Oblivion, Fusion, and Energy

Yesterday I had the pleasure to watch Oblivion starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman for free because I have an AMC giftcard.  It was a pretty good movie, I must say.  And, it was a movie that really made me think, with the messages it was portraying to the audience.  What is crazy, is I was going to write an essay on fusion and put it as downloadable material for a learning experience, and here a movie talks about it.  I am not writing the essay as I still have a whole book on fusion on reserve at my public library.  I think after this post, I am going to read the book, but I am not going to write the essay.  The thesis of the essay will be in this post.

In any case, some of the ideas of the movie in my opinion are spot on, and they are ideas that have me worried.

The background storyline (not spoiling anything) is that there was a war between man and alien.  Humanity won, only by ruining the planet.  And so, to satisfy energy demands humanity have machines that harvest sea water for the use of fusion; to quench their energy demands.  Now I hope this may have you concerned.  Does fusion require sea water?  And the answer is yes.  Sea water is an abundant source of the deuterium ion, a hydrogen ion used in fusion with tritium.  The names have to do with the amount of neutrons in the atom, one having two neutrons and the other having three.  So what is fusion?

Fusion is the holy grail or answer if you will to the world’s energy problems.  The issue is to develop and build the first fusion reactor, a lot of money needs to be poured in.  And, a lot of it is still theoretical at this point.  In theory, the amount of energy potential from a single reactor is much more than a fission reactor, or modern nuclear reactors.  As you can tell by the names of these reactors, fusion and fission, these describe the method by which these reactors work.  Let us start with fission, or modern nuclear reactors.

Fission reactors usually have uranium rods placed in a pool of water.  Then, neutrons are sent flying towards the uranium rods.  What happens, is the nucleai of uranium split into smaller particles, releasing energy and sending particles flying to other nucleai furthering the reaction.  The heat generated boils a pool of water which turns a turbine.  The nuclear waste is the water that surrounds the uranium rods.  This is essentially how our current nuclear reactor works.

Fusion is a little different, and it is essentially creating a small star on Earth and harvesting the energy.  The sun works by fusing two hydrogen atoms into helium.  This process makes the atom much more stable, because it has turned to an inert gas, thus releasing energy.  (There is a general trend in nature.  When things become more stable energy is released)  The explosiveness of this reaction fights against the Sun’s constant gravity, giving the sphere of energy that we see almost every day, and is responsible for life on this planet.

So a fusion reactor uses the same strategy.  It takes two hydrogen atoms, deuterium and tritium, and fuses them together.  This creates helium and a neutron, and of course, energy.  A blanket is placed around the ignition chamber of various theoretical compositions, and is used to transfer the energy from the ignition as heat.  The neutron can also react with the blanket and create heat, however there are some neutrons that exit the chamber entirely and induce neutron damage to the rest of the facility.  (Another cost to keep in mind)  There are two ignition strategies, but the quickest one to talk about is using 192 lasers.  These high powered lasers hit a cube of deuterium and tritium from all angles.  The pulsation of the lasers combined with the frequency causes the cube to collapse on itself, producing large amounts of heat and pressure.  This eventually starts a fusion reaction.  The reaction will be controlled by either increasing or decreasing the fuel being added to the reaction.
There is another powerful concept and that is hybrid reactors, or reactors that have both a fusion reactor and fission reactor.  Basically the added advantage is the neutron from the fusion reaction could fuel the fission reactions and react with the nuclear waste, making it not nuclear waste.  Which is amazing, to be able to get rid of nuclear waste.

Now that was really brief.  Of course in my paper I would add more, but I think that gets the just of it.  I didn’t spend too much time on how because that is not what I want to talk about.  I want to talk about the implications of fusion energy.

Remember the movie Oblivion?  The humans were extracting sea water to fuel their fusion reactors.  And well, that wouldn’t be far from the truth if the world switched to fusion power.  And remember, the fusion reaction takes sea water hydrogen and tritium (derived from much more expensive methods) to create helium and a neutron.  Which means the sea water is completely consumed.  Helium is released, and is inert and light.  As far as I know, it may eventually leave the atmosphere, but that I don’t know about for sure.  But that sea water is gone.  There is nothing to take it back.

