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EU Intent on Hosting International Fusion Reactor 441

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-wouldn't-want-one dept.
Raunch writes "The BBC says that EU is determined to be one of the sites that host the multi-billion-dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor Even if they have to do so less-than-internationally: 'If there is no agreement at six we are determined to do it with fewer.' Not only that, but 'The EU wants an agreement on the project before the end of the year'"
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EU Intent on Hosting International Fusion Reactor

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  • by Mukaikubo (724906) <gtg430b@prism.gate[ ]edu ['ch.' in gap]> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:01AM (#10852550) Journal
    No, it's not the US putting up a fight. No, it's not the US that would probably be shut out in the cold. This is a threat against Japan and to a lesser extent China. Can we please keep the US vs. Europe flamewar out of this thread?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Hey, you started it!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, if you read the article, China is in favour of the EU site - they don't get on too well with Japan - Japan chased a Chinese sub out of their waters recently, for starters.
      • by Coryoth (254751) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:15AM (#10852631) Homepage Journal
        Actually, if you read the article, China is in favour of the EU site - they don't get on too well with Japan

        That is a terrible understatement. Many many Chinese have never forgiven Japan for the terrible atrocities during the Second World War. It didnt involve westerners so most in the west have nly a few scant ideas of what went on, but to the Chinese it is never to be forgotten.

        I know Chinese people who simply refuse, on spec, to ever speak to anyone of Japanese decent. Yes it really is that serious.

        Jedidiah.
        • by Ed_Moyse (171820) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @12:11PM (#10854582) Homepage
          I know Chinese people who simply refuse, on spec, to ever speak to anyone of Japanese decent. Yes it really is that serious.

          I hope most chinese people aren't that racist. I had a next-door neighbour who used to berate us each year for going on holiday in france because they were "collaborators". Luckily most people aren't so idiotic.
        • actually it did involve westerners. If you read about the rape of nanking, you will know tha the US had ships in the harbor and marines in the embassy. In fact the japanese bombed the a US warship but war was averted. During the rape of nanking, marines had to watch from the embassy as civillians were slaughtered. They ccould not intervene because of the political will in the US. Although you dont read about it much today the anti-war groups lead by the likes of lindberg went a long way to delaying the US
    • In fact, I've often seen comments that the US backs Japan instead of France because of France's non-support of the Iraq war.

      (I don't need to dig up any real references for to back that up any further, since you didn't either ;-))

      • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:38AM (#10852803) Journal
        Problem is -- this fight was going on BEFORE the US got back into ITER. I've been following this politicial fiasco for years. Maybe Clinton was right to pull us out when he did. Too much politics. Not enought science.

        But anything that suggests that the US is anti-science and politically vindictive automatically gets a +5 insightful.
        • But anything that suggests that the US is anti-science and politically vindictive automatically gets a +5 insightful.

          It is true. The new draconian security-based policy over the last few years has had a large, direct and negative impact on my colleagues in the United States, and therefore on my (Canadian) research as well. The policy may be designed to stop terror, but it is also causing serious and possibly devastating problems for legitimate foreign (i.e. other than Canada, Australia, Japan, western
  • Yay (Score:3, Funny)

    by z0ink (572154) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:05AM (#10852565)
    A deadline? Wait .. I thought the purpose of government was to prevent things from getting done. Couldn't have happened anywhere else but the US^H^H^H EU!
  • by davejenkins (99111) <slashdot@dave[ ]kins.com ['jen' in gap]> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:07AM (#10852582) Homepage
    There is certainly a big fat chunk of change to wind up in the host country. With costs spread across 6 contributing countries, and even if the host country has to pay a larger share, that is all money going into:
    - local construction companies (high end ones)
    - local infrastructure (data, transport, etc)
    - ongoing salaries being spent in the local villages
    - pride for the news bylines containing $GLORIOUS_MOTHERLAND

    I understand the US is pretty agnostic to location (realizing that the one thing all the other 5 could agree that it would absolutely not be the US)-- but with recent developments where Paris is not so much the US friend, and Tokyo is ever more loyal, I wouldn't be surprised if the US starts to put its thumb on the scales...
    • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:16AM (#10852640) Homepage

      I wouldn't be surprised if the US starts to put its thumb on the scales...

      They already do support the Japan site, for that reason, but because they only supply a small part of the money and because Europe has by far the most experience with fusion research, the EU is apparently willing to ignore that thumb. Of course, such a threat is mostly a bargaining tactic, it'll be much cheaper if other countries outside the EU pay for part of ITER, but whatever. The US doesn't that much say in this.

