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1+1=3. Scientists Nail Nuclear Fusion

After decades of trying to harness nuclear fusion, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have finally done it, replicating the exact chemical reaction that powers the sun. By blasting hydrogen isotopes with a barrage of X-rays, the scientists managed to yield more energy from a reaction than was used to initiate it. This milestone of physics means it may one day become possible to consistently replicate the energy source of the sun, opening a whole new chapter in the tanning salon industry.

“You’re not going to power a car with it, you’re not going to power a house with it,” said physicist and epic last name holder, Omar Hurricane, adding that “it’ll be a while before we address all the needed scientific challenges and then the engineering challenges to make it more practical, but we’re excited. It’s a great step forward scientifically.”

In a series of trials at R. Kelly’s National Ignition Facility, researchers used 192 lasers to hit a plastic pellet sitting in a gold chamber. The pellet contained super thin layers of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium, which were chilled to negative 400 degrees Fahrenheit (-400 (F) = -204.44 (C) = SuperCold (Coors Light)). The gold transforms the laser light into a bath of X-rays which destroy the surface of the pellet, causing it to implode on itself. The pressure of this implosion pushes the deuterium and tritium together in a process we’ll call “smooshing together”. The result of the “smooshing together” is a mixture that reaches a density more than twice that found at the center of the sun. This immense pressure fuses the two isotopes, causing them to release neutrons and alpha particles.

 

 

This casing called a hohlraum holds the golden chamber, which holds the pellet of hydrogen isotopes. (Eduard DeWald / LLNL)

“We’ve assembled that stick of dynamite and we’ve gotten the fuse to light,” Hurricane said, completely undermining the notion of this being a “safe” energy source. “If we can get that fuse to burn all the way to the dynamite, it’s going to pack a wallop.” (1 wallop = ~1,000 joules).

The process also produced heat that seemed to boost the energy of the reaction’s output. This effect could be an early step in using nuclear fusion to create a safe and abundant energy source. This is great news for people like me who currently use waterwheels and wood furnaces to power their homes.

That’s the story of the Hurricane.

What does this milestone mean for the future of nuclear physics? How long will it be before nuclear fusion is used as a reliable energy source? Could we ever harness the sun’s ability to deliver two scoops of raisins into your cereal? Tell us in the comments section below.

Sources: ScientificAmerican, CNN

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Comments

  1. Bugbee says:

    paul, you idiot, it is a joke, just because it is made to sound stupid doesn’t mean it’s americanized, it’s just paulinized, now fuck off

  2. paul says:

    the way this article is written makes me cry, its so americanised
    EXAMPLES you say?
    “opening a whole new chapter in the tanning salon industry”
    “chilled to negative 400 degrees Fahrenheit (-400 (F) = -204.44 (C) = SuperCold (Coors Light))”
    “The pressure of this implosion pushes the deuterium and tritium together in a process we’ll call “smooshing together””
    Plus lets not exempt the obvious factual error that im sure no one picked up on:
    “replicating the exact chemical reaction”
    …..its not a chemical reaction, its a nuclear reaction….

  3. Lenny Pierce says:

    Folks! Sorry for the confusion here. For the record this story is not a hoax. The articles cited are below if you’d like to read more.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/high-powered-lasers-deliver-fusion-energy-breakthrough/

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/12/tech/innovation/energy-fusion/

    And for the record, R Kelly does not have an ignition lab as far as I know. That, unlike cold fusion, was a joke.

    Thank you all for reading.

  4. Patrick says:

    It is a tongue in cheek rendition of what they actually have managed to do. https://www.llnl.gov/news/aroundthelab/2014/Feb/NR-14-02-06.html#.Uv2gKPldWSp

  5. Melissa R. says:

    I don’t think the article is a joke. if you go to the Lawrence Livermore website, you do find this story.

    https://www.llnl.gov/news/aroundthelab/2014/Feb/NR-14-02-06.html#.Uv2FbIXMnGo

  6. barfsimpleton says:

    The article is a joke, but it does relay the essential facets of the process scientists are trying to use to induce fusion. There are no chemical reactions in the sun. Way too hot to form molecules. Nuclear reactions occur deep within the sun. The difference being a toasty fire for your camp versus a nuclear fireball for your city.

  7. j5150m says:

    soon after this experiment, Keanu Reeves’ life was threatened but he managed to get away with a hot chick

  8. JetpackBlues says:

    @Christian: You are correct.

    They have managed to generate more energy than the nuclear fuel used to create it, but not more energy than the entire experiment consumed as a whole. That will be the next milestone.

  9. Kyle says:

    Wait, R. Kelly has a science lab?

  10. Christian says:

    Maybe I’m misreading the original article, but doesn’t it say that the energy gained is more than what was used to create the pellet? This means that you’re not getting more energy out than you put in, but rather that the fuel is energy efficient…the lasers are most certainly not.

  11. James Brazil says:

    i hope you realize this is a joke