Synopses & Reviews
The globalizing, industrializing world has an insatiable demand for energy, but conventional sources are running out. Oil and coal are burning away, yet solar, wind, and water are decades from providing a replacement, if they ever will. The solution, says Daniel Clery in this deeply researched and revelatory book, is to be found in the original energy source, the Sun itself. There, at its center, the fusion of 620 million metric tons of hydrogen nuclei every second generates an unfathomable amount of energy. By harnessing even a tiny piece of this, mankind can secure all the heat and power we would ever need to survive.
The simple yet extraordinary ambition of nuclear-fusion scientists has garnered many skeptics but, as A Piece of the Sun makes clear, large-scale nuclear fusion is scientifically possible--and perhaps even preferable to other options. Despite the recent high profile nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiishi and lingering Cold War-era reticence toward nuclear power among much of the general public, Clery passionately and eloquently argues that the only thing keeping us from harnessing this cheap, clean and renewable energy is our own shortsightedness and folly. A new, safer, and tightly regulated nuclear industry could be the answer to all our energy woes. Timely and authoritative, A Piece of the Sunis an accessible, rousing wake-up call to change how we think about energy.
"For the past 60 years, the development of controlled atomic fusion has been the holy grail for physicists and alternative-energy advocates. Clery, a theoretical physicist and European news editor of Science magazine, introduces readers to the problems inherent in this quest and to the international group of scientists who doggedly pursue it. Following WWII and the advent of the atomic bomb (which was based on fission), British, American, and Soviet scientists began investigating the possibility of fusion as a means to build more powerful weapons. Amazingly enough, in 1958 at the height of the Cold War the U.K. and the U.S. completely declassified their fusion research, thereby enabling physicists from around the world to collaborate. But even with international cooperation, the magnitude of the task was glaringly apparent it was far more complicated and expensive than they could've imagined. Getting to a point where fusion was tenable in the lab meant harnessing the power of the Sun on Earth. The author charts many dead ends and limited successes, all of which have led to a greater store of knowledge, but no fusion energy yet. Ultimately, Clery argues that developing a source of energy that won't damage the climate or ever run out is worth striving for. Agent: Peter Tallack, Science Factory (U.K.). (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Clery's book, "A Piece of the Sun," builds upon his reporting for Physics World, New Scientist and the journal Science to tell the story of fusion research from its beginnings in the 19th century, when it dawned on physicists that the sun couldn't possible be powered by coal…The quest has been a decades-long roller-coaster ride of hope and disappointment, as traced in Clery's book. At the end of his book, Clery quotes the late Soviet pioneer Lev Artsimovich's assessment of when fusion energy would be available: "Fusion will be ready when society needs it," Artsimovich said. Considering the alternatives, will society ever
need fusion?" —Alan Boyle, NBCNews.com
The solution, says Daniel Clery in this deeply researched and revelatory book, is to be found in the original energy source: the Sun itself. There, at its center, the fusion of 620 million tons of hydrogen every second generates an unfathomable amount of energy. By replicating even a tiny piece of the Sun's power on Earth, we can secure all the heat and energy we would ever need. Nuclear fusion scientists have pursued this simple yet extraordinary ambition for decades. Skeptics say it will never work but, as A Piece of the Sun makes clear, large-scale nuclear fusion is scientifically possible--and has many advantages over other options. Fusion is clean, green and virtually limitless and Clery argues passionately and eloquently that the only thing keeping us from proving its worth is our politicians' shortsightedness. The world energy industry is worth trillions of dollars, divert just a tiny fraction of that into researching fusion and we would soon know if it is workable. Timely and authoritative, A Piece of the Sun is a rousing call-to-arms to seize this chance of avoiding the looming energy crisis.
Our rapidly industrializing world has an insatiable hunger for energy and conventional sources are struggling to meet demand. Oil is running out, coal is damaging our climate, many nations are abandoning nuclear, yet solar, wind, and water will never be a complete replacement.
About the Author
Daniel Clery studied theoretical physics at York University. As a news editor for Science magazine since 1993, Clery has covered many of the biggest science news stories of our time.