Sunday, March 25, 2007

X-ray snaps of the Sun yield surprises

"We are used to seeing magnetic fields emerging outwards," says Golub. But this one went in the other direction. "Nobody can explain how this happens," Golub says.
Another reversal of natural law...."if a differential of energy equal to this quantity ("C") exists between the observer and the point which he is observing, the natural laws will be suspended. If the energy differential is in excess of the quantity C, the laws will appear to operate in reverse at that point...." The Ancient Symbol of the Circle with the Sine Wave running through it - NO WAY COULD ANCIENTS HAVE KNOWN!! StarSteps
Published online: 22 March 2007; doi:10.1038/news070319-11
X-ray snaps of the Sun yield surprises
Stunning video of collapsing magnetic arc baffles scientists.
Katharine Sanderson
The best images of the Sun yet obtained are now streaming in — and are proving both illuminating and baffling for scientists.The Hinode spacecraft, an international mission led by the Japanese space agency JAXA, was launched in September 2006, and is now circling Earth in an orbit that gives it a good view of the Sun. The latest data to be sent back from its three main instruments are showing our star in all its glory as a dynamic, turbulent, mysterious hothouse of magnetic activity (see video).Researchers have long been puzzled by the observation that the Sun's corona — the atmosphere of gas extending out from the Sun at a temperature of millions of degrees Celsius — is about a hundred times hotter than the Sun's surface. One possible explanation is that magnetic fields projecting from the Sun twist about in the turbulent environment until they eventually snap, releasing energy as heat. The data being returned by Hinode's X-Ray Telescope add weight to this theory."We can see the corona structures twisting and shearing," says Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "There are things that look exactly as predicted," he says. But some of the observations are proving more confusing. Astrophysicists have been stunned by a video image of a magnetic arc collapsing in on itself. "We are used to seeing magnetic fields emerging outwards," says Golub. But this one went in the other direction. "Nobody can explain how this happens," Golub says. Golub expects that this too may be related to the corona's high temperature, but as yet there is no theory to predict this kind of activity, he says."Processes that we see on the Sun are not intuitive and not easily explained," says Alan Title of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California. Title works on Hinode's third instrument, the Solar Optical Telescope. And it is likely to provide yet more surprises. "Almost every day we see data coming down and we don't know what they mean," says Golub.Story from

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The 'new age' of super materials

But 20 years on, the new world does not seem to have arrived. So what happened?

Superconductivity discovered in 1911 was only seen in materials cooled close to absolute zero, which according to theory is the state of zero heat energy. A breakthrough came in 1986 with a new breed of materials known as high temperature superconductors (HTSC). Despite an intensive two-decade search, the underlying mechanism of superconductivity in the ceramics is still disputed. So what part of Zero Point, the point between the positive and negative curve of the sine wave, whose radius of curvature is the quantity C differential, between the measured reference points, is still not understood, incapable of being measured???? What part of the total interdependent relationships between mass, matter, space, time, energy, & gravity along this radius of curvature of all natural law ‘constant’ is still not understood.... as measurements are being made between reference points?????

Indeed, what happened to science (i.e., The Trouble with Physics) as we created bizarre fearful theories of black holes, “rapidly evolving geometry regions ending in a singularity where everything is infinite and time stops, all hidden behind a sheet of standing still light horizon”…”Black holes whose temperatures are inversely proportional to their mass – the opposite of normal - we fuel a fire, put energy into objects to raise temperature, for black holes, putting energy, or mass, in, make the black holes more massive and cools them off”. When we state that the quantity C is the radius of the curvature of natural law, we mean simply that if a differential of energy equal to this quantity exists between the observer and the point which he is observing, the natural laws will be suspended. If the energy differential is in excess of the quantity C, the laws will appear to operate in reverse at that point. I repeat again, what part of the 'sine wave' nature of the Radius of Curvature of All Natural Law, specified by the energy differential of the constant 'C', in E=MC2 is still not understood????? The Quantity C: (StarSteps) "

Indeed, what happened to science, specifically within the E=MC2 venue, in the 40's, 50's, 60's and early 70's? A timeline covering 'rumors' from the Tesla's Wardenclyffe Project, the Nazi Bell experiment, the Philadelphia experiment, and the Montauk Project, to the Befield Brown "electrogravitics" phenomena that had major corporations intrigued with excitement, when suddenly everything went dead silent, vanished, and E=MC2 crawled back into its dumb hole of infantile definition and deadly, clublike, radioactive, and secretive applications.

