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Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the costs-and-benefits dept.

The Almighty Buck 225

Graculus (3653645) writes Budgetmakers in the U.S. Senate have moved to halt U.S. participation in ITER, the huge international fusion experiment now under construction in Cadarache, France, that aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion could be a viable source of energy. Although the details are not available, Senate sources confirm a report by Physics Today that the Senate's version of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 2015, which begins 1 October, would provide just $75 million for the United States' part of the project. That would be half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind down U.S. involvement in ITER. According to this story from April, the U.S. share of the ITER budget has jumped to "$3.9 billion — roughly four times as much as originally estimated." (That's a pretty big chunk; compare it, say, to NASA's entire annual budget.)

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Scientific research never got anyone anything (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375213)

Except everything we have now.

Still I guess there are brown people that need killing, so something had to give.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (3, Insightful)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 5 months ago | (#47375263)

It's not even that. The military is getting their budget cut the same as every other government agency. A more accurate statement would be:

"Still, I guess there are budget hawks who need to get re-elected, so something had to give."

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (4, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 5 months ago | (#47375315)

It's not even that. The military is getting their budget cut the same as every other government agency. A more accurate statement would be:

"Still, I guess there are budget hawks who need to get re-elected, so something had to give."

Well that is not fair, the military's budget is so colossal that they should be cut at a much higher rate than everything else.

Threatened due to Ukraine peace talks (2, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 5 months ago | (#47375697)

France (and Germany) is negotiating with Moscow to broker a peace deal in Ukraine and the US does not want that: This threat is just pressure to make France reconsider. [ragingbullshit.com] . All power politics here, nothing to do with science and research or budget cuts. Expect more in the next few weeks (plus Sarkozy scandal is related but that is another story)

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (4, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 5 months ago | (#47376431)

The problem with the military budget is it never gets cut in sensible places. The people at the sharp-end get hit first, the VA gets hit, the bazillion-dollar do-everything weapon system nobody really needs or wants? Mysteriously continues.

You could cut the military budget by a bunch and get a better military by cutting out the inefficency and corruption.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (5, Informative)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 5 months ago | (#47376573)

It actually is [heritage.org] . "Defense bears 50 percent of sequestration’s reductions under the law, even though it is less than one-fifth of the budget. Entitlements, which make up nearly two-thirds of the budget, bear only 18 percent of the sequester." The budget is driven by non-defense spending - entitlements - which consume nearly every dollar in Federal Revenue that DC receives.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376453)

I think the point was... oil.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (4, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | about 5 months ago | (#47375379)

Amusing, since if we crack economical fusion power, then we could completely avoid entanglements with said brown people in the first place. The amount of blood and treasure the West has to expend to secure secure energy supplies (and in the process, suck up to barely-literate savages who hate us), is staggering.

You could take a quarter of what the US spends on the military in a single year, and build DEMO.

In the greater scheme of things, ITER is a rounding error. I wouldn't be surprised if some Saudi foul play were involved.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (5, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#47375477)

>and in the process, suck up to barely-literate savages who hate us

I think you've got cause and effect a bit confused there - most of those people are barely literate and hate us *because* we've been mucking up their country for so long in our efforts to secure energy and access to ancient religious sites.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376329)

I think you've got cause and effect a bit confused there - most of those people are barely literate and hate us *because* we've been mucking up their country for so long in our efforts to secure energy and access to ancient religious sites.

Common faux-reasoning popular among libertarians. They're politicians like anyone else: the Middle East's elites are largely pragmatic sociopaths, just like here.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#47376569)

Yeah, but we've made ourselves a really convenient target for them to enrage the masses at. Nazis, "commies", etc. were mostly people just like us, under the leadership of a different group of sociopaths, but look how worked up our leaders managed to get us at them. We were full into witchhunt mode and even had internment camps where we imprisoned over 100,000 American citizens for the crime of being of Japanese descent. Similar thing today with the terrorists - the folks on the ground are mostly just poor angry schmucks who've been getting the the short end of the stick for decades, but the fact that they can legitimately lay some of their grievances at our feet (The installation of Saddam in the first place, 10s (100s?) of thousands of civilian deaths at the hands of our military more recently, to name a couple of the most grievous) makes it really easy for their leaders to whip them into enough of a fury to throw their lives away in suicide attacks against both us and local collaborators. Cynical manipulation by sociopaths for their own ends? Of course. But we did more than our fair share in producing fertile ground for them to work with.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47376551)

To be explicit about this, the Middle East as it currently exists - its borders, the ruling parties, the dominant social groups - were basically set out by European powers after the First World War with no particular regard for the actual social and political situation on the ground. The past century of instability has pretty much revolved around those boundaries attempting to return themselves to something approaching an equilibrium, and our own dogged efforts to stop that from happening.

