German Stellarator Fusion Reactor Testing Deemed a Success

It’s no secret that this is the nuclear age, that is the age where nuclear technology will go its greatest to shaping the world. From its use as a weapon during world war 2 to our future hopes of using it as a power source, the atom is changing the way the world works. Using its Stellarator nuclear fusion machine, Germany has taken the first steps in this change with the creation of hydrogen plasma.

With Germany having one of very few nuclear fusion machines, it was only a matter of time before they changed how close we were to sustainable fusion. Nuclear fusion is the same process that powers the sun, potentially creating a clean source of energy, not to mention nearly limitless.

Back in December, the team at the Max Planck Institute in Germany managed to suspend helium plasma, the new step forward was in using the hydrogen atom, something the team has now managed to do using their experimental reactor, the Wendelstein 7-X (W7X) stellarator. The difficulty alone makes this act an accomplishment, but with hydrogen fusion releasing far more energy than helium fusion, we’re yet another step closer to the ultimate goal of a sustainable reaction, but still have a very long way to go.

John Jelonnek is a physicist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and also one of the people responsible for installing the technology that heats the reactor. In speaking to the Guardian Jelonnek stated, “We’re not doing this for us but for our children and grandchildren”.

Welcome to the Future – Boeing Patents Laser Forcefield!

Boeing just patented the technology for a “method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc,” which is a fancy was of saying force field. While we’re still a long was from having the kind of protective bubble seen in Sci-Fi shows and movies such as Star Trek, this is certainly one of the first steps on the road towards achieving that technology.

The concept uses a range of sensors which detect an incoming shockwave from an explosion, while a processing unit tries to calculate the type of blast, the size and distance using its database of explosion signatures. It will then work out the best strategy to use to defend against the attack. The new system only protects against the explosion, rather than any ballistic objects, for which the vehicles used are likely already protected against with their standard armour.

When a blast from something like an IED is detected and analyzed, a laser, blast of electricity or microwave energy can be fired into either the surrounding air or water to create a wave of plasma which acts as a shield between the explosion and the vehicle. The heat and density of the plasma will help to deflect and absorb the incoming shockwave, thus protecting the vehicle. The system essentially fights fire with fire, trying to cancel out the incoming wave.

It’ll be interesting to see how this technology develops, but for now, it’s certainly freaking awesome and paves the way for a lot of very cool technology in the future.

Bye Bye Plasma TV Technology

In 2005, Sony and Toshiba announced their departure from the plasma business, followed by Hitachi and Pioneer in 2008. Now South Korean companies Samsung and LG Electronics have announced their abandonment of the once-popular panel option.

Samsung and LG have recently cancelled their investment plans into plasma panels into Taiwan’s Chungwa Picture Tubes, with us seeing more companies gradually making the move to alternative sources, citing plasma panels to be out-of-date technology akin to the CRT’s seen above.

Changhong has become one of the lone survivors in the plasma business, often being asked by media if they’re going to give it up. A Changong representative answers publicly when asked this question, but dodged it entirely – providing a complete ‘non-answer’. In 2005, Changhong completed their Plasma TV market dominence and set forward with a $2 billion investment in 2007. Nine years down the road, it seems that Changhong has made the wrong decision.

Changhong had previously invested over 40 billion yuan ($6,525,822,000 US) into plasma projects, resulting in losses every year following ans deciding to call it quits – selling eventually for a grand sum of 64.2 million yuan ($10.4 m USD). To this day, it’s hard to say if the failure is due completely due to the plasma markets decline, or also due to Changhon technology in itself.

Unfortunately before the sale, Changhong found themselves in some hot water – seeing hundreds of employees waiting for resettlement discontinued and providing a ruthless end to a once glorious reign. News has just surfaced on November the 2nd of their plans to sell their assets for the aforementioned 64.2 million yuan – relieving the owners of their failing factories burden.

When is the last time you saw a plasma TV on the market? Personally, I didn’t really notice their slow fade into non-existence, but it’s becoming clear that crystal, LCD and LED is now king of the tech-jungle.

Image courtesy of Post Independant

Good Bye Plasma TVs, LG Stops Production

Good bye and rest in peace Plasma TV, it was a great ride. The last company to make plasma TV screens for the international market, LG, said this week that it would stop the production of plasma sets in November. This move was widely expected and their rivals Samsung and Panasonic have already stopped their plasma production.

There are still a couple chinese manufacturers that make Plasma screens, but they aren’t available outside of China and the tech consultancy IHS expects them to stop their production by 2016.

