Fusion power density demonstrated

We have long focused on power density as the central arrow of energy system evolution. The recent achievement of the Joint European Torus (JET) to set a new fusion energy record of 69.26 megajoules of heat released during a single pulse over six seconds from only 0.21 milligrams of fuel, equalling the energy released from burning 2 kilograms of coal, prompts us to update our classic figure, below and as a pdf. Thanks to long-time PHE research associate Dr. Nadedja M. Victor, now at US DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Fuel mass per energy, including nuclear fuels. Economies of scale favor fuels suited to higher power density, thus decarbonization and finally nuclear sources, at least 10,000 times more compact than hydrocarbons.  The recent JET fusion experiment achieved density 10,000,000 times coal  with deuterium-tritium fuel.  Note: *CANDU is a pressurized heavy water reactor.  Sources of data:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density and https://euro-fusion.org/eurofusion-news/dte3record/.  Figure prepared by N.M.Victor, 2/9/2024.  Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University.

Passing of Cesare Marchetti

Cesare Marchetti passed away this morning in Tuscany just short of his 96th birthday.  After meeting Cesare in 1978, Jesse Ausubel became fascinated with Cesare’s ideas about the importance and ubiquity of processes of growth and diffusion captured often in simple form by Lotka-Volterra equations and subsequently coded in our Loglet Lab software.  In the early 1980s Jesse began assisting Cesare on some projects and subsequently worked together on subjects ranging from electricity to travel to human populations and empires (see below).  And of course Leonardo Da Vinci.

Cesare is best known for Marchetti’s Constant that posits that the human time budget for travel is a little above one hour per day, since ever and everywhere, because anthropologically rooted in the dangers homo sapiens faces when outside a protected environment.

Cesare was one of the inventors of geoengineering. His most cited paper is On geoengineering and the CO2 problem (1977).

Around 1970 he was also one of the inventors of the hydrogen economy as described in this 1973 paper: Hydrogen and energy.

A bibliography with links to many of Cesare’s papers from 1952 to 2007 is here.  A second list of publications is here.

Cesare’s explorations of Leonardo are here.

Our group at The Rockefeller University always greatly enjoyed hosting Cesare in New York City, and he reciprocated with marvelous hospitality in Monteloro.

Our joint efforts included:

C Marchetti, JH Ausubel. Quantitative Dynamics of Human Empires [Color Booklet Version, 52 pages].  Adapted from Marchetti and Ausubel, International Journal of Anthropology 27(1-2):1-62, 2012. 2013

JH Ausubel, C Marchetti. Science, Conquering Child of the Church . 2003 Draft prepared for Next 1000 Years meeting, 9-10 October 2003

C Marchetti, JH Ausubel. The Next 1000 Years. 2003 Discussion paper for April 2003 Rockefeller U workshop

JH Ausubel, C Marchetti. The Evolution of Transport. The Industrial Physicist 7 (2): 20–24, 2001

JH Ausubel, C Marchetti, PS Meyer. Toward Green Mobility: The Evolution of Transport European Review 6 (2): 143–162, 1998

JH Ausubel, C Marchetti. Elektron: Electrical Systems in Retrospect and Prospect Pp. 110–134 in Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment, J.H. Ausubel and H.D. Langford, (eds.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997 Also appeared in Daedalus 125(3):139-169, Summer 1996.

C Marchetti, PS Meyer, JH Ausubel. Human Population Dynamics Revisited with the Logistic Model: How Much Can Be Modeled and Predicted? Pp. 1–30 in Technological Forecasting and Social Change vol. 53, 1996.

Requiescat in pace.

Jesse Ausubel to receive 2022 Nierenberg Prize

Jesse Ausubel will be honored with the 2022 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest. This award is presented annually by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and the Nierenberg Family to honor the memory of William A. Nierenberg, an esteemed physicist and national science leader who served Scripps Oceanography as director for two decades. Previous awardees include atmospheric scientist Warren Washington, biochemist and Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, filmmaker Sir David Attenborough, and primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, among others.