It's the Berlin Wall on a truly spectacular scale.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (1)

polar red (215081) | about 5 months ago | (#47375791)

I think the weapon industry wants to avoid that at all costs.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (1)

Kierthos (225954) | about 5 months ago | (#47375929)

Er, not really. I mean, economical fusion power would be nice, but considering that in 2013, the U.S. used 368 million gallons of gasoline a day.... well, unless we're converting all cars over to Mr. Fusion units....

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376095)

We produce enough of our own energy here to not have to engage in wars over energy. But when you try to do that you anger the world even worse as they cry isolationism. That's largely what brought the US into the last world war. Do we want to give that a shot again?
 
If the US concerned itself mostly with what's in its own borders and even attempted to live on its own means we'd see a dramatic change not only in our country but also on the global level. I think things would get better for us but the world at large would be put off by it. Especially all these Euros who like to scream about how war mongering the US is and how little we spend on education, science and research while their borders are protected by our troops.
 
I say to bring the troops home, make "undocumented immigration" a crime punishable by jail time with hard labor and start living off of our own lands by the sweat of our own brow. I know it'll have consequences but I'm sick of my tax money being used to take care of foreign lands and the people that hate us. And for those who want to come to this country, that's fine, but there is a process in place. Don't go jumping a fence at night and act like you have a right to everything that the rest of us worked for. I know plenty of foreigners who are fine people and they've all followed this process. They're doing very well for it.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376209)

Don't go jumping a fence at night and act like you have a right to everything that the rest of us worked for.

Ah yes, 'worked for' in the sense of 'being born to people who got in before the fence existed'.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (2)

fnj (64210) | about 5 months ago | (#47376405)

"isolationism ... That's largely what brought the US into the last world war"

The declaration of strategic-economic war against Japan represented by the oil embargo led to the US getting involved in war. This led the Japanese navy to estimate that it had two years of fuel left. It should not be bewildering that a nation being being thus strangled might retaliate, and that retaliation could only take the form of shooting war.

The embargo was calculated to respond to Japanese action in its own region with which the US disagreed - the invasion of China and the colonies of Southeast Asia.

Without entering into a discussion of the pros and cons, it was the OPPOSITE of isolationism which brought war to the US.

Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47375973)

Except everything we have now.

They're cutting funding because ITER's costs have spiraled out of control, and reviews of the project have shown that its management structure is fraught with problems. A few years ago, if you wanted to invest in fusion, ITER was the only project to invest in. Now there are dozens of other, far cheaper, better managed projects. We'll have to wait and see if they actually invest in any, but not investing in ITER isn't the downfall of fusion research by any stretch.

Good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375219)

Who needs that fusion stuff anyway?

P.S. Frist Psot!

Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (2)

Craig Cruden (3592465) | about 5 months ago | (#47375229)

Disappointing to see such an important long term research project get shelved by politicians.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47375301)

We'll see. Rarely does DOE work completely die. That can be good or bad, depending on the specific project. One thing can be certain.... a lot of the money gets wasted.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | about 5 months ago | (#47375387)

get shelved by politicians

Get shelved by Democrats, you mean. Ask Harry Reid (who sets the legislative agenda in the Senate) about his priorities, if he can articulate them in a complete, unmuddled sentence that doesn't include assertions about how his party has no rich donors, etc.

If this were the House, the tone of the comments here would be all about specifically named anti-science conservatives, not "politicians." Why aren't we naming the anti-science liberals behind this cut?

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375419)

Get shelved by Democrats, you mean.

Politicians.

If this were the House, the tone of the comments here would be all about specifically named anti-science conservatives, not "politicians."

That just like, your opinion man.

Why aren't we naming the anti-science liberals behind this cut?

Here's an idea! Instead of trying to turn this into YET ANOTHER partisan pissing match, perhaps we could all just accept the axiom that there are a large number of fucking retards on both sides and that they all deserve equal ignominy and derision? Do you reckon we could at least give that a try, instead?

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 5 months ago | (#47375561)

Funny that you want to sideline the politicking when the Democrats are the fuckups.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375623)

I'm an Anonymous Coward, you have no idea what I've done previously when Democrats weren't the fuck ups.

You also erroneously assume that I give a single shit that it was "the Democrats" "this time". Because, you see, they're all fucking useless cock gobbling cunt farts and frankly I couldn't give a shake of a shitty stick that you're a cheerleader for Team A and "this time" it's Team B. Because you, and people like you, are just as much a problem as the shit for brains dipshit fuck up politicians that are doing it.

Happy now, chucklefuck?

