Monthly Archives: March 2007

Open Source Fusor Research Consortium

I’ve added a link in the sidebar to the Open Source Fusor Research Consortium. For those not familiar with a fusor, it is a simplistic device that uses electrostatic forces to fuse deuterium.

These devices are presently not capable of achieving scientific break-even (more power from fusion than required to initiate the reaction) but there are people who hope to change that. Building this device is within the reach of an amateur experimenter and many people have done so. This website covers work on this specific device as well as related devices.

The device consists of two concentric spherical grids within a vacuum chamber in which air is pumped out and a low pressure deuterium gas is present. The inner most grid is charged with a negative charge, the outer grid with a positive charge, around 40 Kv between them. This strips electrons from the deuterium atoms and then accelerates the nucleus towards the center of the sphere where they collide with sufficient energy that some of them fuse.

What limits the efficiency and power output of these devices are the grids. A significant portion of the accelerated ions collide with the grid rather than continuing on to the center of the sphere. This heats the grid and results in a current flow which consumes and wastes power.

A particularly promising approach invented by Dr. Robert Bussard has produced fusion levels 100,000 times that of the original Farnsworth Fusor’s best run. It achieves this by eliminating the physical grid and using magnetic fields to steer electrons to create virtual grids.

Electrons are much lighter than deuterium nuclei but have the same magnitude charge (but opposite polarity). This allows a much weaker magnetic field to steer electrons into a desired configuration than is required to confine a plasma in thermal approaches to fusion.

Dr. Bussard’s research was funded by the US Navy for a number of years, but funding had run out in 2005. By that time the scaling laws of these devices had been determined and Dr. Bussard is confident that a device can be made that produces power.

Dr. Bussard, at 78 and with health issues, may never have the opportunity to bring his device to it’s potential. That is a shame because unlike thermal fusion, this device has the potential for fusing aneutronic fuels such as boron with hydrogen producing power without radiation. And such a device may be made small enough to power trains, ships, or large airplanes.

Take a look at the site, it’s a good site to follow if you want to know what is happening in the world of small scale amateur fusion devices.


Bill Beaty who runs the Science Hobbyst site told me about this video showing a Searl Effect Generator in operation.

If you look at the video you see only one ring, not the three mentioned on the website and the copper roller that does, once set in motion, continue to circle the device.

However, it’s clear from the sound that a “frictionless magnetic bearing” is definitely not in effect here. You can definitely hear the metal is touching as it rolls around the device.

The furthermore it is surrounded by a group of electromagnets, not shown in their animation on the website, which appear to be powered. This to me appears more like a motor than a generator, perhaps a shaded pole motor with a moving pole. If they unplug all the external power and it still goes around then I’ll be impressed.

I ran across this Searl Proof of Concept website which explains the “input power” required to make the roller roll around. Ok, just a magnet motor. No over-unity anything, not even any output.

Now if they get one of these that they do draw output from AND if the output is sufficient that it can also provide the input power requirements such that NO external connection or energy source is required to make this thing keep going, then I will find much more interest in it.

Perhaps I’m just not understanding the concept correctly. If something can provide significant free energy, I fail to see the necessity of zero friction magnetic bearings.

I do believe there are some interesting aspects of electromagnetism and how it relates to gravity and time that are not well understood. I don’t see these mock-up devices as tapping that in any way.

Take a look at the video, don’t be shy, use the comments and tell me what you think.

Piezoelectric Effect and LED’s

White light emitting diodes in general are not bright enough to be used for general room lighting. There are two general approaches to making visibly white light from LED’s today.

The least expensive and more common method of making white light from an LED is to combine a gallium nitride UV LED with a fluorescent material that converts the UV into visible light. This approach basically replaces an electric arc through mercury vapor as the source of UV with an LED that produces UV light. The efficiency of this approach is very similar to fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lamps achieve around 18% efficiency, while incandescents achieve around 3%, so fluorescent lamps offer about a five fold efficiency increase over incandescent.

Single color super efficient light emitting diodes can approach 100% efficiency, presently this is most true for red and blue LED’s. To produce what appears as white light to us, green light is also necessary.

