Poetry by Jeff Green


In praise of ITER

by cricketjeff on October 12, 2009.  © Jeff Green, All rights reserved

At fifteen million centigrade
A doughnut cloud of gas
Will show how energy is made
From such a little mass
Deuterium and tritium
Combine in searing heat
Some neutrons heat and helium
Are formed just where they meet
The neutrons smash at massive speeds
Into a stainless shell
It’s energy to meet our needs
Produced from heat of hell
A cage made from magnetic fields
Keeps plasma in its place
In forty years perhaps the yields
Will make it worth the chase
The tokamak of fusion fame
May one day save us all
But now it’s like a physics game
The price tag isn’t small
Lets head off to the South of France
Where ITER’s being built
Let’s watch the engineering dance
And back it to the hilt
Although about ten billion quid
May seem a lot of cash
One day they’ll boast of what they did
To make a tiny flash!

Author notes

ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, is being built in the South of France. A fusion reactor, a man-made sun, designed to prove that you can eventually get more electricity out than you put into such a device.

Basically, you heat heavy hydrogen up to an impossible temperature (much much hotter than inside the sun) and when the atoms collide they will be going fast enough to stick together, a controlled hydrogen bomb.

From very little matter you get a lot of energy this way.