Thursday, June 24, 2010

No Sleep 'Til Fusion:

Dr. Robert W. Bussard was a a physicist at Los Alamos, a rocket builder in the age of rockets. His proposed hydrogen-compressing ramjet became the stuff of sci-fi legend. (There's one of the front of the U.S.S. Enterprise.) He was a classic scientist of the 20th century retro-future, when it was all going to be clean atomic energy, spaceflight, and freckled white people living on the moon. It didn't happen that way, and in the end he died an old man at the bottom of the same polluted and overheating gravity well he was born on.

But in the few weeks before his last lab shuttered from lack of funding, he'd had a breakthrough, and Bussard believed that he might have solved the most difficult physics problems of fusion energy.