Print 68 comment(s) - last by spread.. on Jun 28 at 9:37 AM

Did North Korea really achieve clean fusion?  (Source: Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press)

Inside the reactor core of one of North Korea's nuclear plants  (Source: AP)
Many scientists are discounting that the secretive dictatorship made a true breakthrough

A mystery is emerging on the Korean peninsula.  The nation of North Korea, which has long been suspected of developing nuclear weapons, announced on May 12 that it had achieved clean nuclear fusion and was ready to began rolling out virtually free power.  The claim did not receive that much serious attention because it was simply so unbelievable.

Now the mystery has deepened, with the South Korean government scientists revealing that they detected abnormal levels of radioactive xenon gas -- eight times above the normal background level -- only two days after the fusion announcement.

It seems highly unlikely that the fusion reaction occurred as North Korea claims as fission typically produces large isotopes, while fusion uses small atoms like deuterium (a hydrogen isotope).  Granted, many scientists have theorized that fission can be tied to fusion to create hybrid reactors and such reactors 
would likely be capable of producing heavy isotopes.

Professor David Hinde, who is the department head of nuclear physics at The Australian National University says the release is more likely to have come from a traditional fission device.  He states, "It would have to be man-generated unless one came up with some very unusual alternative scenario. The lifetime of those radioactive xenon isotopes, they're not terribly long. So it could not be anything that came naturally, I would say.  Heavy xenon isotopes could be a signature of a fission device of some kind."

The easiest explanation would be that North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test.  It revealed in 2008 that it has several nuclear weapons stockpiled.  However, such a test would have created seismic activity and South Korean officials detected no corresponding seismic events.

Xenon is colorless, odorless, and largely inert noble gas thats found in minute levels in the atmosphere.  The noble gases xenon and krypton are typically used to detect nuclear activity.  The levels of gas detected by South Korea are a clear marker of nuclear activity, but do not pose a health risk to citizens.

North Korea 
did conduct nuclear weapons tests in 2006, which were detected.  It received international condemnation for these tests and UN sanctions.

For now, though, it's unclear exactly what happened in the mysterious nation of North Korea.  While it's highly unlikely the nation has discovered the holy grail of renewable energy, something that has eluded the best researchers in the U.S. and abroad, at this point there are no definitive answers.

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Good grief
By Denigrate on 6/24/2010 3:04:21 PM , Rating: 3
that has alluded the best researchers in the U.S. and abroad, at this point there are no definitive answers.

Could we PLEASE get a decent editor for this site?

RE: Good grief
By magmaviper on 6/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good grief
By marsbound2024 on 6/24/2010 3:16:50 PM , Rating: 5
We like to think we are reading decent "journalism" on this website, so there is nothing wrong with asking for proper grammar. I'd hate to see news devolve into, "Teh man in charge of plant say, 'We build nuclear fusion stuffz!' and US say somethin like 'No wai man!'"

RE: Good grief
By kattanna on 6/24/2010 3:28:24 PM , Rating: 5
We like to think we are reading decent "journalism" on this website, so there is nothing wrong with asking for proper grammar

as much as i hate to kick this dead horse, all one needs to do is look who posted it up and then one can figure there will be errors

sad, but true.

RE: Good grief
By Al Koholic on 6/24/2010 5:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
Who is "we"?

I like to think that the stock market is going up and I'm making a lot of money but that won't make it true.

Take what you get IMHO. They produce the content and we consume it in some sort of equilibrium. I don't really see the need for constant pestering if the site is able to continue to attract. It isn't difficult understand the nature of the situation...

That said these comments, and my own reply, don't really need a lot of attention. Perhaps they actually make reading the posts a lot less fun.

Sorry for perpetuating this ;-P

RE: Good grief
By BBeltrami on 6/25/2010 9:28:31 AM , Rating: 5
I can appreciate that you don't particularly care. That's fine. But the simple fact remains that eluded and alluded have completely different meanings.

The irony eludes you, that you alluded to the acceptability of modern illiteracy, and in fact defended it. Now if we could just get those silly teachers to stop pestering students with all that learning, then we'd all be in equilibrium. You're right, it doesn't take any thought at all to understand the nature of the situation.

RE: Good grief
By Alexvrb on 6/25/2010 8:28:47 PM , Rating: 3
Don't worry, a lot of teachers these days aren't too worried about that whole edumacatin' buzniss. The rest will fall in line (or retire) soon enough. Public education at its finest!

