DAILY DOSE: Fusion energy revelation inches closer to carbon-free energy future; Hints of aromatic carbon compounds found on Mars.


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Scientists have confirmed the achievement of a decades long goal in fusion energy research. Per the Associated Press,

Scientists announced Tuesday that they have for the first time produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it — a major breakthrough in the decades-long quest to harness the process that powers the sun.

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California achieved the result, which is called net energy gain, the Energy Department said. Net energy gain has been an elusive goal because fusion happens at such high temperatures and pressures that it is incredibly difficult to control.

The breakthrough will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and other officials said.

“Ignition allows us to replicate for the first time certain conditions that are found only in the stars and the sun,″ Granholm told a news conference in Washington. “This milestone moves us one significant step closer to the possibility of zero-carbon abundant fusion energy powering our society.″

That said, the possibility of commercially available fusion energy is still a few decades away (at least that’s what researchers predict). https://bit.ly/3hjc3dD

Keeping on the topic of fusion energy, Nature broke down exactly how the scientists at the Energy Department achieved the feat, why it is important, and what we can expect down the line.

The facility used its set of 192 lasers to deliver 2.05 megajoules of energy onto a pea-sized gold cylinder containing a frozen pellet of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium. The pulse of energy caused the capsule to collapse, creating temperatures only seen in stars and thermonuclear weapons, and the hydrogen isotopes fused into helium, releasing additional energy and creating a cascade of fusion reactions. The laboratory’s analysis suggests that some 3.15 megajoules of energy was released — roughly 54% more than the energy that went into the reaction and more than double the previous record of 1.3 megajoules.

“Fusion research has been going on since the early 50s, and this is the first time in the laboratory that fusion has ever produced more energy than it consumed,” says Campbell.

The experiment safely qualifies as ignition, a benchmark measure for fusion reactions that focuses on how much energy went into the target compared to how much energy was released. However, while the fusion reactions may have produced more than 3 megajoules of energy — more than was delivered to the target — NIF’s 192 lasers consumed 322 megajoules of energy in the process.

“It’s a big milestone, but NIF is not a fusion-energy device,” says Dave Hammer, a nuclear engineer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

A little bit of a reality check there but there’s nothing wrong with that. https://bit.ly/3FR3Oir

Nobody will admit to wanting to be open to the reality of designer babies but science continues to dance around the subject like a mulberry bush. Per The Guardian,

Genomics England is to test whether sequencing babies’ genomes at birth could help speed up the diagnosis of about 200 rare genetic diseases, and ensure faster access to treatment.

The study, which will sequence the genomes of 100,000 babies over the next two years, will explore the cost-effectiveness of the approach, as well as how willing new parents are to accept it.

Although researchers will only search babies’ genomes for genetic conditions that surface during early childhood, and for which an effective treatment already exists, their sequences will be held on file. This could open the door to further tests that could identify untreatable adult onset conditions, or other genetically determined traits, in the future.

Let’s be real here. This is designer baby light. https://bit.ly/3uPPMXK

When the Perseverance rover landed in Jezero crater in 2021, they grabbed up a few rocks to analyze for signs of organic compounds. They used the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) instrument to perform deep ultraviolet Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy on them. Researchers reported their findings in Science,

We identify evidence for two distinct ancient aqueous environments at different times. Reactions with liquid water formed carbonates in an olivine-rich igneous rock. A sulfate-perchlorate mixture is present in the rocks, probably formed by later modifications of the rocks by brine. Fluorescence signatures consistent with aromatic organic compounds occur throughout these rocks, preserved in minerals related to both aqueous environments.

Discoveries on Mars continue to be tantalizingly close to proving that life once existed on the barren red planet millions of years ago. https://bit.ly/3WeTxBL

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE CREDIT: U.S. Department of Energy.

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