What Is Time?


Time is a measure of non-stop, consistent change in our surroundings, usually from a specific viewpoint. 

While the concept of time is self-evident and intuitive – the steady passing of events before our eyes; the orbit of the Moon around our planet – describing its fundamental nature is much harder.

Even physicists aren’t sure what actually happens when time passes. Although they do have a few hypotheses.

How does time work?

For centuries, time was regarded as a constant, independent force, as if the Universe’s progress is governed by a single clock.

This description of time changed in 1905 with Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity.

While the passing of time was already known to be closely connected to space, this monumental theory was the first to combine space and time into a single field, one with measurements that vary depending on the relative motion or gravitational forces of objects within it.

Basically, that means time is relative.

Is time real?

Two people moving at the same velocity will each agree their measures of distance and time match. As one person changes speed, however, they will see the other’s measure of time and distance change, even as their own stays the same.

Without any reason to prioritize one perspective of time over another, this means time isn’t a constant universal unit at all. It is a relative measurement that varies as objects move faster or slower, or as they’re subjected to more or less gravity.

Gravity curves space and time: The stronger the gravity, the more it curves space-time, and the more time slows down.

You can see an example of this in the image below, which shows Earth’s mass curving space-time. 

172129main gpb earth 300dpi copy(NASA)

This is why people on board the International Space Station, which is further from Earth’s gravity, age very slightly slower than those on Earth.

Is it possible to reverse time?

Of course, for us to actually see these effects on time, the change in speed or gravitational pull must be enormous. But as an observer accelerates towards the speed of light, unique measures of time become increasingly noticeable.

In theory, as a particle approaches the speed of light, we would see its ‘clock’ slow down. Once it exceeds the speed of light, its clock would, theoretically, seem in reverse from our point of view. From the particle’s point of view, our clock would seem to reverse.

What about time travel?

Similarly, the space-contorting volume beyond the horizon of a black hole also distorts perspectives of time.

In our Universe, we have freedom of space and can move around as we like, but we’re forced to march along time’s arrow in a linear direction.

Calculations show that crossing over a black hole’s horizon would swap those freedoms. So we’d no longer have to follow time’s strict arrow of direction, but we’d lose the freedom to move around in space, allowing for time travel (of sorts). 

While these scenarios help us better understand time’s nature, both light speed and black hole travel have constraints that prevent us from using them as practical ways to reverse time.

Don’t try either at home.

Why is there a future and a past?

Models of space-time can describe measurements of time and space varying from one point to the next, but they don’t explain much about time’s stubborn adherence to a sequence of events.

Under these descriptions of time, our Universe is a single block of space-time. There’s sort of a beginning – the Big Bang – before which our best understanding of the laws of physics can’t be applied. There’s sort of an end, where change is no longer measured with any significance. But no single slice of time stands out physically as ‘now’. 

“People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion,” Einstein once wrote.

There might be a few clues to the mystery of time in fields of physics other than cosmology, though. For example, back in the 1870s the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann proposed there was a link between time and an increasing level of disorder in the Universe. 

By tying thermodynamics‘ principle of entropy to time that only moves in one direction, it hinted at a possible explanation for why time’s arrow points forward: perhaps our Universe moves from a low entropy, highly compact infant Universe, to a highly disordered, expansive Universe drifting into the future.

How to slow down time

Outside of taking a trip into space, and away from Earth’s gravity well, there is a way to slow down time – at least from your own perspective. This has nothing to do with the physics and nature of time itself, but how fast or slow life feels to each of us.

Some researchers say that exposing yourself to new experiences or environments can actually make time seem to pass slower. This may be to do with the amount of information our brains have to take in and process – when we’re young or learning something new, the world seems to slow down. As we get older and get into a routine, the days and years seem to speed by.

Unless you have a spacecraft, none of this is going to make you age any slower (sorry), but knowing that time is a little more bendy than many of us think it is can be a reminder that we have our own ability to alter our perception of how fast the days pass – if only a little.

Doing this before bed could nearly DOUBLE your REM sleep

New study says this adults-only activity equals better sleep (bad news for sleep-deprived singletons)

feet in bed(Image credit: Womanizer WOW Tech on Unsplash)

Ruth Hamilton


The pandemic has had a negative impact on many people’s sleep routines. There are a bunch of tried-and-tested things you can do to help you sleep better at night (or fall asleep faster), but here’s one we haven’t heard before. 

