving. The US and Britain seem to be going backwards on both (English law is perhaps now the most unaffordable in the world so effectively ordinary people are denied justice. It makes little difference if you have to bribe a judge or bankrupt yourself on £500 an hour solicitors.)

          The Chinese government has to deliver on prosperity and that means R&D. British politicians are currently spending vast amounts of time on a referendum and trying to work out how many poor people they can safely piss off to keep Murdoch and Rothermere happy, instead of addressing things like energy and food security. It's going to bite us on the bum, but hopefully not too long before I'm dead.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Joke

      @AC

      Much like the rest of the world then. Not so sure about the icon. And this was about technology not politics, and we can mention a Tokamak without mentioning Putin too.

    3. Ali Um Bongo
      Facepalm

      The Thoughts of Chairman Wow.

      *"...You're either a China government affiliate or an idiot or both..."*

      Must be a bit of both. I even forgot to mention all those wars and invasions of other nations started by China, over the past few decades.

      And, the way they've recently taken to investing billions into helping African nations improve their infrastructure –instead of bleeding them dry with arms sales makes my blood boil.

      Evil Commie bastards!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I find this one rather amusing, though:

      7) Chinese blatent disregard of FOREIGN intellectual properties.

      I know they like to bury this, but the American industry was kickstarted in the exact same way as the Chinese are doing now: by ignoring any semblance of recognition of intellectual property rights.

      The US complaining about the Chinese disregard for IP is thus an amusing, slightly time shifted version of the pot calling the kettle black.

    5. Captain DaFt

      "Yeah form your own opinions people, by looking at facts that you can verify and then look at all the lies the Chinese government spouts. As a general rule, never believe what a Chinese official say."

      All good points.

      But... If you substitute "American" for "Chinese" in all your statements, They mostly still ring true.

  12. Mikel

    Mr. Fusion era

    It's taking a long time to get there, but I hope to see it in my lifetime. It would make so many things so much easier. It will be disruptive though - which is the most productive kind of progress and for some the most painful.

    As to who gets there first, it doesn't matter. A few years later everyone else will have it.

    1. casaloco

      Re: Mr. Fusion era

      "A few years later everyone else will have it." - of course they will. Chinese companies will be producing knock-offs and selling them on eBay within months. We all know how this works. I'm waiting until the Chinese start producing copies of the space shuttle. £99.99 including delivery...

  13. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

    So...

    In an other ten years we'll have neergy too cheap to meter?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: So...

      No because you still need a distribution grid. (http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/customers/about-your-energy-bill/the-breakdown-of-an-energy-bill.html)

      This was true even in the 1950s when some ignorant twat devised that particular sound-bite. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_cheap_to_meter)

  14. Camilla Smythe

    China! Shows! The! World! How! Fusion! Is! Done!

    Uhm.. No they didn't.

    Doing 'Fusion' involves Doing 'Fusion'.. not getting things arbitrarily 'hot' for some misplaced definition of 'hot'.

    "On Friday the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced that its boffins had created the 102-second plasma burn in its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) at Hefei, capital city of east China's Anhui Province."

    No they didn't fucking achieve a 'Plasma Burn' they just maintained some shit at what they thought was 50 Million Kelvin for 'a bit' and then Suddenly Nothing Fucking Happened.

    1. Camilla Smythe

      Re: China! Shows! The! World! How! Fusion! Is! Done!

      Let me put it another way in order to demonstrate that I do not have a clue.

      You wank about getting your Plasma up to Ignition 'whatever' and cannot even control that shit in order to achieve it and then you expect to be able to control it when it 'blows up'.

      Hah Hah

      Hah Hah Hah

      ... Then you want to tag a Steam Generator on its back end?

      ROFL^Google^FaceBook^LinkedIn

  15. John Geek

    I remember reading a few years ago, the chinese *BOUGHT* this technology from the UCSD fusion project, who'd run out of money to build this next step.

  16. annodomini2

    50 Million pfft...

    1.8Bn

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/04/fusion_power_temp_record/

  17. Stjalodbaer
    Pint

    Sir, no utopias here, sir!

    Elliot Montroll (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_Waters_Montroll) has some interesting points on why fusion is hard in section 4 of his address on tech change "Dynamics of Sociotechnical Systems" (http://projecteuclid.org/download/pdf_1/euclid.bams/1183553669) .

  18. Clive Galway

    50 Million C?

    The photo says 50, 000, 000 K

    Is that not Kelvin?

    1. MT Field

      Re: 50 Million C?

      It's close enough

  19. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    120 seconds? Two whole minutes before the pilot light went out?

    This will be a blow to the bloke in our office who insists that fusion power is a reality and has been for years.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      He's right - all life on Earth is currently running off fusion power, either directly or as stored energy.

      The current technical problem is to build a much smaller and more convenient generator which (a) we can control and (b) is less than 140Gm away.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        I recall the energy stored in the Earth's core didn't come from the Sun but rather was captured during its formation.

        1. CarbonLifeForm

          Re: Bah!

          True, and/or from radioactive decay.

          Some people even claim that there may be in fact sustained fission reactions occurring near the Earth's core, not just radioactive decay - a fire, not just a smoldering heap. Who knows.

          I am a much bigger fan of thorium fission than of fusion. We know how to do thorium, and it is in so many ways a better nuclear fuel than uranium. The perfect should never be the enemy of the good.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Bah!

            Knowing how to do it doesn't necessarily mean knowing how to do it right. No one's been able to do it yet on a large scale, maintaining proper purity is an issue over longer periods, plus there's the fact it still produces weaponizable uranium as a byproduct. And while the perfect can be an enemy of good, it's also sometimes the only thing saving your butt. One slip and BOOM! Game Over Forever.

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