Democratic Party Presidential Candidates for 2020

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Eunoli

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I agree with you. But, unfortunately, the people who have been lied to all these years won't believe the truth even when it slaps them upside the head, and will just scream about "them liberals trying to ruin our lives".
It depends on how it is done. Trump won due to fear and mistrust. Fear is a giant motivator for a huge portion of the country that is otherwise uninterested in politics - and there is very good reason to fear right now. I do think that if by some miracle we have a fair election and the Democrats don't shoot each other in the feet and manage to lose, this could be doable. Of course, with Trump actively seeking foreign assistance right out in the open, I'm not holding my breath.
 

Kara Spengler

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This is the only graph that matters for climate change:



This is total world installed capacity. To put this in perspective, the 2023 forecast is about 1.5 times the US' electric power use. That's a big enough number to matter. We can only hope they keep growing as fast as they have been. Fusion power won't be making a difference soon enough to matter.
There are several experiments in fusion going on right now but my money is on Iter, a multinational project (yes, the US is involved) to build a large fusion reactor. Projections I have seen have a Q (the ratio of energy output to energy input) of 10 or 11. It would be a proof of concept rather than something on the grid (so add 10 years or so after it gets turned on) but WHAT a proof of concept!

I actually had a nightmare last night that we ran out of fossil fuels before green energy could pick up the slack. I have to wonder if politicians have thought, I mean REALLY thought, about that possible scenario?
 
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Kara Spengler

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Here's the thing with averting continued climate change; its not really on us; sure, every little bit helps, but the large scale destruction is only going to be stopped with government regulations on big companies. Not to mention tightening EPA regulations and crap like that.
Exactly, end consumers can recycle and do whatever. As long as the major polluters are allowed to get away with it though it does not make a difference.

Reminds me of when I have been a systems manager or such and needed to increase free disk space. The people who used the most space were always the untouchables (professors and the like). So I had to constantly individually be going after people with 1 kilobyte files.
 

Kara Spengler

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I do believe this will happen eventually. The tricky part is to hit that window between everyone finally waking up because climate starts dismantling our lives and the inevitable civil unrest that could make a rational, science-based response impossible to pull together. Another wrench in the works could be the rise of whacked out religious/spiritual movements, like the Flagellants. Today's Right-wing Evangelicals are just a small taste of what that could be like.
 
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Sid

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I actually had a nightmare last night that we ran out of fossil fuels before green energy could pick up the slack. I have to wonder if politicians have thought, I mean REALLY thought, about that possible scenario?
Politicians generally don't think far beyond the date of the next election they feel they have to win.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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Actually Wendelstein 7-X stellarator prototype, which is the other reactor type aside the tokamak (which would be ITER), is performing better than expected. The stellarator has also some inherent advantages compared to the tokamak; for the tokamak the question on how to produce electric power 24/7 is still something which needs to be researched, for the stellarator this still has to been solved.

Aside that I won't bet on fusion power plants anyway, because so far all proposed designs (tokamak/stellarators) do require deuterium and tritium to function. According to Michael Dittmar, PhD in physics and lecturer on the institute for particle physics of the ETH Zürich, the world wide supply on tritium around 2025 should be around 27 kg. But to operate ITER for one year, you would need a supply of 200 kg; the half life of it is also only 12 years, so you cannot store it for long.

If you want to read this en detail, here's his paper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/0911.2628.pdf - look at chapter 5.2
 
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Kara Spengler

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Actually Wendelstein 7-X stellarator prototype, which is the other reactor type aside the tokamak (which would be ITER), is performing better than expected. The stellarator has also some inherent advantages compared to the tokamak; for the tokamak the question on how to produce electric power 24/7 is still something which needs to be researched, for the stellarator this still has to been solved.

Aside that I won't bet on fusion power plants anyway, because so far all proposed designs (tokamak/stellarators) do require deuterium and tritium to function. According to Michael Dittmar, PhD in physics and lecturer on the institute for particle physics of the ETH Zürich, the world wide supply on tritium around 2025 should be around 27 kg. But to operate ITER for one year, you would need a supply of 200 kg; the half life of it is also only 12 years, so you cannot store it for long.

If you want to read this en detail, here's his paper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/0911.2628.pdf - look at chapter 5.2
Thanks, I knew some other projects were making some great progress too. I was mostly looking at ITER because it was multi-national and a rather large project, even if you just count the tokamak.

I will have to take a look at that paper. The estimates I have seen are much larger.
 

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If you want to read this en detail, here's his paper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/0911.2628.pdf - look at chapter 5.2
Not done reading all of it but some initial thoughts.

He quite clearly has an axe to grind against fusion rather than the paper being an unbiased analysis of fission v fusion.

As he even says the new generation of heavy water reactors is due in 2050. Given ITER will be an experiment rather than a 24/7 operation that lines up nicely with how the supply should go down over the 25 years between the generations.

What is with putting the word experts in quotes?
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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We had a saying on my old university: never listen to a physicist/chemist alone when talking about the feasibility of a new technology; always consult an engineer, too.

Might be that he's biased; for me the more important topic is that if fusion technology is production ready, we do need the tritium from somewhere if no fundamental changes on the reactor design are going to happen.

And the question from where we will get it to economically feasible prices when we decide to build hundreds of such reactors still leaves a big question mark above my head.
 