The human eye contains receptors for red, green, and blue light, as well as receptors that are receptive to a broader spectrum that are largely used for dark vision. Color televisions produce the visible range of colors that we see with only red, green, and blue light. A combination of red, green, and blue can appear white, or any other color in the spectrum except violet.

You may think you see violet on television but actually what you see is purple, and there is a subtle difference that you will only see if the violet is extremely saturated. Purple consists of a mixture of red and blue light. It appears similar to violet because of the way our visual system processes color.

The red receptor in our retina has a secondary response peak in the violet range. The blue receptor is also still sensitive in this range. So when our brain sees a signal from red and blue together, it “sees” violet. Where red and blue light fail to reproduce this is that the green receptor is also somewhat sensitive to blue light, so red and blue light together activate the red and blue sensors strongly but also somewhat activate the green giving the reproduced color a less saturated or washed out appearance that we call purple.

An LED lighting system based upon red, green, and blue, will produce a light that appears white and natural except that it can’t illuminate violet in a way that will make it appear violet and not purpose. For the most part this isn’t something people would notice. However, violet gallium nitride light emitting diodes exist so that could be addressed with a 4-color LED if it was really important.

A much more efficient lighting system can be created using super efficient single color LED’s. They will actually be more efficient because super efficient single color LED’s exist. Because each LED is producing light at the peak of one of our eyes receptors sensitivity they will be effectively even more efficient.

At present no super-efficient high output green LED exists. Researchers are trying to find a way to make super-efficient high output green LEDs. If they can then a new lighting device that will be as much of an improvement over compact fluorescent as compact fluorescent is over incandescent, will become available. Also, because of the small form factor of LED’s it will be possible to design these basically into any form factor.

Given this one can understand why it is desirable to find a way to make such high output super efficient green LEDs. Thus this article on caught my attention. It describes an approach one researcher is pursuing to utilize the piezoelectric affect but gives no details.

The piezoelectric effect is that if you stress certain crystalline materials, an electric charge is produced on the crystal. Conversely, if you apply an electric charge to the surface of the crystal, it will twist or deform. In short, it converts electricity into mechanical energy or vice versa. I fail to see how this has any application to LEDs. If someone out there is familiar with this research I would welcome enlightenment.

Physics Website

I really want to understand aspects of relativity and aspects of quantum mechanics that don’t totally make sense to me, but so far I just can’t wrap my mind around them.

I did stumble across an interesting website that does attempt to explain some of these complex concepts in physics in an easy to understand way and thought it might be of interest to others.

The website is called Physics 2000 and it was created by the University of Colorado.

General Relativity Quandary

I’m just having a hard time getting my mind around some science concepts today. Maybe it’s my new drugs (methylphenidate, generic Ritalin), but things which I only used to have mild discomfort trying to grasp are now screaming out, help I’m not making sense!

Yea, I know what Einstein said about “common sense” being things which are drilled into your head before eighteen and how if we had spent the first eighteen years of our lives flying about the universe in close to light velocity spacecraft common sense might actually make sense.

Still, anytime something seems paradoxical or contradictory it says to me, either my understanding of the model is incomplete or the model itself is flawed. So I post these things hoping someone who thinks they understand it can explain it to me.

Here is my current general relativity quandary… As I understand general relativity, the underlying principal is that all reference points are equally valid.

The Hafele-Keating experiment put atomic clocks on commercial airlines and compared them to clocks on the ground in the US naval observatory. I first heard of this vaguely and the way I heard it was they flew one clock around the world, they kept the other on the ground, and the one flown around the world and when they landed the time was different, and the way I heard it, the flown clock was slightly slower.

Now actually there are two issues here. There is gravitational time dilation and that one I’m only a little uncomfortable with (but I’m still uncomfortable) and there is kinematic time dilation that I am a lot uncomfortable with.

The reason I am uncomfortable with the kinematic time dilation component is this; if all frames of reference are equally valid, then it is equally valid to say the plane went up and then circled around the earth, as it is to say the plane went up and the earth circled underneath the plane and it came back down. In other words, what moved relative to what?

