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Fusion

Researchers used sound wave readings of NGC 2264 to determine the age of stars (Photo: SIR...

One of the long-standing difficulties in astrophysics has been a way to accurately determine the age of a star. Brand new stars are obvious from their location in or near "star nurseries" of interstellar gas and dust, and "adult" stars can be roughly characterized through various methods, including a calculation based on their mass and luminosity. Unfortunately, these methods are approximations at best. Researchers at KU Leuven's Institute for Astronomy have now discovered a way to distinguish young stars from older ones by measuring the acoustic waves that they emit using ultrasound technology.  Read More

A group of scientists are turning to Indiegogo to fund fusion power research (Image: LPP F...

A group of researchers at New Jersey-based LPP Fusion is turning to crowdfunding to demonstrate net power gain from a nuclear fusion reactor. The scientists plan to do this using a technique which is relatively little-known, but which they claim is scientifically sound and only relies on well-established science. Given enough funding, the researchers say they could design a US$500,000, 5 MW reactor that would produce energy for as little as 0.06 cents per kWh, all by the end of the decade.  Read More

Researchers at Imperial College London have devised a method of achieving light to matter ...

In what could be a landmark moment in the history of science, physicists working at the Blackett Physics Laboratory in Imperial College London have designed an experiment to validate one of the most tantalizing hypotheses in quantum electrodynamics: the theory that matter could be created using nothing more than pure light.  Read More

A metallic case called a hohlraum holds the fuel capsule for the NIF experiments (Photo: E...

In a perfect example of beating swords into plowshares, a team of scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California reached a milestone in the quest for practical fusion power using a process designed for the development and testing of nuclear weapons. The announcement in the February 12 issue of Nature claims that the team used the world’s most powerful laser barrage to produce a controlled fusion reaction where more energy was extracted from the fuel than was put into it.  Read More

A nuclear-powered spacecraft is one winning concept of NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts...

A dozen inventors have received a chance to demonstrate the potential for their pet space projects as winners of NASA's 2013 Innovative Advanced Concepts Program Phase I awards. The award winners were chosen based on their potential to transform future aerospace missions by enabling either breakthroughs in aerospace capabilities or entirely new missions. Read on for a closer look at some of the most promising proposals with a view to how they would work, and where the tricky bits might be hiding.  Read More

Artist's concept of a fusion-drive ship

Traveling through deep space is a hazardous undertaking and choosing the right engine can mean the difference between a fast, successful mission and a slow one with mounting dangers of radiation sickness, equipment failures and personal conflicts. A team of researchers from the University of Washington (UW) and Redmond, Washington-based MSNW are aiming to expand the options by developing a new fusion drive rocket engine that promises to make possible a manned spacecraft that could reach Mars and return to Earth in months rather than years.  Read More

The RIKEN Linear Accelerator Facility outside of Tokyo, in which element 113 has been disc...

Led by Dr. Kosuke Morita at the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-based Science, a group of scientists specializing in the superheavy elements have established the clearest evidence yet for the synthesis of the a new element with the temporary name of ununtrium (element 113). Claims of discovering a new element in the 21st century are usually the result of lengthy experiments involving new detection methods and element 113, which was first reported in 2003, has been particularly elusive.  Read More

Three Sandia neutrister neutron generators mounted in a test box under vacuum

Neutron generators provide materials analysis and non-destructive testing tools to many industries, including oilfield operations, heavy mechanical construction, art conservancy, detective work, and medicine. Many of these applications have been limited by the rather large size of current industrial and medical neutron sources. Now Sandia National Laboratories, the lab that develops and supports the non-nuclear parts (including neutron generators) of nuclear weapons, has developed a new approach toward building tiny neutron generators.  Read More

500 terawatt shot -  The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility (Photo: Damien Je...

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) have achieved a laser shot which boggles the mind: 192 beams delivered an excess of 500 trillion-watts (TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to a target of just two millimeters in diameter. To put those numbers into perspective, 500 TW is more than one thousand times the power that the entire United States uses at any instant in time. Pew-Pew indeed ...  Read More

Fusion power would allow electricty to be generated using the same processes taking place ...

While solar power harnesses energy produced by the Sun, fusion power seeks to harness the very process used by the Sun to generate a practically limitless supply of clean electricity. Despite decades of research and numerous breakthroughs, “net-gain” nuclear fusion is yet to appear. One of the hurdles is the so-called density, or Greenwald, limit that sees the plasmas within experimental fusion reactors (called tokamaks) spiraling apart and disrupting the fusion process. Now scientists have come up with a new theory as to why this occurs that, if proven, could provide a way to clear the density limit hurdle.  Read More

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