Apparently, sex before bed can have a massively positive impact on your sleep quality, with new research showing an increase in REM sleep of up to a whopping 43%. REM sleep is seen as the most important stage of the sleep cycle – this is what stimulates areas of the brain essential for learning and memory.

Bad news if you’re locked down alone. (Although if you want to see if solo endeavours can have the same result, head to our best sex toys guide).

The improvement on sleep quality depends on how you do it. Research covered a range of positions, from Cowgirl to Caboose (no, we’re not sure either).  For the most effective results you need to go for Doggy Style (which increased average REM sleep by 43%), Lotus (39% increase) or Eagle (35% increase). RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSE of 01:39Volume 0% PLAY SOUND

The study also found that this ‘technique’ was typically 10% more effective for men than women. Alex Ion, expert at, says this is likely due to “women being more mentally stimulated during intercourse than men, who are more physically stimulated. Women, are therefore more likely to be alert after sex, whereas men are typically tired after ejaculation.”

Not all sex is key to a blissful night’s kip either. Positions to avoid include Horizontal 69 (decrease of 22%) and standing sex (down 17%). And definitely don’t tackle the Corkscrew if you have an early morning – this saw an average decrease in REM sleep of 26%. 

The data comes from, and was collected by asking 1,652 participants to wear a sleep tracker to bed after having sex in a range of designated positions over a three month period.

Better Than Capsules? Geoffrey Hinton’s GLOM Idea Represents Part-Whole Hierarchies in Neural Networks

A research team lead by Geoffrey Hinton has created an imaginary vision system called GLOM that enables neural networks with fixed architecture to parse an image into a part-whole hierarchy with different structures for each image.


In a new papera research team lead by Geoffrey Hinton combines the strengths of five advances in neural networks — Transformers, Neural Fields, Contrastive Representation Learning, Distillation and Capsules — to imagine the idea of a vision system, “Glom,” that enables neural networks with fixed architectures to parse an image into a part-whole hierarchy with different structures for each image.


Psychological evidence shows that humans parse visual scenes into part-whole hierarchies and model the viewpoint-invariant spatial relationship between a part and a whole. While neural networks do have the ability to represent part-whole hierarchies, it is difficult to make them do so, as each image has a different parse tree and neural networks cannot dynamically allocate neurons to represent a node in a parse tree. Instead, what a neuron does is determined by the slowly changing weights on its connections.

GLOM, derived from the slang term ”glom together,” is proposed to solve this issue and enable static neural nets to represent dynamic parse trees. Take this case as an intuitive example: One patch in an image contains parts of objects of class A and B, and the other patch contains parts of objects of class A and C. In this case, traditional neural nets will fail to represent the image. GLOM, however, could discover the spatial coherence and represent the part-whole hierarchies of this type of image.

The GLOM architecture comprises a large number of columns, where each column is a stack of spatially local autoencoders that learn multiple levels of representation. Each autoencoder transforms the embedding from one level into an adjacent level using a multilayer bottom-up encoder and a multilayer top-down decoder. The embedding vector for a location corresponds to different levels of a part-whole hierarchy.

The bottom-up, top-down, and same level interactions among three adjacent levels of the proposed GLOM architecture for a single column

At each level there are islands (representing the parse tree) of agreement. The paper proposes the level L embedding at a location as an average of four attributes:

  • the prediction produced by the bottom-up neural net acting on the embedding at the level below at the previous time
  • the prediction produced by the top-down neural net acting on the embedding at the level above at the previous time
  • the embedding vector at the previous time step
  • the attention-weighted average of the embeddings at the same level in nearby columns at the previous time
A picture of the embeddings at a particular time in six nearby columns

The team also discusses GLOM’s design decisions and details, answering questions such as: How many levels are there? How fine-grained are the locations? Does the bottom-up net look at nearby locations? How does the attention work? What are the visual inputs? and so on.

Finally, the researchers analyze and explain how GLOM excels compared to other neural network models such as capsule models, transformer models, convolutional neural networks, etc.

The reaction on social media has been swift, with some finding amusement in the abstract’s disclaimer, “This paper does not describe a working system,” and Dutch AI entrepreneur Tarry Singh applauding Hinton’s dedication: “A True researcher – Always loved Geoff for this.” Hinton’s tweet announcing the paper picked up over 1,700 Likes in just a few hours.

Hinton is joined on the GLOM project by researchers from the Vector Institute and the University of Toronto Department of Computer Science. The paper How to Represent Part-Whole Hierarchies in a Neural Network is on arXiv.

