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Schiller Institute 30th Anniversary Conference

The New Silk Road and China's Lunar Program:
Mankind Is the Only Creative Species!

Frankfurt, Germany
October 18-19, 2014

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A Promethean Approach to Developing New Forms of Fire:
Lunar Helium-3 for a Fusion-Powered Mankind

by Jason Ross

Presentation (as written):

Jason Ross.

Good morning. I'm very happy to have been invited to participate in this important conference, and that we can spend this time together.

By way of introduction, my name is Jason Ross, and I work in the United States with Lyndon LaRouche's scientific research team, known as "the Basement." The Basement has been working with LaRouche for nearly a decade, and its role has changed over the years. Initially created as an addition to work on economic animations, the Basement was tasked with animating the most essential feature of economy: the discoveries that drive it forwards. A "narrow path" of discoveries was focused on, from Kepler, to Gauss, to Riemann. After this work on scientific practice itself, LaRouche has assigned the Basement projects on scientific and economic policy, from space exploration to large-scale infrastructure, from planetary defense to fusion, from metaphor to well-tempered musical tuning.

Mr. LaRouche's most recent assignment to us has been to develop mankind as the measure of the universe, by a fuller understanding of creativity as a force of nature, from the standpoint of the Russian-Ukrainian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky. Does discovery reveal things already existing in nature-- principles, laws of physics and the like? Better: is the substance of discovery itself part of the fabric of nature? Is it not a natural phenomenon? Can a worldview be considered complete, that does not include this process of change as a fundamental, substantial part of nature? I'll have more to say on that throughout.

The topic I'll be speaking on is "A Promethean Approach to Developing New Forms of Fire: Lunar Helium-3 for a Fusion-Powered Mankind." I will use the specific, and necessary, prospect of developing fusion power, and exploiting the most useful fuel for this endeavor, helium-3, to express the truest identify of the human individual: a creative, Promethean identity. Among life, it is only human beings that willfully change their mode of existence from one generation to the next, and this is done uniquely by discovering and implementing new principles.

Although this is the natural condition of man, it is not always put into practice. Today, we see the BRICS nations developing in a very positive direction (as we discussed yesterday) while the British Empire seeks to derail and prevent such policies. This is oligarchism.

The ancient story of Prometheus is the most compact statement of the fight between humanism and oligarchy. Aeschylus tells this history in his play Prometheus Bound. After Zeus, the chief of the Olympian gods, denied mankind the use of fire, Prometheus brought fire down from heaven (the oligarchy) and gave it to humanity. For this he was punished by Zeus with the torment of being bound to a rock high in the mountains, to have an eagle (symbol of Zeus) eat out his organs every day. Yet Prometheus knew that he was the victor, and that Zeus could not take away his dignity, or the nobility of his good deeds. This use of fire created the human race: this was the first technology, setting us apart from all animals. Prometheus describes the state of humanity before he gave us knowledge:

"First of all, though they had eyes to see, they saw to no avail; they had ears, but they did not understand; but, just as shapes in dreams, throughout their length of days, without purpose they wrought all things in confusion. They had neither knowledge of houses built of bricks and turned to face the sun, nor yet of work in wood; but dwelt beneath the ground like swarming ants, in sunless caves. They had no sign either of winter or of flowery spring or of fruitful summer, on which they could depend but managed everything without judgment, until I taught them to discern the risings of the stars and their settings, which are difficult to distinguish.

"Yes, and numbers, too, chiefest of sciences, I invented for them, and the combining of letters, creative mother of the Muses' arts, with which to hold all things in memory. I, too, first brought brute beasts beneath the yoke to be subject to the collar and the pack-saddle, so that they might bear in men's stead their heaviest burdens; and to the chariot I harnessed horses and made them obedient to the rein."

Think of all these changes -- the calendar to know when to plant crops, dwellings for health, animal to help with manual labor, wheeled vehicles pulled by animals, music, numbers, and UNDERSTANDING. Think of this condition: "though they had eyes to see, they saw to no avail." This applies to much of humanity at present!

