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Nuclear Fusion. I am hopeful!

Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear Fusion. I am hopeful!

This post has nothing to do with internet marketing.  But at 3AM and wide awake I started writing.  I had put it somewhere and decided to post it here.  Also, I’m curious how my site traffic will react.

I couldn’t sleep last night.

It happens.  Usually I toss and turn thinking about the economy, world strife, climate change, etc., etc., etc…  I look into the future and it looks really bad.  I feel hopeless.  

But something caught my eye yesterday as I read the news during my lunch break (a yummy hot dog at Costco), scientists at the Lawrence Livermore Lab were able to use nuclear fusion to create more energy than what was used to create it.  And it is green.  No messy emissions, radioactive waste, pollutants… Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.  There’s a good article at National Geographic that explains it pretty well.  Check it out.

Don’t worry!  This isn’t “nuclear fission”.  That involves splitting atoms of uranium, a pretty toxic element.  And when something goes wrong there can be a melt down of the core reactor (think Chernobyl), and a cloud of radioactive material travels around our atmosphere for years and loading us, our plants that we eat, water that we drink, etc. with a very toxic element.  Very scary! 

And the uranium fuel rods that power these huge plants, they only last so long.  Then they are taken out of service and stored. That spent uranium stays highly radioactive for thousands of years.  So, where do we store this toxic crap?  After all these years we still don’t know.  Nuclear fission produces energy but “clean”, it isn’t.

Scientists and researchers have been working on this concept of “nuclear fusion” for 60 years.  They knew it was possible, in theory.  But proving  it  was something else. 

Science takes time.  However, the experiment at Lawrence Livermore shows so much promise, I am hopeful. 

There are still some very heavy numbers to be accounted for.  

Think about that for a minute (or overnight).  This is HUGE!  Someday we will be able to generate electricity from a source that actually produces more power than it needs to create it.  And with no harmful side effects.

Hydroelectric dams generate most of our electricity now.  But with climate change, our rivers are drying up and the lakes and reservoirs they feed are declining to “dead pool” status.  There will not be enough water to operate the turbines needed to turn on our lights, power our equipment, and charge our precious smartphones.

Oil (fossil fuel) is pumped out of the ground, refined and turned into gasoline and lubricants to power our cars, trucks, ships, airplanes, etc., and keep our machines running smoothly.  But at a big and scary cost.  

The exhaust from those motors hovers over us for years creating a “Greenhouse Effect”.  That traps carbon dioxide in our atmosphere resulting in climate change.  Long droughts, bigger and more frequent hurricanes, warmer temperatures, wildfires, etc.  

And let’s face it, there’s only so many dead dinosaurs out there.  Their fossil fuel is not limitless.  Someday it will just be gone. All used up.

We take coal and natural gas out of the ground.  They heat our homes and our stoves.  But think of the cost that those emissions pose upon our environment.  That thinking can keep you awake at night.

So YAY!  Nuclear fusion comes to our rescue.  It creates more than what is needed to produce.  And it leaves no nasty footprint.  

Now for the bad news.  Most of us will never see it.

Last week’s announcement was of a breakthrough.  But it was a big one.  

The concept of an inexhaustible and clean energy source was simply that, a concept.  Now it is a proven concept.  We have cleared a huge hurdle.  But there are many more in front of us before we see the benefits on a daily basis. 

Just getting this technology from the lab to the street involves so much engineering magic that it is hard to even imagine at the moment.  And delivering their power to our homes and factories will require a completely new infrastructure.  This is going to take some time folks.  But now we know it is possible.  It can be done.  And that is exciting!

I am blessed to be the grandfather of four adorable boys.  I have been privileged to be present at each of their births into this world.  I have felt the joy of holding them in my arms.  And I have felt, and continually feel a deep concern for what their world will look like by the time they are my age.

Will their lights go out because the reservoir’s turbines aren’t producing electricity?  Will they have enough water to drink and to cultivate their food?  Will rising sea levels wash away their beaches and even entire communities?

I don’t know.  That’s what keeps me awake other nights.

I think that their kids though will see a much better world with the help of a clean and infinite source of electric power with nuclear fusion.  If we don’t burn this planet down first I think my great grandkids will be in a better place.

At least I am hopeful

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