And this would have huge implications on the planet.  This would be essentially speeding up the feedback process of heating the ocean by decreasing its volume.  One way the ocean keeps us alive is that it cools the overall planet from the sun.  The water, actually absorbs heat, and transfers it all over the place.  With less and less sea water, less and less heat can be absorbed.  The heat could get so hot, that eventually the rest of the ocean would vanish.  This would not only mess up the food chain, but would be felt with the weather among other things.  (The Earth’s gravity would keep the water vapor inside the atmosphere)

And this is what I wanted to talk about.  Fusion is a engineering marvel, a testament to what the human mind can do.  There is no doubt.  But it is not the answer.  The thirst that keeps increasing for energy, is going to drive conditions on the planet that will make most of the planet uninhabitable.  Are we going to turn into those aliens that are in the movies?  The ones that go from planet to planet, and invade to take the natural resources?  Because it is looking with our current thoughts and philosophies that is where we are going.  Our infinite growth paradigm is unsustainable.  I guess we shouldn’t care because we would all be dead then.  I guess I shouldn’t really care because I have the internet on the go, and I am content with my life.  We owe it to the future of humanity to not allow fusion to pass.  Consuming sea water is the most dangerous thing you could do.  But of course, the energy companies want this.  Water would be the fuel, and they have 75% of the planet as fuel.

The reason why energy companies do not want green energy, is the fuel they can not control.  The sun.  Like I have said a thousand times, if we were to harness the sun’s energy for one day, that could satisfy the energy demands of the world for years.  There is geothermal energy!  Plenty of energy for the world.  If we were to use photovoltaics, wind, tidal, wave, and geothermal, we could meet energy demands.  The energy companies do not want this to happen, and will use their power to not allow this to happen at all costs.  As technology develops, these methods of power will become more efficient, but that is not the reason to wait.  The moment is now.  If we start to make our grid powered by the sun, then we would have a grid until the sun runs out of hydrogen fuel and moves to the next stage.  Which won’t be for another billions of years.  Now that, is sustainable. 

We as a human race have to make a decision, and the people of power have worked really hard at keeping us distracted from what matters.  We have to end our obsession with constant growth, as that is not possible, and will drive us to the end of the universe if need be for energy, only to be turned to dust.  Or, we could be on this universe for a much longer time.  Harness the power of the stars for our energy demands, and learn to live within our constraints.  I severely doubt it is going to be like living in a cave.  But I do know mansions probably would not be allowed.  What I am saying, is we would have to change our consumption of power.  This in turn would force us to be closer to the planet Earth, which as far as I can tell, is a perfect super-organism.  We should appreciate the Earth, and get a grid off of the sun, and use other fuels to propel us in space in order to have a longer lasting presence there, as the sun is scheduled to consume our planet.

And what is getting in the way?

People not caring.  People distracted, consuming their entertainment without further educating themselves.  That is the purpose of the educational system.  To stunt the desire to further educate, and to pump out student after student with a degree so they are “marketable”.  People blindly accepting the standards of our society without questioning them.  And finally, the lust for money.  Of some meaningless thing that we give meaning to.  And we refuse to think of a world without money, automatically assuming we would regress.  Have there been proposed economies constructed without currencies?  I know of one, and I am sure there are others somewhere in those economic journals, I just got to find them.

There is so much more to life than money.  I hope some Americans see that, considering that there are news channels dedicating themselves to following the stock market.  I hope that one day some important people will realize that sacrificing making money may be necessary to ensuring the survival of the species.  I hope humanity does not get lured into fusion energy, and the consumption of sea water.


Gun Control, and Feeling Uncomfortable

I must say, I feel pretty uncomfortable when it comes to this issue.  It is one of those very strong issues, meaning people are very strong on both sides.  And well, for the longest time I didn’t really know how I stood on the issue.  Then I came to a conclusion, and then I just came to a realization that is inspiring me to write about it.

What I eventually concluded was that there should be the right to bear arms simply because there has to be a means for the people to overthrow a repressive government.  Even though there is senseless violence, I still think it is vital for the people to have this avenue.  I do think there will be violent offenders regardless of what is out there, but guns in my opinion makes the difficulty of killing not existent.  As we see, since so many people have access to guns it is pretty easy for anybody to get their hands on it.  And so, I was willing to have my every day life more dangerous (the whole idea that people are more safe with everyone holding compared to no one holding, is dumb assuming that there is no guns allowed in the picture) so that the people can buy firearms when the government starts ordering drone after drone on the populace, or any other questionable act.

But what makes me uneasy is the state of the Federal Government and the United States Military.  We obviously pump so much money in our defense budget that we would understandably have a large armed forces.  To put it into perspective, I read the other day that The United States has ordered a certain number of super carriers, to the point that we will have ten super carriers.  Some might be decommissioned, and some are in maintenance while others are at sea.  These bohemiaths are a city at sea, with an arsenal of weapons at their disposal.  The main reason that I believe we have these many carriers, is to ensure smooth trade for our economy.  We need to sustain that economic growth.