RE: Good grief
By SilthDraeth on 6/28/2010 2:59:18 AM , Rating: 2
Most likely the reason you are seeing errors like alluded, and eluded is because of Dragon.

A lot of tech editors dictate via Dragon, and it will sometimes drop the wrong word in.

Then, the paragraph is ran through a digital spell and grammar check system. The sentence makes sense with either verb as far as grammar goes, but doesn't make sense in context to the story and actual targeted meaning.

With the amount of blogs, and authors posting on Daily Tech, an actual human editor would probably miss more things than the software that accomplishes the same thing, far cheaper, and quicker.

RE: Good grief
By The0ne on 6/25/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good grief
By W00dmann on 6/25/2010 3:44:47 PM , Rating: 1
Much as I hate to admit it, I believe Jason's use of the word "elude" was correct. Fear not however, Jason's superb writing skills are always front and center:

"...and was ready to begin rolling out virtually free power."

"Xenon is a colorless, odorless, and largely inert noble gas..."

His sloppy English is however no match for his usual trashy writing style, which is long on hype and short on facts. He never lets that get in his way, though. Go Jason! Don't let your moral disabilities stop you!

RE: Good grief
By Fritzr on 6/26/2010 7:43:23 AM , Rating: 2
The actual word in the article is allude ... the context clearly implies elude should have been used.

RE: Good grief
By OUits on 6/24/2010 3:57:48 PM , Rating: 5
Dude seriously? I get tired of people bitching about spelling, if you don't like it, DON'T visit the website and go f*cking read an English book.

It's not spelling, if it were just spelling people wouldn't care.


Two completely different words with entirely different meanings. You need the English book.

RE: Good grief
By adiposity on 6/24/2010 4:55:22 PM , Rating: 1
It's not spelling, if it were just spelling people wouldn't care. Alluded Eluded Two completely different words with entirely different meanings. You need the English book.

And yet, you were not confused by his meaning.

However, I still agree with the need for an editor. Such mistakes are jarring during the reading experience.

RE: Good grief
By MartyLK on 6/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: Good grief
By krull1313 on 6/24/2010 7:15:30 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe I am missing something here but per

alude: To make an indirect reference

elude: To escape the understanding or grasp of

I would say Jason was correct in this article because no scientist has found a way for clean fusion to work, and the way the sentence is structured does not make an indirect reference.

I personally have terrible grammar, and maybe the article was edited, but I don't see the issue with the sentence.

RE: Good grief
By roadhog1974 on 6/24/2010 8:42:49 PM , Rating: 4
Most newspapers will have spelling errors in them.

Newspaper proof readers usually just check that nothing
in the article will make them liable in a law suit.

RE: Good grief
By incogneato on 6/25/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good grief
By Myrandex on 6/25/2010 11:30:17 AM , Rating: 2
Somehow I don't believe you...given the fact that your post exists :)

RE: Good grief
By abel2 on 6/27/2010 12:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. It amazes me the fact that people will complain about how certain articles make them hate coming to visit this website, and yet they take the time to post these complaints. Hypocrisy at it's best.

If you do not enjoy reading the articles on dailytech, you should more than likely stop reading the articles and go visit a site that is more suited to your 'englishnazi' ways, or your distorted party line views.

Personally I like to read comments about the article in question, and not snide comments about the writer or his/her personal writing style. We are not here to learn about a particular persons writing or education, we are here to absorb information. If you cannot absorb that information because of a few misspellings or incorrect word usage then you are quite ignorant.

RE: Good grief
By Wulf145 on 6/25/10, Rating: 0
eluded the best researchers
By 2bdetermine on 6/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: eluded the best researchers
By gamerk2 on 6/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: eluded the best researchers
By wiz220 on 6/24/2010 5:06:44 PM , Rating: 3
You are correct. That is why they are letting the citizens of the civilized world pay for the lion's share of the research (K-Star, ITER, and other reactors). After those projects, have proven the concept, solved all of the problems, and all of the hard, risky work has been done THEN corporations will come in to reap the rewards.

RE: eluded the best researchers
By JediJeb on 6/24/2010 5:43:26 PM , Rating: 5
Fusion like any other power source must be looked at as how much power you get out, versus how much power was put in. Even if you think about coal, is the power output from burning coal more or less than the power of the solar energy used to grow the initial plants and the gravity that caused the pressure from the overlying rock to be enough to turn the organic matter into coal?