From the gift of fire, Prometheus says that man "will learn many arts," and indeed "fire," generalized, is the basis of developing technology. With basic wood fire, we could cook food, heat our dwellings, provide light and safety at night, and change some materials, such as hardening some rocks and bending wood by boiling it. A new kind of "fire" opened a whole new domain of potential.

This new form of fire was charcoal, created by burning wood without air, in a pile covered by earth. Charcoal, wood freed of water and impurities, burns hotter than does wood, and is much purer. With charcoal, the first new chemical machine was created: metallurgy, and the Bronze Age was begun. Here you see two stones: one gray and one green. They have some physical differences, but the real importance of this green stone comes only with charcoal. For this example, we are using an acetylene torch rather than charcoal so you can watch the transformation. The gray stone became hot and glowed, but it still remained a rock. The green stone transforms into metal! This is copper. By adding tin to copper, bronze was created. This was a new material that never existed in earth's crust before human beings made it. Humanity was becoming an increasing geological force, creating new states of existence.

In order to create metals, large amounts of forest were cut down and burned to make charcoal, and one of the first environmental regulations was made several hundred years ago to protect forests from charcoal-burners. But do you know what saved the trees? Coal did! Yes, with the use of coal, higher temperatures and greater energy densities could be acquired much more easily and quickly than with trees, and the fire-powered machine--the steam engine--was born. Remember that Prometheus explains his gift of the knowledge of using animals for labor. Now we can use rocks to do our work! With coal, wood could be saved for use in construction, rather than large-scale burning. And unlike trees, coal can power a factory to save tremendous labor, or transport people and goods by steam-powered trains, letting horses and oxen take a rest from their loads, and allowing laborers to develop more skilled occupations and pursuits.

Later, petroleum was developed as a new source of fire. With the higher energy of petroleum (and its fluid form), the internal combustion engine was possible. Without wings, mankind now had the power required to fly. Distances shrank, time shortened, and humanity became more connected. The discovery of the principles of electromagnetism allowed power to be transmitted by thin wires, rather than mechanical motion, and electric motors dramatically transformed production techniques.

Jumping ahead to the present day, here you see a chart showing the correlation between per capita electricity use and per capita GDP. Although GDP is not an accurate measure of economic wealth creation, this image makes it absolutely clear that a nation without electricity will be poor. While some disgusting people propose "appropriate technologies" for African nations, such as solar panels and small windmills for water pumping, China is investing billions in real infrastructure there!

Back to our train of development: breakthroughs in chemistry allowed for new processes, such as refrigeration and artificial fertilizer production, which discovery alone increased the potential human population on the planet by billions. Petroleum could be transformed into new materials. (Plastics are made from petroleum, in case you didn't know.)

Just as forests were saved by the development of coal, we must save our petroleum resources from being burned up, by the development of a new, higher form of fire. This is the power of the nucleus. Far more powerful than the ancient machines of the lever and the screw, greater still than the power of chemical changes and combustion, is the potential of the atomic nucleus, the newest form of "fire."

Although nuclear science began over a hundred years ago with the work of Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie, this domain has neither been adequately explored, nor cultivated. And its remaining mysteries and promise provoke fear in a superstitious and foolish population, rather than marveling at our own might. Why has nuclear power not been developed? And what is it, really?

Radiation was found to be a mysterious new source of power, emanating from certain materials. In addition to the radioactive uranium and thorium known to them, the Curies isolated polonium and radium, which are much more radioactive. Yet, even radium is not very powerful as an energy source by radiation. You would need over 100 kilograms of decaying radium per household to provide the needed power.

Nuclear science provided fire not from radiation, but by the different process of fission, which is the dividing of an atomic nucleus, rather than subtracting small bits of radiation from it. By organizing certain nuclear isotopes, mankind was able to create chain reactions of fissions causing other fissions, allowing for the release of absolutely tremendous, inconceivable amounts of power. (The first atomic scientists considered that the law of conservation of energy was violated by this stunning process.)