The 'new age' of super materials
By Jonathan Fildes Science and technology reporter, BBC News
In 1987, Ronald Reagan declared that the US was about to enter an incredible new era of technology.
Levitating high-speed trains, super-efficient energy generators and ultra-powerful supercomputers would become commonplace thanks to a new breed of materials known as high temperature superconductors (HTSC).
"The breakthroughs in superconductivity bring us to the threshold of a new age," said the president. "It's our task to herald in that new age with a rush."
But 20 years on, the new world does not seem to have arrived. So what happened?
Early promise
Superconductivity was first discovered in 1911 by researchers at the University of Leiden who used solid mercury in their experiments.
Superconductors have no electrical resistance, so unlike conventional conductors they allow an electric current to flow through without any loss.
Drs Mueller and Bednorz were awarded the Nobel prize in 1987
At the start, the phenomenon was only seen in materials cooled close to absolute zero, which according to theory is the state of zero heat energy.
Three-quarters of a century later, the highest temperature achieved for the onset of superconductivity, the so-called transition temperature, was a frigid 23 Kelvin (-250C).
This allowed scientists to exploit the phenomenon in specialist applications such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners and high energy physics particle colliders, cooled by liquid helium.
But more day-to-day applications, such as replacing the electricity grid with superconducting wires, remained impossible without materials able to operate at higher temperatures.
Closer to zero
The breakthrough came in 1986.
Two IBM researchers, George Bednorz and Alex Mueller, discovered a new family of ceramic superconductors, known as the copper oxide perovskites, that operated at 35K (-238C)
The work was rapidly followed up Paul Chu, of the University of Houston, who discovered materials operating at 93K (-182C)
The material was not as simple as we originally thought Paul Chu
The discovery meant that superconductors had entered the temperature range of liquid nitrogen (77K, -196C), an abundant and well understood coolant.
"All of a sudden everything was different," said Professor Chu. "There was a euphoric feeling. People in the field thought nothing was impossible."
The discovery prompted a huge gathering of physicists in New York to discuss the breakthrough, a meeting later called the "Woodstock of Physics".
Precise structure
But large-scale commercialisation of the technology would prove more difficult.
"The material was not as simple as we originally thought," said Professor Chu.
Despite an intensive two-decade search, the underlying mechanism of superconductivity in the ceramics is still disputed.
In addition, their exact structure, requiring ultra-thin layers of different elements stacked on top of each other, means they are very difficult and expensive to manufacture.
"Atomically, you have to line them up very precisely in order for the supercurrent to flow," explained Professor Chu.
This, coupled with the fact that ceramics are brittle and difficult to turn into flexible wires and films, meant that prospects for immediate exploitation were not good.
"I think the expectations were a little unrealistic," said Dr Dennis Newns of IBM.
"The typical time it takes from inventing a new concept to application is 20 years," he said. "And that is exactly what we have seen."
Cool running
Companies in Japan, Europe, China, South Korea and the US are forging ahead with applications.
In the US, American Superconductor has developed a way to "bend the unbendable", creating HTSC wires that can carry 150 times more electricity than the equivalent copper cables.
"Twenty years ago you would see people making ceramic fibres and trying to bend them and it was like a dry stick of spaghetti," said Greg Yurek, CEO and founder of the company.
To get around this brittleness, the company embeds up to 85 tiny filaments of superconducting ceramic in a ribbon of metal 4.4mm (0.17 inches) wide.
"Think of optical fibres," said Dr Yurek. "If you have a rod of glass and you whack it on your desk it will shatter.
"Drop down to a fine optical fibre and it becomes flexible - it's the same principle here."
The company also produces wires with a coating of the ceramic just one micron (millionth of a metre) thick on a metal alloy. Both are cooled by a sheath of liquid nitrogen.
Short sections of the wires have already been installed in Columbus, Ohio, and a further half-mile of cable will soon be laid on Long Island, New York.
In the short term, longer stretches of the supercooled cable will be difficult to install, as it requires an infrastructure to pump liquid nitrogen around the grid.
But Dr Yurek believes that it will not be long before other firms start to offer utility companies these cryogenic services.
"This is the model they have used in the MRI industry to guarantee the cold," he said.
Shrinking motors
The company also promotes its HTSC wires for other advanced applications.
Central Japan Railways uses coils of it for their superconducting experimental magnetic levitation (maglev) train.
American Superconductor has also developed an electric motor using coils of superconducting wire for use in the next generation of US Navy destroyers.
Electric motors are used by most commercial cruise liners, but are typically very bulky.
Using HTSC technology dramatically shrinks their size and also increases their efficiency.
The company is just about to start testing its latest 36.5-megawatt engine that is cooled by off-the-shelf liquid helium refrigerators and weighs 75 tonnes. By comparison, an engine based on copper wires would weigh 300 tonnes.
"That's great for cruise ships and the navy, because they can use that space for other things like passenger cabins or munitions," said Dr Yurek.
"New age"
Experimentally, things have also moved on.
New superconductors have been found. For example, a new mercury-based compound has a transition temperature of 134K (-139C)
"When we applied pressure we raised it up to 164K (-109C) - that's a record," said Professor Chu.
"Of course from an application point of view, it's hopeless."
I think we're on a launching pad here and we're now ready to take off Greg Yurek
However, other experimental work raises the possibility of discovering room temperature superconductors that would require no exotic cooling equipment.
A new theory, outlined in a paper in the journal Nature Physics by Dr Newns and his IBM colleague Dr Chang Tsuei, seeks to explain the elusive mechanism of superconductivity in the class of ceramics discovered in 1986.
"We don't see any fundamental limits," said Dr Tsuei.
"If someone discovered a room-temperature superconductor tomorrow that fits with what is outlined by our theory, we wouldn't be surprised at all," added Dr Newns.
This kind of optimism, seen for the first time in the mid-1980s, now seems to be deserved.
There has been a crescendo of research, while at the same time the first commercial HTSC products are rolling out of factories.
According to Dr Yurek, this is a sign that the new age promised by Ronald Reagan is finally here.
"I think we're on a launching pad here and we're now ready to take off," he said.
Story from BBC NEWS