The reason the Sun is a self sustaining fusion reactor is because it has the advantage of gravity as its power input source. Here on Earth we need another power source to create conditions favorable for fusion to take place. In the end, does it take more power to generate fusion than what the fusion produces? Even if you pass the break even point of where the Watts coming out surpass the Watts being put in, you need a high ratio to make it feasible. If you get a ratio of say 2 out per 1 in, you are only making a power amplifier not a real power source. This is the whole premise behind the Hydrogen bomb, the fusion of the hydrogen in the blast simply amplifies the power of the fission bomb, without the fission bomb there is no fusion explosion.

I hope some day I am proven wrong, but I just don't see a day coming when we have table top fusion generators being a reality.

RE: eluded the best researchers
By spread on 6/25/2010 9:37:30 AM , Rating: 2
LOL. "Power amplifier"... uhh no. That would be free energy.

Fusion reactors run off various forms of hydrogen and/or helium. They literally fuse the materials together at the atomic level and energy comes out. There's no "power amplification". It burns this fuel for energy.

In order to have a consistent reaction, a very high temperature and pressure must exist. Most popular way to contain this reaction is to use powerful magnetic fields to squeeze everything together and hold it away from the reactor walls which would melt in a few seconds. It's that hot. As you can imagine the magnets suck quite a bit of power.

RE: eluded the best researchers
By JediJeb on 6/25/2010 3:36:29 PM , Rating: 2
I know all about how fusion works, the term power amplifier I used was more or less a layman's term to describe what is happening in the end result.

It takes a great deal of power to make a fusion reaction go and sustain it. In a sense any power you get out of the reaction that is above and beyond the power you put in to create the reaction would be a bonus. It does consume hydrogen or helium so it is not free power, but you are in a simplified term using that fuel to increase the power you are putting into the system thus amplifying it.

A fusion reactor would not really "burn" the hydrogen or helium as fuel, they would act more as a lever to amplify the power put in, since without the power being put in the reaction would not go. If you can make a fusion reactor that takes 1kW of energy per hour to sustain the fusion reaction and you receive out of that reactor 2kW of energy per hour, then you have in a sense amplified your initial energy using hydrogen. But if you stop putting in the energy the reaction ceases. Only if you can somehow use 1kw of energy produced to self sustain the reaction then you would have something workable, but it still takes a large amount of outside energy to start the reactor if ever stopped.

If you really think about it, in the Sun the fuel is hydrogen and the supplied power is gravity. If gravity did not exist the Sun would cease to give off any energy.

RE: eluded the best researchers
By spread on 6/28/2010 9:37:23 AM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about?

There is no POWER AMPLIFICATION. The device uses up fuel. The ENERGY IS PRODUCED FROM THE FUEL used up in the reaction. Right now energy must be supplied externally because he efficiency threshold for the reactor to power itself hasn't been discovered.

In the sun, the supplied power is not gravity, otherwise why is Jupiter not a flaming ball of fire? There's more to fusion than that.

RE: eluded the best researchers
By Jaybus on 6/25/2010 11:53:15 AM , Rating: 2
Absolutely wrong. There is no energy conversion taking place, at least in the traditional sense. It does take considerable energy to force two atomic nuclei close enough together that the attractive nuclear force overcomes the repulsive electrostatic force and achieves fusion. However, when fusion is achieved, the resulting atom has less mass than the sum of the deuterium and tritium atoms that are being fused. That missing mass is missing because it is converted to energy. And in the case of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) being fused into helium, the energy released from the conversion of mass to energy is significantly greater than the energy needed to force the two atoms close enough together to fuse. It is not free energy, it is mass being converted to energy. The energy contained within the mass itself is considerable.

The purpose of the fission reaction in a thermonuclear weapon is to produce a huge x-ray flux, the energy used to force the hydrogen atoms to fuse. A h-bomb uses inertial confinement fusion. The x-rays cause the ablation of the outer layer of a deuterium-tritium mixture. The mass flying out from the DT mixture applies an equal but opposite force to the remaining DT in the form of a shock wave that implodes the DT. The implosion creates conditions of extreme temperature and pressure sufficient to cause a significant amount of the DT to fuse and release a tremendous amount of energy. Much more than was needed to produce the x-rays.

So fusion does not amplify the fission reaction, the fission reaction is the ignition device. That would be like saying a stick of dynamite amplifies the fuse.

RE: eluded the best researchers
By JediJeb on 6/25/2010 3:45:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the term I used in the bomb would be better though of as ignition instead of amplification. Though you still get out a lot more than what you put in, like a blasting cap igniting dynamite( as long as you have a sufficient amount of TNT to give more energy after ignition than the blasting cap has to begin with).