On the left, you see a chain of decay from uranium to lead. Each step in the chain happens spontaneously, and releases a small amount of energy. On the right, a neutron coming from the top of the screen hits uranium-235, catalyzing and causing a change, a splitting, a fission. We make this process occur.

Today, a few grams of uranium provide as much power as TONS of coal or barrel upon barrel of oil, and a nuclear economy provides many other benefits as well, such as food irradiation, nuclear medical tests and life-saving scans, and cancer treatments, as well as smoke detectors, which use a small amount of nuclear material for their smoke sensor. Why then, has the use of nuclear power not exploded, allowing us to save our petroleum reserves as a material, rather than a fuel?

The answer is: Zeus. Let's look at a chart of this process, a chart of power use per person, over the time of the United States. Using a chart for one nation allows for more consistent data, and illustrates an important trend.

There are two immediate observations to make: first of all, per capita energy use increases over time, and, second, the TYPE of energy changes over time, moving to the higher forms of fire we have discussed.

But, look at the time from 1960 to today. We see two changes from the long-term trend: first, that power is no longer increasing, and, second, that the newest form of fire, nuclear, did not become a dominant source. This is unusual. Coal almost completely replaced wood, for example. But this did not happen with nuclear. Why?

False environmentalism, and true colonialism. By and large, developing nations were denied credit and technology to join the nuclear age, despite efforts of US President Eisenhower, for example. The "environmentalist" movement, a ridiculous concoction steered by such as the Nazi Prince Bernhardt and disgusting oligarch Prince Philip, who wants to reduce the world population by billions--environmentalism has declared anything uniquely human to be "unnatural" and was driven to particularly target nuclear power, despite the fact that this remarkably clean power source does not pollute, unlike the coal plants it would replace. Well-funded media campaigns have terrified people about this perfectly natural physical process.

The chart shows where President Kennedy's administration expected power to be by today, more than double the current level. This has not only been a collapse of the US: worldwide per capita energy use is only around 20-25% that of the US, and the needed increase from a world standpoint is even more dramatic. The implementation of fission, including the thorium cycle much studied by India, is an absolute necessity, without which it will be physically impossible to ensure the dignity of all. But we need more; the time is come for an even higher kind of fire, the overdue fire of nuclear fusion.

Unlike fission, which is the splintering apart of a large nucleus, fusion is the uniting of two small nuclei, which produces more power than fission, and, critically important for us, it produces a different quality of power, especially with the best fusion fuel within our grasp: helium-3.

To explain the importance, let's look at this chart of several kinds of fusion, and the resulting products. To explain the words here, deuterium and tritium are isotopes of hydrogen, which means that they have one proton (which makes them hydrogen), but deuterium also has one neutron and tritium has two. Chemically, they behave like hydrogen. For example, you can make heavy water with deuterium. Just as two hydrogen atoms bond to form a molecule of hydrogen gas, releasing a small amount of energy, these isotopes can be combined chemically.

Most laboratories study the fusion of deuterium and tritium, where the total of two protons and three neutrons form an alpha particle (two protons and two neutrons) and a single neutron, releasing ten million times more energy than combining those same two atoms chemically. The power is not in the materials, but in the MIND, in our power to bring about new changes in nature.

Now, the neutron produced by this fusion of deuterium and tritium is a big problem, because it cannot be controlled by the electrical and magnetic fields of magnetic or electrostatic confinement experiments. That means that the neutrons go wild, smashing into the walls of the test apparatus, making them hot. Current plans are for using this heat to produce power just like a coal plant, or a current nuclear plant: the heat boils water, which boils to steam and blows through a small windmill to spin a dynamo generator. Very old technology!

This is the beauty of helium-3.

