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My dream is about solving global warming with fusion and AI

My dream is about solving global warming with fusion and AI.

We all know that matter consists of atoms, and an atom consists of atomic nuclei and electrons orbiting it. Atomic nuclei are not very friendly: electrostatic forces push them apart. However, if they are close enough for long enough, if the nuclear force is greater than electrostatic, they fuse into heavier nuclei. For many elements, the reaction is accompanied by energy release, for example, hydrogen. Our sun consists primarily of hydrogen and its fusion product - helium. As you might guess, it has two protons in contrast to one proton in hydrogen. Hydrogen fusion in the sun releases all the energy required to enable evolution on our planet. But why can't we reproduce the same on Earth? Why can't we light up mini-stars in fusion reactors and consume infinite energy? Hydrogen, after all, is the most abundant element in the universe. We try, we try hard.

Suppose one wants to surpass electrostatic force and make hydrogen nuclei fuse. In that case, one has two choices: bring huge volume to one place (read: Sun) or "pump up" a lot of energy into a limited amount (read: fusion reactor). Small reactor - higher the temperature should be. "Plasma" is what physicists call pumped up with energy hydrogen. More power: hotter and denser plasma becomes. The temperature is so high that no such material can withhold it. Hence the only way to hold is a strong magnetic field. But steering a fusion plasma toward stability is a complicated problem. If we can do it in real-time with high precision, we can crack super-high temperature fusion in a limited volume. Simple methods don't work. A human operator is also not capable of this because of the human's reaction time. But what about an AI? DeepMind tried, and their result looks very promising:

The idea of DeepMind's research and proof-of-concept is that there is no need to simulate and support a specific configuration of the plasma carefully. The AI can steer it precisely enough and react to ever-changing states. The hope is that they will be able to hold plasma in the desired configuration for as long as needed and slowly extract the energy we want.

I dream of AI controlling hundreds if not thousands of small fusion reactors. They produce so much energy that we don't burn coal, gas, or oil to get the power we so desperately need. Do you want to see such a world too?

Top comments (1)

devonadam profile image

that is interesting