The Doctor (dr_nebula) wrote in snobss,
The Doctor

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Future Signs

Cube it, man

Today I found this link on the dubious history of the "Cube Farm". In a way, I guess I'm luckier than most. I've always had an office or at least a large room to work in. When I was teaching high school science, this came in the form of an equipment room where had another desk/work-area in addition to my normal classroom environment. Even as an adjunct professor at WGU, I had my own office - albeit it was pretty small. As a 'lab jockey', I've always had my own prep room/office area - though it has varied considerably in size. Today, my new workroom at GTRI measures 31 x 25' - with one corner as the 'designated office space' - so no tiny assed, packed cube farm for this otherwise underpaid servant of the STATE.

Fused Fusion Follies?

The prospect of Nuclear Fusion has often been hailed as the 'great savior' of the World's energy needs. Well, there are numerous major hurtles to be overcome - leading to a rather dim forecast on its viability. Some of the projections are so grim that a leading scientist has argued that "nuclear fusion will never be a practical source of electrical power" - even in a span of 50 years. Very strong words, and IMHO - very shortsighted and even stupid.

It's analogous to a stone-age era tribesman trying to communicate over long distances. His solution - "build bigger drums" - all without the realization that communication is taking place all around him via radio waves. Similarly, could the builders of the ENIAC, one of the first large scale, programmable digital computers envision entire capability of their building-sized "device" could now be put on a chip the size of a small grain of sand?

In terms of technological advances - 50 years is a *very long* time in into the future. And to add into this "mix" - here's an article posted yesterday on the hottest recorded temperature ever artificially produced. Using the "Z Machine" - a massive x-ray generator, researchers were about to produce temperatures of over 2 billion degrees Kelvin. This is 100X hotter than the center of the Sun, and at least 4x hotter than generated by any fusion-based experiment.

The 'kicker' is - they *don't* know how it's being done. The "Z machine" experiment released *more* energy that it produced, and the answers given are generally vague. It could be a radically new energy source, possibly akin to the Asimov science fiction work - The Gods Themselves. Call it energy released from extra-dimensional rift, weird quantum energy, vacuum energy, exotic fusion - etc, but something weird is happening. It may well be the key to the nuclear fusion bottleneck - or a gateway to something totally new.

Science is like that..

Today's Questions:

Nice and simple - do you work in a cube farm, office or at home?

Do you think that nuclear fusion has a future? What technology breakthroughs would you like to see in say - the next 50 years?
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