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Fusion device crosses threshold

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12:02pm, April 15, 2003

By sparking thermonuclear reactions, a machine simply called Z has joined the big leagues among potential technologies for producing power from controlled nuclear fusion.

Thermonuclear fusion takes place when matter becomes so hot that violent collisions force atomic nuclei to fuse together. Those reactions unleash a flood of energetic neutrons.

Until now, the only other fusion-energy approaches that achieved thermonuclear-fusion reactions in a lab are one in which huge lasers blast tiny, hydrogen-filled capsules and another in which hulking reactors use potent magnetic fields to squeeze hot, ionized hydrogen gas.

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