nuclear fusion
(Mike Allen)

Ah, the holday season, when bells are ringing, children are singing and nuclear attraction is in the air.

That’s right, the U.S. Department of Energy released the results of nuclear fusion experiments this past week, which blew up on the internet almost immediately.

“Simply put, this is one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “This is a BFD.”

Nuclear fusion occurs when the nuclei of two atoms combine, which releases energy. You might be most familiar with the process thanks to a little thing called the sun.

In the research announced last week, scientists were able to produce more energy from laboratory-created nuclear fusion than it required to start the reaction. That had been an elusive result for decades.

The exciting use case for this, of course, is the potential production of clean energy in the future — and a lot of it — without producing long-lasting nuclear waste. However, the Department of Energy also made it very clear in their press conference that we are still quite a ways off from that becoming a reality.

Nonetheless, this is one of those, “Hey, science is pretty cool” moments that most everyone can get on board with. Frankly, it provides a pleasant break from the normal, downer news cycles to which we’ve become accustomed.

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