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BEC Fusion

Nuclear fusion of the coldest possible type!
  (+6, -2)
(+6, -2)
  [vote for,

In theory this Idea ought to work, but at this time I have no notion at all regarding how it could produce useful energy. Half-baked, therefore!

A Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) has some very unique properties. See link. One of the fundamental categories of particles is called "bosons" and they have the ability to occupy the same space at the same time. Photons are bosons, for example. The other main category, "fermions", cannot do this trick directly, but a pair of them together can act like a boson.

Ordinary electrons, protons, and neutrons are all fermions, but the helium atom is equivalent to a boson (it has a pair of protons, a pair of neutrons, and a pair of electrons). Fermions don't have to be paired up exactly to act as bosons; an ordinary hydrogen atom that consists of one proton and one electron can act like a boson.

I neglected to say that the CONDITIONS under which atoms can act like bosons are quite extreme; temperatures very close to Absolute Zero (like a millionth of a degree away from it) are required.

OK, the key fact is that WHEN some atoms manage to act like bosons, inside a Bose Einstein Condensate, then according to the descriptive Physics, some of those atoms should be occupying the same physical space as others of those atoms (that's why the word "condensate" is used).

So, let's start with a nice big batch of deuterium molecules. Each molecule has two protons, two neutrons, and two electrons, and thus should be able to act like a boson, if cooled enough. The experimenters who have made BECs have managed to keep their atoms in the gaseous state even while being cooled all the way down to the BEC point (and I'm talking about atoms that normally form a solid, like rubidium), so I don't have to pretend they can do this with deuterium molecules.

The process of cooling an initial quantity of gas, down to the BEC point, can be somewhat costly in terms of the gas that actually gets there. A significant fraction of the gas is sacrificed via "evaporative cooling", to carry heat energy away from the rest. But some fraction of the gas does eventually reach the BEC state, and if we start with a big enough batch, we can have a decent-sized Condensate to study.

The Question that caused this Idea to be written is, "Inside a BEC of atoms or molecules, what are the atomic nuclei doing???"

If whole atoms or molecules are occupying the same physical space, it logically follows that their nuclei should be rather closer together than normal. If those nuclei have a tendency to react with each other, such as deuteriums do have, then the result should be nuclear fusion.

The energy of a few fusion reactions would probably almost instantly destroy the Bose-Einstein Condensate, and immediately stop any more fusions from happening. So? The goal of this Idea would have been achieved!

Vernon, Feb 04 2009

Bose Einstein Condensates http://en.wikipedia...nstein_condensation
As mentioned in the main text [Vernon, Feb 04 2009]

Bosenova http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosenova
Under certain conditions, a Bose-Einstein Condensate will 'implode' into an almost undetectable size before exploding violently - if you timed some kind of zap at the point of implosion, perhaps you'd be able to stimulate a spot of fusion. [zen_tom, Feb 04 2009]

Bose-Einstein Condensate of Hydrogen http://focus.aps.org/story/v2/st22
A group made the hydrogen BEC. They did not report any fusion, but they did not try that Bosenova thing either. [xkuntay, Feb 05 2009]

multinuclei fraction causes fission Fission fusion fraction multinuclei_20fraction_20causes_20fission
[beanangel, Feb 22 2009]

Total Conversion Total_20Conversion
See the "Bosenova" link above, before clicking this link. Suppose a Bosenova is the result of the BEC condensing to form a quantum black hole, which then explodes. Some of the missing atoms could have been converted into the energy of the explosion.... [Vernon, Apr 05 2012]

Blame it on the Bossanova http://www.gugalyri...NOVA-LYRICS/205212/
[normzone, Apr 06 2012]


       Genius idea [+] - plus it has the advantage that it could be described as VERY Cold Fusion.
zen_tom, Feb 04 2009

       // (like a millionth of a degree away from it) // Like a billionth of a degree away from it (10^-7 or below). Also not sure if you are familiar with the bosanova (Feshbach resonance) effect. Unfortunately BEC with hydrogen needs a little bit more tweaking than others.   

       I am certainly not discounting the fact that energy output may be orders of magnitude bigger that energy input. But we must acknowledge that this is a unusual field, about which more is unknown than known, to be drilling in.   