It costs like 10 billion a carrier.  Compound with this massive fleet other aspects of our armed forces, ranging from man power to sheer technology, let’s just say The United States is not going anywhere.  To fuel economic growth, the United States will slowly expand their presence in any way to keep our way of life.  And so, back to gun control.

If we had the right to purchase weapons, we would not stand a damn chance against The United States Armed Forces.  We may have numbers, they have tanks, and helicopters.  And other stuff that I don’t even know of.  Even if older men and children held a rifle and got into a gun fight, the sheer strength of these forces are too high.  And I think that is part of the purpose a really strong military offers.  Not only can it flex to other countries, but is a force to be reckoned with internally, if things became too oppressive.  The people in power are staying in power to make more power.  It is just the way it comes to world history.  And so, I do not think it would really make a difference if we had access to firearms, to the point I would want killing to be more difficult for the criminal.  If we could just rid society of firearms, dismantle the NRA, and dismantle any firearm that gets possessed, I strongly believe over some time there would be a lot less killing.  It is true that killing could still be accomplished with blades, fists and the such, but wouldn’t that be much more easily guarded against?  Why not for physical education self defense is taught?  Being regular with self defense would increase physical activity and be actually helpful in a society with no guns.  To me, that makes more sense then allowing everyone to buy handguns.  Guns makes killing so easy, and we have already passed the point of being able to rebel against this government even if we wanted to.  If we were to rid society of all guns except for certain individuals (military) , there would be a lot less killing compared to giving every possible person a hand gun.  Just the option of being able to kill someone makes the situation more dangerous.  People are going to still get access to firearms illegally, especially with a still functioning NRA.  But we need to focus on not only the supply issue, but the demand issue as well.  (Which I might write about with the drug war)

And I am going to say it.  Maximizing individual freedom when you have millions upon millions of people does not mean it is the best option in all options.  I can’t stand when people do that.  X takes away from individual freedom Y, so we shouldn’t do it!  That is not what our country was founded upon!

What I don’t understand, is why people cling to certain ideas when they were fabricated as long ago as they have.  Yes, some of ideas we should keep.  Thomas Jefferson wrote law about Human Rights.  But America in 1776 has different circumstances, and this should be considered when following The Constitution so blindly.  I think obviously The Constitution was a memorable document, America has come a long way.  However I find it impossible that that document can guide us through life no matter the era without some revisions.  Hell, with the different way the constitution has been interpreted different ways in The Supreme Court, we aren’t following the document as it is.

As long as the people work and are able to pay taxes and keep this economy moving, there is an incentive to keep the masses happy.  Look at it that way.  And, I think generally people do love this country.  I love living in this country, it isn’t perfect, and I am thankful.  But there are things that I find that what our country does is downright evil, but that is another discussion entirely.  But the government in my opinion will violate “rights” and win to get what they want, regardless of what is written on an old piece of paper.

My point?

I would read The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution with a grain of salt.  Realize what it has accomplished at the time, realize what it has accomplished, but when it comes to getting something in the agenda of those who are powerful, they will not hesitate to violate laws and rights to get what they desire.  And, that certain postulates will not pertain to all times of humanity.  Things change.  There is no possible way that everything from The Constitution applies to our way of life.

I know that was a rant, and I know it was political.  It isn’t my usual format, but I had to write down my new stance on Gun Control, I was excited.  Nonetheless, I hope you will continue reading my blog if you disagree with my views.

Till next time!

Basic Freud by Michael Kahn, PhD

I have to say, this has got to be one of the strangest books I have read in a long time.  It is difficult to write about, simply because the different interpretations on peoples’ lives seem very random, simply because there is a lot of freedom with the interpreter.  I’m not really going to try and analyze people too much with psychodynamics because I need more guidance in order to interpret people accurately.  After all, there is a good amount of material to cover on top of the creative interpretation.  All in all it was an interesting read even though I feel uncomfortable applying it to my everyday life.

I think we all remember the id, ego, and superego from psychology class at some point.  During the early psychosexual development, the id, ego, and superego are being developed.  The id is the unconscious thoughts that are urging to be expressed; the ego is the mechanism that determines if the unconscious thought is expressed; the superego is our conscious, the mechanism that follows societal standards.  Our human experience is the conflict between these three mechanisms.  It’s interesting, that a person has a certain amount of psychic energy, and even a libido.  The psychic energy is the energy used to repress these unconscious thoughts.  And, the libido is attached to certain people and their memories.  If more energy is exerted with the psychic energy and libido, the amount of energy that is available for everyday experience decreases.  So, if someone is having energy issues, it is possible that their ego is repressing a lot more subconscious wishes and urges than is normal.

