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A Piece of the Sun

The Quest for Fusion Energy by Daniel Clery

4:36pm, July 11, 2013

It’s not a great time to be a scientist studying fusion. U.S. experiments such as the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility are losing funding (SN: 4/20/13, p. 26), while a $20 billion international project called ITER is delayed and over budget. Clery, a science writer, chronicles these setbacks, along with 70 years’ worth of others, in efforts to harness the process that lights up the stars.

Clery gives a detailed and workmanlike history of the worldwide quest to exploit fusion as an energy source. He describes persuasively how politics and economics, particularly during the Cold War, stalled progress. Clery is far less critical of the key scientists involved than was his former colleague Charles Seife, who argued in his entertaining 2008 book Sun in a Bottle that fusion research is plagued by narcissists and

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