The great, maddening promise of fusion energy

It took SpaceX 13 years to become the first private company to launch and re-land a rocket capable of achieving orbit.PHOTO: REUTERS

Twenty-five years ago, as a young physicist, I worked on research linked to fusion energy.

Nuclear fusion powers the sun and stars through reactions that turn hydrogen nuclei into helium nuclei, and if we could master the process on Earth, we'd have a safe and virtually limitless source of clean energy. At conferences every year, scientists from around the world gathered to discuss the achingly slow progress being made then. Government and university labs have now been trying unsuccessfully for more than 50 years.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'The great, maddening promise of fusion energy'. Subscribe