Big Russian popular review of Deep Biosphere

We just came across this 9 Dec 2019 beautifully illustrated review of the work of the Deep Carbon Observatory, especially its work on the deep biosphere, a subject in which Russian and Ukrainian scientists have made important contributions since Mendeleev. Jesse Ausubel is quoted near the end of the article.

How they live where almost nobody lives: the dark side of the biosphere Life exists at a depth of several kilometers, in the hot and oxygen-deprived bowels of the Earth – and thrives there, completely uninterested in anything that happens here, above.

Crowning achievement of Deep Carbon Observatory

The media have much coverage of the new paper Extending full-plate tectonic models into deep time and its marvelous visualization of a billion years of movement of the Earth’s continents and tectonic plates in 40 seconds.  The paper generously acknowledges the Deep Carbon Observatory as well as Sloan and Lounsbery foundation grants arranged by Jesse.  Congratulations to the brilliant leader of the EarthByte Group, Sabin Zahirovic, lead author Andrew Merdith, and the rest of their team.  The paper will become a citation classic and earn them many prizes. For history of the Deep Carbon Observatory, see Jesse’s Foreword to Simon Mitton’s new From Crust to Core (A Chronicle of Deep Carbon Science)

PHE during COVID-19: IQOE, COVID game, deep carbon science

We all continue healthy and working long hours and hard, though mostly from our homes. We are catching up on lots of writing and editing but also trying to seize immediate, unique opportunities.

For example, COVID-19 may have created the reduction of additions of human noise that we dreamed about for the International Quiet Ocean Experiment. IQOE welcomes ideas about how the present quieting of the world economy may advance research in marine sound.  High-quality observations of the ocean soundscape, as well as possibly related behavior of marine life during this period, may offer unique opportunities of exceptional value.

Resuming our interest in Serious Games, we are also please to encourage a team at the Indian Institute of Technology in Tirupati that is developing SurviveCovid-19 — A Game for Improving Awareness of Social Distancing and Health Measures for Covid-19 Pandemic

Jesse has also written a foreword for Simon Mitton’s forthcoming history of deep carbon science, From Crust to Core, to be published by Cambridge U. Press. https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/from-crust-to-core/E0E2E8FC30B4C784B0FB268AC4AA8371

Deep Carbon Observatory Decade celebrated

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO), which Jesse co-founded in 2009, is completing its initial decade. Jesse wrote a brief history of the program, including its origin in the work of the late Tommy Gold.

A press release summarizes some of the decadal achievements, celebrated at a large conference in Washington DC 24-26 October 2019, as does the Deep Carbon Observatory’s decadal report, a 50-page document released in October 2019.

Several books summarize the work of the DCO.  Published by Cambridge University Press in October 2019, Deep Carbon: Past to Present, is a 684-page collection of 20 chapters by many authors edited by Beth N. Orcutt (Bigelow Lab, Maine, USA), Isabelle Daniel (University of Lyon, France), and Rajdeep Dasgupta (Rice University, Texas, USA).  Aimed at sharing recent progress with the peer scientific community, the book is also available open access.  The volume pairs with the 2013 volume Carbon in Earth, which aimed to provide the baseline of knowledge at the outset of the Deep Carbon Observatory program.

Published by W. W. Norton & Company in June 2019, Robert Hazen’s 288-page Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of (Almost) Everything offers a popular tour of the work of the Deep Carbon Observatory including cameo portraits of many researchers involved in the program.

Finally, English historian of science Simon Mitton, has completed the first history of deep carbon science, Carbon from Crust to Core: A Chronicle of Deep Carbon Science.  Mitton’s 400-page book, to be published by Cambridge University Press in early 2020, identifies key discoveries, impacts of new knowledge, and roles of deep carbon scientists and their institutions from the 1400s to the present.