Robin Herman

Fusion - the search for endless energy

After the first H-bomb was exploded, it was thought that fusion would follow much the same path as fission - it would quickly become a source of power generation. However, although in priniciple we know how to use fusion to generate electricity, putting it into practice has turned out to be much harder than expected. This describes the long struggle for a working fusion reactor. Books on the history of technology can sometimes be somewhat dull, but Herman manages to avoid this by skillfully mixing biographical details of the participants with information about the technology and the politics behind the funding. As such it gives an insight into 'Big Science' - how an area goes from struggling for limited funds to getting ever larger amounts of money from the state.

Herman highlights the constant tension between those scientists wanting to do pure plasma research, and those wanting to get ahead as quickly as possible by building a big machine and seeing what it could do - with hindsight devoting money to pure research looks preferable, but the idea that the next machine will open the door to unlimited energy is just too tempting. The book was written in 1990, but since fusion is a slow moving area it hasn't become out of date. (ITER is not scheduled for completion until 2016). I did feel that more space could have been devoted to the area of cold fusion, which only gets a few pages, and possibly less to the political machinations of the late 1980's

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 280 pages  
ISBN: 0521383730
Salesrank: 3011873
Weight:1.25 lbs
Published: 1990 Cambridge University Press
Amazon price $166.47
Marketplace:New from $19.95:Used from $2.95
Buy from Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 280 pages  
ISBN: 0521383730
Salesrank: 1650366
Weight:1.25 lbs
Published: 1991 Cambridge University Press
Amazon price £108.00
Marketplace:New from £28.44:Used from £8.41
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 280 pages  
ISBN: 0521383730
Salesrank: 1243557
Weight:1.25 lbs
Published: 1990 Cambridge University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 200.95
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 75.98:Used from CDN$ 8.79
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description
The book abounds with fascinating anecdotes about fusion's rocky path: the spurious claim by Argentine dictator Juan Peron in 1951 that his country had built a working fusion reactor, the rush by the United States to drop secrecy and publicize its fusion work as a propaganda offensive after the Russian success with Sputnik; the fortune Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione sank into an unconventional fusion device, the skepticism that met an assertion by two University of Utah chemists in 1989 that they had created "cold fusion" in a bottle. Aimed at a general audience, the book describes the scientific basis of controlled fusion--the fusing of atomic nuclei, under conditions hotter than the sun, to release energy. Using personal recollections of scientists involved, it traces the history of this little-known international race that began during the Cold War in secret laboratories in the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, and evolved into an astonishingly open collaboration between East and West.