Long before people began debating whether conventional fission power counted as a form of sustainable energy, scientists eagerly anticipated the abundance of usable energy the process would generate once they achieved it. From his study of cathode rays and particle theory, French physicist and future Nobel prize winner Jean Baptiste Perrin grew interested in crafting a machine that would use atomic disintegration to deliver 10 million volts of direct current. Theoretically, his "sun-producing plant of the future" would produce a permanent energy source that would replace coal and oil. We speculated that atomic disintegration, once achieved, would usher in an era of cheap power, "of power concentrated into such a small space that the contests of a medicine vial would drive the airship Los Angeles over the North Pole and back to her hangar."
Read the full story in "Can Man Reproduce the Sun?"