The Greta Effect! Climate strikes and the people and global movement she has inspired. Let’s get involved!

Credit: fridaysforfuture.org

The Greta Effect? I presume you’re talking about Greta Thurnberg?  You bet!

The girl who started the Fridays for Future movement, right? The very same. Greta Thunberg started a global movement when she began protesting outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 at the age of 15 years. From September 8 the same year, she campaigned every Friday against the lack of action on climate change. It started a movement called Fridays for Future where thousands of children across countries have walked out of school to protest the same. 

She’s cool! What is she up to now? Well, she is in the United States and is going to attend UN climate summits in New York in September, and in Santiago, Chile, in December. She is also leading a massive global strike for climate action today, September 20, and on September 27. To create the smallest possible carbon footprint, she did not fly but sailed across the Atlantic to New York.

Check this out:

 

What an inspiration she is! Yes, she really is. In fact, here are some stories about kids that she has inspired all across the world. 

New Yorker Olivia Wohlgemuth, said she skips school to participate in the Fridays for Future movement. She also says that there is nothing in their current school curriculum that addresses the climate crisis. 

Toby Thorpe in Australia organised a strike in Tasmania to preserve the natural beauty of his home. because he wants future generations to enjoy the island’s natural beauty. As a result of changing climate and weather patterns, bushfires have caused much devastation there. 

South Korean teenager, Seo-gyung Kim learnt about water from nuclear power plants being returned to the ocean from her mother, who is a scientist. She became concerned about the impact this would have on marine life and began campaigning against nuclear power plants. She joined the group Youth for Climate Action as a volunteer to raise awareness about this serious issue. 

Shaama Sandooyea from beautiful Mauritius organised the first climate strike there. Mauritius is in the middle of an immediate climate crisis. It is in danger from rising sea levels, with some of its people have already lost their homes to storm surges that have hit the coastline. She says young Mauritians are very concerned about their future as it is under direct threat. 

Scarlet Possnett from the UK says that climate change is “something that terrifies my generation”. After watching Greta’s protest, she realised that young people could and must do something and joined the UK Student Climate Network. She has since been organising strikes across the country. She also wrote an open letter calling on the government to declare a national climate emergency and include climate change in the national curriculum for schools.

Alexandria Villasenor realised that climate change directly affected her when a prolonged drought in 2013 caused a lake in her town of Folsom, California to completely dry up. More recently, while she was visiting relatives in Paradise, California, wildfires destroyed large areas of land. She too was inspired by Greta to become an activist. She would strike outside the UN Headquarters even in freezing weather. She feels world leaders are not taking this issue seriously enough saying there has to be “drastic change now,” for hope to be restored. 

It’s so great that kids are really taking up this cause. Greta has begun a revolution. We hope so! Besides inspiring others to take up the cause, the ‘Greta Effect’ has caused a massive jump in sales of children’s books on the environment, with more kids reading up on the crisis. 

Can I do something too? Sure you can!

Here’s how to find out about the next climate strike in Mumbai: https://act.350.org/event/globalclimatestrike/19227

You can also start small by doing local recycling, getting people together to clean up areas, carpooling, not using plastic and a million other things! Get online, read and find out more! And be like Greta!

References for you: 

https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/ For India https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/india

https://xrebellion.org/

https://www.unenvironment.org/

Sign petitions at www.change.org

Material from  – cnn.com and theguradian.com


Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.


The Spaceline: A shuttle to the moon!

A rendering of the Spaceline. Credit: techeblog.com

Willy Wonka had his great glass elevator, but soon, the rest of us may be able to take an out-of-this-world ride of our very own.

Launching rockets to the moon is a very expensive process, because the amount of fuel and power needed to break through the Earth’s gravitational force is huge, and for more than 100 years scientists have been debating the concept of a permanent elevator that travels between the Earth and the Moon. Can you imagine that?

Recently, two university students, Zephyr Penoyre from Cambridge University and Emily Sandford from Columbia University have proposed the idea of a Spaceline that seems more attainable and a lot cheaper than even a space elevator!