Look at the results of combining helium-3 and deuterium: we have a total of three protons and two neutrons. The products are an alpha particle and a proton, both charged particles, and both capable of being controlled by electromagnetism. This is very important! We can make electricity (the flow of charge) directly from these moving charged particles, doubling efficiency and potentially making power plant construction much, much simpler. The resulting particles could also be steered to create thrust for a fusion-powered rocket. And, a supply of energetic protons could allow us greater control over isotopes.

With helium-3 fusion, we will finally have moved to a new form of fire, one that does not involve heat at all!

What is an isotope? Here you see Mendeleyev's table of the elements, and here a modern version. There are less than 90 elements found on earth in any appreciable quantity. Yet, we have studied over one hundred elements, by making them. And here you have a table of elements and isotopes. Look at how many there are, over one thousand! While the chemist may not see a difference between two isotopes of tin, nuclear and living processes have different relationships to isotopes.

Now that we are all excited about helium-3, where can we find it? Unfortunately, there is less than a ton on the entire earth! But there are over a million tons of it on the moon! If only we could use it, both there, and bringing it back to earth. Unlike diamonds, which would be a waste of fuel to bring back from the moon, helium-3 is worth far, far more than its weight in gold. This will require a major investment and a significant intention to succeed. And China is making moves in this direction.

Just as the world rejoiced with the landing of Curiosity on Mars, and India's successful orbiting of the Mars Orbiter Mission, we should all be happy that China has expressed an orientation to lunar exploration, and lunar development, including the helium-3 resources of our neighbor. For example, father of the Chinese lunar program, Ouyang Ziyuan, speaking on the resources of the moon, said:

"Helium-3, an isotope of the element helium, is an ideal fuel for nuclear fusion power, the next generation of nuclear power. It is estimated that reserves of helium-3 across Earth amount to just 15 tons, while 100 tons of helium-3 will be needed each year if nuclear fusion technology is applied to meet global energy demands. The Moon, on the other hand, has reserves estimated at between one and five million tons."

What will a society developed upon the platform of helium-3 fusion look like?

Such a society would not have concerns about energy (it could even use incandescent light bulbs!) or materials, since the power of a fusion-powered plasma torch would be the ultimate in materials processing. Trash or ore could be vaporized and decomposed into its constituent elements. Even the oceans could be usefully mined for trace minerals dissolved in it. Speaking of oceans, desalination of sea-water to provide fresh water for cities and farms would be within the means of a fusion-economy, allowing mankind greater defense against the uncertainties of nature. New materials, isotopically tuned, could usher in a new generation of advances in materials science. Nuclear medicine could be much improved, with the ability to produce needed radioisotopes on a smaller and more local scale, for use in medical imaging and treatment of disease.

And this power will extend beyond the earth! We must develop a power over the inner solar system as a whole, and fusion can make this possible.

At the Schiller Institute conference held here last April, we discussed the theme of planetary defense, and the potential for an as-yet undiscovered asteroid or comet striking the earth and wiping out an entire nation or even human life in its entirety. Better observatories, including space observatories, are needed to detect asteroids, better information sharing is needed to analyze the data, and, most importantly, we must have the ability to do something about these threats! Otherwise, it would might be impossible to do anything about a recently discovered threat, and we would have the terrible situation of knowing of the coming destruction while being impotent to stop it.

I'll show two examples to show how inadequate chemical rockets are. The first is a movie of how the NASA MESSENGER mission was sent to study Mercury. MESSENGER was launched in August 2004 for a 2011 insertion into Mercury orbit, taking over six and a half years to arrive, by using six "gravity assists": one from the Earth, two from Venus, and three from Mercury itself, in addition to five rocket engine firings to change its orbit. In these "gravity assists," the satellite travels close enough to a planet to get a small tug as it passes by.

