Tech: Links for 19th November, 2019

  1. “Altman had long wanted to start his own nuclear-energy company; instead, he had YC fund the best fission and fusion startups he could find. Then he personally invested in both companies and chaired their boards. Thousands of startups are devoted to social interaction, and fewer than twenty to fission and fusion, but, Altman said, “hard things are actually easier than easy things. Because people feel it’s interesting, they want to help. Another mobile app? You get an eye roll. A rocket company? Everyone wants to go to space.””
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    Reading this paragraph in this New Yorker profile of Sam Altman lies behind the other four links today. But this particular article is so very fascinating in its own right, for a variety of reasons.
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  2. “Cold fusion is nuclear fusion at room temperature and normal pressure. Nuclear fusion is the process by which many nuclei, the center of an atom, containing protons and neutrons, are forced to join together to form a heavier nucleus (singular of nuclei) and during that process, energy is released. Some scientists hope that this may be Earth’s future energy source, but most scientists do not agree.”
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    The simplest article I could find on a topic I know very little about, even after having read about a dozen of them today: cold fusion. All but impossible is the consensus, but that doesn’t stop a lot of people from being very excited about its prospects.
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  3. A rare failure in terms of being clear about the topic – cold fusion –  from the usually reliable eli5 series from Reddit (Sam Altman is an investor, by the way)
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  4. “­NASA is currently looking into developing small-scale fusion reactors for powering­ deep-space rockets. Fusion propulsion would boast an unlimited fuel supply (hydrogen), would be more efficient and would ultimately lead to faster rockets.”
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    7 pages from How Stuff Works about the same topic, explaining in some detail how it might work.
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  5. “There is one point on which all true believers in cold fusion agree: their results are not reproducible. To most scientists, this implies that cold fusion results are not believable, but true believers suggest that this unpredictability makes them more interesting!”
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    Scientific American, in a useful, but somewhat dampening overview of the field.

 

All things considered, cold fusion is worth reading much more about – and I hope to be able to do more of that in the days to come.

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