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Prometheus Pinioned

May 29th, 2009 by Chuck · 7 Comments · Politics

According to this article, progress is being made in the development of fusion as a source of usable energy. 

Dignitaries and top scientists gathered near San Francisco Friday for the formal opening of a massive new facility that they hope will accomplish what was once thought impossible — nuclear fusion, the Holy Grail of energy sources.The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will focus 192 laser beams on a hydrogen pellet the size of a bead, heating it to incredible temperatures in an attempt to recreate the power of the sun.

Upon learning this news, perhaps equivalent to Prometheus bringing fire to mankind, modern environmentalists had this reaction:


Nuclear fusion has never been achieved on Earth, and critics argue the facility’s $3.5 billion price tag is a waste of taxpayer money.

“We don’t need this machine to solve our energy problems,” says Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environment Research in Takoma Park, Md. “The main thing the National Ignition Facility has accomplished so far is to burn a hole in the taxpayers’ pocketbook.”

We don’t need it.  No fire-bringers need apply.  One can imagine people such as these refusing the gift of  Prometheus and betraying him to the gods for eternal punishment.  “Be gone with you!  We prefer living in our caves.” 

All their efforts, so far, have failed to kill off nuclear fission power plants.  But those plants were born in a better day, before environmentalists had any political power.  Will the enviros, politically powerful as they are today, succeed in killing off nuclear fusion aborning?  Is our civilization that far gone?  If they don’t, it won’t be for lack of trying.

7 Comments so far ↓

  • John McVey

    From what I can recall, the Navy’s work with Bussard’s IEC “polywell” designs have a much better likelihood of achieving viability, and at a price tag that is three whole orders of magnitude lower. So long as government money is being tossed around it’s shameful that so much is being thrown at these gigantic projects but bugger all being set aside for smaller reactors – especially since the Navy has an objectively legitimate reason for their funding of small-scale power projects. Still, perhaps it is better that the project keep a low profile until after success is achieved, lest the greenies bring it to a halt.


  • realistTheorist

    If someone does discover something Promethean, it is a pretty good guess that it will be tied up for decades of environmental reports in the U.S., while folks in China and India copy the idea and implement it first.

  • Jeff

    I don’t believe any of these projects will succeed. They are based on a flawed hypothesis, that the sun is powered by nuclear fusion. The sun is powered by electricity concentrated on it, a giant arc welder if you like analogies. That electricity, by the way, surrounds the earth and is free for the taking. That’s where our research dollars, if they’re going to be spent by the government, should be spent.

  • Chuck

    Jeff, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but you are missing my point, anyway. My point is that whenever some Prometheus does invent some epoch making new technology, especially an energy source, our present, environmentalist culture is perfectly capable of rejecting it. Becuae our current culture is anti-man.

  • Mike

    On a lighter note, this reminds me of a joke I once heard.

    A typical human male is puttering around his yard one day when an alien spaceship lands and aliens disembark to speak to him. They hand him a device that they say will “eliminate poverty and hunger, cure all disease, and bestow a lifespan of millennia upon all humankind,” once humans figure out how to use it. The aliens then fly away. What does the man do?

    (A) Give the device to the President of the United States so that it can be turned over to top NASA scientists and its workings learned;

    (B) Sell the device on the open market to the highest bidder; or

    (C) Take it apart.

  • Harold

    Some have claimed that the Sun is powered by electric currents flowing through the universe.

    Needless to say, it’s been met with intense criticism.


  • Carlton

    A good point, Chuck, but I do think that environmentalists have done quite a lot to *practically* kill off nuclear fission in America. We get relatively little power from fission, few (none?) new plants are being built and the ones we have are aging without the intent of being replaced.

    Obviously, this is a predictable outcome of statism, subsidizing the old standards against the pursuit of progress. It’s marriage with so-called “environmentalism” certainly doesn’t help.

    It’s absurd that we get roughly 70% of our energy from coal, when nuclear fission would be so much cheaper, safer and cleaner! France, of all places, not a bastion of technology in any right, produces nearly all it’s electricity from nuclear fission, at times having enough to export and sell to surrounding countries!