Friday, February 29, 2008

Peace, Love and Nuclear Power

This week I heard for the first time about another proposed approach for fusion power called Dense Plasma Focus. Its unorthodox proponent is Dr. Eric Lerner, long time leftist and cosmological contrarian. He is best known among physicists for his 1991 book The Big Bang Never Happened. Suffice it to say he's not a creationist, however!

Lerner was invited to describe his concept at a Google Tech Talk last fall. This was the same venue that previously hosted Dr. Robert Bussard, whose talk described another approach to fusion power called inertial electrostatic confinement.

The major powers (Europe, Japan, the U.S. and other partners) are sinking billions and billions of dollars into the ITER project to achieve break-even fusion power generation using a tokamak reactor. In contrast, alternatives have a tough time getting any funding at all. It seems to me that whatever the prevailing opinion among physicists about Lerner and Bussard's chances for success, we could afford to siphon off a few million just to see if the long shot bets will pay off. There's no question in my mind that the Real Answer to our energy woes and to global warming is nuclear power, particularly fusion.


M. Simon said...

The Bussard Fusion Reactor tests have been funded and are coming along nicely.

WB-7 First Plasma

Bill Hensley said...

Yes, I had heard about that. It is good news. I also understand that Lerner has picked up some new funding from, of all sources, the government of Chile. Seem like a sad state of affairs for the U.S. Bussard was also shopping his concept around in the Third World before the Navy found a bit of money to continue the funding.