What is interesting to me, is the development of the id, ego, and superego.  If the standards of society were to be different than our own, than the development of the superego and ego would drastically be affected.  This would also affect the expression of unconscious thinking, which would drastically change how people would behave.  However, there is one single instinct or mode of behavior, and that is the pleasure principle and reproductive instinct, at least according to this school of thought.  All living things have the instinct to reproduce, simply because it ensures the survival of the species, which in turn ensures the continuation of the super organism Gaia (or the planet Earth).  It is a brilliant system, however I believe that if there would be different societal standards, there would be vastly different people.  I think this overall school of thought is another testimony to this statement.  I am curious, how a different id, ego, and superego would affect the psychosexual development stages of every single human being.

So basically each stage is introduced when the individual notices pleasure with certain body parts.  And interestingly enough, how they deal with various stages has vast implications on their behavior, because this is following the pleasure principle.  There are two concepts that are interesting to know.  The first is fixation.  Fixation is when there is more than usual psychic energy that is associated with a certain stage.  And regression, is when there is a difficult part in someone’s life, they return to associations with that specific stage.  So, if someone is under a lot of stress, they regress to a certain stage of psychosexual development.  The oral stage is first, and fixated people in this stage I remember, can sometimes have eating problems, ranging from eating disorders, smoking, to eating when feeling down or lonely.  The second stage is the anal stage.  Someone who is anally fixated usually is either clean, or is messy, depending on whether or not they are anally explosive or retentive.  Which means, whether or not the person finds pleasure holding it in, or letting it out.  The phallic period is when children become interested in the differences between the sexes, and the awareness of pleasure with the genitals.  The latency period is when all sexual urges are repressed, simply because incestuous urges develop.  Then it is the genital period, where people want to have sex basically.  It is important to note, that the Oedipus Complex comes into play, where the child competes with the same sex parent for the love and attraction for the opposite sex parent.  And depending how that plays out, has vast consequences on the development of the individual.

I want to reiterate this again.  If parents behave differently, they would change the development of children greatly during their psychosexual development, which is central to the overall development of the individual.  Different standards would be into place when it comes to competition with the same sex parent with the Oedipal Complex.  So different behaviors would constitute a victory or a defeat.  A different society would have a different superego, which also means that the superego’s punishment of guilt would be different.  Guilt is also a factor into human behavior, and Freud believed that is our price if we want civilized society, the addage of guilt.  Guilt is actually a subconscious mechanism in the conscious superego, and a primary process.  This essentially means the guilt is associated with thoughts that have no time or associations, it is in the subconscious.

Basically psychodynamics to me is more evidence with what Erich Fromm was saying about human development.  That the human mind is practically a organ that can be developed in almost an infinite amount of ways.  (Sexual instinct is always going to be there)  Society inhibits various ways in which the human mind develops, which is similar to the changes of the superego, and therefore ego.  And like I said, this would have consequences to the psychosexual development of people, which would have a huge impact on their everyday lives.  It would also more specifically affect the guilt that is experienced to the person because the superego would be developed differently.  Again, another change in overall behavior.  (Again, I am really bad at applying this to overall human experience.  The psychoanalyst has to rely not only on their understanding of the material, but on their creativity.  It isn’t an exact science.)  In regards to my other post about human behavior, I think certain instincts will always drive our development, but there is a vast influence of society on our overall development as an individual.  Psychodynamic theory in my mind is more of a testimony to this.

And how would we change society?  It is with an intellectual revolution, which would be hard to accomplish on three main levels.  First, the revolution has to be defined, in a vision that most people are willing to follow.  Second, people would have to participate in this concept regardless of the contentment in their lives.  And third, they would have to participate and sacrifice the consumption of entertainment.

For me, even though I am thankful for what I have and I am thankful for living in America, I think life could drastically be better for the vast majority of people if things were thought differently.  No matter how much money is being printed to satisfy the demands of the economy, an ill proportionate amount of money is flowing to people that are already hording money.  I believe millions of people pay.  And I believe that the reasons why they are not overturned, are because people want the ideal of getting insanely rich (even though they will not touch the top 1 percent), the belief of individual freedom regardless of the consequences, the consumption of entertainment, and contentment with how things are, rather than wanting how things could be.

I think I am going to revisit a paper I was writing, and I was writing about this very topic.  And well, I have the difficult task of outlying the vision, how things are going to be reformed, and describing the new way of life.  I probably won’t get it done anytime soon, I may not get it done at all.  But it is definitely something cool to think about.