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May 20, 2010

01:59

We pitiful humans, hooked on electricity as we are, have been searching for a clean, abundant source of energy since the industrial age began. Many options that sound great haven't exactly panned out: "natural gas," "clean coal," "Beyond Petroleum."

Harnessing the energy of nuclear fusion is clearly our best hope in the modern age. Not cold fusion - where atoms merge at room temperature or colder - but specifically using lasers to make a tiny star on Earth. The Livermore Lab in San Francisco hopes to do just that in the next two years. If successful, they could power a city as big as Los Angeles for an entire year on just 600 litres of water.

Watch to learn more about this potentially paradigm-shifting technology.

(CORRECTION: This video inaccurately states that the bombs which detonated in Japan in 1945 were fusion bombs, when they were actually fission bombs. We apologize for this error.)

Host: Rheanna Sand

Photo Credits: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

References:
https://www.llnl.gov/
https://lasers.llnl.gov/multimedia/
http://www.newsweek.com/id/222792
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2010/2844460.htm
http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/basics/what-is-fusion.htm
http://www.psfc.mit.edu/research/useful_links.html

YOUR COMMENTS

Tom on May 21, 2010
Sorry, this video is just wrong:

1. The bombs in Japan in 1945 were fission, not fusion. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Man ) & ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy )

2. We have had controlled fusion for years ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_European_Torus ). The problem is that there is not enough net energy from the process to make it a viable alternative to other power sources. Please see ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power )
Rheanna Sand May 21, 2010
@ Tom: You are correct, of course; the explosive force from the 1945 bombs came from runaway nuclear fission, or breaking heavy atoms apart, rather than from fusing atoms together. In the excitement of reporting about the Livermore Lab, which was the main point of this video, I mistakenly attributed the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs to this process, although many nuclear weapons use a combination of fission and fusion.

Also, I agree there are labs working on fusion by other means, including the ITER lab in Europe, but these technologies are still 20 to 30 years away from providing good yields. The Livermore technique may be up and running in two, which is the real news story here, in my opinion.

What I really want to know is, if we are no longer reliant on fossil fuels for energy, how will our society change?
Horse-Pheathers on May 21, 2010
Another thing to point out about Livermore's method -- the engineering needed to turn this into a power plant would be immense and complicated. You'd need to reload pellets quite quickly and the lasers would have to be able to stand repeated firings in an equally fast time frame. While the research at Livermore is compelling (and worthwhile!), I think our best route to practical fusion power lies elsewhere.
Vincent VanRiesen on May 27, 2010
all you tokamak and livermore fanboys are losers

Polywell is where its at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=1996321846673788606#

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