Joseph Kitchin
Wait, they got a positive Q value? that in and of itself is HUGE, even if the net gain is small....however, one percent of how much juice NIF uses per shot is actually a decent chunk of kilowatts. never heard of this alpha-capture method before, although its probably a technique specific to inertial confinement fusion, meaning it wont be useful for torroidal fusion or fusor designs or anything
Anne Ominous
They achieved gain, but NOT "net" gain.
The target released more energy than was put into it by the lasers. It must be said that is an awesome achievement.
BUT, the energy *that powered the lasers* was greater than the energy they got out. So there was not an actual net gain. It took more energy, overall, to create the fusion than it released.
But this is a major milestone, no doubt about it.
Mel Tisdale
At the end of the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition programme, the cardinals are seen rushing to yet another opportunity to utter the immortal words: "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" The closing credits roll while they are en route and the programme eventually comes to a close just as they arrive at their destination. The words "Oh ******!" can be heard in the background.
Fusion energy production, be it hot, or even cold, reminds me of that sketch. If, or perhaps more optimistically, when, it arrives I think it will be too late. We desperately need a new supply of cheap, i.e. easy to extract, oil, not just electricity, and we need it yesterday. It is nice to know that milestones are being passed, albeit oh so slowly.
I just hope that when the technology arrives as a working process, exuding all shiny newness and capable of producing copious amounts of cheap energy, the scientists will not be heard repeating the "Oh ******!" expression.
Mariusz Gyan
There have been hundreds of experiments where fusion has been achieved in low temperatures (and small devices). And energy gain is about 300%. Some technologies are going to production lines.
Sadly even if ignition is achieved and becomes practical, the average person will never see the benefit because it would mean the literal end to rationing energy by way of monetary payment. In other words, as long as there is a profit to be made, true advancedment will be stymied. The same can be applied to cancer cures, teleportation, advanced space travel, etc. Greed overcomes all.
"as part of the US program to produce new warheads and to ensure that the existing stockpiles remain safe and reliable."
Sorry, had to LOL at the irony of this statement when I read it. Warheads safe? And reliable? Aren't those two goals in direct conflict with one another? ☺
Neil Farbstein
It took a facility bigger than a football field to confine alpha particles to a fusion pellet long enough to get past breakeven. Inertial confinement fusion is going to look like big dinosaur when commenting technology l;tike low energy nuclear fusion reaction reactors come on the scene. Vulvox has an aneurtronic fusion reactor on the drawing board that will cost hundreds of times less than laser ICF reactors or the biggest dinosaur of them all- the ITER tokamak type reactors. We also have a performance materials program for developing materials that can be used in clean aneutronic LENR reactors.
From above: "[A star's] huge mass squashes the atoms together to form helium, releasing huge amounts of energy as the strong nuclear force that keeps them apart is overcome." No; and again, no. The stars mass provides a high density, where the high temperature will, occasionally, provoke a collision so direct and violent as to overcome the electric force ... or close enough for the strong nuclear force to come into play. The strong nuclear force is *used* not "overcome".
And PLEASE don't use the adverb "literally" to describe "harnessing". There are no horses in evidence.
A welcome step forward. But there remains the frustration that commercialization always seems 25 in the future…
By contrast, a US conversion to renewable energy would cost an estimated $26b/yr versus $120b/yr for the hidden costs of fossil fuels in the US PLUS $271 billion/yr. projected damage by climate change impacts (Ackerman & Stanton, Tufts U, 2008); (US Acad. of Sciences, 2010). NREL's Chuck Kutscher makes that case at the 1 hour mark in a Jan 26 2014 talk: Climate Change: The Latest Findings and What We Must Do.
Nelson Hyde Chick
Our discovery of an inexhaustible, cheap, nonpolluting energy source will save humanity from itself but not all other life on this planet from humanity.