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375847)

You really don't get it do you? If one always calls out one side when both sides are doing it most people will believe only that one side is doing it. Calling out both sides makes it easier to show that you are correct in not liking either side.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

fnj (64210) | about 5 months ago | (#47376505)

Funny that you want to sideline the politicking when the Democrats are the fuckups.

You are arguing with an anonymous COWARD who won't even put his own identity on the line.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375541)

get shelved by politicians

Get shelved by Democrats, you mean. Ask Harry Reid (who sets the legislative agenda in the Senate) ...

Better to ask Tom Steyer, the trustifarian who made billions of dollars in fossil fuels, who has a huge ownership stake in a Canadian pipeline that'll make him even more money if the Keystone pipeline isn't built, and who coincidentally in the past few years has started giving millions of dollars to Democrats and green groups while becoming a very vocal opponent of the Keystone pipeline.

Steyer's the one who probably views fusion power as a competitor to his fossil fuel interests.

(Steyer's also probably the reason Harry Reid rants so much about the Koch brothers - Steyer actually does what Reid claims the Kochs do...)

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375715)

Steyer actually does what Reid claims the Kochs do...)

Buys Republican politicians?

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

coinreturn (617535) | about 5 months ago | (#47375707)

The appropriations are still in committee, fucktard. This article is based on "senate sources." So hold your partisan screech for later.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 months ago | (#47375893)

Neil deGrasse Tyson says it best. [youtube.com]

Republicans fund science more than Democrats do, so therefore Democrats constantly claim that Republicans are anti-science. Democrats are always saying that the Republicans are guilty of what the Democrats are actually the ones guilty of, because thats politics.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#47375961)

Given the cost overruns and the fact the schedule has been already pushed out 20 years any sane person would question what is going on here.

I'm in favor of government funded R&D but this one stinks of gross mismanagement big time.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376485)

...what'd you expect... let the socialist europeans run it. They're probably not even working round the clock on the basic construction...

Hell it'd probably have been cheaper to have it built in oh say outer mongolia, and even after all the kickbacks(bribes) the basic construction probably wouldve long since been finished and still have been cheaper FFS!

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

SpockLogic (1256972) | about 5 months ago | (#47375403)

Disappointing to see such an important long term research project get shelved by politicians.

Politicians can only think short term. Most of them no further than the next sound-bite.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375539)

So do most people... You roofed over your house in reflective titanium in preparation for the Sun's red giant phase?

Why not?

There you go.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 5 months ago | (#47375543)

long term

Well there's your problem. Spending on a long-term project is like throwing money into a black hole to politicians. It's bad enough if it won't pay off before the next election, but this very well might not pay off until after some of those old farts are dead! That's as worthless as a thing can possibly be to the short-sighted.

Re:Disappointing - Potential payoff is enormous... (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 5 months ago | (#47376623)

Disappointing to see such an important long term research project get shelved by politicians.

Perhaps if they hadn't spent 40+ years promising that fusion would happen soon if we just kept throwing money at them, politicians wouldn't be so eager to stop throwing money at them.

Fusion has been twenty years away for as long as I remember.

Bad Comparison (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375275)

3.9 Billion is the total US contribution for a project that won't be turned on until 2020 at the earliest. The correct comparison is 0.15 billion this year for ITER to 18 billion this year for NASA.

Re:Bad Comparison (4, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 5 months ago | (#47375407)

THANK YOU! Not Annual cost but TOTAL cost. That's $3.9 Billion over a 44 year time span. That breaks down to $88.6 Million / year.

$3.9 billion is chicken feed (3, Interesting)

AlterEager (1803124) | about 5 months ago | (#47375643)

The US has just fined French bank BNP Paribas around $9 billion dollars for dealing with Sudan, Iran and Cuba.

The fine could pay for the US's ITER participation twice.

(It's not even too bad for the bank, $9 billion is about 16 months of profit).

Re:$3.9 billion is chicken feed (1)

polar red (215081) | about 5 months ago | (#47375829)

>"French" bank BNP Paribas
I wonder what the actual nationalities of the owners of such big companies are ...

Re:$3.9 billion is chicken feed (2)

Shatrat (855151) | about 5 months ago | (#47375957)

Well, it's a publicly traded stock so the answer is 'all of them'.

Re:$3.9 billion is chicken feed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376557)

yeah, they should take that AND ITER's money and give to the NIF. Sounds like they're moving along pretty well on a teeny tiny budget...

fusing relitivity to orders of magnitude (-1, Flamebait)

nadaou (535365) | about 5 months ago | (#47375279)

compare and contrast, the US's war in Iraq, 1 ea. at $2.29 trillion, up to $6T if you act now.

http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]

pick your technological investment, rinse and repeat and hope to have something to show for it at the end of the day.

Something to think about on the 4th.

