Homepage Forums Economic Forums Focus Fusion, Deflation and GDP.

This topic contains 43 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Duke Leto 7 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #10476

    dennisp
    Member

    Sure it was gradual but at this point, there just aren’t that many coal jobs left. 80K isn’t that much. In September 2008 alone we lost twice that many jobs.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/04/business/economy/04jobs.html

    My concern with the idea of LPPX doing it all isn’t that they lack credit, but that they lack manufacturing expertise. Economically, I don’t see the fundamental difference between one firm building devices vs. a hundred firms doing it, except that the hundred firms are likely to be more efficient due to competition.

    It’s nice to think of one company making trillions and devoting all the money to the good of humanity. But FF would solve energy, climate, and water, and with a few other predictable advances, food and mineral resources too, without assuming any altruism at all. Compared to those, issues like Glass-Steagal are pretty minor. You’re also assuming that Lerner actually agrees with you on all these issues.

    But I think it’s safe to say that if FF works Lerner will make quite a lot of money from licensing, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he started something like the Gates Foundation to put it to use. But if he spent it all on hookers and blow, I’d still be pretty darn happy at how it all turned out.

    #10477

    Duke Leto
    Member

    Well. NOBODY has manufacturing experience with Dense Plasma Focii. (Not Focuses, Focii, until someone proves me wrong.) And there exist consulting corporations that specialize in helping other corporations put in infrastructure rapidly. KPMG, Booz Allen Hamilton and others spring to mind. LPPX could also for example partner with GE to design the manufacturing process in a hurry.

    As to Lerner’s politics see the Activism section of his Wiki article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Lerner#Activism

    I think there’s enough overlap with some of my desired policies and his to assume a certain amount of additional overlap. Aaron would know better than I.

    #10480

    Ivy Matt
    Participant

    “Focii” is incorrect in Latin. The singular form of focii would be *focius, which as far as I am aware is not a Latin word. (Oddly enough, the Latin word [em]ſocius[/em] turns up in a Google search for “focius”, but it’s nothing more than the word [em]socius[/em] in antiquated orthography.) The correct Latin plural of focus is focī. Of course, that just covers the nominative case. See here if you want to know how to use the singular and plural forms in all six Latin cases.

    As a Latinate English word, however, “focus” has two alternative plural forms: “focuses” and “foci” (usually pronounced “foh-sye”, sometimes “foh-kye”, neither of which is a native Latin pronunciation). I find it interesting that some English-speakers insist on the use of the “correct” (i.e. Latin) plural forms for Latinate English words that end in “-us” and, with somewhat less frequency, “-ex”, “-a”, and “-um” in the nominative case, when it never occurs to them to insist that the correct plural form of “animal” is “animalia”; that the “dense plasma focus” fires, but one should fire the “dense plasma focum”; or that the correct plural form of the word “sauna”, should one ever need to use it, is “saunat”.

    Regarding the rest, it is my opinion—reasonably informed by history, I hope—that the only thing that will ever cause any monopoly to be somewhat benevolent is strong competition. As fusion power is a (pre-)nascent field, strong competition is probably inevitable at first anyway. If LPP doesn’t license their design, I expect other companies will find ways to work around their patents, or to produce fusion power using different methods, before long. Once it is proven possible to get net power from fusion, investment money will pour in to fund all sorts of different techniques. The more LPP tries to maintain control over the growing market, the smaller its share of that market will be.

    #10481

    Duke Leto
    Member

    OK, I’m proved wrong, foci it is then.

    To my understanding Lerner and his team is keeping an iron grip on the patents. So I’m not sure what effect, say for instance, China just up and producing FF generators on their own would have. Aaron I’m sure has a plan in place for that.

    As to Fusion alternatives emerging, I’d like to know what they’re going to be. Bussard’s Polywell? Needs a steam turbine. The reverse whatsamathingy Paul Allen is invested in? Awfully bulky. Conventional D-T? Awfully messy and STILL needs a steam turbine.

    What else can you run with a profit margin of a mil and still make millions? Show me an emergent technology that is going to be able to compete with FF on cost and I’ll take the threat of fusion technology proliferation more seriously.

    #10482

    zapkitty
    Member

    Duke Leto wrote: OK, I’m proved wrong, foci it is then.

    As to Fusion alternatives emerging, I’d like to know what they’re going to be. Bussard’s Polywell? Needs a steam turbine.

