Fusion, or confusion?

Laser chamber. National Ignition Facility, Livermore.

Laser chamber. National Ignition Facility, Livermore. An MSM columnist seems to be touting fusion as a future cure for our energy problems. Turning mass into energy. E=mc2. Fusion powers the planet as it does our Sun. Nirvana for all except the oil exporters.

Here's Mr. Friedman's piece on fusion research at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Talk about unproven technology.

If you google around you'll find this exciting headline, "Scientists Achieve New Form of 'Hot' Fusion." Oops, that was almost twenty years ago. Guess this tech has a little way to go to catch up with fission, solar, or burning wood.

Those scientists in Livermore are trying to replicate the nuclear reactions that make our sun so...well, sunny. We've got Congress to replicate the hot gusts of the Santa Ana winds, so why not...

Meanwhile, the U.S. is not alone in chasing this dream. Research continues in both Britain and France as part of a concerted effort by the European Union to get fusion to fuse.

Perhaps my scepticism is misplaced. Maybe I should be more trusting of Governor Schwarzenegger's scientific comprehension. I am sure there were many who doubted man would ever fly. That would have been in 1902. And the wireless Internet would have been unthinkable to newspaper executives as recently as 1995. So maybe my grandchildren will live in a world of fusion, rather than confusion. Have their electricity and a clean atmosphere. We can dream. After all, the crucial ideal of fusionologists is "energy gain." That means the earth would no longer be forced ot live with finite energy resources or those sources now beyond our control, like sun and wind.

Here's the website for the National Ignition Facility at Livermore where some fusion research is being done. Beacuse the process they are working on uses lasers, their site touts "the power of light." Far less controversial than fusion. Here's a list of other project partners from Rochester to Sandia.

Here's how they describe the ultimate function of the facility being completed in Livermore: the plant there "will focus about two million joules of ultraviolet laser energy on a tiny target in the center of its target chamber – creating conditions similar to those that exist only in the cores of stars and giant planets and inside a nuclear weapon." Yes, this has great support from the Pentagon. Imagine setting off a fusion reaction in the enemy camp. What a blast!

The American project for fusion is federally funded, by we patriotic taxpayers. Here's the wikipedia description of the projects decades-long history from theory to attempted practice. [poll id="103"]