Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Power United States Science

Senate Bill Raises Possibility of Withdrawl From ITER As Science Cuts Loom 180

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the brought-to-you-by-duke-energy dept.
ananyo writes "Are the knives coming out for ITER? A Senate Department of Energy spending bill, yet to be voted on, would cut domestic research for fusion and directs the DOE to explore the impact of withdrawing from ITER. The proposed cuts for domestic fusion research are in line with those proposed in the Obama administration's budget request but come after the House ... voted to boost ITER funding and to support the domestic program at almost 2012 levels on 6 June. U.S. fusion researchers do not want a withdrawal from ITER yet but if the 2014 budget looks at all like the 2013 one, that could change. 'They're not trying to kill ITER just yet,' says Stephen Dean, president of advocacy group Fusion Power Associates. 'If this happens again in 2014, I'm not so sure.' The problems for fusion could be small beans though. The 'sequester', a pre-programmed budget cut scheduled to take effect on 2 January, could cut 7.8% or more off science and other federal budgets unless Congress can enact last-minute legislation to reduce the deficit without starving U.S. science-funding agencies."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Senate Bill Raises Possibility of Withdrawl From ITER As Science Cuts Loom

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:37AM (#40763443)

    Instead of cutting where its needed (gross government pay and military), they cut everything else instead.

    And before hell is raised, yes the military budget CAN be cut. However, the way they have gone about it recently has been messy. 2 wars we're footing the bill for haven't helped either.

    • by ZenDragon (1205104) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:45AM (#40763533)
      Agreed. 2012 total military spending: $1.030–$1.415 trillion! Just a small fraction of that reallocated to research for something that would benefit all of humanity would make a HUGE difference. Hell while they're at it they should toss a couple billion towards this countries waning educational system.
    • by akeeneye (1788292) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:50AM (#40763595) Homepage
      Yes, military spending should be cut back drastically. Endless pork for the military, endless, war, and demands for domestic spending cuts "because the government's broke" and "because we can't afford these programs" don't add up. And now this, cutting fusion research funding, something that could end oil dependence, while giving oil companies billions of dollars in subsidies every year. Which politicians are in the pockets of defense contractors and oil companies? Pretty much all of them.
      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @11:16AM (#40764537) Homepage

        Take a guess as to who said this in 1960:

        Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

        You might think it's some liberal peace activist type speaking to a bunch of hippie protesters. But you'd be wrong: it's Dwight D Eisenhower.

        • You might think it's some liberal peace activist type speaking to a bunch of hippie protesters. But you'd be wrong: it's Dwight D Eisenhower.

          I wouldn't be surprised, but today, Nixon is to the left of the "socialist" Obama. From this perspective, Eisenhower was a stinking hippy.

        • by steelfood (895457)

          Eisenhower was brilliant, in this regard. He predicted and warned against the military-industrial complex more or less taking over the country. His military experience didn't make him a warmonger, it let him see the dark underbelly of the military that normal people would not have even imagined.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Yes, and look what happened: The American public elected one warmonger after another, going into Vietnam, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, plus countless smaller campaigns all during that time.

          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            It should also be pointed out that Ike got elected primarily on the promise to fight the Commies in Korea. His attitude towards war seems to have been seeing it as necessary when faced with opponents like the Nazis and the USSR.

            His opponent Adlai Stevenson, on the other hand, really did advocate peaceful foreign relations. He lost handily to Ike in 1952 and 1956.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              Yes, and that's a perfectly reasonable attitude towards war IMO. Unfortunately, Korea was well before my time, and also seems to be "the forgotten war" as when we study American history we mostly skip over WWI except maybe for mentioning archduke Ferdinand and the Red Baron, study WWII thoroughly, then briefly mention Korea and give it about as much time as the Bay of Pigs, and then jump right into Vietnam. But Korea was mostly successful, in that even though it was largely a civil war and a proxy war lik

      • Look -- absolutely ALL of these issues we've got with "dumb government moves" has to do with how politicians get elected.

        Term limits are dumb because we already have Congress campaigning every two years, so they are on a money train, and then if you kick them out (after 5 years they get retirement benefits thanks to Republican lawmakers), you only empower the lobbyists and unelected experts who groom them to get elected.

