When we ask why there isn’t more funding for Polywell, or Dense Focus Fusion or the other concepts we must remember the old joke: Fusion is the power of the future– and always will be!
For that last 60 years, there have been books about fusion, articles, TV specials, many of which tell us that fusion is expected by 1970, or 1980, or 1985…it’s a mirage, always just around the corner, if only we had more money or more funding. It would be nice to blame this just on traditional fusion scientists, but it’s a danger every advocate, of any new technology faces– the danger of becoming overly optimistic.
And, after better than a half century, the response of many individuals, not Luddites but quite intelligent businessmen and citizens, to a breathless new announcement is… a hearty yawn. They’ve heard that story before. They’ve seen the pictures of bigger and better test units. They have a hearty doubt if fusion will ever be achieved, or if it is, will it be economically viable.
Even many of those interested in alternative energy point out that advances in solar are changing the world as we speak– to them, the question is, “why invest in this, when we have more profitable directions?” And they have a point– solar powered charges for celphones and tablet computers are revolutionizing the economy of the third world, in a way that big centralized power stations likely wouldn’t.
But what does this mean for advocates of Polywell fusion or any other fusion technology? It means we must accept that we are energized and enthused, but the rest of the world may not be– and we must understand that they have some fairly good reasons for that. Falling into the trap of assuming anyone who doesn’t agree with us is stupid and shouldn’t be engaged not only is disrespectful– but it runs the real risk of alienating the uncommitted.
Today, we must face the fact that the Polywell, like other new concepts, has to be effectively marketed to the public. As a community, we cannot leave this to occasional magazine articles, that more often than not fail to effectively explain it, nor can we expect people who may never even have heard of Polywells to understand and uncritically accept why they should invest money in it.
Remember, that the greatest developments in American history have been in part due to engineering, but Ford, and Edison and Steve Jobs were also great salesmen. That’s what the Polywell community has to become.