Well, this is unsettling.
As you likely know, there are two types of nuclear reactions: fusion and fission.
Fissions bombs have been around for decades up on decades as well as fusion reactors. All the nuclear power plants in the world us fission technology. Fission is the act of smashing a neutron into an unstable isotope (often Uranium 235 in nuclear bombs) in order to split the atom into smaller components.
Then, on the other hand, way more efficient and exponentially more powerful, there are fusion rectors. These bombs smash two smaller stops together in order to form a larges element. While we do not have a sustained fusion reactor, there are several ‘Tokamaks’ in the world in which we can initiate a fusion reaction using plasma, but we are not able to sustain the reaction to harness the power as of yet.
Oh, stars are enormous, gravity contained fission reactor. Lucky for us .. China just made their own star …
By Elizabeth Gamillo @ the Smithsonian, Via Revolver:
In a new world record, China’s “artificial sun” project has sustained a nuclear fusion reaction for more than 17 minutes, reports Anthony Cuthbertson for the Independent. In the latest experiment, superheated plasma reached 126 million degrees Fahrenheit—that’s roughly five times hotter than the sun, which radiates a scorching 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface and about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit at its core.
Coal and natural gas are the primary energy sources currently used around the world, but these materials come in limited supply. Nuclear fusion could be the cleanest energy source available because it replicates the sun’s physics by merging atomic nuclei to generate large amounts of energy into electricity. The process requires no fossil fuels, leaves behind no radioactive waste, and is a safer alternative to fission nuclear power, per the Independent.
“The recent operation lays a solid scientific and experimental foundation towards the running of a fusion reactor,” says Gong Xianzu, a researcher at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a statement.
China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) was designed to potentially be used as a near-limitless supply of clean energy on Earth, the Xinhua News Agency reports. The doughnut-shaped EAST reactor is referred to as an artificial sun because it simulates the fusion process within stars, reports Robert Lea for Newsweek.
In a star’s core, intense pressure and high temperatures fuse atomic nuclei, creating new elements, reports Michelle Star for Science Alert. To achieve nuclear fusion, four hydrogen atoms combine to form one helium atom.
Tokamaks like EAST use magnetic fields to confine turbulent—at times unstable—plasma, or ionized gas, at high temperatures in a loop course called a torus, per the Department of Energy. Inside the tokamak, lasers heat heavy hydrogen atoms, like deuterium and tritium, up to hundreds of millions of degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature threshold where fusion processes begin in stars. The heat allows researchers to replicate the intense gravitational pressure within a star’s core, Newsweek reports. At these high temperatures, the atomic nuclei inside a tokamak will begin to smash together and release energy that can be used for electrical power. READ MORE AT THE SMITHSONIAN HERE