By blowing bubbles and then crushing them with sound waves, a tabletop gadget appears to force atomic nuclei to fuse, a process usually requiring temperatures and pressures found in stars and thermonuclear explosions. "For the first time in history, we've been able to use simple mechanical force to initiate and control nuclear forces," says Rusi P. Taleyarkhan of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
If verified, this controversial claim by a U.S.-Russian team of university and government researchers might lead to new power sources and other payoffs, the experimenters say. Those could include compact neutron generators for probing materials and new techniques for studying hot plasmas like those of stars.
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