Any chance we might get an interview with a physicist working at ITER or NIF or someplace similar? Being old enough to remember the moon landings (some of them at least) the concept of energy through fusion has been "about 30 years away" my whole life. But recent news stories have me believing the we are actually getting close.
I recently had a chance to talk casually with someone who studied plasma physics in college and who has been following the literature about toroidal fusion since. The conversation left me with the impression that most of the basic science is now complete. In other words we finally understand plasmas well enough to build a reactor with a sustained fusion reaction that generates more energy than it consumes.
Yet other news items have me wondering if funding from US and Europe is going to be reduced at the very time it would make sense to step it up. Fusion is kind of like cancer research in that steady progress is being made and we know much more today than we did a few decades ago. And like cancer research the public often has the impression that because there is no finished product (e.g. no "cancer cure") then they think little progress has been made. Has fusion research reached a point where the finish line really is in sight?
It would be interesting to hear from someone actually involved with ITER (or some similar project) and get their views. http://www.iter.org/sci/beyonditerhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24429621