Author: Hecate He | Editor: Michael Sarazen

What Do Dogs Dream About? (And Are They Thinking of You?)

By Sarah Ashley | Feb. 27, 2021

Mom Brain

What Do Dogs Dream About? (And Are They Thinking of You?)ALLISON MICHAEL ORENSTEIN/GETTY IMAGES

Yes, dogs do dream! In fact, any mammal that experiences the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of deep sleep probably dreams. This includes humans, rats and–of course—canines. REM is the stage during which our most intense, realistic dreams occur. According to Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, canines typically enter the REM stage of sleep about 20 minutes after dozing off. They stay there for two to three minutes. Even in this tiny time frame, dogs can experience incredibly vivid dreams. So, what do dogs dream about? Here’s what we know. 

What do dogs dream about?

In 2001, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that rats, like humans, replay scenarios from their waking hours over again during REM sleep. The rats spent their days running a specific maze; at night, their brains recreated the same neural pathways while they snoozed. This means their dreams were the direct results of their daytime activity.

Now, mammals have something called a “pons” in their brain stems. The pons paralyzes our large muscles during sleep, so we don’t flail around and hurt ourselves. (You can thank the pons for preventing your body from acting out that nightmare you had about cutting your own bangs.) Coren tells LiveScience that researchers in certain studies found a way to deactivate the pons in canines for a brief period of time, allowing them to observe the dogs’ behavior during REM. The researchers found the dogs in the study acted out activities from their daily lives, like running, playing and eating, all while fast asleep.

Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Deirdre Barrett tells the Independent that studying the way humans sleep and dream has led her to believe dogs dream about things they did during the daytime, just like people do. She adds it’s pretty likely your dog dreams about you—which makes sense! You are responsible for your dog’s well-being; it only makes sense she dreams about you giving her treats and tossing a tennis ball. Basically, anything and anyone your dog engages with regularly is fair game when it comes time to dream.

Beyond people and stuff, dogs might dream about lessons and commands. Sleep—especially deep sleep—is crucial when it comes to a healthy memory and retaining and interpreting information. Puppies who are new to the world need their sleep in order to fully process and absorb fresh commands says VCA Animal Hospitals. Not that you needed another excuse to curl up for a nap with your puppy, but knowing you’re helping him remember house rules is a great excuse to use anyway.

When your dog is asleep, dreaming can look like twitching, heavy breathing and even nipping at the air. Interestingly, puppies and senior dogs tend to move more in their sleep. Since the pons is underdeveloped in young dogs and wearing down in old pups, their muscles are more likely to become active during sleep.

On top of that, puppies and senior dogs sleep more than middle-aged canines—anywhere between 18 and 20 hours per day, according to the American Kennel Club. This means they experience deeper REM more often, which could lead to more dreams in young puppies and aging dogs.

Do certain breeds dream more than others?

Again, just like humans, every dog is different when it comes to brain activity and personality. Some dogs will dream more frequently than others for no reason other than their brains are super active. It may have to do with breed, and it may simply have to do with the individual dog.

However, generally speaking, Coren says large breeds experience longer dreams and small breeds experience shorter dreams. He also mentions smaller breeds dream more often than larger ones. So, a Great Dane might have one good, long dream a week and a chihuahua might have 14 quick dreams over the same time period.

Since dreams occur during REM sleep, a dog’s sleeping patterns and circadian rhythm will affect how quickly they can even get to the point where dreams can begin. A dog who naps frequently throughout the day may dream less simply because he never reaches deep, REM sleep. Dogs who are light sleepers and spend most of their naptime in a state of slow-wave sleep probably don’t dream much at all.

A dog who doesn’t nap and is able to sleep through the night is more likely to have a vivid dream. Similarly, dogs who work all day (therapy dogs, farm dogs) may fall into a deeper sleep more quickly, providing more time to relive their day’s activities through dreams.

Do dogs have nightmares?

One study out of Stanford University found dogs can suffer from narcolepsy. It’s safe to assume if dogs can be narcoleptic and have dreams, they probably experience nightmares, too. The American Kennel Club advises against waking your dog in the middle of what looks like a nightmare. Your dog may be disoriented and could act aggressively towards you. It’s reported that 60 percent of dog bites in children occur because the child woke up a dog in an abrupt manner.

