Fusion In Upheaval
In the 1950’s, mathematicians predicted that these designs could be very stable [55, 58]. They started from first principles. Using the equations that give equilibrium in a conducting fluid - in the presence of a magnetic field – people like Harold Grad analyzed various configurations. The high pressure, cusped system came out as stable. These equations are shown below .
Why was this allowed? The reasons are not wholly scientific. Since commercial fusion does not exist, there is a natural tug-of-war over what a plant would look like. Politicians fund one idea and kill others. Sadly, fusion gets political. Cold-war politics drove early fusion research. The US had to get it before the USSR. Later, the reasoning got more muddled. Was it good money following bad? Fighting between the national labs? A lack of public inquiry? Chris Paine, of the Resource Defense Council, has even suggested the process was underhanded. His article, When Peer Review Fails: The Roots of the NIF Debacle called the NIF approval process: “secretive and biased."
Historians can debate the reasons for decades to come – but climate change is here, now. It is not waiting on any of this. All efforts must be refocus on clean fusion power. Failed ideas, persisting for bad reasons, must die. New paths must be explored. We cannot waste any time.