Fusion Message Board

In this space, visitors are invited to post any comments, questions, or skeptical observations about Philo T. Farnsworth's contributions to the field of Nuclear Fusion research.

Subject: Your fusion dollars
Date: Nov 16, 9:25 am
Poster: Richard Hull

On Nov 16, 9:25 am, Richard Hull wrote:

Well guys and gals, another debacle for fusion......The latest issue of "Spectra- Photonics", (one of those free industry rags I get each month in my engineering capacity here at work), has a sad note on page 57. It seems the national ignition facility at LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Lab) has managed to hide and obscure by careful and creative book juggling, since 1996, a small 350,000,000 dollar overrun in their 1.2 billion dollar attempt at laser fusion!!! That's about a fourth of the entire program cost!!! OOOPS! Can anyone say federal sugar tit!

Secretary of Energy Richardson notes that "Hey, its OK... the science is sound...We will just have to re-shuffle management and bury the red ink, buy siphoning off the third of a billion short fall (actually overrun) from other defense programs and all will be well. Not to worry.

The 192 laser multi-kilo-terawatt laser device will now have to be built by some single giant contractor as the LLNL appears not to be up to the job. So much so that they will also lose over 2 million dollars from their 5.6 million dollar "program performance contract". Can anyone explain this contract!?! I guess they get a 5.6 million perk if they could just do the job promised in the 1.2 billion dollar deal! It appears their highly original obscuration of loses over the last 4 years shows they might be only worth 3.6 million at doing their jobs. I am sure the FEDs would have taken it all back if their bean counters weren't so impressed at the extra effort LLNL and the igintion facility put forth in hiding the loses.

There is talk of stunting its growth to a mere 96 lasers, giving a prime excuse for failure of ignition when complete in 2004. The scientists will have a ready made and continued new set of excuses if this stunted version doesn't work or is grossly un-economical.

Most you know that the Head of the laser ignition project at LLNL had to resign in disgrace following the disclosure that he did not have the doctorate degree he claimed! DOE just discovered this after 6 years of his being on the job. Can you imagine the disgust of all those other doctorates under him realizing that they had been led by a mere masters degree!! Phooey!

I have a friend who is a sub-contracted nuclear health physicist out there and is often called into LLNL on some RAD related health physics mission. He noted that recently he when he came that every office was filled will eggheads doing hundreds of computer models. The actual hardware area had no one in it! There is just no money while the management shuffle and finger pointing is underway. There is only enough to keep the eggheads on th' job where $100K plus salaries are the norm.

I am pleased to see that whether at Princeton on the east coast or in sunny California, the fusion money continues to support a way of life and retirement for masses of acedemics thinking about things and modeling the next giga-buck step toward the "REAL SOON NOW" fusion energy dream of tommorrow.

Richard Hull