The moving clocks are moving relative to each other so I don’t see how one can gain and one can lose time relative to one another. It seems terribly arbitrary deciding which clock should go slower than the other because both should appear to go faster relative to the other from the others point of view. But when they’re back together stationary seems to me like that ought to cancel and they should stay the same but of coarse they don’t.

Now the gravitational time dilation, at least I can see what is different in terms of the reference points, one is in a gravitational well, one is to a lesser degree, and time flows at different rates within that well.

But the time dilation one I’m having problems grasping, especially when it matters if it’s east-west or west-east. Yea, I know it’s a different velocity but it’s a relative velocity either way. Why should one frame of reference be favored?

Quantum Why

Quantum phenomena is disconcerting to think about because they are so counterintuitive to our everyday way of thinking about the world around us.

I have a background in radio. I obtained my first class radio telephone operators license in my junior year of high school. I operated pirate radio stations during junior high and high school. We had a radio station in our high school that I participated in.

As a result of my background in radio, I am familiar with the subject of electromagnetic radiation, antennas, polarization, the geometric relationship between the electrostatic field, the electromagnetic field, and the direction of propagation.

At radio frequencies the packet or particle nature of light does not make it’s presence felt to any significant degree. Quite different than say at gamma wavelengths where the particle nature of light seems to predominate.

We generate these radio waves, with “electronics”. And just what are electronics? They are devices that utilize and manipulate the motions of electrons.

It is the motion of electrons, charge carriers, in a material (metal conductor of some sort) that creates a magnetic field, and the oscillation of those electrons back and forth creates an oscillating magnetic field, and also the moving charges in the conductor setup an electrostatic field, and between the two which both radiate away from the conductor (antenna) we have electromagnetic radiation.

But those moving electrons in a conductor, they are valence electrons that are relatively free to move, but what about electrons bound more tightly in orbits, they are weird.

If moving oscillating free electrons in a conductor generate a radio wave, then why don’t electrons orbiting an atom create electromagnetic radiation, they are a charge moving in free space right?

Neils Bohr addressed this issue nearly a century ago. All matter has a wave nature to it, including electrons. Electrons, like photons, and all other particles, can be made to interfere with themselves proving a wave nature.

The “orbit” of an electron around an atom has to be an integral multiple of it’s wavelength. This means that the orbit can not decay slowly radiating electromagnetic energy away as it does so. So then it is possible to have this moving charge orbiting an atom and not radiating which seems to defy everything I had come to learn about electromagnetism.

This gets back to viewing the electron as a particle. If viewed instead as a standing wave, then the charge really isn’t moving, it’s just a standing wave distributed about the the atoms nucleus.

At the same time though it does act like a particle, the angular momentum, the energy associated with it, does act as it would for a particle orbiting an atom and the velocity one would expect given the distances, the mass of the particles, and the electrostatic attraction between the nucleus and the electron.

The nature of the wave is odd too, the wave is a probability of a particle being in any one place. So if you send electrons through two slits and they then project onto a fluorescent target, you will see a wave interference pattern which manifests in terms of the probability of an electron striking the target at a given location.

It all seems so odd. I can’t help but think of Einsteins statement, “God does not play dice”, and yet, it would seem at times that God not only plays dice but is obsessed with them.


Professor John G. Cramer at the University of Washington had planned an experiment in November of 2006 which was intended to test retro-causality, the ability for something in the future to effect the past.

His experiment was designed to use quantum entangled photons to send information back in time, granted only 80 microseconds or so, but it was the proof of principal that was important.

I have tried to find results on the web but have been unsuccessful. If anyone knows anything about this experiment and what the results are, or if the men in black stepped in and confiscated the whole thing, please let me know. Just leave a comment here please.

I am very interested in the results. I know there is some way for information to get from the future back to the past because of my own experiences with predictive dreams.

I’ve also heard of a dream study, the intent of which was to determine how much information from the previous day gets incorporated in the dreams. In that study, researchers were surprised to find that in addition to information from the previous day, information from the following day was also incorporated.