You recently got the chance to ask a group of MIT researchers questions about fusion power, and they've now finished writing some incredibly detailed answers. They discuss the things we've learned about fusion in the past decade, how long it's likely to take for fusion to power your home, the biggest problems fusion researchers are working to solve, and why it's important to continue funding fusion projects. They also delve into the specifics of tokamak operation, like dealing with disruption events and the limitations on reactor size, and provide some insight into fusion as a career. Hit the link below for a wealth of information about fusion.
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Nuclear fusion power is the process of fusing light nuclei together to release energy, and ultimately, to put electricity on the grid. Today, we have six researchers from MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center here to answer your questions about fusion power, tokamaks, and public support and funding in the U.S. for this research. The Obama Administration's budget request for fiscal year 2013 is paying for the U.S. share of ITER construction out of the domestic program, starting with the closure of the MIT fusion lab. The interviewees are ready to answer technical and policy questions, so don't be shy! And, as always, please break unrelated questions into separate posts. Read on for information about the researchers who will answer your questions.
A few weeks back, you asked gaming-world academic and game designer Ian Bogost questions from the business, philosophical, and aesthetic sides of gaming; below, find his responses. Thanks, Ian!
You asked Carl Malamud about his experiences and hopes in the gargantuan project he's undertaken to prod the U.S. government into scanning archived documents, and to make public access (rather than availability only through special dispensation) the default for newly created, timely government data. (Malamud points out that if you have comments on what the government should be focusing on preserving, and how they should go about it, the National Archives would like to read them.) Below find answers with a mix of heartening and disheartening information about how the vast project is progressing.
If you've ever tried to look up public records online, you may have run into byzantine sign-up procedures, proprietary formats, charges just to view what are ostensibly public documents, and generally the sense that you're in a snooty library with closed stacks. Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org has for years been forging a path through the grey goo of U.S. government data, helping to publicize the need for accessible digital archives — not just awkward, fee-per-page access. (Mother Jones calls him a "badass.") Malamud has (with help) been making it easier to get to the huge swathes of data in government sources like PACER, EDGAR, and the U.S. Patent Office. He's got a new initiative now to establish a "Federal Scanning Commission," the task of which would be to assess the scope and outcomes of a large-scale effort to actually digitize and make available online as much as practical of the vast holdings of the U.S. government. ("If we were able to put a man on the moon, why can't we launch the Library of Congress into cyberspace?") Ask Malamud below questions about his plans and challenges in disseminating public information. (But please, post unrelated questions separately, lest ye be modded down.)
Ian Bogost is a professor of game theory at Georgia Tech, a game designer, a prolific writer, an entrepreneur, and a bit of a prankster. These roles which sometimes overlap, notably in his surprise success satirical Facebook game Cow Clicker, which you can think of as the Anti-Zynga. Wired has a fresh article up about Bogost (which cleverly embeds a sort of micro version of Cow Clicker). It also mentions another game — my favorite of his projects — that should be on the mind of every TSA employee, the 2009 release Jetset. Ask Ian about clicking cows, being an academic provocateur as well as a participant in the world of gaming, and breaking into the world of social gaming. (Please break unrelated questions into multiple comments.)
A few weeks ago you asked security guru Moxie Marlinspike about all manner of security issues, being searched at the border, and how to come up with a good online name. He's graciously answered a number of your inquiries which you will find below.
Greg Leyh is an electrical engineer who has spent most of his career working around particle accelerators and high-voltage machinery. Recently Leyh has been working on The Lightning Foundry, a project to see if humans can replicate the voltage economy effect of lightning. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign and a pair of 10-story Tesla Coil towers he hopes to generate man-made lightning. Greg has agreed to take some time away from his lightning machines and answer your questions. Ask as many as you like but please confine your questions to one per post.
As a security researcher, Moxie Marlinspike has played a big role in explaining what can go wrong in using Certificate Authorities to authenticate SSL traffic, an issue that's been top of mind this year thanks to compromised and faked certificates. On that front, he's lately come up with a system designed to circumvent CAs entirely, which means bypassing compromised (or invidious) authorities, rather than trying to patch the CA system. Another line of research, but not the only one, is mobile security and privacy; his Whisper Monitor Android firewall, released earlier this year, gives Android users notifications (and fine-grained permissions) when apps — including location-tracking or malware apps — want to make outbound connections. Possibly related: Moxie can also speak first-hand about what new border-search policies mean for travelers, having had his laptop and phones seized on returning to the U.S. from a trip. (And by the way, he's also an accomplished sailor and film-maker.) Moxie's agreed to answer your questions. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, be kind of rewind^wask don't ask unrelated questions in the same post.
You asked Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer, questions on topics ranging from debunking superstition to extraterrestrial life to funding space exploration; read on below for his answers. Thanks for taking part, Phil!
Agit-prop? Absurdist pranksterism? Unsubtly subversive PowerPoint-based performance art? Yes, Yes, and Yes. Specifically, The Yes Men, whose brand of straight-faced media manipulation has raised eyebrows at staged events and on international news, have agreed to answer questions about their activities. These include social engineering of a certain peculiar variety ("Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them"), and multi-media lampooning of major corporations and political bodies — and, sometimes, committing the results to film. (Their 2010 film The Yes Men Fix the World is CC-licensed; the torrent version includes a bonus short, the making of which is the subject of a lawsuit by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the target of a mock press conference it depicts.) So, please ask your questions of The Yes Men, bearing in mind (especially if you've never read them before) the Slashdot interview guidelines. (Major takeaway: for unrelated questions, please use separate posts.)
For the next year, it will be hard to escape the political season already in full swing in the U.S., as candidates aim for the American presidency (and many other elected positions). There will be plenty of soundbites and choreographed photo-ops to go around. Candidates will read speeches from TelePrompters, and staffers will mail out policy statements calculated to inspire political fealty to one candidate or another — finding unscripted answers from most of the candidates is going to be tough. Slashdot interviews, by contrast, give you the chance to do something that interviews in more conventional media usually don't: the chance to ask the questions you'd actually like to have answered, and to see the whole answer as provided. But there's a hitch: we need to know which candidates or other figures we should attempt to track down for a Slashdot interview. So please help narrow the field, by suggesting (with as much contact information as possible, as well as your reasoning) the people you'd like to hear from. It doesn't need to be one of the candidates, either: if you know of a pollster, a campaign technical advisor, an economist (or even a politicians's webmaster, say) who should be on our list, make the case in the comments below. And if you represent or are affiliated with a particular campaign, that's fine — but please say so. We'll do our best to find a number of your favorites in the year to come.
The Impossible Project, first mentioned here in 2009, has a goal that might be quixotic, but (despite the name) is looking ever more possible, after all: to bring back film for the millions of Polaroid instant cameras that have mostly become paperweights in the wake of the near-total discontinuation of instant film. This takes a sort of modern alchemy; the chemistry of instant film is tricky, and the knowledge had been dying out quickly. The Impossible team members didn't start from nothing, though: besides hiring a core of former Polaroid employees, they bought part of the former production facility in Enschede, the Netherlands, as well as production equipment. Now you can ask project founder Dr. Florian Kaps about the technical hurdles the project faces, as well as the motivations that led him to take on such a task. Note; though it's not all in stock right now, the project has successfully created various kinds of instant film, both monochrome and color. (If you have multiple unrelated questions, please post them separately.)