      Both Japan and the EU have offered to pay a large percentage of the costs if ITER is built on their sites; I don't think there's a profit to be made, it's mostly a prestige thing.

      If I were a fusion scientist going to work on ITER, I'd much prefer to live in beautiful France than in the sparsely populated bit of North Japan where ITER would be built.

      • by Coryoth (254751) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:24AM (#10852699) Homepage Journal
        If I were a fusion scientist going to work on ITER, I'd much prefer to live in beautiful France than in the sparsely populated bit of North Japan where ITER would be built.

        Northern Japan is very beautiful itself. You should go for a visit, get a rail pass and head north (as surprisingly few tourists do. Plenty of nice scenery in Nikko (just north of Tokyo and inland), and Matsushima (very beatiful there) in Tohoku (the northern half on Honshuu). Still fairly touristy for either of those, but I wouldn't want to push you too far from the mainstream.

        Jedidiah.
      • by davejenkins (99111) <slashdot@dave[ ]kins.com ['jen' in gap]> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:24AM (#10852704) Homepage
        I'd much prefer to live in beautiful France than in the sparsely populated bit of North Japan where ITER would be built

        Hrmmm. You've probably never been to northern Japan-- it is some of the most beautiful countryside with wonderful small towns that I have ever seen-- much more attractive than France (IMHO). I can almost guess that the Japanese Govt would go off the deep end in terms of providing the coolest facilities for the scientists-- not so sure the French would do the same.

        Yes, I have lived in Europe. Yes, I live in Tokyo.
      • QUOTE: "If I were a fusion scientist going to work on ITER, I'd much prefer to live in beautiful France than in the sparsely populated bit of North Japan where ITER would be built."

        Yeaahhh... but that's not the point!

        1. Which location will make a better video game when it all goes sour and opens a spiraling portal to Dark Aether?

        2. You don't want the scientists to be distracted by the svelte natives.

        3. Don't do that!
      • > I'd much prefer to live in beautiful France than in the sparsely populated bit of North Japan where ITER would be built.

        What if it blows up ? .. it is a Thermonuclear reactor ... Oh, God what have I done, I've got common sense.

        But hell, I want it to be in EU for other reasons.
    • maybe I'm being a bit thick here but mainly Japan has been in the new recently in relation to earthquakes and typhoons. Not the best place to build the new reactor? (Or do they have a safe and stable bit to put it?)
    • I understand the US is pretty agnostic to location

      Hardly - they support Japan as the site. They may not be trying to bring much pressure to bear, but they're far from location-agnostic.
  • *Sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tethys_was_taken (813654) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:09AM (#10852596) Homepage

    This is something so important to the people of the world, and all the politicians can think of is to fight about where it will be placed.

    I just wish, for once, these people would get out of their petty mindsets and realize that the more important issue here is NOT where it's going to be, but what it is going to do.

    Er, go ahead with the flaming about the evil terrorists who will destroy the reactor or take over the worlds energy sources now.

    • Re:*Sigh* (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Enzo90910 (547270)
      Hey, let me be petty if I want to be. This project is so important one of my dreams is to be part of it. If it is located in France I have a decent shot at working on it. So this is very important to me that it is in France. I am not ready to fight for it but understand that if a lot of people in France are in the same mindset as I am, logically the local politicians will be willing to fight to make them happy. Such does the earth turn...
  • by Coryoth (254751) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:11AM (#10852605) Homepage Journal
    A significat new energy source is going to be huge, especially with world demand for oil (due to the growth in Chinese industry) rising to the point where its pushing supply to the limits...

    Supposedly this reactor would represent the last major step required before, hopefully, fusion power stations could become a reality. The EU very naturally wants t locate it in Europe, thus giving Europe a stronger edge and focus in alternative energy research.

    Interestingly the alternate site is not in the US, but rather in Japan. And that is certainly what the EU is worried about - the Japanese economy, afte a decade and more of recession is finally starting to crawl back. And the Japanese are very good at small and efficient, and are already leading the world (jointly with Korea I guess) in alternative power transport (hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cell cars).

    It will be interesting to see how the fight finally plays out.

    Jedidiah.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't think European science administrators are worried about the Japanese building well-engineered, consumer-oriented compact reactors. Furthermore, ITER will be closely modelled on CERN - meaning that the scientists, administrators and engineers involved will come from dozens of countries.

