This entry was posted by Sunday, 15 April, 2012
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You’ve read about fusion energy.

Energy that is plentiful and cheap.

It uses water as fuel. No pollution. No global warming. No uranium. No meltdowns.

Energy like it’s made in the stars where the nuclei of atoms are fused together.

Sadly, discussions about energy these days tend to describe fusion power as too “out there”, too “not in your lifetime”.

But what if..


Eric Lerner is the head of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics in new Jersey. It’s a small private lab.

Lerner put out a press release about how his company has advanced the “containment problem”.

Fusion reactions – think stars and hydrogen bombs – are  rough on any devices you try to put them in so they have to be contained in electromagnetic “bottles” to keep the incredibly corrosive plasma out of contact with the walls of the machine. Lerner says his lab has succeeded with containment at the highest temperature ever.

And not mere containment. Lawrenceville Plasma wasn’t happy with just beating mainstream scientists at their own game. Lerner’s team beat them with a technology that has been written off as impractical – a type of fusion that doesn’t produce any dangerous neutrons  – aneutronic fusion.  The process is safe as yogurt.

But safe doesn’t necessarily light  lamps.

I checked the nightly news: NBC, ABC, FOX? They missed Lerner’s announcement. There’s been an incredible lack of coverage. Nothing in the New York Times.  Nothing,  even  in The Good 5-Cent Cigar, the student newspaper at the University of Rhode Island.

Fishy? You’re thinking this was some self promotional deal that MisterScienceAintSoBad fell for?

Google it. Go ahead, I dare you. There’s nothing but praise for Lerner’s accomplishment. Online, this seems as solid as the theory of gravity. (In fact, the gravity thing  has some detractors on the far right and the far left).

Isn’t that TOO much praise for Lawrenceville Plasma Physics? Shouldn’t we worry? Normally, everybody’s a critic. The President may have been born in Kenya. The Queen of England’s a commie. Where did Lerner get HIS teflon? Shouldn’t there be some doubters asking how this small private lab, with a trickle of funding,  made an end run around the big players? Shouldn’t some be  questioning the authenticity of the report?

MisterScienceAintSoBad has seen this type of thing before. Remember the Mysterious Case of Chloe Sohl? As with the Chloe Sohl case, something didn’t sound right. If there’s a big breakthrough in fusion energy, it’s hot news, right?  Why is the mainstream press missing in action? Why does this breakthrough only show up  when I Google (or Bing or whatever)?

What gives?


The Internet is an open place. Information can be manipulated.

How? Maybe scam artists plant phony praise for certain “events”. So much so that it overwhelms everything else. Maybe they screw with Wikipedia articles.  Maybe they forge authoritative  recommendations. It would be nice to understand how this all works so you could know when you’re being played. For now, let me just remind you that if it seems too good to be true it probably is too good to be true.


In this case, there were hints.

Lerner had written a book about the big bang – The Big Bang Never Happened. In his book, he says that the physics world is wrong about the “big bang”.

Here’s the thing.

It could be Lerner, with his bachelors degree in physics, who’s wrong. And the entire community of scientists from Einstein to Hubble might possibly be right.

You never know.

Another hint. Lerner, in his press release, speaks matter of factly about cooperating with Iran in this vital area.


Was that a misprint? Did he mean Uranus? Isn’t Iran our mortal enemy? The future of energy now lies with a hands-across-the-ocean project between Iranian and US scientists?

Lerner says Iranian and American scientists want an alternative to the current conflict.

.. a scientific and engineering collaboration between the two countries that could, if successful, make uranium enrichment obsolete, block proliferation everywhere, liberate the world from oil, and open up a new source of cheap, clean unlimited energy. 

And, unbelievably, the New York Times missed THAT one?

Now Lerner has caught out the rest of the science guys again. The billions  that are being spent on nuclear fusion? What a waste! His company’s Focus Fusion 1 research instrument has achieved the highest temperature magnetic containment ever recorded. And on a shoestring. One more (giant) step to go for Lerner’s group. Then, ITER, the world’s most advanced nuclear fusion project, will become a useless relic.

Lerner’s achievement has met with silence from the establishment. And fist bumps from an easily impressed crowd on the Internet. Eric Lerner’s “All those A-holes who think they know so much just don’t get it” approach seems evidence enough.

If you want to believe.

Aneutronic fusion, as far as I can tell, is more akin to cold fusion (you remember Pons and Fleischmann, right?)  in that it shares the term “fusion” with the intense release of energy that happens in stars but not the potential for lighting up cities.

I’m going to say that the effort at Lawrenceville Plasma is more impossible dream than robust science. But, look, I could be wrong. I don’t have a Phd either.

Here’s some interesting back-and-forth on this event from ars technica (a site for tech geeks).


In the meantime, it’s fair to ask if we’ve given up too easily on the main fusion effort, the deuterium-tritium cycle that Lerner’s group disdains.


It HAS been a long time. And it may be yet another 20 years until commercialization of fusion power. But, you know what? The Joint European Torus has produced 16 megawatts of power-  not nothing – and demonstrated that the deuterium tritium cycle is technically feasible. A commercial scale power plant (that’s ITER) is where the remaining bugs get worked out. If all goes well – and I grant you that’s a lot of all’s to go well – we’re on our way to curbing global warming and a whole of other impossible stuff.

A new era.

For those who can wait.

– – – – – – – – –

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