       Certainly, and most interestingly, any BEC acts as one field, regardless (and absolutely regardless) of its size. So any action that would be exothermic, on even one atom, applies to the whole field. Ergo, for a miniscule input you could derive a vast output. This much is known. About the energy required to produce an arbitrarily sized "controlled" field, almost nothing is known.
4whom, Feb 04 2009

       "Dark energy" is said to be fuelling the universe's accelerated expansion. One of the contenders for dark energy is the observable fact that a stimulus applied to any element of a BEC, effects the entire field in the same way. The mean temperature of the universe says this ain't so. But that is just the mean. It is quite possible that vast expanses of interstellar space exist at temperatures (energy levels) conveniant to BEC. Whereby, any action on one particular element of that field produces effects on the whole field no matter how spaciallly distant they are.   

       Under this hypothesis, active (thermonuclear) reactions fuel "dark" reactions at least one order of magnitude greater than themselves. Which would explain the 1^10 greater existance of dark energy over matter. The energy released by observed BEC collapse (bosanovas) has never been accounted for, with only 2/3 of the matter accounted for. Interesting but completely "out there".
4whom, Feb 04 2009

       [4whom], thanks. I might point out that 10^-7 is a tenth-of-a-millionth, not a billionth (10^-9). And while I can't prove it, I at least THOUGHT about writing "billionth" when I posted the main text. :)
Vernon, Feb 04 2009

       [Vernon], of course you did. And I meant to say 10^-7 and lower. :-)
4whom, Feb 04 2009

acurafan07, Feb 05 2009

       [xkuntay], thanks for the link. However, there is no indication they used deuterium, which is what I specified here. An ordinary hydrogen atom with one proton and one electron can act as a boson. And while plain hydrogen can fuse, it happens with a much lower probability than deuterium. Not seeing fusions in a plain-hydrogen BEC is fine.   

       Perhaps I should have specified earlier that a key property of fermions is that they have a property frequently expressed as "spin 1/2". The "spin" of bosons is always a whole number. Obviously any two fermions can add their fractional spin to achieve a whole number, thus emulating a boson. That's why a pair of fermions, doing the emulation, don't have to be identical.
Vernon, Feb 05 2009

       Wait a sec, I just took a course on an introduction to physics, and I remember one thing mentioned in a brief section about Bose-Einstein Condensates was that it was originally attempted with hydrogen but after a certain temp. was reached, small reactions heated the molecules up and caused it to be a failure. I obviously do not have a good understanding of a lot of this, but is it possible that what you are describing was occuring on a small scale?
acurafan07, Feb 05 2009

       The whole two fermions equal to boson thing is very confusing to me. Fermions cannot occupy the same state because fermions are antisymmetric, so when you take the integral of the combined wave function it cancels out, leaving zero probability for the regions they would otherwise share (unless they have opposite spins). For bosons it does not cancel out, but does not mean they are going to share those regions. Boson 1 has its area and Boson 2 has its area, and they have a common area. Now somehow Boson 1 may appear as Boson 1 now and change identity in the next dice roll to Boson 2, and vice versa for the counterpart. Also, it appears that if they occupy the exact same state, they may actually share the exact same probability space. What I don't get is how the individual electrons and protons behave in the BEC molecules. They still must interact somehow. Also, the combined wavefunction is the product of all the individual ones (if we ignore the interaction terms), so say you have two bags with balls numbered 1 to 5. The chance of getting number 5 from one is 20%, while getting 5 out of both is 4%. I don't know where I am going with this but the idea is good. No idea if it would be feasible though.
xkuntay, Feb 05 2009

       then again, maybe not.
WcW, Feb 05 2009

       [Vernon] I had a thought experiment before on bombing frozen deuterium with heavy ions, like in sputerring. What if we slammed a superfast bullet on the BEC? Just curious.
xkuntay, Feb 05 2009

       [xkuntay], I couldn't say. You would be invading a quantum system with a Newtonian system. (You didn't say how small the bullet was, so I didn't say "relativistic system".)
Vernon, Feb 06 2009

       [acurafan07]: Are you saying we should blame it on the bosenova?
BunsenHoneydew, Feb 08 2009

       Don't bosons' states still overlap when they are in different energy levels?
xkuntay, Feb 10 2009

       [xkuntay], that ought to be true, but I would expect it to be difficult to test. A BEC sort-of requires everything in it to be at the lowest possible energy level; if something was 'excited' it would be possible to release energy and affect the ability of the system to reach the BEC state. That said, if we had a BEC that was a mix of, say, helium and hydrogen atoms, all at the 'ground state', then just because the atoms are different, we could say they have different energy levels. If both are acting like bosons, though, I would still expect them to overlap in the BEC state.
Vernon, Feb 10 2009