With the reactor though, the moment you turn off the power input, you will cease to have a sustainable fusion reaction because you lose the ability to force the atoms together.

RE: eluded the best researchers
By Penti on 6/24/2010 6:37:34 PM , Rating: 3
Theres a lot of federal money in the US for science. Otherwise not much would get done. Portraying US as the bastion of capitalism is actually kinda retarded the government has ruled so hard there, plenty of companies really just sprung up and survived thanks to military and other government contracts. But heck even next gen fission reactors take really slowly to be developed. You would also need an ridiculous amount of them to replace any coal and oil/gas.

RE: eluded the best researchers
By knutjb on 6/27/2010 6:37:43 PM , Rating: 3
You misunderstand capitalism. By allowing businesses to prosper you then generate the need revenues that allow such research spending.

The vicious circle you describe of gov providing monies to corporations who then return the revenues back in taxes to fund themselves is not a viable model.

Yours, and many others, dismissive belief in capitalism as the engine that got us here is woefully lacking. What socialist or similar type government produced what the US did. Sadly ignorance of what made us great will be our downfall.

How much Fed money did Edison take? That is where capitalism does best.

NK also claims
By masamasa on 6/24/2010 3:47:10 PM , Rating: 2
NK also claims their soccer team is still in the World Cup, they never sunk the SK sub, and the rest of the world is crazy, not them.

Does anybody believe a word of anything that comes published by the NK Communist news team? I think not.

RE: NK also claims
By nafhan on 6/24/2010 3:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget, they also got a satellite into orbit!

RE: NK also claims
By AssBall on 6/24/2010 4:25:58 PM , Rating: 3
And His Excellency Mr. Il invented the internets.

RE: NK also claims
By Ratinator on 6/24/2010 4:26:58 PM , Rating: 3
He also shoots 3-4 hole in ones per round of golf. This guy is amazing.

RE: NK also claims
By masamasa on 6/25/2010 11:02:12 AM , Rating: 2
And...apparently he claims he's hung like a horse!

RE: NK also claims
By Jeffk464 on 6/25/2010 12:43:15 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing North Korea says can be believed. I hope they pulled it off, but it seems unlikely and I sure wouldn't take their word for it.

By KIAman on 6/24/2010 3:17:46 PM , Rating: 2
[u]Clean Fusion Power[/u]
Step 1: Make lots of kimchee
Step 2: Force citizens to each kimchee
Step 3: Force citizens to play rugby to exhaustion
Step 4: Watch as citizens releases radioactive xenon gases
Step 5: Make announcement to world

By xler8r on 6/24/2010 3:31:45 PM , Rating: 1
LMAO. Step 3 really did it for me

By judasmachine on 6/24/2010 4:27:39 PM , Rating: 4
It's supposed to be communist, so there is no profit. (Or class (pun intended) for that matter.)

By psaus42 on 6/25/2010 5:50:20 AM , Rating: 1

Rate all of the above to 7
For reasons of profit, of course

Free Powa!
By dsx724 on 6/24/2010 2:51:09 PM , Rating: 5
Kim invented it of course.

RE: Free Powa!
By fic2 on 6/25/2010 8:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, right after he invented the internet which, of course, was preceded by his invention of rocks.

Let's get Il
By Icehearted on 6/25/2010 2:10:00 PM , Rating: 4
Kim Jong Il;
-Birth marked by a double rainbow.
-Played a 38 under par with 11 holes-in-one, his first time golfing.
-Is a renowned(?!) film maker.
-Has people inspect his rice, grain by grain, to ensure a perfect meal.
-Will breed giant rabbits to end starvation.
-Doesn't have to defecate.
-Has the blood of virgins in his veins.

If anyone can create clean fusion, surely it will be this brave Adonis, this Cadillac of men, and his fine fine country!

RE: Let's get Il
By W00dmann on 6/25/2010 3:52:39 PM , Rating: 2
Great post! "Cadillac of men" :) Awesome!

Armor ON
By mafart on 6/24/2010 6:00:12 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe it was an alien spaceship. Get the nanosuits.

RE: Armor ON
By Runiteshark on 6/24/2010 6:48:40 PM , Rating: 3
I always wondered, if the US Suits say "Cloak Engaged" do the Korean ones say "Croak Engaged"?

