Nuclear Fusion: Powering Stars, Planets and People

Stars, with their multi-billion-year lifetimes, obtain their power from nuclear fusion. This process also ends up creating all the elements in the universe beyond helium. In this lecture you will learn about the nuclear reactions involved, and some of the many fascinating ‘facts of life’ that make our universe what it is: one where planets, and life, are able to exist. Can we somehow harness this power on Earth for the peaceful production of energy for a modern civilization, not just our most potent WMD? This has been a dream of science for over 50 years: are we making progress?

DELIVERY MODE

  • Face-to-Face

COURSE OUTLINE

  • A brief history of discoveries; from radioactivity, to atoms and nuclei, the neutron and nuclear fission.
  • Nuclear forces and binding energy. Nuclear decay processes and reactions.
  • Fusion reactions in main-sequence stars like our Sun. The solar neutrino puzzle.
  • Prospects for peaceful terrestrial fusion: fuel/reaction choices, magnetic confinement, inertial confinement. The story of cold fusion.
  • Nucleosynthesis: how stars make (almost) all the chemical elements of the universe; but only after overcoming the beryllium bottleneck.
  • Nuclear processes in the Big Bang: why is there “something”, and not “nothing”?
$49 Limited

<p>Stars, with their multi-billion-year lifetimes, obtain their power from nuclear fusion. This process also ends up creating all the elements in the universe beyond helium. In this lecture you will

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20 Aug

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