Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have promised to successfully mimic the power of the sun “by the end of the year”.
Focusing 192 lasers onto an area the size of a pea, in a building the size of two football fields, they aim to get hydrogen atoms to stick together and form helium. If they can do this successfully it will release energy like the sun, getting out more energy than they put in, and providing a new form of cheap, sustainable energy.
But the $5bn project is already four times over its original budget though, and seven years late. And though pressured scientists have promised success ‘by the end of the year’, a report last week by the US Government Accountability Office called that unlikely.
Success would be a stepping stone towards the commercialisation of a clean and potentially and unlimited source of energy. And that would be a useful replacement for all the oil we use.
On the other hand it would also provide the energy to enable almost limitless expansion, putting species and habitats under more threat.