The Fusion Beat: Can fusion save us?
NextDraft’s Top Story, October 5, 2021
Is it a dream? Is it a pipe dream? At this point, we should try anything to slow climate change. And there are some folks trying anything and everything (and getting somewhere) on the dream of nuclear fusion. Rivka Galchen in The New Yorker: Can Nuclear Fusion Put the Brakes on Climate Change? “Let’s say that you’ve devoted your entire adult life to developing a carbon-free way to power a household for a year on the fuel of a single glass of water, and that you’ve had moments, even years, when you were pretty sure you would succeed. Let’s say also that you’re not crazy. This is a reasonable description of many of the physicists working in the field of nuclear fusion. In order to reach this goal, they had to find a way to heat matter to temperatures hotter than the center of the sun, so hot that atoms essentially melt into a cloud of charged particles known as plasma; they did that. They had to conceive of and build containers that could hold those plasmas; they did that, too, by making ‘bottles’ out of strong magnetic fields. When those magnetic bottles leaked — because, as one scientist explained, trying to contain plasma in a magnetic bottle is like trying to wrap a jelly in twine — they had to devise further ingenious solutions, and, again and again, they did.” (I was supposed to take out the garbage this morning. I didn’t.)
+ “It was Manabe, now at Princeton University, who built one of the first climate models in the 1960s that explained how human-produced carbon dioxide could warm the planet.” The Nobel Prize in physics honors work on climate change and complex systems.
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