        I'm sure Exxon was happy to step in and fund candidates and that's how you've still got

    • by vlm (69642)

      (I hate .mil spending diatribe removed)

      Lets not make it too complicated here. There's an easy enough solution. Fund ITER out of the navy black ops budget.
      Just like happened historically with fission reactors, I guarantee some admiral is going to be waterski-ing behind a reactor powered aircraft carrier, decades before my kitchen oven is powered by reactor generated electricity. Now with fusion instead of fission. Whatever.

      I don't think the US Navy wants to be left behind as the only world power navy who doesn't have fusion reactors in the eng

      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        The military typically only funds research of something that could be built within the next 20 years, usually much less. Fusion is nowhere near that close. The military, despite what you may think of it, is interested in stuff that can produce practical results in the foreseeable future, not theoretical research (and never have been). Fusion research is currently very much theoretical. If you wanted DoD funding for fusion research, you'd have to go to DARPA or something, and they aren't likely to be interes

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Subs get fission reactors for two reasons: 1) it lets them hide out underwater indefinitely (especially useful for the "boomer" ballistic missle subs), and 2) they're almost always underwater, so it's not like they have to worry a lot about anyone boarding the ship and taking it over. I'm guessing they probably don't have platoons of marines on board; they don't have the space for it anyway. Aircraft carriers, OTOH, have plenty of space for extra people. But even there, they almost never travel without e

    • by DesScorp (410532)

      Instead of cutting where its needed (gross government pay and military), they cut everything else instead.

      And before hell is raised, yes the military budget CAN be cut. However, the way they have gone about it recently has been messy. 2 wars we're footing the bill for haven't helped either.

      While I heartily agree that both the military budget and government employee pay is too high, you're intentionally ignoring the elephant in the room: entitlements. We could completely abolish the military, and entitlements are still going to bankrupt us.

      • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:00PM (#40766979)

        What you call "entitlements", other people call "not dying of cancer", or "being able to eat".

        SS and medicare are only a problem because our taxes are too low, and the economy is in the shitter. If we repealed the Bush tax cuts, most of the problems go away. If you repeal the tax cuts, and cut the military budget back to pre-9/11 levels, the problem goes away entirely.

        You don't have to agree this is a good thing to do. But you do have to agree that simply saying the problem is "entitlements", is a vast, vast oversimplification.

        • by DesScorp (410532)

          What you call "entitlements", other people call "not dying of cancer", or "being able to eat".

          SS and medicare are only a problem because our taxes are too low, and the economy is in the shitter. If we repealed the Bush tax cuts, most of the problems go away. If you repeal the tax cuts, and cut the military budget back to pre-9/11 levels, the problem goes away entirely.

          You don't have to agree this is a good thing to do. But you do have to agree that simply saying the problem is "entitlements", is a vast, vast oversimplification.

          First off, what I call entitlements are just that: entitlement spending programs, and they're the most massive chunks in the budget pie. Second, medicare and SS will remain a problem regardless because cost growth is outstripping income from new generations of workers. Third, it is simply a falsehood that repealing those tax cuts will make up for entitlement growth. Not even close, especially in the long run. We have several problems in our budget, but when you look for the biggest ones, entitlements are th

        • by dywolf (2673597)

          Yes, the entire government spending problem would go away if the bush tax cuts were elimenated. Everything was just hunky dory and everything was paid for before him.

    • Instead of cutting where its needed (*entitlements*), they cut everything else instead.

      FTFY - and I'm soon to be eligible for Social Security. The standard practice for all political administrations since forever has been to always propose to cut whatever is most desirable, popular and necessary, rather than what is least important, most expensive and biggest boondoggle. This assures an outcry about "Don't cut X", setting the debate about the wrong topic and leaving the politicians in charge of ever more money. It has worked since the first democracy (read about Pericles, who invented 'bre

    • Fusion scientists often get criticized for making unrealistic promises ("Fusion has been thirty years away, for fifty years!" or some variation on that). But take a look at the graph here [wikimedia.org]. The graph shows the funding estimates from a 1976 fusion development plan, with various paths to a reactor. The black curve way at the bottom is the actual funding profile.

