21st Dec 2012

Making Stars on Earth

Nuclear fusion is the reason our sun shines. It’s the process by which two atomic nuclei fuse into one, heavier nuclei—and the process by which stars produce energy. The heart of our Sun is a vast powerhouse, where the nuclear fusion of two hydrogen atoms into one helium atom radiates huge amounts of energy. Earth’s current nuclear reactors use nuclear fission, which produces energy by splitting one atom into two. This process creates harmful radioactive waste, but nuclear fusion is cleaner, safer, and more efficient. If we could effectively build our own star here on Earth—our own celestial power plant—we would have access to unlimited clean energy, but although decades of research has created glimpses of fusion reactions such as the JET (Joint European Torus) experimental fusion reactor pictured above, we have yet to learn how to usefully harness this energy. But what we’ve managed to create so far is still amazing. In Brian Cox’s words: “Scientists have learned how to create and hold star matter—a cocktail of gases heated to 100 million degrees. For a moment, a little piece of the sun springs into life on the Earth.”

(Image Credit: Wonders of the Universe)

This post has 2,716 notes
  1. growforeverwildtrees reblogged this from sciencesoup
  2. aguilerae reblogged this from sciencesoup
  3. naevani reblogged this from additionalfaces
  4. additionalfaces reblogged this from sciencesoup
  5. topromotechange reblogged this from sciencesoup
  6. ethankingbuckalew reblogged this from mitchmcj
  7. illsphinx reblogged this from ophne
  8. ophne reblogged this from retainerspit
  9. retainerspit reblogged this from sciencesoup
  10. arthur-dragon reblogged this from sciencesoup
  11. originalityisnonexistant reblogged this from ultralag
  12. unbeautifly reblogged this from ultralag
  13. loveanddjentleness reblogged this from ultralag
  14. ultralag reblogged this from grimreeferprince
  15. believeinlostsouls reblogged this from inspirewiki
  16. grimreeferprince reblogged this from inspirewiki
  17. inspirewiki reblogged this from sciencesoup
  18. space-math reblogged this from ciele94
  19. ciele94 reblogged this from sciencesoup
  20. itsallaboutourperspective reblogged this from sciencesoup
  21. universesfollies reblogged this from sciencesoup
  22. fiendishsarah reblogged this from sciencesoup
  23. fridacarlos reblogged this from sciencesoup
  24. morazmjoo reblogged this from sciencesoup