Here is an interesting development that quite a few of you shared with me: NASA's development of a pinched plasma fusion engine:
The reasoning behind the development is indicated by the title of the article itself: such an engine would cut travel time to our nearest most interesting celestial neighbor, Mars, by better than a half, thus also tremendously reducing the engineering problems of sustaining a human crew for a journey that could take 16-18 months using currently available technologies.
But I want to draw your attention to three paragraphs in this article, for they contain two implications, one historical, and one ...well, "problematical":
"The engine, dubbed the "Charger-1 Pulsed Power Generator", would be constructed in space along with the rest of the spaceship to avoid the tricky engineering difficulties of getting all that delicate fusion equipment up through the atmosphere—just like the International Space Station. Once ready, the reactor would be engaged, and millions of amps are passed through super-thin lithium wires in 100 nanosecond pulses—this could generate up to three terawatts of power. Those wires vaporize into plasma, which is collapsed onto the core of deuterium and lithium-6, inducing a fusion reaction.
"The energy from that would be forced out the back of the ship in a so-called "z-pinch" using a "magnetic nozzle," a component which the team are also developing. The engine's potential top speed? Over 100,000 km/h. That's roughly the same speed at which the Earth orbits the Sun.
"However, as Business Insider points out, it's likely that any commercial or scientific use of the technology will only be if the US army allows it, as the research is being conducted using equipment repurposed from military projects. And, again, that depends on developing a fusion reactor that generates more power than it consumes." (Emphasis added)
For those familiar with my book, The Nazi International, the description of the engine is based on concepts very similar to those of Austrian scientist Dr Ronald Richter, who described similar plasma stressing and electrical arcing in his concepts for a fusion reactor in 1951. Of course, Richter was roundly denounced by the scientific establishment of his day, since these models and concepts fell well outside the standard model thinking of the day. Nonetheless, Richter's concepts did gain him some odd visits from the US Air Force (in the wake of the Castle-Bravo tests it will be noted), and Richter also outlined how is concepts might be turned to a new form of propulsion.
But for me the real news here is theconcept itself behind the engine, for let it be noted, they(like Richter) are trying to initiate fusion reactions in lithium-6-deuteride via electrical pulsing and squeezing the resulting plasma through a z-pinch to produce the thrust for the engine. Doubtless the reader here has seen already the military implications, for let it be noted this equipment was "repurposed" (a polite euphemism I suspect) from some military projects, which may have been to find that elusive themonuclear bomb - a hydrogen bomb folks - that did not require an atom-bomb as its fuse.... a "clean" hydrogen bomb. It is a strange irony, that such an engine would be seen as a means to take us to a planet named for the god of war, and that such a technology, with a little modification, might lead to a horrific military application.
See you on the flip side.
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