    • Some 20T (yes, 20 trillion) in 2008 and 2009 alone for financial institutions. Plus few trillions every year sucked off the economy via ZIRP policies and rigging all meaningful markets and base market rates (eg. LIBOR scandal). We don't see austerity because of some budget-balancing need, it just bankers who want this money for themselves.
    • by Solandri (704621)

      Instead of cutting where its needed (gross government pay and military), they cut everything else instead.

      The problem with the Federal budget isn't military spending. Yes defense can be cut, but it's already the one budget item which has been cut the most in the last 50 years [npr.org]. Right now, our annual budget deficit exceeds the defense budget, so we could drop defense spending to zero and we'd still have a budget crisis. And FWIW, defense spending is on the chopping block as well [nationalde...gazine.org] if the Budget Control Act [wikipedia.org]

  • Japan (Score:2, Insightful)

    Why do I get the feeling this wouldn't be on the cards if Japan had got ITER, as the US essentially demanded in the first place... Once France got it, US interest took a massive nose dive, with multiple calls for investment in a home grown alternative instead.

    • Re:Japan (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @10:01AM (#40763671)

      Why do I get the feeling this wouldn't be on the cards if Japan had got ITER, as the US essentially demanded in the first place... Once France got it, US interest took a massive nose dive, with multiple calls for investment in a home grown alternative instead.

      I think you're rewriting history a bit as the USA bailed completely out of the project in the 90s until the canadians pouted and quit in the 00s because they didn't get the construction site and we joined sorta in their place, kinda, at about the same time Japan agreed to stop arguing about where to build it if they got extra job slot quotas. So if anything interest picked up when Japan stopped fighting, not reduced. I suppose "interest decreased" in a sort of prime time reality TV drama sense in that it got less dramatic and more boring once Canada stopped pouting and got evicted from the island or whatever mixed metaphor and Japan stopped picking fights with everyone. On the other hand, after the prime time TV drama ended, they actually started working on stuff and there's dirt being dug up and things being built right now...

      It won't be the first time we've bailed, it'll probably happen again.

      Kazakhstan wants to join (yeah, Kazakhstan, no kidding) ... I suppose as a point of national pride they are a rising country instead of a declining one like the US. They even have a superior medical system. Its embarrassing that replacing us with them will, overall, be an upgrade to the ITER project.

      To some extent this is just a larger scale version of what happens every time a school district budget is squeezed. Don't lower mahogany row salaries from $250K to "only" $200K per year because then we wouldn't attract the "leadership" of the best and brightest who are currently running us into the ground, nahh, just threaten to cut something cool and popular like drivers ed or high school football until the taxpayers are beaten into submission and meekly accept higher tax rates.

      • I'm not rewriting history at all, I remember the massive pressure from the US to give it to Japan and the scramble to find "compensation" so both the US and Japan would back down. I also remember an implicit threat that the US would back out if it didn't go to Japan.

        • by vlm (69642)

          Yeah well sorry maybe that was a little harsh phrase selection. I checked wikipedia and the order is as I recall, the opposite of the order of events you recall. We bailed out, came back momentarily, were not exactly negotiating from a position of strength. If we were planning on taking one for the team and ally with Japan, we wouldn't have bailed out to begin with. I'm confused why the US and japan were supposedly allied as you'd think we'd have pushed harder for the Canadians who bailed out, maybe its

  • ...then I might have to run for office myself.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:43AM (#40763509)

    Next article up, some manager whining about how there's a shortage of scientists because he wants to pay almost nothing and the domestic eggheads think they're worth more than $7.25/hr so we'll have to crank open the H1B floodgates until Physicists can only dare to daydream of having the career opportunities of a mcdonalds fry cook. I'm glad I didn't go into science. Would have loved to, but hate grinding poverty even more and don't want to spend my middle age as a taxi driver like happened to all the rocket scientists I know after Apollo.

    Next article after that will be some washed up town patting themselves on the back for rolling out a new STEM program for grade school kids, to handle the massive future shortage of STEM employees. You know, the kind of town where 2000 STEM employees just got the axe because one of the STEM educational initiative corporations just moved their HQ from that heartland town to China, and another 200 person foundry just went bankrupt and a 200 person cement factory just closed (this is my home town... I'm not directly affected but it still sucks)

    As long as the rich get richer I guess we're on the right path...

