From a small hill in the southern French region of Provence, you can see two suns. One has been blazing for four-and-a-half billion years and is setting. The other is being built by thousands of human minds and hands, and is — far more slowly — rising. The last of the real sun’s evening rays cast a magical glow over the other — an enormous construction site that could solve the biggest existential crisis in human history.
It is here, in the tiny commune of Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, that 35 countries have come together to try and master nuclear fusion, a process that occurs naturally in the sun — and all stars — but is painfully difficult to replicate on Earth.
Fusion promises a virtually limitless form of energy that, unlike fossil fuels, emits zero greenhouse gases and, unlike the nuclear fission power used today, produces no long-life radioactive waste.
Mastering it could literally save humanity from climate change, a crisis of our own making.
Who has been following the unfulfilled promise of nuclear fusion (not to be confused with radioactive nuclear fission) for 50 years and will remain hopeful yet skeptical until it can be demonstrated to generate more energy than required to sustain it…
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