From Dear Leader
By pityme on 6/24/2010 7:00:18 PM , Rating: 2
First the criminal capitalist thugs drug our World Cup team and cause them to lose and give up the most goals in history, then they ignore my threats of invading the South and reuniting Korea, then they threaten to cut off my supply of cognac from France (DNK is the largest importer in the world by the way). This is intolerable. I will release my internet experts (which I personally trained) to bring woo and ruin upon the capitalist pigs.

I claim
By Phoque on 6/26/2010 12:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
Room temperature fusion with my girlfriend. Mysterious sticky release detected.

Tinfoil Hat Theory
By casagw on 6/24/10, Rating: 0
if it were true
By hughlle on 6/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: if it were true
By Daniel8uk on 6/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: if it were true
By integr8d on 6/25/2010 3:16:21 AM , Rating: 2
Correct. This is what will doom Iran.

RE: if it were true
By Ratinator on 6/24/2010 4:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
I think the world's reaction (not just US) would be to go after them. Fusion is simply too powerful for such a rogue country.

RE: if it were true
By Daniel8uk on 6/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: if it were true
By seamonkey79 on 6/24/2010 5:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
See, you fail because you're pretending that they're sensible humans.

A common failing among developed nation's citizens, most under-developed and developing nations are not governed by sensible humans, merely non-dead crazies.

RE: if it were true
By TheRealFink on 6/24/2010 5:51:26 PM , Rating: 5
Daniel8uk let's get the facts straight. Dude don't just take my word for it go research it yourself.

As horrible as it sounds, the use of the Atom bomb by the US saved peoples lives during WW II.

The amounts vary but you can read the wiki article.

1) By the US dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the following estimated casualties were saved:
a) Japanese (civilian and military) - 1 - 5 Million
b) American - 500,000 - 1.5 Million

These were estimated numbers for the invasion of the Japanese main islands.

The estimates were based on the battle of Okinawa where the Japanese military forced the civilian population to fight.

If you think the US was inhuman during WW II, they were. As was the rest of the combatants.

Ask the Chinese who suffered an estimated 20 Million casualties to the Japanese from 1936 - 1945.

Yes it is wikipedia but I've read numerous books on the subject that corroborate the wiki numbers.

Total War as waged during WWII, is a horrible, horrible thing. People always like to attack the US for everything. Including in your post 'mass murder'. The truth is the US is far from perfect, but it is far from evil as well.

RE: if it were true
By StriderGT on 6/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: if it were true
By ClownPuncher on 6/24/2010 7:33:31 PM , Rating: 2
WW2 is over.

RE: if it were true
By StriderGT on 6/24/2010 8:38:50 PM , Rating: 2

RE: if it were true
By BruceLeet on 6/24/2010 10:56:58 PM , Rating: 2

RE: if it were true
By Wulf145 on 6/25/2010 8:17:27 AM , Rating: 2
Since when? When was the peace treaty signed?

RE: if it were true
By espaghetti on 6/25/2010 2:36:10 AM , Rating: 1
So let me get this right. (there are a lot of "estimating" and "experts" floating around in here)

1. They attack and kill us.
2. We say sorry and have them over for tea to talk about what is upsetting them.

Is this how your mind works?

1. We keep dragging out the bombing campaigns already in progress until the Nazi's have figured out how to make an atom bomb?
2. Receive bomb(s).


1. You tell me your other pacifist ideas.
2. I still disagree.

RE: if it were true
By derricker on 6/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: if it were true
By Danish1 on 6/25/2010 3:14:52 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know why you even bother responding to people bringing up the WW2 nukings claiming (directly or indirectly) the US did something evil/bad/wrong, they are so completely out of touch with history/reality there's nothing you can do to help them out of their ignorant misery.

RE: if it were true
By ianweck on 6/25/2010 7:40:14 AM , Rating: 2
Why do I even bother with reading DailyTech comments anymore?

RE: if it were true
By Penti on 6/24/2010 6:31:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think

"In its report the KCNA said: "In this course, Korean-style thermonuclear reaction devices were designed and manufactured, basic researches into nuclear fusion reaction completed and strong scientific and technological forces built to perfect thermonuclear technology by their own efforts.""

Says it all, a kid can do nuclear fusion in their parent basement with a few grands worth of equipment. They merely researched and produced a crude small scale prototype demonstration I would guess. Nothing special, just proves they can put together some magnets and build a vacuum chamber. And we already know they can reprocess plutonium. There's simply no breakthrough there just some academics playing around. It's a really long way to go to a device that produces more energy then you put in, and converts it to electricity.

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs

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