Re:fusing relitivity to orders of magnitude (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 5 months ago | (#47375593)

I'm sure that for the cost of the Iraq wars, the US could have converted all their energy to renewable sources or developed practical fusion power, thus never having to go to war over oil again.

Re:fusing relitivity to orders of magnitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375655)

Yeah, but it was buy-one get-one-free, who could resist?

Re:fusing relitivity to orders of magnitude (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 5 months ago | (#47375765)

I'm sure that for the cost of the Iraq wars, the US could have converted all their energy to renewable sources or developed practical fusion power, thus never having to go to war over oil again.

Pretty much though the benefits would probably have been even larger. Solar thermal is straightforward enough and close enough to normal construction that it would have beee feasible.

Sure, the amount and the required HVDC distribution grid would have been of an unprecedented scale but it is more or less well understood technology.

Not only would have spending it locally given energy independence, it would have kept the money circulating locally rather than going overseas. Even better a huge amount of construction and manufacturing infrastructure would have had to be created in order to pull it off. That would have left a vast amount of capacity allready written down ready to produce stuff at a profit alsmost certainliny making it very competetive both in the local market and for export.

Sadly it seemed that it was better to just dump the money into the sand and set fire to it. And if my country came along for the ride we could have had our high speed rail line or a replacement for Heathrow, or any number of other major infrastructure projects.

Re:fusing relitivity to orders of magnitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376191)

Solar is fairly straight-forward as a supplemental energy source, but I don't think you can say solar is a developed technology in respect to a primary energy source for the grid. This is due to the energy storage and transmission requirements you already mentioned. its not clear that the costs associated with a HVDC grid would justify making the switch, especially since it would render other forms of generation unusable. Much more likely is that the DC voltage would be converted to AC. and obviously you need to store electricity for use during the night.

solar panels are also made out of materials that are cheapest coming from china, and I'm not convinced the panel manufacturing wouldn't simply take place there.

and obviously solar prices per watt were and still are several times higher than traditional (polluting) methods. Developments are bringing this ppw way down, so it might actually be better this wasn't done sooner than later.

not trying to completely deride your ideas but just want to provide some reasons as to why it's not the

War over oil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376513)

I keep hearing that the US went to war over oil when on the misguided adventure into Iraq, but if that was true, why did the dissenting countries to the misadventure get all the oil contracts after Saddam was tossed out?

France, Russia, and Germany got all the oil contracts; but yeah, the US went to war for oil.

Stop being a fucking retard.

One question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375285)

How much did the politicians receive from the OPEC to abandon fusion research?

Re:One question (0, Flamebait)

nadaou (535365) | about 5 months ago | (#47375341)

> How much did the politicians receive from the OPEC to
> abandon fusion research?

I imagine depressingly little.

And call a Koch a Koch, it probably wasn't the local OPEC proxies.

Re:One question (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 5 months ago | (#47375501)

Oh, you don't have to go all the way to OPEC. The domestic oil industry is influential enough.

This is great news! If the oil industry is pressuring the US gov to wind down involvement in ITER, it probably means that they are beginning to be afraid it might actually yield promising results!

But ObamaPhones cost 232 Billion per year (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375297)

This is only a drop in the bucket compared to those!

Re:But ObamaPhones cost 232 Billion per year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375699)

This is only a drop in the bucket compared to those!

The program was instituted long ago:

http://www.freegovernmentcellphones.net/faq/obama-phone

Notice that earlier we said Link-Up helps fund “installation.” What installation does a cell phone have? None. So why is installation part of Link-Up, which is under the Lifeline program umbrella? Because, the whole thing began back in 1996 when the Federal Communications Commission authorized the programs for landline phones. At that time it provided discounts on landline phones only, for obvious reasons.

To this day the government provides discounts on landline phones for financially disadvantaged people in the United States and U.S. territories. The Link-Up portion helps with the installation and the Lifeline Assistance part helps with the monthly bills, to the tune of roughly ten dollars a month.

So, the subsidization of phones began under President Clinton, and has continued under Presidents Bush and Obama.

Democrats getting a pass here? (-1, Flamebait)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 5 months ago | (#47375309)

I have a feeling if the story was about the current House of Representatives slashing ITER funding, we'd see a screed about "anti-science Republicans." However, since the Senate is led by Democrats...

Re:Democrats getting a pass here? (1, Informative)

ScentCone (795499) | about 5 months ago | (#47375347)

I have a feeling if the story was about the current House of Representatives slashing ITER funding, we'd see a screed about "anti-science Republicans." However, since the Senate is led by Democrats...

That's more than a feeling, that's a fact.

Re:Democrats getting a pass here? (3, Interesting)

andydread (758754) | about 5 months ago | (#47375649)

I have a feeling if the story was about the current House of Representatives slashing ITER funding, we'd see a screed about "anti-science Republicans." However, since the Senate is led by Democrats...

