"Nuclear fusion is just 30 years away—and always will be” is an old joke about an energy source that has long failed to be commercially viable. “Brazil is the country of the future—and always will be” is an older saying and the structural basis of the joke.
“People have been saying, ‘Fusion is 30 years away—and always will be’” was said by University of Maryland physicist Robert L. Park and printed in BusinessWeek in 1990. “Fusion is the energy source of the future — and it always will be” was printed in U.S. News and World Report in 1991.
“Soccer is America’s sport of the future—and always will be” is a similarly phrased saying.
Wikipedia: Fusion power
Fusion power is the generation of energy by nuclear fusion. Fusion reactions are high energy reactions in which two lighter atomic nuclei fuse to form a heavier nucleus. When they combine, some of the mass is lost. This is converted into energy through E=mc^2. Fusion power is a research effort to try and harness this energy to power large scale cleaner energy. It is also a major part of plasma physics research.
In large scale commercial proposals, heat from the fusion reaction is used to operate a steam turbine that drives electrical generators, as in existing fossil fuel and nuclear fission power stations. Many different fusion concepts have come in and out of vogue over the years. The current leading designs are the tokamak and inertial confinement fusion (laser) approaches. These technologies are not yet commercially viable. Currently, it takes more energy to initiate and contain a fusion reaction, than the energy it produces.
“People have been saying, ‘Fusion is 30 years away—and always will be,’” says University of Maryland physicist Robert L. Park. “Except now, it seems to be 60 years away.”
U.S. News and World Report
Volume 111, Issues 19-27
But the task has proved so difficult and expensive that skeptics quip, “Fusion is the energy source of the future — and it always will be.”
Last week, however, the future drew a bit closer.
Fixing the Environment: A Guide to Science/Engineering Careers in Environmental Conservation
By Nicholas Basta
New York, NY: Wiley
Pg. 135 ("Hot fusion is burning dollars—and little else” by John Carey):
Fusion research, according to some wags, is the energy source of the future and always will be. Already, about 30-years’ worth of research has been conducted on it, and final, successful demonstration is believed to be another 25 to 40 years in the future.
The Road From Foolishness to Fraud
By Robert L. Park
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
The capital costs may turn out to be so high that fusion will not be practical until most other sources of energy are depleted. Cynics scoff, “Fusion is the energy source of the future—and always will be.”
Google Groups: uk.rec.sheds
Are you post-normal?
> Someone (I forget who, and ICBA to Google) said: “Fusion is about 40 years
> away- and always will be”.
Nah, 30 years ago fusion was 40 years away, today it’s only 25. By the end of the 23rd century it’ll be about a fortnight.
Google Groups: soc.retirement
Re: 71% Say Finding New Energy Sources More Important than Conservation
Earl, who knows a great deal more about nuclear energy than I do argued some time ago that fusion does not solve the environmental concerns for nuclear. There was a pretty long thread on the topic back in June 2004. I got a tour of the fusion laboratories at Livermore in the ‘80s and they were quite impressive. Still the joke is that fusion is 30 years away and always will be. I doubt that we can wait for it.
Experts Fuss Over Cost Of Nuclear Fusion Research
By GEOFFREY BRUMFEL
JULY 27, 2010 12:01 AM ET
But actually getting fusion to work isn’t straightforward. Hydrogen nuclei are positively charged and naturally repel each other. Pushing them together takes incredibly high temperatures and pressures. Researchers have spent so long working on fusion that it’s become a bit of a joke in the field.
“The joke about fusion is that it is 30 years away and always will be,” says Steve Cowley, head of the U.K.’s Atomic Energy Authority.
‘Skunk power’ creates confusion over nuclear fusion
17 November 2014
Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is doing its best to shatter my favourite science cliche.
“Nuclear fusion is just 30 years away - and always will be.”
The advanced projects team at Lockheed, known as Skunk Works, has unveiled a plan to develop a compact, magnetic fusion device in less than a decade.
New design could finally help to bring fusion power closer to reality
August 10, 2015 by David L. Chandler
It’s an old joke that many fusion scientists have grown tired of hearing: Practical nuclear fusion power plants are just 30 years away—and always will be.
But now, finally, the joke may no longer be true: Advances in magnet technology have enabled researchers at MIT to propose a new design for a practical compact tokamak fusion reactor—and it’s one that might be realized in as little as a decade, they say. The era of practical fusion power, which could offer a nearly inexhaustible energy resource, may be coming near.