• What are the risks of nuclear fusion?
  • Will autonomous semis solve the trucker shortage?
  • What if we don’t like a SPAC’s chosen target?

Dear Reader,

Welcome to our weekly mailbag edition of The Bleeding Edge. All week, you submitted your questions about the biggest trends in technology.

Today, I’ll do my best to answer them.

If you have a question you’d like answered next week, be sure you submit it right here.

Before we get to our questions, I wanted to bring a time-sensitive briefing to readers’ attention… 

Earlier today, I released an urgent update. I’ve spotted a micro-cap company that I believe is on the verge of a buyout. That means incredible gains could be just days around the corner… as long as you get in ahead of time.

I have spent more time researching this company and its story than any other recommendation I’ve made before. It’s so compelling, I had to make it a priority. 

In fact, I’ve just visited the company’s strategic manufacturing facility in upstate New York. I toured the manufacturing floor in a cleanroom suit. I spoke directly with the CEO. I was inside.

And I think once you’ve seen this micro-cap’s technology behind the scenes… you’ll understand exactly why I’m encouraging investors to get in position right now. This is such a fantastic story… It’s not one to miss.

If you haven’t yet watched my briefing, then please go right here to learn all the details.

How does nuclear fusion work at such high temperatures? 

Let’s begin with a question on nuclear fusion:

Hi, Jeff and friends – 100 million degrees?! Your publishings on prospective nuclear fusion companies are truly fascinating, but what are the risks, as unlikely as they may be? How do they contain such hot substances without everything nearby melting or boiling?

How would a meltdown, runaway reaction, or other catastrophic failure look? 

Naturally, any software controlling these reactors will need to have top-of-the-line cybersecurity.

And I wonder, since these are basically stars, if there’s any possibility of supernovas, or even nano singularities (i.e., mini black holes). I’m no nuclear engineer. Just a young chemical engineer. Thank you for the amazing news in innovation every day! And happy holidays. 

 – Jason A. 

Hi, Jason – happy holidays to you, too! It’s great to see scientists who are enthusiastic about the potential of nuclear fusion. You’re swinging for the fences with supernovas and nano singularities. Great topics. 

You’ve asked some good questions. But first, let me refresh newer readers… 

Nuclear fusion is different than nuclear fission. Nuclear fission produces energy by splitting the nucleus of an atom into two or more smaller nuclei. When most people refer to nuclear power, this is what they mean. 

Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, refers to the energy of the Sun. It occurs by combining two hydrogen nuclei – a process that releases massive amounts of energy. Unlike nuclear fission, fusion can create energy with very little, or in some cases, no radioactive waste. 

There are a handful of projects working to make nuclear fusion feasible for the world’s base load energy production, and I believe we’ll continue to see big progress in the coming year. 

In order to achieve fusion, however, the nuclei have to collide at temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees under intense pressure. This is so hot that the hydrogen changes from gas to plasma. It is in this state that fusion becomes possible. 

So how do fusion reactors handle such extreme temperatures? 

One approach to nuclear fusion employs doughnut-shaped “tokamak” reactors that use magnetic fields to contain the plasma of the nuclear fusion reaction. In simple terms, the magnetic fields hold the plasma away from the walls of the tokamak. 

The interior walls of the reactor are built using materials with very high heat tolerances, such as tungsten, carbon, and beryllium.

While the material science is critical to the reactors, the real magic happens with the magnetic fields. It is these magnetic fields that maintain the pressure and temperature of the fusion reaction and keep the plasma off of the walls. This requires sophisticated software to control the magnetic fields.

Aside from producing very little or no radioactive waste (depending on the kind of fusion reactor), another advantage of nuclear fusion is that a meltdown situation is impossible.

Fusion energy is not based on a chain reaction. Instead, if the conditions do not remain precisely correct, the plasma reaction halts in a matter of seconds.

This is a key benefit of nuclear fusion technology. 

We don’t have to worry about a Chernobyl or Fukushima situation with nuclear fusion technology. This is something that I’m deeply familiar with as I was living in Tokyo at the time of the nuclear meltdowns in Japan. I had been to Fukushima before it happened and lived through the aftermath.

With nuclear fusion technology, meltdowns like this are simply impossible. 

Fortunately, there is no risk of a supernova or a nano singularity either. If that were possible, I’d like to think that we wouldn’t be working with this kind of technology. The reality is that we would need much higher temperatures, and even more intense pressures, which would be impossible for us to create.

For some additional perspective, scientists have theorized CERN’s Large Hadron Collider could potentially generate a “miniature” black hole. 

But the amount of energy required would be about a quadrillion times more than it’s currently capable of. And scientists believe that even if one was created, it would dissipate in less than a second. 

Thanks for the interesting questions. 

My thoughts on the trucker shortage…

Next, a reader wants to know more about autonomous trucking:

Hi Jeff, I’ve been reading about the reasons for such a trucker shortage these days – which apparently, in some measure, is due to feelings of indentured servitude.

Of course, my thoughts immediately wandered toward all those autonomous tractor-trailers soon to be on our roads. Maybe. Someday. Perhaps you can offer some current thoughts on the matter (and the opportunities). Thanks! 

 – Vince G. 

Hi, Vince, and thanks for writing in. This is a topic that’s been on my mind a lot recently.

We’ve been seeing a disruption of our supply chains over the past year, and the real bottleneck has been our nation’s ports. And while the backup of cargo ships has been a major reason for the problems, trucking is another piece of the puzzle.