So just what is the Spaceline? Imagine a really (really, really) long cable, about as thin as the lead in your pencil extending all the way down from the Moon to several thousand feet above the surface of the Earth. This line, which will be made from Kevlar (the same, super tough, almost unbreakable material used to make bulletproof vests) will cover the 200,000 miles from the Moon to a point in the geosynchronous orbit above the Earth where the gravity of the Earth and the Moon balance each other out (think like a see-saw when both people on it weigh the exact same amount!). This will make sure that the cable remains stable enough to transport materials and even people between Earth and the Moon. The transport would be done via solar-powered capsules that would run along the length of the cable.

How the Spaceline could work. Credit: truemedian.com

Do we really need a Spaceline? What would it do? By constructing a Spaceline, the cost of sending materials into space, outside the gravitational pull of the Earth would become significantly cheaper. Rockets would only have to be launched up to the base of the SpaceLine, without the need to break through the Earth’s gravity at all.

From the base of the Spaceline, where in theory, a base could be built since the forces of gravity cancel each other out, creating a stable environment for construction, materials and people could be transferred to the solar-powered capsules that would carry them to the Moon.

Similarly, geological materials from the Moon could be shipped back down to Earth via the Spaceline and used in construction and other areas.

The base could serve as a centre where rockets for deeper space exploration could be built, and since they would also not have to think about overcoming the Earth’s gravity, the cost of space exploration and even space travel for humans would dramatically reduce.

Sounds pretty cool, right? Is it going to happen? In reality this idea is still a long way from coming to fruition, but this research paper is definitely a step in the right direction.

How much will it cost to make this Spaceline? What is particularly exciting is that the cost of this entire contraption would be about 1 billion dollars, which would be recovered by approximately 53 trips to the Moon.

Things to think about: What about space junk – could debris damage this Spaceline? And perhaps more importantly, how much more space junk will we be generating in space?

Do you fancy a trip to the Moon? It just might become possible!


Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.


Amazon wants you to pay with a wave!

The next time you go to a store, you could pay by waving your hand! It’s as simple and easy as that! Forget cash or card, you won’t even need your phone anymore. This is reportedly Amazon’s new project, Orville. It is still in the testing phase and they have set up scanners in their office in New York. The employees can pay for their sodas, chips and other items by simply scanning their hands. Their handprint is linked to their credit cards. They are hoping to introduce this technology in the Amazon owned Whole Foods Stores next year.

Some Tech Talk: Technology has taken over the world of payment. How awesome is it that you can shop with empty pockets?! It can be so much easier to make payments through smartphone apps that use fingerprint authentication and other biometrics. Wearable tech like Apple Watch and Samsung Gear also allow you to make payments. In China, many pay by having their faces scanned. Amazon’s facial recognition technology still needs to improve its accuracy. In the mean time, it is testing out this handprint technology.

How does it work? Popular Mechanics magazine says that Amazon’s Orville technology uses computer vision and depth geometry to identify the unique shape and size of each person’s hand. The person places it on a scanner at the time of payment and the bill is settled using the payment information linked with that handprint.

What is the advantage? When you pass by a store and see a long queue at the cash counter, do you feel like going in? Not really. That’s what Amazon is hoping to change. With the magical hand wave, the payment process will be ten times faster! What used to take 3-4 seconds will only take 300 milliseconds! Shorter queues means a lot more shopping.

What are the critics saying? Security of the biometrics and the payment information is an issue. Critics want to remind people that if anyone hacks into Amazon’s database, the biometric data could be misused. It’s a huge risk to take to avoid standing in a long queue. In addition, the technology needs to be very accurate. Amazon is working on this and testing it out.

Very soon, the decision may be your hands. Will you give this tech a nod or wave goodbye?


Vaijayanti is a writer, a nature enthusiast and an amateur wildlife photographer. She hopes her virtual pen and lens can make the world a better place.


