Angela Merkel, a bit of super-heated hydrogen, and the chase for unlimited energy

Aamna Mohdin, writing for Quartz:

German scientists today will set about the first steps towards what has become the Holy Grail of energy—nuclear fusion, which has the potential for unlimited amounts of clean power. There are a number of challenges to harnessing this power—researchers need to build a device that can heat atoms to temperatures of more than 100 million °C (212 million °F).

After almost nine years of construction work and more than a million assembly hours, researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald are set to do just that by heating a tiny amount of hydrogen until it becomes as hot, hopefully, as the center of the Sun.

Researchers are keen to tap into the incredible amount of energy released when atoms join together at extremely high temperatures in the super-hot gas known as plasma. Today’s test will not produce any energy, just the plasma—a different state of matter created at extremely high temperatures. German chancellor Angela Merkel, who has a doctorate in physics, will reportedly attend.

There’s a lot packed into this post. Fusion is a huge deal. If it becomes practical, it changes the world. We’ve been chasing it for a long time, so don’t hold your breath, but this is another step along the path.

Heating hydrogen until it becomes as hot the center of the Sun. Wow! What could go wrong?

And, finally, Angela Merkel has a PhD in Physics. How cool is that?