Scientists have confirmed that last year, for the first time in the lab, they achieved a fusion reaction that self-perpetuates (instead of fizzling out) – bringing us closer to replicating the nuclear reaction that powers the Sun.
However, they aren't exactly sure how to recreate the experiment.
Nuclear fusion occurs when two atoms combine to create a heavier atom, releasing a huge burst of energy in the process.
It's a process often found in nature, but it's very difficult to replicate in the lab because it needs a high-energy environment to keep the reaction going.
The Sun generates energy using nuclear fusion – by smashing hydrogen atoms together to create helium.
Supernovae – exploding suns – also leverage nuclear fusion for their cosmic firework displays. The power of these reactions is what creates heavier molecules like iron.
In artificial settings here on Earth, however, heat and energy tend to escape through cooling mechanisms such as x-ray radiation and heat conduction.
To make nuclear fusion a viable energy source for humans, scientists first have to achieve something called 'ignition', where the self-heating mechanisms overpower all the energy loss.
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Published on 12/14/2022 (98 days ago) Nuclear