    Errr… Last I knew EMC2 was working towards aneutronic fusion of Boron 11, same as LPP. Direct conversion, no turbines. Did somerhing change?

    #10483

    Duke Leto
    Member

    zapkitty wrote:

    OK, I’m proved wrong, foci it is then.

    As to Fusion alternatives emerging, I’d like to know what they’re going to be. Bussard’s Polywell? Needs a steam turbine.

    Errr… Last I knew EMC2 was working towards aneutronic fusion of Boron 11, same as LPP. Direct conversion, no turbines. Did somerhing change?

    Interesting. How would it work? Wouldn’t the positive ions just fly off in all directions and not be captured by the superconducting rings? The FF style decelerator I understand, but in this case the Polywell would have to be both a accelerator and decelerator and I don’t understand how that would be possible/ Please enlighten me.

    #10486

    Brian H
    Member

    As for the patents issue, my understanding has been that the intention is to maintain control so that it can’t be buried or squelched, and that licenses for manufacture will be available at very reasonable cost to all comers. Those licensees would then have the full responsibility for local regulatory issues, marketing, installation, etc. IMO, it’s perfect.

    #10491

    AaronB
    Member

    Duke Leto wrote: So I’m not sure what effect, say for instance, China just up and producing FF generators on their own would have. Aaron I’m sure has a plan in place for that.

    We applied for international patents, including China, so we’re trying to reduce that possibility. We’ve covered the major markets of the world, but that won’t stop someone from trying to circumvent us. When the time comes, we’ll apply for more patents and take legal action against patent infringers. It’s just part of the game.

    #10496

    zapkitty
    Member

    Duke Leto wrote:

    OK, I’m proved wrong, foci it is then.

    As to Fusion alternatives emerging, I’d like to know what they’re going to be. Bussard’s Polywell? Needs a steam turbine.

    Errr… Last I knew EMC2 was working towards aneutronic fusion of Boron 11, same as LPP. Direct conversion, no turbines. Did somerhing change?

    Interesting. How would it work? Wouldn’t the positive ions just fly off in all directions and not be captured by the superconducting rings? The FF style decelerator I understand, but in this case the Polywell would have to be both a accelerator and decelerator and I don’t understand how that would be possible/ Please enlighten me.

    Getting power from direct conversion of alpha particles to usable current has been researched since the 1960’s, at least, mostly in the concept of small, very long lived “batteries” and spacecraft power supplies.

    Apparently Polywell intends to use the “Venetian Blind” concept which was posited as an addon to neutronic fusion reactors in order to recover additional energy.

    http://www.askmar.com/Fusion_files/Venetian Blind.pdf

    Forum software doesn’t like the space in the url, copy and paste.

    #10497

    KeithPickering
    Participant

    Duke Leto wrote:
    OK, tomorrow FF generators are perfected and instantly the average cost energy in five years all of the energy in the US is Focus Fusion based and costs 0.1 cent a kWh. That means the total consumer spending on energy is now $26 Billion. Therefore the total GDP is now abruptly $12 Trillion.

    We have caused more deflation in the middle of a depression and a sharp contraction in GDP.

    In other words, “Congratulations Eric Lerner, you have with the [em]best of intentions[/em] just caused the [em]biggest economic contraction[/em] in US History.”

    You were doing just fine up until this point. But now there are a couple of problems with your analysis. First, FF coming online isn’t just waving a magic wand. It will take time, and during that time markets will adjust. So the effect isn’t immediate.

    Second, and more importantly, you’re forgetting the Jevons effect (aka Jevons paradox) in which it is shown that more efficient use of energy increases demand. We can expect this to happen here too. In other words, there’s a lot of useful stuff people aren’t doing now because the cost of energy is too high, that they would immediately start to do if the cost of energy were lower. (Desalination of seawater comes to mind, but I’m sure you can think of dozens of other examples.) So with decreasing energy costs, sure, all those people working in coal fired powerplants will be out of a job; but that will be more than made up for by all those other new industries that spring up in the new, low-cost-energy economy. And that’s where the time to come online is also important, because it will allow time for those new industries to get going before the coal fired plants get turned off.

    #10510

    vansig
    Member

    Governments can control inflation (and deflation) by manipulating the money supply. To prevent deflation, they can always just print more money.