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Practical Fusion, or Just a Bubble?

Evolution Survival & Sustainable Parameters require Fundamental Science progress toward Unity. Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative biologists who has revolutionised scientific thinking with his vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory discusses Science policy and funding Science Funding and Policy One per cent for Fringe Scientists , a major obstacle perpetuating the Trouble with Physics. Professor Ph. M. Kanarev recites "In the middle ages, the Inquisition tried to preserve a dogma that the Sun orbits the Earth and burned the opponents of this dogma. But the time passed, and the burnt turned out to be right. In 2005, 100 years had passed since Albert Einstein worked out Special Relativity Theory (SRT). Within this period, the fundamental sciences progressed under the banner of this theory. But it failed to earn jubilee festivities; on the contrary, it split the world scientific community into its adherents and opponents. The quantity of the latter increased so quickly that the adherents of this theory have lost self-righteousness and avoid a discussion of the essence of the fundamental contradictions of this theory. Are we ready for progress in a new direction? Present stereotypes are so strong that the current generation of scientists cannot change it. Only the coming generation of young scientists, free of stereotypical notions, has it within their power to cope with this task."
NYT February 27, 2007
Practical Fusion, or Just a Bubble?
LOS ANGELES — Brian Kappus, a physics graduate student at U.C.L.A., tipped the clear cylinder to trap some air bubbles in the clear liquid inside. He clamped the cylinder, upright, on a small turntable and set it spinning. With the flip of another switch, powerful up-and-down vibrations, 50 a second, started shaking the cylinder.
A bubble floating in the liquid — phosphoric acid — started to shine, brightening into an intense ball of light like a miniature star.
The shining bubble did not produce any significant energy, but perhaps someday it might, just like a star. A few small companies and maverick university laboratories, including this one at U.C.L.A. run by Seth Putterman, a professor of physics, are pursuing quixotic solutions for future energy, trying to tap the power of the Sun — hot nuclear fusion — in devices that fit on a tabletop.
Dr. Putterman’s approach is to use sound waves, called sonofusion or bubble fusion, to expand and collapse tiny bubbles, generating ultrahot temperatures. At temperatures hot enough, atoms can literally fuse and release even more energy than when they split in nuclear fission, now used in nuclear power plants and weapons. Furthermore, fusion is clean in that it does not produce long-lived nuclear waste.
Dr. Putterman has not achieved fusion in his experiments. He and other scientists form a small but devoted cadre interested in turning small-scale desktop fusion into usable systems. Although success is far away, the principles seem sound.
Other researchers already have working desktop fusion devices, including ones that are descendants of the Farnsworth Fusor invented four decades ago by Philo T. Farnsworth, the television pioneer.
Achieving nuclear fusion, even in a desktop device, is not particularly difficult. But building a fusion reactor that generates more energy than it consumes is far more challenging.
So far, all fusion reactors, big and small, fall short of this goal. Many fusion scientists are skeptical that small-scale alternatives hold any promise of breaking the break-even barrier.
Impulse Devices, a small company in the small town of Grass Valley, Calif., is exploring the same sound-driven fusion as Dr. Putterman, pushing forward with venture capital financing. Its president, Ross Tessien, concedes that Impulse is a high-risk investment, but the potential payoffs would be many.
“You solve the world’s pollution problems,” Mr. Tessien said. “You eliminate the need for wars. You eliminate scarcity of fuel. And it happens to be a very valuable market. So from a commercial point of view, there’s every incentive. From a moral point of view, there’s every incentive. And it’s fun and it’s exciting work.”
