The atomic age at last? Manipulating bits to manipulate atoms
February 8, 2020 1:11 AM Subscribe
After decades of decline, the U.S. national fusion lab seeks a rebirth - "A visionary new leader aims to expand and diversify the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory—and get back to building fusion reactors."
- Fusion Startups Step In to Realize Decades-Old Clean Power Dream - "Governments have spent billions of dollars studying the emissions-free energy source. Now, private ventures are building smaller, faster, cheaper reactors." (WSJ; tweet)
- Calling All Billionaires: Fund Fusion Now - "The reason to be optimistic is that there has been important progress. Much of it has come from innovation in other fields that provide enabling technology. For example, something called REBCO tape, which was originally developed for MRI machines, allows for stronger magnetic fields which in turn makes much smaller fusion spaces possible. Similarly, inertial confinement approaches to fusion have benefitted greatly from the massive advances in laser technology. The Physics Nobel Prize in 2018 was in fact awarded for just this progress in laser intensity."
Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have bankrolled fusion startups through funds aimed at transforming energy. Few investors are traditional venture capitalists. Since payback could take more than a decade, investments today are “almost philanthropy,” says Mr. Cowley at Princeton. “Investors want to be part of something that will change the world.”
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