Dr. Barrett says the best way to ensure your dog doesn’t suffer from nightmares is to provide him with a loving household and healthy lifestyle. Hopefully, when your pup lays down to sleep, he’ll drift into that REM stage with a head full of memories playing fetch, eating treats and getting a good belly rub.

Finally, one study found the biggest indicator of a good night’s sleep in canines is location. Dogs sleep better at home in a familiar spot than they do elsewhere. So, if you want your dog to have good dreams (aka, reach deep, restful, REM sleep more often and more quickly), make sure they have a bedtime routine and special spot to call their own when it comes time to hit the hay. The second biggest indicator of a good night’s sleep is ample daytime activity – the more exercise your dog gets when the sun’s out, the better and longer he’ll sleep when the moon’s out. 

Until our dogs learn how to communicate exactly what they dream to us, we’ll have to settle for these interpretations.

Light-twisting ‘chiral’ nanotechnology could accelerate drug screening

by Kate McAlpine, University of Michigan

Light-twisting ‘chiral’ nanotechnology could accelerate drug screening
In a device that can reveal whether amyloid proteins are assembling into chains, unpolarized light enters a horizontal polarizer. This only allows waves oscillating in the horizontal direction to get through. Then, if the amyloid proteins have assembled the gold nanorods into chains, red light gets twisted, changing the angle of its polarization. Then, when it passes through the vertical polarizer, the portion of the light oscillating in the vertical direction gets through. This results in a strong red signal that can be seen with the naked eye. Credit: Jun Lu, Jilin University and University of Michigan

A new approach makes liquid-crystal-like beacons out of harmful amyloid proteins present in diseases such as Type II diabetes.

In a new drug-screening technique that relies on gold nanorods to twist light, a red glow can signal the failure of a medication being designed to treat “amyloid” diseases such as Type II diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

The technique was developed by researchers from the University of Michigan, Jilin University in China, and the Federal University of São Carlos in Brazil. It harnesses a property called “chirality,” which is found in nanostructures, biological molecules like proteins, and lightwaves. A chiral object cannot be superimposed on its mirror image, like a left and right hand, or helices that twist in different directions.

The researchers were able to take advantage of the chirality of a protein marker for these diseases, called islet amyloid polypeptides. These proteins link up into twisted chains and accumulate in tissues. Amyloid proteins that form corkscrew-shaped fibers also play a role in Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

In the new approach, gold nanorods are coated with the harmful proteins, which form long spring-shaped fibers with three nanorods per turn. These structures appear bright red when viewed between two oppositely-angled polarizers, or light filters, because their twisting, chiral shapes can turn the polarization of the light.

“The strong twisting of the light allows for the drug screening results to be seen with the naked eye, instead of using complicated instruments,” said Kun Liu, a professor of chemistry at Jilin University and co-corresponding author on a paper newly published in Science.

Light-twisting ‘chiral’ nanotechnology could accelerate drug screening
In the device on the left, gold nanorods permit a small amount of light through the two crossed-polarizers. This is akin to the signal showing that a drug designed to prevent amyloid plaques from forming is working. However, when the amyloid proteins assemble the gold nanorods into helices, a clear red light is visible through the polarizers, revealing that a drug has failed. Credit: Jun Lu, Jilin University and University of Michigan

The nanorods—each about 50 nanometers long and 20 nanometers wide—offer additional benefits.

“The periodic helical chains increase the twisting of light by 4,600 times, which makes them visible under very difficult biological conditions. And the nanorods also speed up the process of forming amyloid chains, which is critical for rapid drug discovery,” said Nicholas Kotov, co-corresponding author of the paper and the Irving Langmuir Distinguished University Professor of Chemical Sciences and Engineering at U-M.×280&!1&btvi=1&fsb=1&xpc=OoJjYP3iNu&p=https%3A//

Typically, amyloid polypeptides take a few days to a week to link up. This slows down the testing of potential drugs. The nanorods accelerate the process of amyloid polypeptides to one day. This occurs because the rods are coated with a surfactant chemical called cetrimonium bromide, similar to the cetrimonium chloride found in some shampoos and conditioners. When the amyloid proteins bind to the barrel of the gold rod, the surfactant helps them to form a coiled shape that facilitates bonding to other amyloids.

When the amyloids connect, their gold rods form a helix, twisting around the protein rope. And because the gold interacts strongly with red light, these highly organized helices twist red light waves very strongly.

