Friday, December 26, 2008

The day before Christmas I finished Sun in a Bottle by Charles Seife, a fascinating popular science book about the history of fusion research.

It starts with the quest for the "Super", a fusion based, rather than fission, based, nuclear bomb, and proceeds through the quest for peaceful use of fusion, both in the form of using thermonuclear devices as landscaping tools and in fusion power, including discussions of the cold fusion and bubble fusion debacles.

Seife does a good job of explaining why fusion has always been more difficult to harness than scientists initially predicted, including the best version of all the sides in the cold fusion debate over the years. From his point of view, it is clear that the current mainstream approaches to fusion power, tokomak's like the ITER develolment and laser-driven intertial confinement systems, may never reach even a basic breakeven point where they generate more power than is consumed. And he doesn't see any viable new approaches on the horizon. He doesn't directly address Bussard's polywell fusion approach, but seems to dismiss all fusor like devices which seems to indicate he doesn't think it will be viable but I think the jury is still out on that.

Very nicely written treatment of the subject, even if the conclusions are depressing since viable fusion power would be a huge boon to the world.


M. Simon said...

Yes. The jury is still out on the Bussard Fusion devices.

Latest news on that front:

Rick Nebel Updates The Latest News

Jed Rothwell said...

Seife is completely incorrect. He knows nothing about cold fusion.

Cold fusion was replicated at Los Alamos, BARC and over 200 other major laboratories. Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers describing these replications have been published in major journals. Seife did not cite a single one!

You will a bibliography of 3,000 papers on this cold fusion, and 500 full text papers here:

Jed Rothwell