    • by cyfer2000 (548592) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @11:26AM (#40764675) Journal
      In a piece of related news the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST, internal designation HT-7U), or the test bed of ITER in China, has reached 400s of stable plasma.
  • Considering the size of the U.S. federal budget, it always seems to be smallish programs that are symbolically put on the chopping block when these political debates come up. This one isn't as ridiculous as, say, spending lots of time arguing over NPR's paltry budget, but it's still a pretty small budget, and comes with quid-pro-quos that make the net cost even less. The U.S. contributes 1/11th of the ITER construction costs, and in return American companies get 1/11th of the construction contracts, and U.S

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The entire US science funding - for EVERYTHING - is a drop in the bucket.

    You want to make a difference in the budget? Here's what you have to do:

    (1) Trim entitlement spending
    (2) Trim military spending.

    Shit, there's enough graft, corruption, and incompetence in both that you could probably cut their budgets in half and end up with the same effectiveness at the end.

    Nothing else besides entitlements and military spending matters to any significant degree, and eating your seed corn is always a bad idea.

    • by BVis (267028)

      (1) Trim entitlement spending

      Yes, let's cut 'entitlement' spending. I'm sure all the (wildly overexaggerated) problems with those programs will simply disappear overnight if we take money away from them.

      Or, you know, the ACTUAL result will be that benefits will be cut to people who have paid into the system for decades. Yeah, that's fair.

      I'm all for improving efficiency in government. But you don't cure cancer by shooting yourself in the head.

      • by stdarg (456557)

        Or, you know, the ACTUAL result will be that benefits will be cut to people who have paid into the system for decades. Yeah, that's fair.

        That sounds unfair until you realize that historical taxes for some big entitlements were lower than they are today: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/taxRates.html [ssa.gov]

        People starting jobs today are paying 300% more than someone who started their career in the 60s. It's unfair NOT to cut benefits for people who are about to retire. They didn't pay their fair share into the system for most of their careers.

    • before we talk about entitlements I think we need to create a proper bar graph where one bar is entitlements and the other is military. Then we can talk entitlement cut.

      It's not that there is nothing there to cut, it's just that the entitlement discussion is entirely out of proportion.

      • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @11:52AM (#40765103)

        before we talk about entitlements I think we need to create a proper bar graph where one bar is entitlements and the other is military. Then we can talk entitlement cut.

        From the 2012 budget...

        MIlitary budget, including overseas contingency operations: $716.3 Billion.

        Note that the above doesn't count the VA, which can adds in another $129.6 Billion.

        If you assume that the VA is part of "military spending", that makes the total $845.9 Billion.

        If you assume VA is NOT part of "military spending", then it probably should be added to "entitlement spending"....

        Entitlement spending...

        Social Security: $778.6 Billion.

        Medicare: $484.4 Billion

        "Income Security": $579.5 Billion.

        Total: $1842.5 Billion

        Not sure if that's all the entitlements, but looks reasonable. Note that Medicaid may or may not be included in "Income Security". If it's not, then add a hundred billion or so more onto the entitlement pile.

        Note that payment on the National Debt amounted to $225 Billion. So about 6% of our federal spending vanishes to pay for overspending in previous years....

        So, "entitlements" amount to rather more than twice "military spending" if you count VA as "military spending", and 2.75x "military spending" if you count the VA as "entitlement spending"....

        Note, by the by, that those two chunks of money ("entitlements" and "military spending" amount to considerably more than we take in in tax revenue. So we could ZERO the rest of the government, and still have a large deficit with those untouched.

        • by HungWeiLo (250320)

          One issue I've always had with a military budget - why ever would the US government publish the true dollar amount of the military budget? Wouldn't it be a national security concern that foreign nations could estimate force and equipment strength based on an accurate dollar amount?

          Somehow, I have my doubts that the published dollar amount is anywhere close to the real amount.

      • I may be assuming incorrectly that you feel that the bar for entitlements would be substantially smaller than that for the military. If so you will be quite put out. Some individual entitlements may not be as large as the military budget but taken as a whole entitlements are far larger portion of the budget than the military. A quick search produced this course grained pie chart [wikipedia.org]. If you would like a finer grained breakdown of the budget there is the obligitory XKCD reference [xkcd.com]. Then there is this (Obama's pro
    • by Rei (128717)

      To sum up your post: Deficit (more being spent than taken in) is too high, so the only possible solution is to cut spending (in two categories you list). Do you notice the gap in this logic? Here, I'll highlight it: Deficit (more being spent than taken in)

      The current US deficit crisis isn't due to a spike in spending but a collapse in income.

