In labs around the world, scientists are working to expand our understanding of the weird, the unexpected, and the potentially dangerous. Their aim is true, yet, many of these boundary-pushing projects carry serious potential for things to go wrong. Horribly wrong.
With the need for a cheap and abundant alternative to fossils fuels more important than ever before, the field of fusion energy is getting hotter. Really, really hot. 6 million degrees hot. Yes, the National Ignition Facility, the Department of Energy's pet fusion project, has finally fired up its 192 lasers and zapped something, moving us one step closer to the day of clean, nearly free, fusion energy.
It's amazing no one thought of it before: nuclear fusion from a levitating tire-sized magnet surrounded by 10-million-degree plasma. But that's exactly what a joint project between MIT and Columbia University are tinkering with over at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center on the MIT campus.
Ford's already said its twin-turbocharged Ecoboost V6, offered in the company's Taurus SHO, offers the power of a V8 with the fuel economy of a six. Now, take that down two cylinders. The company confirmed at a Dearborn press conference this morning it will build a four-cylinder version of its Ecoboost engine. Following on the company's engine calculus, that means the power of a six-cylinder engine with the fuel economy of a four.
Of all the futuristic technologies scientists have sworn would change our lives forever, none is more promising, and more elusive, than fusion power. After decades of tangential research, false starts and downright hoaxes, the two most advanced fusion projects at present are America's National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the multinationally funded International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).
The source of endless energy for all humankind resides just off Government Street in Burnaby, British Columbia, up the little spit of blacktop on Bonneville Place and across the parking lot from Shade-O-Matic blind manufacturers and wholesalers. The future is there, in that mostly empty office with the vomit-green walls -- and inside the brain of Michel Laberge, 47, bearded and French-Canadian.
The march towards a perfect energy source moves along thanks to one very powerful laser
By Matt RansfordPosted 05.20.2008 at 6:40 am 12 Comments
Every few years, a new claim of successful cold fusion shows up in the news. It's the mythical holy grail of energy production. Nuclear fusion—the mashing together of two hydrogen atoms into a helium atom with an accompanying release of energy—is currently only the province of stars, requiring tremendous pressure and heat to succeed. Cold fusion, which is still very much a fantasy, aims to do the same without the pressure and heat. While we continue to see false progress toward viable cold fusion, our goals in the realm of real fusion may have just become a little more realized.