DOES THIS RING THE BELL?February 19, 2008
A reader of my books and visitor to this site recently shared an article with me. It seems General Fusion has come up with a novel idea to achieve controlled fusion reactions without the need for multi-million dollar Tokamaks and all the other financial gigantism that characterizes government-funded and big corporation-backed fusion research.
In an article on their website, General Fusion says it will "build a ~3 meter diameter spherical tank filled with liquid metal (lead-lithium mixture)." If this is beginning to sound a bit like the Nazi Bell device, hang on, it gets better, for this lead-lithium liquid metal mixture will then be "spun to open up a vertical cylindrical cavity in the center of the sphere (vortex)." At this point "two spheromaks (magnetized plasma 'smoke ring') are injected from each end of the cavity. They merge in the center to form a single magnetized plasma target." Does this ring the bell?
The parallels with the Nazi device are amazing. But then comes the disappointment. We are informed that this sphere is surrounded by steam driven metal pistons (no kidding!) which are accelerated to velocities of 50 meters per second. Impacting the outside of the sphere, they create a spherical shock wave which then drives through the liquid metal, eventually creating a strong shock wave as it nears the center and collapses the cavity of plasma. When this happens, "the conditions for fusion are briefly met" and a small burst of fast neutrons is created, which are then slowed down by the surrounding liquid metal which, of course, heats up the metal. "A heat exchanger transfers that heat to a standard steam cycle turbo-alternator to produce electricity...the lithium in the liquid metal finally absorbs the neutrons and produces tritium that is extracted and used as fuel for...."
Now I have to pause, and draw the reader's attention to how peculiarly phrased the last part of the sentence is: "...used for subsequent shots." (The entire article may be found at www.generalfusion.
com/t5_general_fusion.php) Subsequent shots of the device, presumably, but subsequent shots of H-bombs certainly wouldn't be excluded from the logical implications of the language.... but I digress.
What's really of interest here is the promising beginning of the article, and the peculiar resemblance of its basic principles to the Nazi Bell, and the disappointing end of it. The article has a vague copyright date of "2003-2007", which would place it in an interesting context vis a vis all the books concerning the Nazi Bell that began to appear at more or less the same time frame: Nick Cook's famous HUNT FOR ZERO POINT, Geoffrey Brooks' HITLER'S TERROR WEAPONS, and of course, Igor Witkowski's magisterial TRUTH ABOUT THE WUNDERWAFFE, and finally my own REICH OF THE BLACK SUN and SS BROTHERHOOD OF THE BELL. The terminus ante quem of this date, 2003, would make it at least fall in the same time frame as Cook's HUNT FOR ZERO POINT, and the terminus post quem, 2007, would place it AFTER a period when the other books had come out. And of course, it should be remembered that Witkowski actually published all his Bell research in Poland years prior to Nick Cook's HUNT FOR ZERO POINT. So it would APPEAR that someone, somewhere, was at least thinking along similar lines, perhaps even being influenced by the Nazi project.
But it is not this which disturbs about the article's claims for this technology. For readers of any of the above books on the Bell, there will readily be apparent a number of important differences between the two technologies, not the least of which is that the Nazi device appears to be much more highly rationalized. And most importantly, this new technology appears - at least as described in the article - to fall far short in SOME respects even to Philo Farnsworth's "plasmator" device of the early 1960s, for which CLEAR patents can be found, and whose principles of operation utilizing virtual anodes and cathodes as an ingenious containment mechanism for the fusion plasma, managed to achieve stable fusion reactions for over 30 seconds in a device no bigger than a softball! Of course, we know what happened to Farnsworth's patents: they were bought out by ITT....and the technology was never heard from again! It does not take a rocket scientist, however, to see what big corporate money and an appropriately "scaled up" version of Farnsworth's plasmator device might have accomplished.
All of which places this article in a most curious light. Clearly, some of the thinking behind the technology is rationalized rather well. But some aspects of it just seem...well....silly. Does one really want, for example, to keep a locomotive engineer handy in case one's fusion reactor breaks down? And clearly, someone IS thinking along similar lines as the Nazis did when they rationalized their Bell device. And can this clumsy mechanical method of acoustic compression of the plasma core REALLY cause that tiny little explosion and burst of neutrons? If so, then might similar means be advanced for creating much LARGER thermonuclear detonations, all notably achieved without the use of an atom bomb to set off the high heat needed to do it? Let us recall, after all, WHY the Nazis were doing it: they were after not only field propulsion but a WEAPON...
....No....this may or may not ring the Bell, for there are aspects that appear to be very tightly rationalized, and other aspects that appear downright silly, such as steam pistons to set off acoustic shock waves with sufficient brissance to collapse the fusion core, which in its own way is even sillier than the Red Mercury legend of the 1990s....
...until one remembers the phenomenon of sono-luminescence, which is essentially the same thing. But then, why use the clumsy, and mechanically break-down prone, idea of steam pistons when a series of loud speakers arrayed around the sphere pulsing to the proper frequencies would and could do the same thing?
.....but IF General Fusion actually HAS the data and the physics to document it is able to do this, then it will not be long before someone figures out its potential for weaponization, and that should give us ALL pause...