It’s difficult to think of a potential technology with more upside than nuclear fusion. Deriving energy from the atomic fusion of (usually hydrogen) atoms has the capacity to power all of society, all while being even greener and safer than traditional nuclear (fission) power generation.
As a source of power, nuclear fusion is expected to have many advantages over fission
. These include greatly reduced radioactivity
in operation and little high-level nuclear waste
, ample fuel supplies, and greatly increased safety. For example, fusion reactors use only a tiny amount of fuel and cannot produce runaway reactions.
Which brings me to the recent news, from NBC
At the National Ignition Facility, which is the size of three football fields, superpowerful laser beams re-create the temperatures and pressures similar to those in the cores of stars and giant planets and inside exploding nuclear weapons, a spokesperson told CNBC.
On Aug. 8, a laser light was focused onto a target the size of a BB, which resulted in “a hot-spot the diameter of a human hair, generating more than 10 quadrillion watts of fusion power for 100 trillionths of a second,” the written statement says.
Scientists at the lab called it a “Wright Brothers moment”. Actual, usable nuclear fusion energy may still be decades away, but I hope we look back at this moment at when we turned a corner.