      • The current US deficit crisis isn't due to a spike in spending but a collapse in income.

        Good theory, but not true.

        2005 Federal tax revenues - $2.152 trillion

        2012 Federal tax revenues - $2.469 trillion.

        That works out to about 1.9% annual increase in revenues, which is a bit below inflation (2.3% per year on average).

        Of course, the economy has well and truly sucked for the last four years, but even so, tax revenues are only about $60 billion below what would be expected from inflation.

        And the annual defi

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:49AM (#40763589) Homepage

    How about...

    1. We pull back all of our military forces except at a few major naval bases, end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and tell Europe, Japan and Korea to pick up 100% of their defense budget from now on. Then cut the defense budget by 25%-30%.
    2. We reduce unemployment benefits to six months instead of two years. Sorry, if you haven't worked in your field for about two years you don't have a career in it anymore. Unemployment benefits I believe are right now about $500B-$600B of the current federal budget.
    3. We means test the hell out of Social Security and Medicare.
    4. Release all non-violent drug offenders (including dealers) from prison, end the War on Drugs and send the enforcement personnel DEA and ATF to work for another federal law enforcement agency.
    5. Privatize TSA, repeal 90% of the legislation behind Homeland Security and just admit that the only sensible reform we really needed post 9/11 was letting the FBI and CIA coordinate on terrorism cases.

    But nope, we can't stop bombing foreign backwaters where some jihadi is rattling his sabre and AK47 impotently at the Great Satan(tm) or tell someone they need to back away from the federal trough.

    • Interesting that you left Israel out of your first bullet point...

      • by Entropius (188861)

        Israel can do a perfectly fine job of taking care of itself. It has nukes and some of the most modern arms on the planet.

        Why should we, the American taxpayers, pay for a squabble between Judaism Mk. I and Judaism Mk. III? (Probably because Judaism Mk. II has some ideological stake in it...)

    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @10:38AM (#40764047)

      Unemployment benefits I believe are right now about $500B-$600B of the current federal budget.

      Combined state and federal unemployment benefits peaked in 2010 at $160 billion, 2010 was about $120 billion.

    • We do all those things, and we'll reduce our deficit to maybe three quarters of a trillion per year.

      Which will make it the fifth highest in history....

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      reduce unemployment benefits to six months instead of two years. Sorry, if you haven't worked in your field for about two years you don't have a career in it anymore.

      So if someone can't find a job in six months - screw them? Or are you suggesting to replace the other 18 months by government-sponsored courses to re-train the unemployed into another career?
      Anyway, as I understand it, unemployment benefits go right back into economy since 100% of them are actually spent right away.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      MikeRT, I totally agree with you. Run for office please!

    • by bjdevil66 (583941)

      Ron Paul ran on a platform like this, but he was ahead of his time.

      When world and domestic circumstances finally force the USA's hand into doing major things like what you're suggesting (probably due to unavoidable debt constraints), then your suggestions will be (involuntarily) implemented. Until then, your ideas are untouchable, politically because people don't want to give up the American cake while eating it too.

      BTW - I'm for legalizing and taxing/regulating marijuana comparable to alcohol, but other dr

  • by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:53AM (#40763623)

    I'm looking forward to someone explaing to me why the government needs to save money now, when it can borrow for free? That is to say that the US government can borrow money for zero or even negative interest rates. To me, this seems to say that people have so little faith in the economy that they rather take a little loss but a guaranteed return (even if only via the mythical printing press) than invest their money in the economy. Now, if the government can have money so cheaply, and if my analysis of the reason is correct, then it should be an immediate logical consequence that government should make up the lack of investment in the private sector by spending itself.

    So, why should the government save money?

    • by Linnen (735667)

      from Krugman's blog [nytimes.com], 5- 7- and 10-year bonds have negative yields [treasury.gov]. Investors are paying the government to buy these things instead of going into stocks.

    • Still have to pay it back...
    • by stdarg (456557)

      Your assumption is that the government has 100% faith in the economy, so if people don't invest in the economy it does on their behalf. What if there is really something wrong with the economy? Why should the government automatically dump money into it?