That's more than a feeling, that's a fact.

So Lamar Alexander is a Democrat now? Really? Did you even bother to read the article before you opened your trap here? The fact is Republicans are anti-science unless that science is related to extraction of oil. You have failed misareabley to blame this on Democrats.

Re:Democrats getting a pass here? (3, Informative)

thaylin (555395) | about 5 months ago | (#47375393)

Take a look at the article, the only person it actually mentions specifically as trying to do this is a republican. I am not saying no dems are on board (feindstein said it could be an opportunity for the dems to close some purse strings itself), but your broad statement there fails miserably.

s the subcommittee followed through on that threat, even a senator from a state directly involved in the U.S. ITER project spoke in favor of ending it. U.S. ITER has its headquarters at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Nevertheless, at a 17 June hearing on the budget bill covering DOE, Senator Lamar Alexander (R–TN), the ranking member on the Energy and Water Subcommittee, said that ITER hasn’t shown the progress it should. "We’ve withdrawn funding for the program," he said, and "that saves taxpayers $75 million this year, and at least $3.9 billion, and potentially $6.5 billion, over the life of the project.”

for christ sake stop comparing things to NASA (5, Informative)

nimbius (983462) | about 5 months ago | (#47375325)

The numbers get rather large here, but that shouldnt matter. if NASA is our shining example of the commitment to scientific progress, then its so low on our list of priorities as to be a pointless comparison.

the DoD has an annual budget of over 500 billion dollars.
the USDA has a budget of 109 billion dollars.
the department of homeland security has a 60 billion dollar budget.
the department of justice has a 26 billion dollar budget
NASA has a budget of 18 billion dollars

So if one were to read these budgets as an expression of the will of a nation elected by and for its people (i know its a laughable presumption but stick with me here) then our priorities are
shitty food thats killing us
the neverending war against everything
Airport anal probefest 2015
mass incarceration
NASA, the agency thats congressionally barred from collaborating with china or russia, and is expected by every reigning politician to turn a quarterly profit or die in a gutter.

At this point the fact that we gifted europe 75 million dollars for a project to assess the fundamental tenability of fusion should be considered a treasonously accidental oversight. thats a whopping six whole percent of the NASA budget that we wrecklessly applied to the concept of an energy source that would user in apocalyptic levels of productivity and peace.

Re:for christ sake stop comparing things to NASA (2)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 5 months ago | (#47375569)

You seem to forget that ITER is a 30 year project and you're only talking about 1-year budgets.

Re:for christ sake stop comparing things to NASA (2)

thaylin (555395) | about 5 months ago | (#47376183)

AND? 4billion is a ridiculously small amount for it.

Re:for christ sake stop comparing things to NASA (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 5 months ago | (#47376247)

Indeed, it means that the 75M/year isn't even permanent, whereas NASA will always need money (for different projects, sure, but we're comparing the two for whatever reason). Are you forgetting the sort of project ITER is? It makes the shuttle look like child's play. 75M/year for even a century would be chump change in the grand scheme of things.

Re:for christ sake stop comparing things to NASA (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 5 months ago | (#47376489)

75 m/year buys the US intellectual property rights to any technology which comes out of ITER.

That 75 m/year is literally the cost of the patents and technology which will be required for practical fusion power. It's the cost of getting US physicists and engineers experience and expertise with tokamak-based fusion technology.

Re:for christ sake stop comparing things to NASA (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 5 months ago | (#47376055)

While I 100% agree that the people are getting fucked over and that our budget priorities are _completely_ out of whack (We spend more money destructively then constructively), but to call the Airport Theatre Security as an anal probefest is just a LITTLE out-of-context.

The problem is that people are apathetic, ergo they get what they deserve, sadly. :-(

Once people realize they are an extension of the government and demand 1. Accountability, and 2. Transparency of themselves AND the government then things will change.

Re:for christ sake stop comparing things to NASA (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 5 months ago | (#47376165)

You mistakenly (or disingenuously) left out that you only list 'discretionary' spending.

Mandatory spending - 2/3 of the budget - has bigger numbers:

Social Security -- $860 billion budgeted, and $852 billion was spent.
Medicare --$524 billion budgeted, $513 billion spent.
Medicaid --$304 billion budgeted, $308 billion spent.
Interest payments on national debt -- $223 billion budgeted and spent.
All other (mostly social programs like unemployment, etc.) -- $497 billion budgeted, $560 billion spent

Essentially, 'social spending' is nearly $2 trillion.

So while I understand the clearly political motivation behind the list you made, if we say spending explains our priorities, what does this do to your tendentious conclusion?