As I’ve shared previously, 82% of port truck drivers – those who pick up containers at ports and deliver them to warehouses or distribution facilities – are independent drivers. 

And in the current situation, it can take hours – sometimes an entire day – to enter a port, pick up a container, and get out of the port. Now, if you’re paid by the hour, that might not be a problem.

But independent drivers get paid by the load. They can’t afford to sit around all day to pick up a single container.

Most independent contractors have financed their rigs, which means they have a large operating expense. So if they aren’t moving cargo, they aren’t getting paid. And if they aren’t getting paid, then they can’t afford their payments for the trucks.

This has resulted in the retirement of many truck drivers and a shift of independent drivers away from the ports. It’s an understandable choice, but it leaves certain parts of our supply chains in the lurch. 

And you’re absolutely right that autonomous trucking could play a vital role in solving this dilemma. 

Swedish company Einride is a perfect example. Its trucks just went live on General Electric’s campus in Kentucky.

Einride Truck

Source: Einride

Einride has removed the cab from its cargo trucks. Instead of a human driver, workers at a command center can monitor and control each truck if needed. In fact, one truck operator could oversee 10–20 trucks at the same time. That’s a labor force multiplier. 

Instead of one person driving one truck, experienced truckers could control a fleet of autonomous trucks from the command center. Under those circumstances, truckers wouldn’t lose money by taking on deliveries from the ports.

It’s a fantastic solution to the problems we’re facing. 

And even after this supply crunch eases, we’re going to see self-driving semis continue to solve a number of other logistics issues. 

Fleet management company Ryder, for example, has partnered with Embark, a self-driving startup. They are building out a logistics network of 100 “transfer points” coast-to-coast across the southern U.S. 

For long-haul shipping, cargo will be transported by self-driving trucks on the highway from an origin transfer point to a destination transfer point close to the final point of delivery. Then the cargo will be transferred to a human-driven truck for last-mile delivery.

This way, the self-driving trucks never have to navigate city traffic or narrow streets. They stay on the highways where driving conditions are well known, easy to navigate, and safer for autonomous technology.

Another reality is that, aside from the policy-induced supply chain problems and truck driver retirements, the number of new drivers coming into the industry has been on the decline. The average age of a driver is 49 right now, and it has been increasing. 

These are realities that the industry has to manage, and not surprisingly, technology is stepping up to fill the gap. This is why, through technology, using the skills of one driver to oversee multiple vehicles is so important.

I expect we’ll be talking a lot about this space in The Bleeding Edge in 2022. And you might just see me riding in the passenger seat of a self-driving truck as well sometime next year. 

How I assess a SPAC’s target… 

Let’s conclude with a question about special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) reverse mergers:

Hi Jeff, as a Brownstone Unlimited subscriber, I wanted to ask you a question regarding subject investment.

You are very knowledgeable about the SPACs you recommend, as you have very good knowledge of the industries they are involved in as well as the leadership team of the various SPACs you recommend. 

My question is this… If there is a reverse merger announced, and the company selected by the leadership team is not on your list of potential targets and leaves you with less than full confidence in the merger, is there a possibility that you may ask us subscribers to withdraw and sell the shares and warrants? 

I know you trust the leadership before you would recommend it to us, but perhaps your instincts may not always feel that a merger with whatever company was selected would gel with the SPAC.

Would such a scenario ever come about, or are you pretty much trusting the leadership team with whichever company they decide to merge with? Thanks for your thoughts.

 – John S. 

Hi, John – thanks for writing in and being a lifetime subscriber.

In short, absolutely. If I didn’t like the target company, or I didn’t believe in the target company’s forecasts, or I felt like the valuation was way off, I would definitely recommend closing out a position.

When it comes to any of my recommendations, I would never rely on blind trust as an investment thesis. No way. 

The reality is that SPACs have large shareholders who have influence over sponsors. It is possible that sponsors merge with a less attractive company in order to get a deal done. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad deal or a bad company. But it could mean that the business combination simply won’t be received well by the market. 

As a reminder for new readers, SPACs exist for one purpose: to combine with a private company in order to take it public. That allows regular investors the rare opportunity to essentially invest in a company before it goes public, which is when the greatest gains are possible. Shares in a SPAC are the equivalent of pre-IPO shares.

Of course, many of these SPACs hitting the market aren’t worth our money. I launched Blank Check Speculator earlier this year to help subscribers find the best SPAC investment opportunities. There are a lot of them out there, but most of them are low quality. That’s why we sift through every single one to find the best of them. 

We do this by choosing SPACs led by executives who are the “real deal.” We find teams with a proven track record of making great investments, that have actual operating experience in their industry, or that have close ties to the industry they are targeting.

Often, we can even anticipate the kind of company a SPAC will choose based on their previous successes. 

And we just got an example of the potential profits these investments can have last month. We issued a sell alert in Blank Check Speculator with a 67% gain on shares while still holding our “bonus” warrants for even more upside.

That gain happened just over the course of several months this year. For perspective, the Nasdaq index is up about 22% this year. 

The best part about SPACs is that these kinds of outsized gains are possible with almost zero downside. With SPACs, if a business combination isn’t announced, a SPAC simply returns the funds to investors, less a small management fee.

If any readers are interested in joining us as we invest in this unique asset class, then please go here for more information.

That’s all we have time for this week. If you have a question for a future mailbag, you can send it to me right here

Have a good weekend.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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