      No, the reason why the EU wants to have ITER is because the world's major fusion research centre has always been in Europe. The Joint European Torus in Culham, UK is the reactor which has thus far come closest to gene
      • You're assuming, wrongly, that the US is in the driving seat. It isn't. The bottom line is that the US is only the world's *military* super power. In economic and diplomatic terms the EU is and this is a specific example of that being the case.

  • T4 (Score:2, Funny)

    by molywi (136881)
    I guess it's to speed up the filming of Terminator 4.
  • delay the fusion project. Reason: oil industry. I attended a presentation about the technical background of Fusion(tokamak) reactors in Hungary last year. Probably 2036 is the time when the first feasible fusion reactor could have started working, that was the plan a year ago. It happens to be at the same time when oil supplies run out. If these kind of reactors make it before that time, oil companies lose money. And thats a thing the USA wont let.
    • by be-fan (61476) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:20AM (#10852674)
      That doesn't really make any sense. The cost of oil is a net loss to the US. The US would *love* to get rid of the oil dependency, because right now our economy is so tied to what OPEC decides to price oil at.
      • That doesn't really make any sense. The cost of oil is a net loss to the US. The US would *love* to get rid of the oil dependency, because right now our economy is so tied to what OPEC decides to price oil at.

        You're assuming the current government of the United States cares more about the interests of their country, than about their very own private interests.
        The very last thing an administration packed with oil executives wants, is their country's dependance on oil to vanish.

        • Is it just me or is it that the more info that is dug up about the 20 billion dollar france/euro/iraq oil-for-food scam, the more people clasp their hands over their ears and yell BUSH KILLS FOR OIL", BUSH KILLS FOR OIL?
      • by ebassi (591699) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:55AM (#10852942) Homepage

        The US would *love* to get rid of the oil dependency

        No, the GP is pretty much right: the US just want the whole "oil situation" to stay the way it is right now.

        Right now, US economy is pretty much sustained by the fact that, if you want oil, you must purchase it in dollars - thus you are buying a small part of the left-pondist's debt each time.

        So, the world dependency on oil is, actually, an advantage for the US.

        • Right now, US economy is pretty much sustained by the fact that, if you want oil, you must purchase it in dollars

          And this is why Britain was not kicked out of the EU years ago. Out of those oil-buying dollars, more of them were bought with Euros and Pounds than started off as dollars in the first place. If Britain were to ditch the Pound and join the Single European Currency, then it would suddenly make more sense for oil producing nations to start selling by the Euro rather than the dollar. As long

    • Probably 2036 is the time when the first feasible fusion reactor could have started working, that was the plan a year ago.

      That's more than thirty years in the future, and therefore total bullshit. A scientist is lucky if he can predict advances in his field for the next three years. To say "fusion by 2036" is just to make a wild guess.
    • Parent is right. Why just the other day I saw Bush in his citadel of d00m laughing evilly with Cheney.

      Bush was like "Har har har! Those puny enviro-freaks in Europe are looking remove the world's dependence on lovely polluting oil! Har har har! Do not worry Cheney, we will stop those enviro-freaks from giving everyone including us power to run our economy."

      Joining with Bush's evil laughter, Cheney said, "Har har har! They can not stop us! Only Captain Planet could save them now!"

      And at that moment
  • by jaymzter (452402) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:12AM (#10852616) Homepage
    I'm tired of the Euros and their damned 'go it alone' attitude! The world just became a more dangerous place.
  • EU != France (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amightywind (691887) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:13AM (#10852618) Journal

    EU Intent on Hosting International Fusion Reactor

    No. I should read 'France Intent on Hosting International Fusion Reactor'. France and Japan have been battling over the reactor since the project was announced. It looks like the consortium will splinter. That is not a bad thing. It might inject some real high stakes competition into nuclear fusion reaseach.

    • It will not bring competition. Chances are that building a second reactor will be way too expensive, and the EU is betting that once it starts building ITER, the "other side" will prefer to join in rather than gather (a lot) more funding to build a second reactor.
    • I doubt its just the French. Top portuguese physicists are heavily involved in this, and the previous 'experiment' was the Joint European Torus, located in the UK. Further, the organization is to be based on CERN, which is also a multi-national effort.

      Go, EU! Stuff like this makes me feel more European than Portuguese...

