October 18, 2013

Do Advanced Civilizations Self-Destruct?

I think it's quite possible or likely. With reference to our own civilization, I think of the near future, say a hundred years from now. I think we'll master the technology of nuclear fusion. There's no greater panacea for all our energy needs than fusion. So, we'll be tempted to build that ultimate fusion reactor, the ultimate power source that'll power an entire continent.

These reactors will of course generate enormous amounts of power. The major challenge lies in how to tame this suddenly generated energy and use it in a controlled fashion.

The margin for error in these endeavors will be very small. Something might go wrong in how the lasers are calibrated or the hydrogen fuel is measured or assembled and a catastrophic fusion reaction might ensue generating enough energy to blow a continent-sized hole on one side of planet Earth.

Here's a report about the latest advances in laser fusion at the NIF. Interestingly, here's another article which trashes the BBC story. It seems the ongoing U.S. government shutdown meant there was no Public Affairs officer at the NIF belonging to the LLNL to 'clarify' what those results meant. So, BBC went on a merry joyride of its own making.

Seems we are quite a long, long distance away from realizing true nuclear fusion or harnessing it for our use. It is most probably not going to happen in my lifetime.

Oh well. Many things won't happen in my lifetime. Above all, detecting extraterrestrial life or making contact as a 'successful' result of SETI.

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