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"Musings on Fusion and the Interstellar Ramjet" Topic

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823 hits since 23 Dec 2020
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Tango0123 Dec 2020 9:58 p.m. PST

"Proton-proton fusion produces 99 percent of the Sun's energy, in a process that begins with two hydrogen nuclei and ends with one helium nucleus, releasing energy along the way. We'd love to exploit the fusion process to create energy for our own directed uses, which is what Robert Bussard was thinking about with his interstellar ramjet when he published the idea in 1960. Such a ship might deploy electromagnetic fields thousands of kilometers in diameter to scoop up atoms from the interstellar medium, using them as reaction mass for the fusion that would drive it.

Carl Sagan was a great enthusiast for the concept, and would describe it vividly in the book he wrote with Russian astronomer and astrophysicist Iosif S. Shklovskii. In Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966), the authors discuss a journey that takes advantage of time dilation, allowing a lightspeed-hugging starship powered by these methods to reach galactic center in a mere 21 years of ship-time; i.e., time as perceived by the crew, while of course tens of thousands of years are going by back on Earth. If you also hear echoes of Poul Anderson's Tau Zero here, you're exactly on target…"
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John the OFM24 Dec 2020 8:30 p.m. PST

Tau Zero is the best "hard science fiction" story I've ever read.
Poul Andersen was one of the Greats.

Covert Walrus08 Jan 2021 5:41 p.m. PST

Bussard's company is still maintaining it has a workable Fusion torus design and just needs some starting funds . . . About as much as "Waterwold" cost to make.

But if you don't use lasers, the US DOE, DARPA and such do not want to know. Meanwhile, without lasers – link

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