'Death Star' Machine to be First Real Fusion Reactor
Technology Articles 11/15/10
By: Chris Capps
The machine has been compared aesthetically to the Death Star, but when you look at this enigmatic looking sphere and take the actual purpose it is to serve out of context, the actual process designed to go on within this machine it doesn't seem too ambitious to suggest it may one day be considered one of the most important pieces of heavy scientific equipment to ever be created. The creation is expected to for the first time create a lasting fusion reaction. The ultimate goal in fusion research? Free renewable power for everyone.
The name Death Star has also been used to describe the process going on within the machine as fusion reactions are said to be the process that goes on every day on the sun, although here on Earth a lasting fusion reaction has been difficult to attain. The project, taking place in Livermore California is expected to cost some $4 billion, but could rocket humanity into a new age where fusion reaction is not only possible, but can generate life giving energy to societies around the globe.
The project, which is set to go off in 2012 is also, however, a source of major interest in the global community. The device has been projected as being capable of unlocking the necessary requirements to create a fusion reactor that not only can be used for study, but will actually be able to provide power for the world. Such a device could, according to experts, power up to a quarter of the US' energy by the year 2050 with a cleaner more efficient form of electrical generation than has ever been deemed possible.
But are there dangers with such a project? As has been the case with so many scientific breakthroughs leading all the way back to the Manhattan Project, there are those who suggest the power generated by an unknown process could ultimately consume power in such a way that ultimately could destroy the entire planet. Not so, say scientists involved with the project. Though it will be dealing with a considerable amount of energy, the actual process itself is thought to be complex enough that it's unlikely to become a weapon of total destruction any time soon.
The core of the device will create pressures so high they will be considered comparable to the core of some gas giants like Jupiter and reach temperatures comparable to those at the center of our planet's sun. It has been called a miniature model of the processes that happen on the sun.
If Earth attains free energy, is it possible we could actually create a world far more industrious and capable than anything we have ever seen before? As soon as fusion energy is released, some futurists suggest this will be the catalyzing factor that ultimately means Earth will be rocketed into a future far beyond our wildest dreams. Other technologies such as nanotech and robotics will only assist in this new reality. But with over 850 computers analyzing and recalibrating data and a mountain of research left to be done, the system will require still more work before it becomes truly the next step in our technological achievements.