  • by geordieboy (515166) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:14AM (#10852623)
    I hope they get this wrangling over the site over with soonish and get down to building something. We need some abundant energy source pretty soon to avoid either global anarchy when the fossil fuels run out or global catastrophe when we gas the planet with CO2. ITER is the best chance yet. I bet there'll be cool science/technology spin-offs too.
  • by oliverthered (187439) <[oliverthered] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:19AM (#10852664) Journal
    Well, we already off load most of our CO2 production to third world countries and china, the decline in manufacturing and farming (yes farting cows) is significantly helping to reduce our CO2 levels.

    The outsourcing of work to other countries is also keeping our inflation low, cheep imports=low inflation, we hardly produce any food in this country.

    So don't be greedy, let a heavily polluting country like China or a country with next to no resources like Japan have the pride in have a fusion research faculty.
  • Name? (Score:2, Funny)

    by PygmyShrew (618310)
    Can't help thinking that the word "Experimental" in the name is going to frighten people unnecessarily.
  • by pklong (323451)
    But who will pay the electric bill
  • Iter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If our supplies of coal and oil even get close to drying up before we can mass produce electricity from fusion generators then the world is in big trouble. Not only do we rely on oil for our light and heat but for transport of *all* goods, food and clothes. Our economies and lives would be thown into turmoil and you can bet that the powerful countries won't object to war to solve these problems (maybe they are doing so already?) Our civilisation hinges upon our supplies of energy (see Last and First Men :)
  • 1 month = 1 reactor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 18, 2004 @09:32AM (#10852750)
    With the cost of Iraq war draining at about $1.5B per week, it roughly takes 1 month of war for 1 reactor, in monetary terms.
    • Maybe, but the EU has been researching magnetic confinement for fusion reactors for decades... it's not really a matter of money, more about who's going to be able to share in the knowledge built on top of what came before it.

      IMO the EU would be better advided to keep this to themselves than share it with the US. Fusion power will be a major strategic advantage in a world where Bush is antagonizing all the major oil providers... The US may be a military superpower, but the EU can easily counter that with e
      • That was a worldwide depression, and it toppled half the governments of Europe. At any rate, it appears that ITER is destined to be an expensive success. It will proabably achieve net energy production, but plants based on it would produce electricity at a cost that would make, well, just about any alternative energy source a preferable bet.
    • by CountBrass (590228) on Thursday November 18, 2004 @10:55AM (#10853558)

      Ahem! President Bush announced the war was over a long time ago. What you meant to say was "With the cost of the Iraq peace draining at about $1.5B per week...".

  • With having 2 seperate projects. One US/Japan and an intra EU project? OK - it increases costs but a few billion is hardly significant in governmental terms. Hopefully they would engage in knowledge sharing and figure out who did what best and how TOGETHER their creations are greater than the sum of its parts...

    Or maybe I'm just hoping for some rational, reasonable thinking and not politics.... Hmmm... That'll be the day....
  • ...than they are at building their website [iter.org]. That home page is truly awful, with very little real text and everything done with images. If you want to visit with Lynx, or if you're a search engine, bad luck.

  • I don't get it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LEPP (166342)
    Why are people suggesting that this will in any way affect the US's dependancy on oil. We use oil primarily for our vehicles. Unless everyone is going to get a fusion reactor in their car or someone miraculously solves all of the problems associated with electric cars, this will have very little affect on our dependency on oil. It will have a very large affect on our coal and fission consumption.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gnuman99 (746007)
      Why are people suggesting that this will in any way affect the US's dependancy on oil. We use oil primarily for our vehicles. Unless everyone is going to get a fusion reactor in their car or someone miraculously solves all of the problems associated with electric cars

      Uhhmm, think for a second, ok? What fusion -> cheap energy -> cheap way of making H2 from H2O. Then you put H2 into a fuel cell and you get electricity for your car. H2 is just a replacement for "regular" batteries.

      Secondly, a lot of

  • Okay, what's the official rule on how many countries you have to include before you may use the coveted "International" logo? I always thought it was two.
  • Its about time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sytxr (704471)
    the other iter members went ahead and cleared the blockade that has been laid since bush reentered iter.

    The first post is completely wrong about it being a "threat" to China or anyone else. China *wants* the reactor to be built in the EU instead of Japan. So does the other ITER member, Russia. If the US hadn't opposed the french location and induced Japan to resist it more strongly despite the odds, the project would have went ahead some time ago.

    Unlike nuclear fission power, fusion power has enough fuel

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