Re:for christ sake stop comparing things to NASA (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47376571)

You strike me as the kind of guy who stops paying the water bill before he stops paying for Netflix.

To come this far & then bow out? (4, Insightful)

sasparillascott (1267058) | about 5 months ago | (#47375359)

Seems a little odd to have gone this far and then bow out. And spread over the decade or more this project goes on, the cost is very minor considering there might be some good takebacks from the project and most importantly the good will it will generate with our European friends who's public has just learned the U.S. is unrepentantly spying on all their citizens all the time (the good will might be worth it alone).

Little quibble: "According to this story from April, the U.S. share of the ITER budget has jumped to "$3.9 billion — roughly four times as much as originally estimated." (That's a pretty big chunk; compare it, say, to NASA's entire annual budget.) "

$3.9 billion is alot compared to NASA's annual budget (which is ~$17 billion) - but that $3.9 billion would be payed over more than a decade right? So for an apples to apples comparison its what the Administration was going to spend on ITER for this budget ($150 million) compared to NASA's budget (~$17 billion).

Sunken cost fallacy (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 5 months ago | (#47375435)

Seems a little odd to have gone this far and then bow out.

Depends on what you believe the prospects of the project to be. If you think that ITER may result in some worthwhile advances at some point then you are right that it would be odd to bow out now. However if you are less sure then any money spent to this point is a sunk cost [wikipedia.org] and further investment would just be throwing good money after bad. The fallacy most people tend to make is "well I've spent so much already I have to see it through" which is not rational. The money has already been spent so the only question worth asking is whether future expenditures will get the result you want for a price tag you can live with. How much has already been spent is irrelevant. The money is gone and cannot be recovered regardless of the future prospects of the project. Any future investment in the project needs to be done on a forward looking basis.

Personally I don't really know enough about ITER to really make an informed judgement about whether it is sensible research project or not. However I suspect more good will come out of it than from buying a few more bombers even if the project ultimately fails so I'd say get the money out of the defense department's budget. We spend too much on the military as it is.

Re:Sunken cost fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376015)

Except this isn't a ship that has sunk (the classic example of a sunk cost). It's an experiment. We don't know the result. That's like calling it a sunk cost before the ship has even left the drydock, and you're deciding to scrap it. There might be good reasons to do that (the need doesn't exist anymore, the costs are far higher than expected, etc.), but it might also be premature.

If we're saying Tokamak fusion is too expensive, won't work, or whatever, then you better be redirecting that money to some other alternative energy source or energy experiment (e.g., non-Tokamak fusion), or you're basically saying that we're going to run down the non-renewable sources we've got (fossil fuels, fission nuclear power) and once that's done we'll run exclusively on wind, solar, and hydro.

Rational investment analysis (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 5 months ago | (#47376429)

You misunderstand what a sunken cost is and why it matters. How much we have already spent has NO bearing on whether we should continue to spend more. That money is gone and it isn't coming back. It doesn't matter AT ALL that the project isn't finished. All financing decisions are made for projects that haven't completed yet. It's not different if it is research or if it is manufacturing a product or digging for ore. The payoff for all of these activities is uncertain. Research is more uncertain than many other activities but the basic process of deciding whether to continue to invest in research is identical.

Almost all (rational) financing decisions for any project are made on a forward looking probabilistic basis. We estimate the cost and benefits of the project and we guess at the probability of success given what we know. If the project is a failure or probable failure based on *currently known* information, then you do not continue to spend on it. If the prospects are such that there remains a reasonable chance of success in the future then you continue to invest. In either case what happened in the past is irrelevant to the decision to continue to invest more.

Think of it a bit like playing a hand of poker. You do not have perfect information about what will happen so you bet based on what you know and the probabilities of a positive outcome. Your decision to stay in a hand should in no way be influenced by what you have already bet. If the odds are against you then it makes sense to get out and cut your loses. If the odds are in your favor then it makes sense to stay in the hand. Either way the information that determines how you play the hand isn't dependent on what you've already bet.

I'm an accountant with a degree in finance. Doing this sort of analysis is part of what I do for a living.

Re:Sunken cost fallacy (1)

bigpat (158134) | about 5 months ago | (#47376201)

With the government it is the opposite... The Senate is probably looking to kill the project because they are afraid it might actually work. Working fusion power would usher in a new age of plentiful energy and boundless economic opportunities and freedom.... politicians need a little scarcity to keep people in line and make sure they stay on top. Better to be the king of hell on earth than just another angel in heaven...

Re:To come this far & then bow out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375457)

It would be cool if you could donate to ITER , NASA, or other research projects/organizations that have long term benefits so that they can get some funding by interest and for it to be tax deductible.