Instead of purchasing plasma TVs, customers have opted for the less expensive LCD TVs that have a higher resolution at a lower power consumption. Plasma TVs offer what most considered to be the best picture quality on the market, but it also came at a higher price. They still gain favor thanks to their black level performance, warmer tones and wider viewing angles.

The difference between the two types of screens is that Plasma TVs use pixels filled with gas that light up in different colors when hit with an electrical current, LCD screens use liquid crystals that are lit up from behind to create images.

IHS expects stock to be sold out after the 2014 holiday sales, so this might be one of the last chances to get a new Plasma TV. If lucky, one might even make a great deal due to the shops wanting to clear out the old stock and make room for the next generation of TVs instead.

Thanks to CNN for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of CNN

Samsung Throws in The Towel on Plasma TV Production

Electronics manufacturer Samsung is the latest television maker to throw in the towel on the plasma market, announcing that production will end on November 30.

Following the shift away from plasma, the Korean company will focus on 4K ultra-HDTVs and newer technologies – demand for plasma TVs has waned in recent years.

Plasma TVs had large screen sizes and garnered consumer interest, but began to struggle around 2006, when slimmer, better quality LED and LCD screens started to take over.

Here is what Samsung noted in a statement:

“We plan to continue our PDP TV business until the end of this year, due to changes in market demands.  We remain committed to providing consumer with products that meet their needs, and will increase our focus on growth opportunities in UHD TVs and Curved TVs.”

Panasonic also bowed out of the plasma TV market, as manufacturers strive to focus on emerging technologies.  The only large company still developing plasma TVs is LG Electronics, giving consumers a trusted manufacturer to purchase plasmas from in the future.

For consumers interested in purchasing a plasma TV, there could be a growing number of clearance prices from retailers.

Thank you to CNET for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Samsung

Panasonic To Stop Production Of Plasma Screens Next Year

If the rumours are true and Panasonic really are pulling out of the plasma TV trade next year, then this is indeed a sad day. Not only are Panasonic one of the few companies left in the world that actually make plasma screens, but the ones they currently do make are some of the best home cinema screen in the world.

Many people have jumped to LCD and LED tech for their screens, but Plasma has been loved by home cinema enthusiasts for many years as it can often offers better black levels, bright colours and some of the best colour reproduction when compared to its LCD/LED counterparts.

The end of their plasma line would mean Panasonic would have to close their Amagasaki plant, which would then be put up for sale next year.

It seems likely to suspect that this will all go ahead, the plasma side of Panasonic’s business has been loosing money for a few years now, despite the critical acclaim of their Viera range, especially the TX-P60ZT65 which won the European home cinema TV of the year 2013-2014.

While I will mourn the loss of another great range of plasma displays, maybe it is time to lay it to rest as 4K OLED technology may be the way to go and could be the perfect thing to soften the blow.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Panasonic.

Panasonic To Exit From Plasma TV Business

Japan based consumer electronics giant Panasonic is considering to withdraw from manufacturing of plasma televisions as a part of its television business downsizing. The consumer electronics maker has been in a troubling financial position for sometime, where they had no choice but to sell away assets, including their real estate.

According to its business plan that would be announced on March 28th, Panasonic will start this process over a 3 year period starting fiscal year from April as reported by Japan based business daily “Nikkei”. Panasonic’s main TV Plasma plant in Amagaski in Western Japan will halt products around fiscal 2014 and has already put the value of their production equipment at the three buildings.

According to Jiji Press, Panasonic will be also withdrawing from healthcare business, along with selling its healthcare unit and its buildings.

Panasonic suffered so much because of slumping sales due to global economic slowdown and also faced huge restructuring costs. Last month, Panasonic record a 9 month operating profit of USD 1.29 Billion despite facing significant net loss all thanks to fixed cost reductions and streamlining material costs. But because of the weak demand in flat panel TV business, sales went down at 8.8% which made a loss of 5.44 Trillion yen.

A Panasonic spokesperson said,”We are considering a number of options regarding our TV business. But nothing has been decided yet.”

As of now, the Japanese firm already halted their new development of plasma TVs. The company also decided that both plasma and LCD TV models will be an inefficient business, especially in Japan. Since even flat-TV market is shrinking as said by Panasonic, we may see a dark day when one of the most respected and deemed underrated by many end-users would be shutting down their plasma TV operations for good, even ending the era of the good old plasma TVs.

Source: Reuters  | Financial Express