In California, at the ultra-powerful fusion laboratory of the National Ignition Facility, 192 laser beams have fired simultaneously, blasting their target -- a circle 2 millimeters in diameter -- with 500 trillion watts. That's 1,000 times more than the entire rest of the United States was using at the time. It is the highest-energy laser shot ever fired in real life, although some fictional lasers have exceeded the record.
Bring up the prospect of fusion power, and often eyes glaze over. It's not that it's not a thrilling prospect--cheap and inexhaustible energy would solve a lot of problems here on planet Earth--but it's been such a pipe dream for so long that it's often hard to make people care. But at least one person with a proven track record in recognizing potential when he sees it has taken an interest in a fusion-powered future: Amazon founder and gazillionaire Jeff Bezos has thrown $19.5 million to Canada's General Fusion to fund further research.
Former astronaut, Apollo moonwalker, geologist and former Senator Harrison Schmitt has a modest plan to solve the world’s energy problems. All we need is $15 billion over 15 years and some fusion reactors that have yet to be invented. And we’ll need a moon base.
Good science is always rooted in good data, but the most entertaining science is the stuff that transcends the need for data by rooting itself fantastical claims and a rejection of the idea that data is even necessary. So naturally it’s a thrill to learn that two Italian scientists claim to have successfully developed a cold fusion reactor that produces 12,400 watts of heat power per 400 watts of input. Not only that, but they’ll be commercially available in just three months. Maybe.
It's no secret that China is beating up on America and the West in everything from infrastructure to technology investment, but news of exactly what the People's Republic is up to is often scarce. So while the diplomatic establishment continues to reel from the stink of its own dirty laundry in last week's Wikileaks document dump, cables coming from the American Embassy in Beijing are also shedding light on the strides Chinese scientists are making in far-out fields like nuclear fission, biometrics, and even quantum teleportation.
Need a weekend project around the house? Mark Suppes, web developer by day, has built his own nuclear fusion reactor in a Brooklyn workspace. It kind of makes that project car you’ve got rusting in the garage seem lame by comparison.
In what the BBC is calling "a claim that is likely to be met with some scepticism," North Korea has announced that it has made huge strides toward developing thermonuclear power, going so far as to claim that the nation's scientists have built a "unique thermo-nuclear reaction device."
We've got your skepticism right here.