Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some things you never shake

I come to my environmentalism in a roundabout way -- via reading tons of science fiction as a boy. They're not always easy fits, as a lot of SF authors have a very technophilic view that cannot possibly imagine a problem with which newer and better technology cannot cope. Obviously, there are exceptions, but the authors I read when I was younger all definitely fell in to this category.

Which is all a long way of saying when there's news about EMC2 Fusion (the brainchild of the late Robert Bussard) I still squee up like a schoolgirl gazing longingly at a Robert Pattinson poster. There's nothing quite like the promise of fusion power to make me dream of maglev trains, undersea colonies, and crewed missions to Jupiter.

There's not much to say yet, but apparently EMC2 has now passed the point where they left off when Dr. Bussard died, and are now moving on to the construction of a larger model to test the possibility of getting net power from the device. This, if I'm reading it right, is the last step before building a prototype full-power 100 megawatt plant.

EMC2 has run pretty quietly, which frankly adds to my confidence. Their results are also being monitored by the US Government, who are footing the bill, so that too makes me a bit more confident. Not that the US Govt. doesn't have a history of backing whackadoo claims without merit, but this doesn't *seem* to be that.

Before he died, Bussard wrote about what fusion power could do for applications in space, and the short answer is basically 1000x better performance than all of the current best technologies.

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