The Sun produces energy by continually pressing together four hydrogen atoms — a hydrogen atom has a single proton in its nucleus — into one helium atom, with a nucleus of two protons and two neutrons. A helium atom weighs less than the four original hydrogen atoms. So by Einstein’s E=mc2 equation, the change in mass is transformed into a burst of energy.
That simplest fusion reaction, four hydrogens into one helium, works for turning a ball of gas like the Sun, 865,000 miles across, into a shining star. But it is far too slow for generating energy on Earth.
Other fusion reactions do occur quickly enough. Most current fusion efforts look to combine two atoms of deuterium, a heavier version of hydrogen with an extra neutron. For reactions that can achieve break even, the researchers look to fusing deuterium with tritium, an even heavier hydrogen with two neutrons.
The appeals of fusion are many: no planet- warming gases, no radioactive-waste headache, plentiful fuel. Even though only 1 out of 6,000 hydrogen atoms in sea water molecules is the heavier deuterium, that is enough to last billions of years.
“One bucket of water out of the ocean or a lake or a river has 200 gallons of gasoline worth of energy in it,” Mr. Tessien said. “It’s the holy grail of energy technologies, and everybody has the fuel for free.”
Tritium, a short-lived radioactive isotope, has to be generated in a nuclear reactor.
The tricky part is heating the atoms to the millions of degrees needed to initiate fusion and keeping the superhot gas confined.
Mainstream science is pursuing fusion along two paths. One is the tokamak design, trapping the charged atoms within a doughnut-shape magnetic field. An international collaboration will build the latest, largest such reactor in southern France in coming years. The $10 billion international project, called ITER, could begin operating around 2025 and is intended to demonstrate that all the scientific and technological challenges have finally been tamed. Commercial tokamak reactors could perhaps follow in 10 years.
The other mainstream approach is blasting a pellet of fuel with lasers, creating conditions hot and dense enough for fusion. The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is to start testing that idea around 2010. The cost of the center, with 192 lasers, has soared to several billion dollars. Harnessing that approach will also take decades.
The recurrent criticism of fusion is that its promise has always been decades away. The task has proved harder and more expensive than what scientists anticipated when they started in the 1950s. Even if lasers and tokamaks prove technologically feasible, giant, expensive fusion reactors could still turn out to be too expensive to be practical.
So the mavericks ask: Why not take a closer look at some alternative approaches?
“It’s really a shame the Department of Energy has such a narrowly focused program,” said Eric J. Lerner, president and sole employee of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics in New Jersey, another alternative fusion company. Mr. Lerner has received Air Force and NASA financing to explore whether his dense fusion focus might be good to propel spacecraft, but nothing from the Energy Department.
The department is spending $300 million on fusion research this year, and President Bush has asked for an increase to $428 million for next year’s budget. Almost all the increase would go to ITER.
The department supports research for many approaches, said Thomas Vanek, the department’s acting director for fusion energy sciences, but that has to fit within tight budgets. “Since the mid-’90s, it has been a tough environment for fusion energy.”
Some fusion scientists argue that fundamental physics makes these alternative approaches unlikely to pay off. Some agree that financing some high-risk, high-payoff research could be worthwhile.
“I personally think there should be more of these smaller ideas funded,” said L. John Perkins, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore. “Ninety-nine might fail, but one might pay off.”