       Just reading about the Bosenova, is it possible it *is* the fusion reaction you describe?
mylodon, Feb 10 2009

       [mylodon], it is unlikely. Bosenovas are reported as occuring in a BEC of rubidium, which is Element #37. If rubidiums fuse, they can only do it by absorbing energy, not by releasing energy. (Rubidium is on the "wrong side" of the nuclear energy curve; it could give off energy by fissioning, not by fusing.) If a bosenova occurs in plain hydrogen, or even in helium or sodium or other types of atoms less than #26, iron, then I could accept the possibility of fusions among those atoms. I'm not sure if any such has been reported yet, though.   

       I like the part about atoms seeming to disappear when a bosenova happens. Maybe the BEC shrinks down so small its concentrated micro-gravity opens up a wormhole, and some of the atoms end up ElseWhere? Heh!
Vernon, Feb 11 2009

       Another question arose in my mind, due to my ignorance on the BEC subject: what if there are degenerate states; states that have the same energy level. Will those co-exist in a BEC?
xkuntay, Feb 12 2009

       Everytime I see this idea, inchoate lyrics to "Baby got BEC" start pumping through my head. I must say that reading about the jiggling bosons does not help matters at all.
bungston, Feb 12 2009

       [xkuntay], I'm not sure the energy level is as important as "spin" combination. By definition, a BEC needs bosons or boson-equivalents. And then there is what I wrote earlier, "A BEC sort-of requires everything in it to be at the lowest possible energy level" --that would imply, degenerate or not, your energy-level specification would have been met.
Vernon, Feb 12 2009

       dude this is like fission fusion fraction (link) only I use positrons to push the nuclei togerther then employ their transitory element aspect
beanangel, Feb 22 2009

       [beanangel], why would positrons push nuclei together? Even a single proton out-masses a positron by 1836 times; a moderately heavy nucleus like iron-56 would out-mass the positron by roughly 103,000 times, and a decently heavy nucleus like lead-208 would out-mass the positron by nearly 382,000 times.
Vernon, Feb 24 2009

       And why is it called Bose-"Einstein" Condensate anyway? Wasn't he against quantum mechanics? When Bose sent him the manuscript he must've been like, hmmm this could be something famous. Then he tricked Bose by saying, oh let's put my name there, it will facilitate the publishing. He did that kind of thing with the nuclear bomb too. He was like 'Oh! How terrible! I didn't know they were making a bomb. I thought it was for show only.'. And then he doesn't explain the special relativity just to look genius. He says only 5 people understood it in the whole world. Of course we didn't, coz it's nonsense! The time slows down so you can see the man sitting behind you in the spacecraft? How about the man in front of you?? Is his image coming with infinite speed then?! And then he has these wierd prophecies like if the bees disappear life on earth will subside. What are you talking to a kid?! I am cautious about things that write "Einstein". He is just a little shorter than a charlatan. But he did teach one thing though: the importance of marketting. Did you hear his saying: "Good marketting is more important than a thousand formulas!". I didn't think so. Anyhow, I do believe in BEC.
xkuntay, Feb 26 2009

       [xkuntay], don't be silly. Sure, Einstein didn't like quantum mechanics, but he wasn't afraid to work with its math, seeking problematic issues. "Know thy enemy" and all that!
Vernon, Feb 26 2009

       [xkuntay] - you're whacko. That's not to say [vernon] isn't.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 05 2012

       Okay, [Vernon], I have to ask: What exactly prompted you to just now decide to supplement an idea you posted three years ago with a link to an idea you posted eight years ago?
ytk, Apr 05 2012

       [ytk], in recent days I've been constructing an email which will include references to a bunch of my HB ideas. In reviewing them I've done a few typo-tweaks and similar minor stuff. But in refreshing my memory of all those ideas (it is a pretty long list), the process has also given me a chance to notice oddball possible connections, such as the Bosenova and my "Total Conversion" idea. I will assume that I simply didn't think of it three years ago, mostly because the Bosenova wasn't the main reason this particular idea was posted.
Vernon, Apr 06 2012

       Ah, I see. So blame it on the Bosenova.
ytk, Apr 06 2012


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