In June the Americans are going to conduct a nuclear fusion experiment, in which they will simultaneously fire 192 lasers at a pellet the size of a ball-bearing containing heavy hydrogen. The total power of the lasers will be about 500 trillion watts – more than the whole of the USA uses at its peak – but it will only last for a few nanoseconds. The idea is that this burst of energy will heat the hydrogen up to the millions of degrees required to initiate nuclear fusion and that, crucially, the amount of energy released will be significantly greater than that required to initiate the reaction – of the order of 10 to 100 times as much, it is hoped.
If it does work, then it will be a landmark in the 50-year quest to produce controlled nuclear fusion, which is a kind of Holy Grail, promising unprecedented amounts of energy, an unlimited supply of raw material – water – and a virtual absence of waste products. So far all we have had is uncontrolled nuclear fusion, in the form of hydrogen bombs, which are that much more powerful than fission explosions.
It will take several hours for the lasers to recharge. What will be needed for viable production is to have several pellets being lasered every second. So presumably very large arrays of highly efficient lasers will be needed.
At the same time, an international consortium is building another sort of experimental reactor in France. It is called ITER, and the idea here is to ionise the heavy hydrogen so that it can be contained in a magnetic field, and then heat it up to 10 million degrees or so, at which point hydrogen fusion will begin (just like in the Sun). The plasma would obviously melt any physical container, hence the need for the magnetic field.
The basic chart for nuclear energy under human control is for 2 Dec 1942 at 15.25 in Chicago, when Fermi achieved the first controlled fission reaction.
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This chart had a progressed New Moon in Jan 2007, showing the new era of nuclear power stations that is upon us, as well as the nuclear proliferation which has begun in recent years. The Progressed chart for Hiroshima – the chart for nuclear weapons – remarkably had a New Moon 2 months earlier in Nov 2006, again showing the nuclear proliferation that we are starting to see. It is generally some years between a Prog New Moon and the seed it has planted becoming visible.
Given that the basic nuclear chart describes all uses of nuclear energy, the 2007 Prog New Moon could also be seen as describing the latest experiments in achieving nuclear fusion.
The chart for man-made nuclear fusion has to be the chart for the first H-bomb, which was exploded in the Pacific on 1st November 1952.
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In the basic nuclear chart, the central symbolism is the Saturn-Uranus conjunction: the splitting (Uranus) of matter (Saturn). In the fusion chart, the central symbolism is the Saturn-Neptune conjunction: the fusion (Neptune) of matter (Saturn). Both charts have an angular Pluto, showing the sheer power involved.
This year Jupiter-Neptune is hard aspecting the Angles of the fusion chart, showing the resurgence of this 50-year old dream. The Holy (Jupiter) Grail (Neptune) of technology (Aquarius). Over the next 6 years, Prog Saturn-Neptune will cross the Prog MC of this chart. So nuclear fusion (Saturn-Neptune) will be achieving a much higher public profile (MC).
Straight after that, Uranus then Pluto will hard-aspect the Moon-Saturn-Neptune-Uranus t-square. This suggests all sorts of developments coming out of that higher public profile.
The astrology suggests to me that finally controlled nuclear fusion is coming our way, for better or for worse. I expect to see the first power station around 2020, as Pluto finishes empowering the natal Neptune of the fusion chart.
One of my first blogs, back in 2006, was on nuclear issues, which you can read here.