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Kara Spengler

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We had a saying on my old university: never listen to a physicist/chemist alone when talking about the feasibility of a new technology; always consult an engineer, too.

Might be that he's biased; for me the more important topic is that if fusion technology is production ready, we do need the tritium from somewhere if no fundamental changes on the reactor design are going to happen.

And the question from where we will get it to economically feasible prices when we decide to build hundreds of such reactors still leaves a big question mark above my head.
Interestingly physicists feel the same way about engineers. Then again, both programmers and clients feel the same way about each other as well so it is probably pretty universal whenever two fields meet. :)

The paper does gloss over a major point. Fusion is not production ready. At the most optimistic we are talking a decade or two before we have something that points to a solution and then add at least a decade more before it is something that can be producing power that people can use. Meanwhile the new heavy water plants are on pretty much the same schedule, probably even faster since there are less unknowns. Even if production fusion gets here faster than heavy water I am sure one of the old generation plants can be brought back up to production for a few years. It is a large version of a Just In Time delivery model, just with something bigger than, say, car parts.

As we used to say in my physics department making a lot of them and having it everywhere is "just" an engineering problem. Yes, I realize it is a big problem but it is one I am confident would be solved (especially if the alternative is running out of energy).
 
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Grandma Bates

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It's official, Steyer is in and he's going to throw $100M of his own money in it to win it.

As the Democratic primaries are adding even more unserious people the Republicans are focused on something different:


While it is still very early, it is a bit frustrating to see a billionaire enter a field of many millionaires to throw away money that will only serve to draw attention to himself. That 100$ million he plans to spend to glorify his name could potentially change the election if it were used to help register and inform voters.

The group in the Democratic primary looks more like a Republican field which tends to include people like Pat Buchanan or Alan Keys whose primary goal is to draw attention to themselves and expand their audiences for their radio/tv shows.
 

Eunoli

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While it is still very early, it is a bit frustrating to see a billionaire enter a field of many millionaires to throw away money that will only serve to draw attention to himself. That 100$ million he plans to spend to glorify his name could potentially change the election if it were used to help register and inform voters.
I don't care that he's a billionaire. I do care that he is spending the hundred million. I really wish we had publicly funded elections. I'd like to see it on the Dem's primary platform.
 

danielravennest

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There are several experiments in fusion going on right now but my money is on Iter, a multinational project (yes, the US is involved) to build a large fusion reactor. Projections I have seen have a Q (the ratio of energy output to energy input) of 10 or 11. It would be a proof of concept rather than something on the grid (so add 10 years or so after it gets turned on) but WHAT a proof of concept!

I actually had a nightmare last night that we ran out of fossil fuels before green energy could pick up the slack. I have to wonder if politicians have thought, I mean REALLY thought, about that possible scenario?
Even if everything works as planned with ITER, the follow-on DEMO reactor won't be running until the 2040's. That would be the first functional fusion reactor capable of delivering power to the grid. One reactor, compared to the 450 fission reactors that exist at present. Like I said, it will be too late to matter by then. The 2,000 GW of wind and solar expected by 2023 equate to about 650 nuclear reactors. By 2045 or so it could be thousands vs 1 fusion reactor.

There's no shortage of fossil energy. Coal is expected to last well beyond 2050 if we wanted to burn it. If oil gets above $100/barrel for any length of time (it is $60 at the moment), then engineered bacteria become competitive. Bacteria are more efficient than Algae because they have less biochemical overhead, and emit ethanol or diesel molecules directly. Algae produce plant oils, which then have to be converted to fuel.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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As we used to say in my physics department making a lot of them and having it everywhere is "just" an engineering problem. Yes, I realize it is a big problem but it is one I am confident would be solved (especially if the alternative is running out of energy).
I am not so worried about running out of energy, there will be always enough energy around us. What is going to hurt everybody is running out of dirt cheap energy, if this is ever going to happen, because we are all like junkies for that. This was the issue with peak oil; not the decrease in oil production somewhere in the future, but reaching the time when the production cannot meet the demand any longer, thus prices increasing drastically.

I am more worried about that the switch to the new infrastructure is happening way to slow.

Aside that, there's always room for improvement. Researches at the MIT just recently published a paper that they've finally found a way, that one photon in a solar cell is now able to knock off two electrons instead of one in a silicon cell. If put into mass production, this could raise the efficiency about 6%.
 

Kara Spengler

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Even if everything works as planned with ITER, the follow-on DEMO reactor won't be running until the 2040's. That would be the first functional fusion reactor capable of delivering power to the grid. One reactor, compared to the 450 fission reactors that exist at present. Like I said, it will be too late to matter by then. The 2,000 GW of wind and solar expected by 2023 equate to about 650 nuclear reactors. By 2045 or so it could be thousands vs 1 fusion reactor.

There's no shortage of fossil energy. Coal is expected to last well beyond 2050 if we wanted to burn it. If oil gets above $100/barrel for any length of time (it is $60 at the moment), then engineered bacteria become competitive. Bacteria are more efficient than Algae because they have less biochemical overhead, and emit ethanol or diesel molecules directly. Algae produce plant oils, which then have to be converted to fuel.
Actually, the mid 2040s is pretty good since the norm would put it at 2049 (the ob 30 year joke). :) Anyway, I have heard estimates more optimistic, especially since there are now multiple projects and ITER is only one of them. Yes, it would have been great if we had production fusion decades ago but we didn't so all we can do now is push forward.
 
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