23 May 2014

The New Yorker: “A Star in a Bottle”

Core Of The Sun by MurdocSnook on deviantART
Fusion, the most plentiful energy source in the universe, has never produced energy on Earth. Nature had shielded the planet from the punishing conditions it requires with a great buffer: millions of miles of empty space. What the physicists and the engineers in the South of France were attempting to do was to traverse that boundary. Thirty-five countries were trying somehow to cross it together. On some level, the arrangement would necessarily be a messy one. Raffi Khatchadourian

Fascinating – and surprisingly long – article about ITER, the biggest technological project of our age, and the quest to harness the most efficient source of energy known to us, nuclear fusion. Depending on the outcome, it could become one of the biggest achievement of human science and engineering, the clean and cheap power source that would end dependence on fossil fuels, turn back climate change and open our way to the stars – or, if it fails, a testament to our inability to manage long-term, high-investment projects, to overcome political differences and misguided national pride. The people working on this project could become the heroes of the 21st century and I wouldn't be surprised if in a couple of decades we will be reading captivating novels about their work, the huge difficulties and immense satisfaction of seeing it all come together in the end.

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