Can Someone Help Me With the Budget Math Here? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375363)

From Wikipedia:

Funding is 45% by the hosting member, the European Union, and the rest split between the non-hosting members – China, India, Japan, South Korea, the Russian Federation and the USA.

Okay 55/6 = 9 1/6 percent per country. So $3.9 billion is equivalent to roughly 9.17% of the project. That means that the the other five that are split are spending $3.9 billion as well? And that the EU is spending $19.1 billion? And the total cost now is $42.5 billion?

Or is the US getting fucked again? Because that always seems to happen with international efforts.

why bother... (1)

butchcassidy1717 (1129219) | about 5 months ago | (#47375429)

Why should the US government bother to contribute to the project when we can wait for the Europeans to do the research and use the NSA to steal their tech. The the government can just give the NSA the funds they didnt contribute to the process and all the politicians are happy.

Re:why bother... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376605)

Or, more likely, wait for ITER to be successful without US funding, and then have private corporations license the design and build the fusion power plants in the US anyway.

Are you telling me that Areva wouldn't want to build 50 of those fuckers over here?

ITER in comparison to NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375433)

So: an organisation that is doing fundamental research that is nice but not urgent (NASA), vs one that could save the entire planet (ITER). Seems like ITER is in fact the higher priority - though I would prefer to see both funded and a couple of jet fighters cut from the DOD budget instead..

Re:ITER in comparison to NASA (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 5 months ago | (#47375599)

You've got your tinfoil hat on backward if you think ITER will save anything. Cold Fusion is a fallacy and will never replace oil.

Re:ITER in comparison to NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376433)

Are you so retarded that you think ITER relates to *cold* fusion (the imaginary kind) and not "hot" fusion (the real kind, like the sun does, which we know works)?

Re:ITER in comparison to NASA (1)

fnj (64210) | about 5 months ago | (#47376655)

You've got your tinfoil hat on backward if you think ITER will save anything. Cold Fusion is a fallacy and will never replace oil.

You are confused/uninformed. ITER is plain old conventional tokamak style hot fusion. This has nothing whatever to do with cold fusion.

Boondoogle (0)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 5 months ago | (#47375461)

ITER is a giant money pit and has been from the start. I do hope that the congress critters redirect at least some of the funds towards US based non-tokamak alternatives which have struggled to get funding in light of the giant sucking sound that is ITER.

And to those going OMG! Fossil fuels!

Assume that the remaining members of ITER are successful before they are bled dry. Do you honestly think that any commercial venture will exclude customers in non-ITER countries? That would be pretty stupid. Better that the US pay a premium on each reactor built (assuming that someday ever happens) than to continue to pour money down a hole today.

Prove that it is a boondoggle (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 5 months ago | (#47376111)

I do hope that the congress critters redirect at least some of the funds towards US based non-tokamak alternatives which have struggled to get funding in light of the giant sucking sound that is ITER.

Which "alternatives" are worthy of greater funding? (credible alternatives mind you) I think fusion research is hugely important but its unclear to me what worthy research is being starved of funds by ITER. If an idea has real merit it typically doesn't have too much difficulty getting funded so I find it surprising that you think there is some worthwhile project that would obviously work if only it had more money. That's the sales pitch a scam usually makes.

Assume that the remaining members of ITER are successful before they are bled dry. Do you honestly think that any commercial venture will exclude customers in non-ITER countries?

Customers? No. But being a customer isn't where the biggest economic benefit lies. A successful project would have a lot of technology that would be controlled by those who contributed. Like any investment, the biggest rewards usually go the the folks who were involved at the earliest stages and stuck with it.

Better that the US pay a premium on each reactor built (assuming that someday ever happens) than to continue to pour money down a hole today.

I disagree. Iit is unclear if ITER is a money pit but let's assume for the moment that it is not. In those circumstances it is definitely NOT better that the US pay a premium for the technology. The premiums that would be paid would be enormous. On the other hand if ITER is simply a research project with the usual unclear future benefits, then it still makes sense to invest as long as the money is available to do so, which it is if we want it to be. The only cases where it clearly makes sense to get out is if it is obviously a dead end, if there is a clearly better alternative or if we simply cannot afford it. Neither of those are clearly true here. We might have other priorities for the money but the US certainly can afford it and it isn't at all clear if the research is a dead end. Might be but that case does not appear to be at all conclusive.

Besides, I'd rather pour money into a dead end fusion project and hope for some spinoff benefits than buy yet another aircraft carrier that we really don't need.

Idiocracy is here. Now. Not in 500 years. (3, Insightful)

Zeio (325157) | about 5 months ago | (#47375517)

As the 21st century began... human evolution was at a turning point. Natural selection, the process by which the strongest, the smartest... the fastest reproduced in greater numbers than the rest... a process which had once favored the noblest traits of man... now began to favor different traits. Most science fiction of the day predicted a future that was more civilized... and more intelligent. But as time went on, things seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. A dumbing down. How did this happen? Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the herd... it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most... and left the intelligent to become an endangered species.

