I was looking through retired urologist’s blogroll which led me to this piece of primitivism that I thought stupid. On the upside that linked to this google talk on inertial electrostatic confinement fusion, which releases no neutrons and no radiation (that ought to shut up the anti-nuclear energy hippies). The speaker, Dr. Robert Bussard, seems quite old but is also lively and cracks jokes throughout. The claims he makes for it are quite astounding, and you can skip ahead to about the hour and two minute mark to see him summarize them on the page, including ending the greenhouse effect and smog, the end of water shortages, much cheaper ethanol, the elimination of existing nuclear waste and a number of other things (although the real reason he started work on it was for space travel!). He also claims that existing fossil fuel plants could be easily modified to add this capability. I’m skeptical of some of that, and think he could use some economic lessons on the “resource curse” and the cause of third world poverty. Throughout the talk he gives an interesting tale of stupid mistakes obvious in retrospect (though a whole lot was still over my head) and the trials and tribulations of government contract work. Looking at the comments I see that Bussard died last October, but he succeeded in getting funding, although the problem of needing the kind of expertise only those over 70 learned (vacuum tubes and such) might be harder to surmount as time goes by.
Pop question: name a polyhedron whose vertices have an even number of faces.