Robert W. Bussard, an independent scientist, advocates a return to the Farnsworth Fusor, otherwise known as inertial confinement fusion. Farnsworth and Robert L. Hirsch, who later ran the Office of Fusion Energy for the Atomic Energy Commission, developed a fusor consisting of two electrically charged concentric spherical grids. They accelerated charged atoms, or ions, to the center.
“It’s like the electron guns in your TV tube,” Dr. Bussard said.
In the process, positively charged ions fly through the center, slow down as they approach the positively charged outer grid, then stop and fall back toward the center like a marble rolling back and forth in a bowl. Sometimes two ions collide at the center and fuse. But too often the ions run into the grids before they fuse. Dr. Bussard, a deputy to Dr. Hirsch at the Office of Fusion Energy in the ’70s, said he had a design eliminating the grids.
Most fusion scientists doubt Dr. Bussard’s assertion that he has solved all the underlying physics issues with inertial electrostatic confinement and knows how to build a working fusion power generator.
Dr. Bussard’s Navy grants dried up two years ago, and he is looking for investors. Dr. Bussard said he needed a few million dollars to restart his research, and $150 million to $200 million to build a fusion reactor capable of generating 100 megawatts. One megawatt is enough power for 1,000 houses.
Mr. Lerner hopes to harness a phenomenon known as dense plasma focus, which is also an old idea. Take two cylinders, put a gas between them and set off a big electric spark. The jolt heats the gas and generates extremely strong, unstable magnetic fields that compress and heat the gas to fusion temperatures.
Mr. Lerner has a three-year, $1.5 million collaboration with the Nuclear Energy Commission of Chile to research dense plasma focus. After that, $10 million and another three years would be needed for engineering development, he estimated. A result could be a compact five-megawatt generator.
“The whole device would fit inside anyone’s good-size garage.” Mr. Lerner said. “If all goes well, we hope to have our first prototype within six years.”
Skeptical physicists say too much energy is lost along the way in dense focus fusion to reach the break-even point. Mr. Lerner said his calculations showed that the very strong magnetic fields reduced the energy losses..
Dr. Putterman of U.C.L.A. and Mr. Tessien of Impulse Devices are perhaps furthest from success. They have yet to show fusion occurring. The phenomenon of glowing light as the sound-driven bubbles expand and collapse has been known since the 1930s, leading to speculation, but not proof, that the bubbles would perhaps be compressed so violently that trapped atoms might fuse.
In 2002, researchers led by Rusi P. Taleyarkhan, now a professor of nuclear engineering at Purdue University, claimed to have achieved fusion in such a system. That result has yet to be reproduced outside Dr. Taleyarkhan’s laboratories.
Neither Dr. Putterman nor Mr. Tessien could duplicate that experiment.
Mr. Tessien, who started his quest for sonofusion 12 years ago, said he had abandoned using Dr. Taleyarkhan’s approach and returned to his own designs. Those use steel spheres, allowing high pressures to be exerted on liquids in addition to the forces of the vibrating sound waves. He is confident that he will find fusion.
“There is zero question that fusion is hiding in some system,” he said. “I just need to figure out the right recipe.”
Dr. Putterman’s group experiments with different liquids like the phosphoric acid in the rotating cylinder. Phosphoric acid, it turns out, gives out much brighter light, but so far no fusion.
Dr. Putterman receives most of his financing from the Defense Department, although he has gotten money from novel sources, including $72,000 from the BBC, which was making a program about sonofusion.
He is philosophical about why more money is not flowing, saying the scientists have not given the doubters a reason to stop doubting. “Maybe that’s the brutal answer,” he said. “People are waiting for it to work. Maybe some explanations are simple.”