This is what leads to the easy detection of whether a drug to prevent amyloid chains has worked or not. The set-up puts the realistic mixture of cells, blood components, drug molecules and amyloid proteins that drugs encounter in the body in between two polarizers. The first polarizer only allows light to pass if it oscillates in the vertical direction. The second polarizer only passes light waves moving in the horizontal direction.

If the light doesn’t twist between the two polarizers, the two polarizers fully block the light. This is what happens when a drug is successful: No amyloid chains form, so only a few random nanorods are twisting light. Very little light comes through the two polarizers. However, if those chains form, they twist red light. A red glow becomes clearly visible—showing that the drug has failed.

Light-twisting ‘chiral’ nanotechnology could accelerate drug screening
The view through the polarizer shows where light-twisting structures have formed in a soup of cells and biological materials. Credit: Jun Lu, Jilin University and University of Michigan

“While the experiments fine-tuned the conditions best for detecting amyloid chains, the computer simulations were fundamental to unraveling the complex interactions between gold, surfactants and the protein fragments, which need to interact simultaneously to make the platform work,” said André de Moura, a professor at the Federal University of São Carlos and co-author of the paper.

The international team also established unifying design principles for how to make twisted nanostructures that can significantly twist light, a feature that is critical for many applications.

The work represents a seven-year journey for Jun Lu, now a research fellow in chemical engineering at U-M. At the beginning of his Ph.D. under Liu in China, Lu started out trying to coax human islet amyloid polypeptides to self-assemble, with gold rods attached. After roughly a year, he and Liu had found weak signs that the assemblies were twisting light. Following a serendipitous meeting in the airport with Kotov, the team started working on the mechanism of light interactions and the pharmaceutical uses of these assemblies.

Lu worked on making the effect bigger, sizing the nanorods to complement the distance between nanorods. The international team explored the drug screening application, and Lu developed simulations using the powerful Great Lakes supercomputer at the University of Michigan—while his collaborator at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, Kalil Bernardino, used the SDumont Supercomputer—to confirm the mechanisms behind the experimental measurements.

While the project was long, Lu says, “Every effort is well rewarded. It’s just like a dream come true.”

The paper is titled “Enhancement of optical asymmetry in supramolecular chiroplasmonic assemblies with long-range order,” and will be published online by the journal Science on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.

Explore furtherAn improved method for coating gold nanorods

More information: Wenfeng Jiang et al. Emergence of complexity in hierarchically organized chiral particles, Science (2020). DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz7949Journal information:ScienceProvided by University of Michigan

Decarbonizing US Energy: An Aggressive Market-Driven Model for Fusion Power Development

TOPICS:EnergyFusionFusion ReactorMIT


The ARC Fusion Pilot Plant concept was developed at MIT as a demonstration of the potential of high-temperature superconducting magnets to reduce the cost and speed deployment of fusion power. Credit: MIT-PSFC/CFS

National Academies study says fusion can help decarbonize US energy, calls for public-private approach to pilot plant operation by 2035-40.

Electricity generated by fusion power plants could play an important role in decarbonizing the U.S. energy sector by mid-century, says a new consensus study report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which also lays out for the first time a set of technical, economic, and regulatory standards and a timeline for a U.S. fusion pilot plant that would begin producing energy in the 2035-40 time frame.

To achieve this key step toward commercialization, the report calls for an aggressive public-private effort to produce by 2028 a pilot plant design that can, when built, accommodate any of the developmental approaches seeking to realize fusion’s potential as a safe, carbon-free, on-demand energy source.

These include what it calls the “leading fusion concept, a deuterium-tritium fueled tokamak,” like that being pursued at MIT spinout Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) with support from the Institute’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Martin Greenwald, deputy director of the PSFC, notes that “the report can be seen as confirming and validating the vision that motivated the founding of CFS in 2018.” The new report follows and extends a 2018 National Academies study that (while acknowledging the significant scientific and technical challenges still faced by fusion) saw promise in the tokamak approach, called for continued U.S. participation in the international ITER fusion experiment, and suggested a pilot plant effort .

PSFC director and Hitachi America Professor of Engineering Dennis Whyte helped develop the new study as a member of the National Academies’ Committee on the Key Goals and Innovation Needed for a U.S. Fusion Pilot Plant, which also included representatives from other universities, national laboratories, and private companies. It sought out a broad range of expertise from government, academic, and private-sector sources, including U.S. utilities and energy companies.  