Blackout – MIT Scientists create a ‘blacker’ ‘black’

Five years ago, in 2014, a company called Surrey NanoSystems based in the UK created a material called ‘Vantablack’ which till just recently was the darkest black known to man. What do we mean by ‘darkest black’? I mean, isn’t black always dark?

Yes, and no! Vantablack was created using something called Carbon NanoTubes which are super thin, thinner even than a single human hair. The NanoTubes bind together like an intricate maze which allows light to enter, but almost no light to escape. This makes the surface covered by the NanoTubes appear extra dark, or like blacker shade of black.

Just this year, and actually by accident, researchers at MIT in Boston have created a black that is even blacker than Vantablack!

How did they discover this? While conducting experiments through growing Carbon NanoTubes on the surface of a type of aluminum foil, which conducts electricity to see if they could boost the foil’s electrical properties, the scientists noticed that the foil looked really really black.

This new material, which is on display at a special exhibition at the New York Stock Exchange absorbs more than 99.9% of all the light that strikes it making it at least 10 times blacker than any other substance in existence at the moment.

While the scientists are studying this phenomenon further to fully understand it, here is proof that sometimes an accident can result in something pretty cool too!


Written by Disha. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.


A new eel discovered in the Amazon has a deadly jolt. Are you ready to get ‘SHOCKED’?

News: A group of scientists in Brazil have discovered two new species of electric eels in the Amazon Basin. One of them, Electrophorus voltai, can deliver a deadly electric charge of up to 860 volts, the most powerful of any creature on Earth. The most powerful shock previously recorded was 650 volts.

This discovery also brings the planet’s known electric eel species up from one to three.

The three electricity-producing organs in an electric eel. TED-ED
The three electricity-producing organs in an electric eel. TED-ED

What do eels do with this electricity? Eels are a type of fish. These eels can grow seven to eight feet long and are found in freshwater bodies across northern parts of South America.

Though there are other electric fish, eels are best known to use their powerful charge to hunt and immobilize their prey. They also use their charge to sense their surroundings, protect themselves from predators and communicate with each other. While their electric shock is strong enough to catch prey or ward off predators, it isn’t strong enough to kill healthy humans. Phew!

How do they do this? They generate electricity from three specialized electric organs. The organs emit charges of varying intensities for different purposes.

“If you can discover a new eight-foot-long fish after 250 years of scientific exploration, can you imagine what remains to be discovered in that region?” – @Davidefishes, @NMNH Research Associate

The Significance: The first electric eel species was discovered 250 years ago. This new discovery highlights the incredible diversity of life in the Amazon and the importance of protecting and conserving it. There are so many animal species that are yet to be discovered by us, many of which might help with cures for diseases or inspire technological innovations.

Did you know? Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist was inspired by electrical eels to make the first electrical battery in 1799.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Written by: Preetika Soni. Preetika is a full – time toddler mommy. In the time that is left, she enjoys writing, photography and crochet. She has worked with NDTV, Mumbai and has taught at SCMSophia. 

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Global Climate Strike – September 20 and 27, 2019!

Gret Thunberg
Credit: fridaysforfuture.org

It’s time to take action against climate change!

Greta Thunberg, the dynamic 16 year old from Sweden who has made the world sit up and take notice of the devastating effect of climate change is making waves yet again. (Read about her amazing work here).

Who is Greta Thunberg? Greta inspired thousands of school children around the world to skip school every Friday and instead dedicate the day to campaigning for the authorities in their respective countries to take action against the ill effects of climate change. Her #FridaysforFuture plan also resulted in Greta being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest potential winner of the coveted award. (Get the details in our story here)

Got it! Where is she now, and what is she asking us to do? Greta is presently in New York to speak at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on September 23rd and in support of her efforts, students and other around the world have decided to hold a series of Global Climate Strikes. (Read about Greta’s 15-day emission-free journey across the Atlantic here) The first of these strikes will take place on Friday, 20th September, just before the Summit in New York and then again on Friday, 27th September in order to drive the message home.