Some had high hopes that genetic engineering... would correct this trend in evolution.

But sadly, the greatest minds and resources... were focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections. Meanwhile, the population exploded, and intelligence continued to decline...

Private Joe Bauers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, (he awakes 500 years in the future) he awakes in 2014. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.

Re:Idiocracy is here. Now. Not in 500 years. (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 5 months ago | (#47375803)

I've always considered Idiocracy a documentary. Now I just want a Kleenex style T-Shirt dispenser.

Re:Idiocracy is here. Now. Not in 500 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376029)

I've always considered Idiocracy a documentary. Now I just want a Kleenex style T-Shirt dispenser.

Some consider Idiocracy to be a manual for the future, like 1984.

Re:Idiocracy is here. Now. Not in 500 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376019)

The irony is that anyone who thinks they know how things ~should~ be, anyone who thinks they know how genetics `~should~ be engineered, is the fucking idiot.

Re:Idiocracy is here. Now. Not in 500 years. (1)

HBI (604924) | about 5 months ago | (#47376617)

Gattaca. A combination of Gattaca and Idiocracy is pretty much the future.

Re:Idiocracy is here. Now. Not in 500 years. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47376583)

It's the resources that are the problem. The minds are all in the right places.

If it works, they will just have the NSA steal it (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47375519)

In fact, the US can likely now steal any and all data it likes and does not need to participate in any international research efforts.

Electrostatic Inertial Confinement Fusion (1)

mknewman (557587) | about 5 months ago | (#47375531)

We should be pursuing the legacy of Robert Brusard https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] like these folks http://www.talk-polywell.org/b... [talk-polywell.org] . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org] It works, 15 year old students have made it work in a lab http://www.popsci.com/diy/arti... [popsci.com] and $100m would build a proof of concept energy positive plant. I have no idea why we have not done this other than we may have already under the NAVY but they aren't talking. NASA should build one for interplanetary ion engines.

Re:Electrostatic Inertial Confinement Fusion (1)

mknewman (557587) | about 5 months ago | (#47375615)

Correction, his name is spelled Bussard, as in the Bussard Ramjet of Sci-Fi fame that he invented. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Electrostatic Inertial Confinement Fusion (1)

AlterEager (1803124) | about 5 months ago | (#47375769)

We should be pursuing the legacy of Robert Brusard

If you can't even be bothered to spell his name right...

Re:Electrostatic Inertial Confinement Fusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375927)

We should be pursuing the legacy of Robert Brusard

No we shouldn't. We understand the physics of those devices very well. They will aren't an energy source period.

Re:Electrostatic Inertial Confinement Fusion (2)

bigpat (158134) | about 5 months ago | (#47376351)

Yes, but it is not either or, we should be pursuing all types of potentially promising research and development towards nuclear fusion or even safer and more sustainable nuclear fusion. We should be spending ten or twenty Billion dollars per year and not just $150 million.

And we should actually be building up to industrial scale some of the more promising nuclear fission designs that we have now. Solar and Wind are not likely going to be able to account for even the majority of our energy needs so we need nuclear fission or preferably nuclear fusion to provide for our industrial scale needs.

Re:Electrostatic Inertial Confinement Fusion (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47376611)

The Navy-funded research is all out there in the journals. It's an active area, it's just not a very expensive one (which is one of its benefits) so it's not a political hot potato.

Good! Let the Americans pull out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47375737)

Then the rest of the world can charge them for the technology.

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.” - Winston Churchill

In this case, let them try everything else...

More then NASA (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 5 months ago | (#47375879)

We should be putting more into ITER than the NASA budget

Again ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376147)

USA left ITER also in 1999 and 2006. There is still time to rejoin and re-quit before 2020.

The politicians want this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376265)

This is the first hopeful news about fusion in a long while. When the lapping dogs of the coal and petroleum industry are told to get the US out of the operation, it can only be because there's now some possibility that fusion will actually work and compete with, well, coal and petroleum.

God knows we can't afford progress. It would be devastating to the economy.

Ahh fuck it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47376409)

Humanity is doomed.. Hopefully the next human like race on earth (if there is one) evolves to not have idiots.

So fuck it. I'm just going to start burning my trash, leave all my lights on, litter, etc.

I give up!

Is there any evidence that ITER (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 5 months ago | (#47376671)

would succeed in anything less then 40 years?

That after their "success" nuclear fusion would be cheap, clean and easily reproducible?

This is the easy brute force approach to fusion. Cut funding and scientists will be forced to use other less brute force ways which could result in cleaner ways of fusion.

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