In High School in 1975 the debate topic was alternative energy resources. Many teams ran cases built upon nuclear fusion. There were an abundance of “quotes” from “experts” assuring that practical nuclear fusion was only 15 years away, perhaps 20, or 30 at absolute most.

It was tough to beat such cases until I did more research. I found quotes from the 1950s saying the exact same thing, that practical nuclear fusion power was only a decade or two away. I used those quotes to undermine the credibility of the similar assurances in the 1970s.

So here we are 40+ years since I graduated from High School. The 15 years to develop practical fusion was passed, then lapped, and now is about to be lapped again. People are still telling me we are on the threshold of practical nuclear fusion, that it’s just around the corner. I think my skepticism is earned.

The running joke about nuclear fusion is that “it’s only 30 years away, and always has been.”

Over-promising is routine in the research, even from reputable companies. In 2014 Lockheed Martin claimed it accomplished a “major breakthrough” that would lead to construction of a prototype reactor in a year and a working 100 MW reaction in a decade. As far as I know the prototype is still not built.

I was 17 when I first heard nuclear fusion would be the power source of our future, and a near future at that. I’m 58 now. If nuclear fusion is the power source of the future, I no longer think that will be my future. I don’t expect to see fusion power in my lifetime. Right now, I think there is a better chance of finding aliens before I die than of having my home powered by fusion.

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Retired lawyer & Army vet in The Villages of Florida. Lifelong: Republican (pre-Trump), Constitution buff, science nerd & dog lover. Twitter: @KeithDB80

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