"I venture to predict that a method will be found for liberating fusion energy in a controlled manner within the next two decades.” --Homi J. Bhabha, 9 August 1955.
Governments have spent billions of dollars and generations of scientists and engineers have spent their careers on the fusion quest. However, more than half a century after Bhabha’s prophecy, we are still not within twenty (or thirty or forty) years of using fusion to help satisfy our society’s ever-increasing thirst for energy.
Despite decades of unjustified optimism and broken promises, fusion advocates still dream of a fusion-powered future right around the corner. They argue that the enormous International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, currently being built in the south of France, will pave the way to a demonstration commercial fusion reactor by the year 2040.
If history is any guide, this promise, too, will be broken. Indeed, A real working fusion power plant -- one that transmits more power to the grid than it consumes -- is more than forty years away, even half a century after Bhabha’s initial prediction. We and our children (and probably our children’s children) will not be able to look to fusion as a solution to our society's energy problems.
Challenge Charles G Seife to a bet on this prediction!