Current Issue

Sept.23, 2009

Vol. 110, No. 1

Pursuing fusion energy

In response to: Firing up fusion

The news that the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) is back in full action again (cover story, June 10) is the best from Princeton in recent memory. Despite the lost “mothball” years, I am confident that it will again play a lead role in the development of fusion power.

The potential benefits of fusion power are incalculable. To cite just one, it may become the solution to the problem of world population, which is now growing at an unsustainable rate. This linkage was suggested a generation ago by the late futurist Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, who surmised that cheap commercial fusion power would become a practical reality in this century, available worldwide.

This should lead to a general rise in the standard of living, notably in Third-World countries. Kahn observed that, historically, higher standards of living have resulted in lower birthrates. Barring natural or man-made disaster, Kahn’s model thus shows world population peaking and then leveling off after fusion is in place. What a wonderful legacy that would be for the fusion pioneers!

We should all be pleased and proud that PPPL is once again fully engaged in this vital effort.

Stuart G. Hibben ’48
Swarthmore, Pa.

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