More time, resources needed to make most of nuclear fusion breakthrough


Sam Dunn photographed by Isabella Kneeshaw.

Sam Dunn, Staff Writer

(Please do not attempt at home)

World Destruction: Burn coal or oil to create heat. This is turned into steam to drive turbines, which generate electricity. Large quantities of carbon dioxide are then released into the atmosphere, leading to Earth’s annihilation. It’s simple! 

Not really. 

For decades, the world has been running on fossil fuels, or as I explained, heading towards world destruction. If you’re alive, you’ve probably heard the words; “climate change,” something that is caused by these very fuels, as well as electricity, which is the reason why we risk it. Scientists have been searching for a solution for years, and finally, they’ve found one. 

On Dec. 5, 2022, scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California were able to achieve this long-awaited milestone. This breakthrough will pave the way for advancements in the future of clean power, safety, and – one would hope – no world destruction. 

Nuclear fusion is “the process by which two light atomic nuclei combine to form a single heavier one while releasing massive amounts of energy” (IAEA). Or simply put, it is a power source from the stars that generates immense amounts of clean energy for Earth. What this means for us is a chance to live in a sustainable and carbon-free environment. 

Tom Duggan, a Tualatin High School chemistry teacher, shared his perspective on the topic, stating, “The best thing is if we could figure this thing out. The research was stopped for a while after the supercollider in Texas got mothballed, but now the new research makes the possibilities come one step closer. The latest research is really exciting because people didn’t take it seriously when I was your age. But if people could do it, it could change the world forever.” 

Although these researchers have taken the first big step, their efforts continue to unfold. In order to achieve complete fusion, it will require more attempts and investments; something that is still a few decades away. I believe that more time and resources should be put into the research of nuclear fusion in order to accomplish a safer and cleaner world.