“The biggest thing,” says Whyte, is that the diverse group “came to a consensus that fusion is relevant, and that this effort is important.” Driving factors include utility industry commitments to deep cuts in carbon emissions in coming decades, along with a combination of simultaneous synergistic advances in fusion science and technology, application of new resources from areas outside the traditional fusion community, and particularly the rise of interest in private fusion developers like CFS, which collectively have received some $2 billion in funding in recent years.

There has also been a broad pivot by much of the nation’s fusion research community away from a focus on science and toward a mission of practical energy production. This consensus was expressed in a recent report by the Federal Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) that urged the nation to “move aggressively toward the deployment of fusion energy, which could substantially power modern society while mitigating climate change,” and suggested development of a pilot plant. The new National Academies study advances the concept with specifics on what a successful pilot plant would look like.

The report’s authors took a marketplace-driven approach to defining the pilot plant’s characteristics, based on discussions with utilities and other energy-sector organizations that would ultimately be the builders, owners, and operators of fusion generating facilities, says Whyte. “Setting those goal posts is very important, laying out the technical, regulatory, and economic performance requirements for the pilot plant,” he explains. “They’re demanding, but they should be, because that’s what’s needed to make fusion viable.”

Those requirements include a total pilot plant cost of less than $5-6 billion and generating capacity of at least 50 megawatts. In addition to proving the ability to create reliable, sustained net energy gain and power production from fusion for steadily increasing periods of time, says the report, the plant must provide “cost certainty to the marketplace in terms of capital cost, construction time, control of radioactive effluents including tritium, the cost of electricity, and the maintenance/operating schedule and cost.”

These results would inform subsequent construction of first-of-a-kind commercial fusion plants in the 2040s, and then broader propagation of fusion energy facilities onto the grid around mid-century, by which time major U.S. utilities have committed to deep reductions in their carbon emissions.

A key near-term factor in achieving these goals is formation of multiple public-private teams to conceptualize and design aspects of the pilot plant over the next seven years. These include improved fusion confinement and control, materials that can withstand the withering temperatures and stresses produced during fusion, methods of extracting fusion-generated heat and harnessing it for generation, and development of a closed fuel cycle. All are technically challenging and also require close attention to cost, manufacturability, maintainability, and other system-level considerations.

Combining resources from national labs, academic institutions, and private industry is a good approach to addressing these tasks, says Martin Greenwald, deputy director of the PSFC and senior research scientist. “Technologies like fusion come to market through the private sector, especially in the U.S., and once you understand that you can see appropriate roles for government labs that can do basic research, universities that are free to work with private industry, and companies that can use their own capital to pick up and commercialize the work.” Private space programs provide an example, he notes, with companies building rockets and using NASA facilities for things like testing and launch.

“The question,” adds Greenwald, “is whether we can collectively gather the resources and investments and execute in a way that meets the pace. We don’t want to be complacent about how audacious this is, but we have to be audacious if we’re going to meet the need.”

Bob Mumgaard, chief executive officer of CFS, says the new report is another indication of fusion’s growing momentum. In addition to the two National Academies studies, growing private investment, and FESAC’s community-driven recommendations, he points to the January enactment of federal appropriations legislation that funded both domestic and international fusion activities, including ongoing participation in ITER.

“For first time in 40 years, the U.S. government has a policy of building a new energy industry, a whole ecosystem,” says Mumgaard. “The legislation sort of pre-authorized many of the things the National Academies report says are good ideas, like the pivot into energy technology, the more-aggressive timeline, and getting regulation sorted out, which is going pretty well, actually — that’s all in the bill. It lays the groundwork for the broad community to take all this to heart and start doing the work. It’s very different from isolated companies doing their own thing, and universities running experiments, and has been very rapid in terms of how these things usually go. We are entering a whole new era for fusion.”

Cecil and Ida Green Professor Emeritus Ernest Moniz, who served as U.S. secretary of energy during the Obama administration, adds that “The academy report alerts the scientific community, the Congress, and the Biden Administration, which is prioritizing climate change risk mitigation, to the incredible progress over the last years towards fusion as a viable energy source — innovation along several technology pathways, supported largely by private capital. Public-private partnerships can help take several of these technologies to demonstrations in this decade, allowing fusion to be a critical enabler of a decarbonized electric grid before mid-century.”

Report: Bringing Fusion to the U.S. Grid

We recommend

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  4. InEnTec: Turning Trash Into Valuable Chemicals and Clean FuelsMike ONeill, SciTechDaily, 2021
  5. New Design Could Finally Help Bring Fusion Power Closer to RealityJames Kelly, SciTechDaily, 2015
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