Wednesday, December 07, 2016

"Germany's Wildly Complex Fusion Reactor Is Actually Working" - Fake News?

Does qualify as "Fake news", or are they just being stupid?

I posted yesterday about the successful test of the Wendelstein 7-X Stellerator magnetic field. It definitely should deserve the media publicity, because the topology of the magnetic field is very complex and very crucial to how they intend to hold the plasma that they will generate. But this is simply just ONE STEP towards the operation of this machine. They still haven't achieve yet what they intend to do.

So it is with a bit of a dismay that I read news reports that somehow indicated that this "fusion reactor" is "actually working"! Now, I wouldn't have paid much attention had this come from some obscure site, but this one actually came from Popular Mechanics!

However, the stellerator design is still relatively untested, so a group of researchers spent the past year studying the W7-X reactor to ensure that it was working the way it was supposed to. They found an incredibly small error rate, less than 1 in 100,000, which the researchers characterized as "unprecedented accuracy."

This is good news for the W7-X reactor, which was intended as a proof-of-concept for the stellerator design. Now that the researchers know the accuracy of the reactor's magnetic fields, they can begin building new reactors that focus on efficiency.

I'm sorry, but if you don't know any better, you'd think that this darn thing is now working, and they're now going to design "new reactors" with better performance. 


How dense can one be to get this report wrong? The actual paper, which one can read freely online, clearly indicated that this was a test of the complicated magnetic field, not the actual working of the reactor.

I would not be surprised if this is nothing more than a wrong piece of information that got passed around. I see Science Alert having the same type of headlines in their report.

All of these are misleading, and worst still, they are misleading the public who do not have the awareness of what is going on. And this is sad because the public often relies on these type of news sources, and yet, they are being given, at best, a misleading information.


1 comment:

Douglas Natelson said...

I think this is just terrible press release journalism. At first I thought you were over-reacting, but then I stumbled on the article about this on, and it's appalling.