Similarly, you see here the ESA Rosetta mission to study a comet. Rosetta was launched in 2004, and will not land on the comet until this November, taking a full decade to fly by the Earth, Mars, Earth again, an asteroid, the Earth yet again, and another asteroid before reaching its target. Just imagine it: It would take ten years to reach a newly discovered dangerous asteroid, we could not do anything about it!

These satellites are like a hot air balloon, relying on air currents to move it to its intended destination in a mostly passive way. In contrast, with fusion power, we could carry enough fuel to have a rocket that can fire its engine continuously, going faster and faster and faster as it travels, able to reach any location in the inner solar system within days or a couple of weeks! If we are to ensure the survival of mankind, we must take this threat seriously, and develop the power, the platform, from which it is a solvable problem.

I mentioned China's work towards lunar development and helium-3, and I must mention that in addition to getting the helium-3, we also need to work out how to make the fusion happen, since we do not currently know. Fusion experiments continue to surprise us, because we do not yet know everything. On this front, too, China is progressing, with a world-leading superconducting tokomak, and plans to educate 2,000 fusion scientists by 2020. Instead of the suicide pact of the EU and the trans-Atlantic banking system, this is the direction the world must take: to develop as would make Prometheus proud of us!

To do this, we must now look at the act of creating fire: the act of discovery itself. What kind of thinking is required for the scientific advances required for the future?

Mr. LaRouche has identified two triads of thinkers responsible for moving science far forward. The first triad, the creation of modern science, were Filippo Brunelleschi, Nicolaus of Cusa, and Johannes Kepler. Brunelleschi's discovery that physics, rather than geometry, defined space in the small, and Cusa's discoveries on the very large--on intelligence itself as existing within the contradictions of pure rationality--these discoveries were unified by Johannes Kepler. Kepler, in his beautiful life and work, sought to know God's reason for creating the world as He did. Why were there the six planets known to him? Why did they have the orbits they did, rather than others? And what made each one move as it did? Kepler shocked his contemporaries, by bringing earthly physics to bear on solving problems in the heavens, and discovered the sun as the cause of the planets' motions, and the composer of the system as a system. He did this by demonstrating without a doubt that geometry and mathematics were incapable of explaining the orbit of Mars on their own.

The work of the second of Mr. LaRouche's two triads has not been completed. This triad consists of Max Planck, whose discovery of the quantum nature of energy shook the concepts at the basis of understanding the very small, of Albert Einstein, who partially implemented Riemann's program to develop the shape of space-time based on the physical principles that cause it, and of Vladimir Vernadsky, whose fertile mind gave us many tracks of study that have not yet been developed. Most significantly for Lyndon LaRouche's economics, is Vernadsky's concept of the Noösphere: the action of thought itself upon the surrounding environment. Mankind is a geological force, and thought is more powerful than, and powerful in a different way than, volcanoes, gravity, magnetism, or light.

In contrast to the method of thought of these great thinkers, Lyndon LaRouche points to the 1905 program by David Hilbert (and Bertrand Russell) to axiomatize mathematics, and science generally, turning all of knowledge into a branch of logic, and killing creativity of anyone foolish enough to adhere to their program. Although Cusa had already proved Russell wrong centuries earlier, Kurt Gödel presented a devastating proof that even if Russell tried to eliminate metaphor and creativity from the universe, the universe begged to differ. No complete system can ever be created.

This supports Bernhard Riemann's program for science: that the process of discovery is the foundation of science. The authority of science does not lie in having the right answers (since we will never have them. Rather, its authority lies in how it overturns current thoughts by making a new, incommensurable discovery, one that does not fit in the earlier system.

A culture oriented around this identity, as the beautiful music we heard last night should inspire and enable us to do, is the victory we must seek. We must eliminate oligarchy, hunger, poverty, and, crucially, uselessness. The highest duty of society and of nations is to provide an opportunity for their people to make lasting contributions to the future.

Today, the greatest specific platform for such a history-making transformation is a fusion economy based on helium-3. The moon is there as a reminder and a challenge to us to make the next leap.

Thank you.