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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I'm thankful for nuclear fusion

I’m thankful for nuclear fusion, the process by which the sun, and other stars, transform mass into energy. In the sun’s case, this is through 4 Hydrogen nuclei (protons) fusing into a Helium nucleus. About 0.7% of the mass involved is turned into energy. The reaction is not going on very fast. Scientists estimate that, at present rates, it would take about 10 billion years to exhaust the sun’s supply of Hydrogen. To put it another way, a human body at rest gives off more energy than the same volume of the sun’s material does. But the sun is so large that it gives off enough energy to heat our planet, over 90 million miles from it, losing about 5 million tons of mass per second. (Most of the sun’s energy goes out into space without striking anything in the solar system.) Without nuclear fusion, we wouldn’t be here. Our planet would be frozen, and there would be no light for green plants to convert to food. Although I’m very thankful for nuclear fusion, I’m sorry that we have, sort of, harnessed nuclear fusion, and that Hydrogen bombs exist.

See here for my main reference. Thanks for reading!

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