Atom Wave: Cold Fusion

Atom Wave

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cold Fusion

Wishful thinking can take people a long ways these days. I wish that I made more money! I wish that I didn’t have some job that a trained monkey could do! I wish that my girlfriend would marry me! The list goes on, you get the idea. One permanent element of science that persists like a ghost in the laboratory to this day is nuclear fusion: nice in theory, lousy in practice.
Ever since the 1950’s, scientists and engineers have been pursuing fusion power. They achieved it quickly, in the hydrogen bomb and the Farnsworth Fusor. Neither turned out to be any good for much unless you wanted a city vaporized, or your friends impressed, or both. In all the time elapsed since scientists have been strikingly incompetent in manufacturing any practical power plant.
The conventional research approach for the last few decades has been either inertial confinement or magnetic confinement. In inertial confinement, a system of high-energy lasers is used to implode a fuel capsule within the confines of a radiation chamber. The approach of magnetic confinement, usually the Tokamak is to magnetically trap hydrogen plasma and heat it to ignition. Despite several decades of research, each effort has failed to produce a net energy output.
Now I am not of the opinion that fusion is impossible. If someone says that something is impossible, than it is probably possible. One century ago, few people believed that our Astronauts would ride machines of steel and fire into the sky. It is just that after decades of disappointment, maybe there is some fundamental flaw in the design of these machines.


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