Note — Jun 06, 2021

Fusion & Magic

Seen in → No.176

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This essay by Andrew Blum is probably a tad too much on the techno-optimist side for my taste but it’s still worth a read, as he mixes a look back at some important technologies or products appearing somewhat out of nowhere, with a useful intro to superconductors and fusion. For those who’ve read Eliot Peper’s Commonwealth trilogy (you should), it’s fun imagining the article’s fusion company also called Commonwealth, and what kind of energy play they could do in case of success vs the communication infrastructure play in Peper’s books.

[T]he fabrication and testing of a two-step project. The first is a massively powerful magnet made with high-temperature superconductors. The second uses the magnet as the transformative component in a fusion reactor capable of producing more energy than it requires to operate. Called SPARC, it is especially remarkable for its relatively small size, with the entire unit taking up about the same space as a volleyball court. […]

Once that sun can be turned on and off at will, the challenge will be to extract its excess energy and package it into something resembling a power plant. Then build them, fast.