    #10513

    zapkitty
    Member

    vansig wrote: Governments can control inflation (and deflation) by manipulating the money supply. To prevent deflation, they can always just print more money.

    … but that would show that government can be effective sans plutocrats, and said same will not permit such a demonstration now that they’ve openly seized power.

    You’re talking about a group that just had their puppets in the White House and on Capitol Hill deeply slash spending and thus [em]reduce [/em]demand in the middle of an economic catastrophe that demands the exact opposite.

    Not because they don’t know better, but because the upper tier of the elites regards the relatively minor effects of the recession on their immense holdings as well worth enduring in order to cement their grip on power. And, for those who haven’t noticed, this level of corruption is not limited to the U.S.A.

    #10514

    dennisp
    Member

    This discussion is veering pretty far away from fusion and risks getting all political and stuff. But I’ll mention that if you give new printed money to people and they bury it in their backyards, it won’t have any effect. That’s essentially what the banks have done for the past couple years.

    The whole idea of “printing” money is kind of misleading, because with fractional reserve banking most of the money supply comes from debt. If banks must have 10% reserves, they can loan out ten times as much as you print, and when those loans are paid off or default, the money supply shrinks. You can print more money to give to the banks, but if they don’t lend, it doesn’t do anything.

    Japan struggled with deflation for decades.

    #10515

    KeithPickering
    Participant

    Which is why, if you want to increase the money supply, you don’t give it to banks, rich people, or anyone else who won’t spend it. You give it to poor people, who will spend every dime.

    Increasing GDP doesn’t require increasing the money supply. It requires increasing spending. In fact, GDP is spending in the real world for real things, from three sources: consumers, government, and businesses. To increase GDP, you need to increase spending in the real economy (i.e., the economy of real things, as opposed to the paper economy, which is where bank accounts, loans, and the stock market live). Basically, anything that moves money from the paper economy into the real economy increases GDP (consumer loans are a good example). And anything that moves money from the real economy into the paper economy will decrease GDP. (Paying back a loan is a good example.)

    That’s also why taxing the poor is bad for GDP (the government will spend less of that money in the real economy that the poor person would), while taxing the rich is good for the GDP (the government will spend more of that money in the real economy than the rich person would.)

    #10528

    Lerner
    Participant

    This is a really good and needed discussion! A few comments:
    First as Aaron says, the markets don’t exactly need us to create a downward economic spiral—they are doing it all by themselves, thank you! And what exactly will happen with this process in the next three of four years depends on a lot of political and economic events. FF won’t be able to influence that until we have a working prototype generator—not before 2014. I am sure that any announcement of “just” scientific feasibility will be shrugged off by the markets.
    Second, there can’t possibly be a monopoly in focus fusion no matter how many patents we have and we do not promise any such goal to LPP’s investors. We do expect to have a substantial share of the market because we will have the technical lead and that will be enough. Of course LPP would have a big impact on prices since, if we do have a major market share, no one will be able to price way above us. From our standpoint as a company, pricing way below the current market makes sense. You can’t penetrate an enormously established and huge market like energy without a really large price advantage in any case.
    But no matter how we draw up licenses, how much of the saving in cost will be passed to final consumers is ultimately going to be a political battle. If people insist that the saving be passed along and organize to make that happen, it will, but not otherwise.
    So the second question is: is that good if it happens? Certainly, yes. The key thing in the world economy today is WHO gets the money—the many or the few? Right now, you can view a lot of the economy as a set of giant funnels sucking money from the many to the few—the ultra-high cost of oil, way above the cost of production is one of those funnels, a big one, about 7-10% of GDP. Others are the debt—all debts;, the bailouts of the banking system, coupled with slashing social services, etc. The money that goes to the few does not come back—it disappears into the black hole of bits and bytes—invested in derivatives, credit default swaps and so on. As Keith says, it goes to the paper economy—except there isn’t even much paper involved any more. (Sure, some money gets reinvested back in real things—people selling their Exxon stock to invest in LPP!–but it is a relative trickle.)
    So if we block up one of those funnels by slashing the price of energy, then people in the real, physical economy—the many—have 10% more money to spend on everything else. That creates tons of jobs, far more than are lost in reducing fossil fuel production. It is not the many who are hoarding money—they spend whatever they have because they must to keep afloat. It is the few and their financial institutions that are hoarding. Slashing energy prices will cut off some of their supply. (Obviously there will be a lot of other consequences, but this post is long enough.)

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