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Jun 05

Efforts to build “a star on Earth” have been technically very challenging

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 279 views

So France gets the nod then to build a huge nuclear fusion reactor. Hmm, that’s a little bit close isn’t it…

Not that the French don’t just love their nuclear power plants, being the largest producer of nuclear power per head of population, and second in total nuclear power produced to the US. 77% of French power is nuclear, which may well stand them in good stead in the next fifty years. Or alternatively may mean they all sprout extri-eyes and glow in the dark*. Nuclear power is after all an environmentally controversial subject. One the one hand it is a very clean energy, it produces much less waste than fossil fuel methods. The only problem is that waste has been traditionally very nasty.

Fusion then is the way forward. And has been so for the last fifty years, and so far no-one has really got a hang of how to do it. As the title says (from the how it works box on the BBC article) the building of mini-suns on Earth has traditionally been seen as
a) difficult
b) potentially dangerous.
Now I’m not saying that just because something is not dangerous that we should not give it a go. I’m not saying that the potential for BLOWING UP THE ENTIRE EARTH is no reason to give it a spin. Its just that part of me wishes Japan had got there first. In the end though fusion experiments are worthwhile because the alternative is covering Antartica with solar cells and equipping North Wales with enough propellers to make it resemble the Spruce Goose. That said, fusion has always been a couple of decades away, and I don’t see that changing soon.

*Hurrah for traditional nuclear power prejudice. One wonders exactly what The Simpsons has done for the image of nuclear power in the US?

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