      Some things don't need lots of money to fix. Say hypothetically there are too many environmental regulations so nobody wants to build factories that pump out cheap widgets. Just change the laws.

      I think it would be interesting if the US had a sovereign wealth

      • I think you're misreading me. I'm not talking about government investing, I'm talking about government spending. And really, government can't act as an investor in the way a company can: if the government invests, then it gets its investment back in the form of greater welfare of the populace, not by selling more products as a private manufacturer would.

        To me it appears that right now people would rather give their money to the government than to private institutions. Why? Because they know they'll get

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @10:05AM (#40763715) Homepage Journal

    are investments in the future.

    Our politics has been infested with the corporate tendency to think short term, just as long as the next quarterly results. Which makes sense, since our representatives answer to the agendas of the corporations that fund them, certainly not the people who elected them.

    The result of which is that the USA is declaring its intent to be a declining power in the world. You invest in science and education, or you head towards second rate status in the world. It's that simple.

    Yet another reason why the corporate infection of our democracy basically means our doom.

    • Our politics has been infested with the corporate tendency to think short term

      "Short term" means "next campaign." The problem with science and education investment, is that it NEVER pays off, even in the very long term. If you vote to increase that spending, it will never result in you getting an advertising budget advantage over your opponent.

      It might help the country, but nobody ever votes for people who help the country; they only vote for people who buy ads. Ad budgets are voters' primary means of

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @10:07AM (#40763725)

    and/or nuclear plants with passive safety systems and a rational waste storage facilities, it would be a good idea. Instead, well'l use the savings to pay down debt caused by military spending, bail out banks and making sure very wealthy people stay wealthy and get wealthier. We are almost the definition of a culture in decline.

  • More free energy for us!

  • Considering % taxes used in defense of one form or another and considering that developing cheap or free energy also solves many conflicts... its easy to see where cuts should be happening.

  • Since when is a 7.8% cut "starving" the budget? With baseline budgeting adding automatic budget increases every year, I'd be surprised if a mere 7.8% cut would actually reduce spending year to year. The public sector has NO clue what the real economy is going through.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      If they had any idea what the private sector was going through they would be spending even more. When governments can borrow at negative rates they should do so and use that money to build infrastructure.

  • .. because RIGHT NOW it's not profitable for Big Energy. If ExxonMobil figured out a way to make billions on it, you can bet your ass the government would be funding it. Big Energy likes us right where they have us: under their collective thumb. And they'll spend billions to keep us there.

  • Not to worry they actually have to pass a budget first. You know the Obama administration will probably go down in history as the first one to never pass a budget.
  • by Sgs-Cruz (526085) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @01:54PM (#40766895) Homepage Journal

    Ph.D student in fusion here. (I was one of the authors of this Ask Slashdot [slashdot.org].)

    It's important to note that there are a range of opinions on this. Everyone thinks ITER is a good idea, at the right price. That price was originally quoted at $5-billion (with the U.S. picking up 9% of that) when the U.S. made the decision to join in 2003; today the construction cost is estimated at somewhere north of $20-billion. Hopefully now with Motojima as Director-General, this cost will stop rising. (From what I hear, he's being very rigorous about cost and schedule control and pushing the team hard on these fronts.)

    The problem for the U.S. is that participation in ITER doesn't make sense without a strong domestic program in place to take advantage of the results that come out of it. And without a (temporary) surge in U.S. fusion funding to get over the ITER construction "hump", the entire domestic program might be "squeezed" out of existence. Check out the graph here:

    http://fire.pppl.gov/FusionFuture_USbudget_profile.jpg [pppl.gov]

    So it's not so much a matter of "is ITER good science?" (it is!). The question is: "is ITER the right path for the U.S. at a cost of 9% of $20-billion or $25-billion, without a commitment to sustain the domestic program through the ITER construction phase?"

    I urge everyone here to go to our website that we set up at fusionfuture.org [fusionfuture.org], which has a lot of information about this issue. We still need your help - the House has restored funding for the domestic fusion program [fusionfuture.org], but the current Senate version of the bill still has the domestic fusion budget slashed (and the fusion experiment at MIT entirely closed down). There is still work to do!

Your fault -- core dumped

Working...