Are there any strikes planned in India? 13 cities in India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata have also committed to participating in the Global Climate Strikes. People from all walks of life, teachers, lawyers, actors, sports stars, students and everyone in between will stay out of their workplace or school in order to protest the climate crises that are destroying the world.

Stay tuned to currentkids.in to know exactly what will happen across India and the rest of the world as details of the Global Climate Strikes become available.

The official website for the Global Climate Strikes can be accessed here. Log on to see what you can do to participate and how you can make a difference.

Here are some of our previous articles that you can access to understand more about carbon footprints and global warming:

What is a carbon footprint? 

What are greenhouse gases?

What are fossil fuels?

Here’s a little about Greta Thunberg. Watch her speech at the Climate conference in Poland last year.


Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.’


Astronomers find water vapour in the atmosphere of a potentially habitable world 100 light years away. Signs of life?

The news: Astronomers have found water vapor and helium in the surrounding atmosphere of an alien planet 100 light-years away.  These findings heat up our search for extra-terrestrial life outside the solar system.

Some vocabulary:

Planets outside the solar system that orbit around a host star are called exoplanets.

Super-Earths are exoplanets with a mass greater than that of Earth’s but not greater than Neptune’s.

One light-year is the distance light travels in a year i.e. approximately 10 trillion km.

EXOPLANET K2-18b WATER VAPOUR
Photo Credit: Alex Boersma

What do we know about exoplanet K2-18b?

It was discovered in 2015 by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. This Super-Earth is twice the size but more than 8 times the mass of Planet Earth. It’s about 100 light-years from our solar system. That’s very far!  It takes the sun’s rays 100 years to reach the planet!

This exoplanet is unique because it orbits a sweet spot around its dim star known as the habitable zone where temperatures are just right for liquid water to exist on a planet’s surface.

That means this planet checks some of the important criteria in an astronomer’s laundry list of what’s necessary to support life.

The context: Since the first discovery of exoplanets more than 20 years ago, astronomers have recorded more than 4,000 exoplanets of all types and sizes. Though researchers have found the water vapor molecule around some of these exoplanets before, none of them have been suitable places for life to exist. They have been large balls of gas, similar in size to Jupiter or Neptune, lacking any type of surface for life as we know to exist.

How did they discover it? The team used data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope from 2016-2017. They observed how starlight changed as the planet passed in front of it. When the starlight passes through gas molecules, it gets minutely distorted. The type of distortion shows the molecules that are present. Researchers have also run rough models on a limited data set that indicate that the exoplanet might enjoy similar temperatures to that of Earth.

The significance: Thus K2-18b is the only planet right now outside the solar system that has the correct temperature to support water, it has an atmosphere, and it has water in it.  The planet can possibly host life! But this data now raises more important questions.

What don’t we know? Still, there’s quite a lot we don’t know about this planet such as the other chemicals and molecules in the atmosphere and the composition of its surface. The atmosphere that surrounds the exoplanet can tell us a lot about what might be hiding on the surface of the alien world.

Some astronomers doubt there can be life. They believe the size and mass of the exoplanet suggest that the surface isn’t rocky. They believe it could have a rocky ice core and a thick gaseous atmosphere like Neptune.

The exoplanet lies too far away to send a spacecraft but there are many powerful telescopes set to launch in the years ahead that will help answer these questions. Especially, NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope which launches in 2021.

Next Steps:  So while today’s findings are big, the search is still on for the top prize of all: a rocky exoplanet with water in its atmosphere with habitable temperatures!


Note: Two separate research teams have announced the discovery of water vapour on the exoplanet K2-18b

  1. A study has been published  in Nature Astronomy by a group of researchers from University College London
  2. A Study has been submitted by Björn Benneke, a professor of astronomy at the University of Montreal and the lead author to the Astronomical Journal. It has yet to be reviewed.


India’s space agency has visually located the Vikram Lander but hasn’t been able to re-establish communication with it yet. Read on for an update.

The News: ISRO, India’s space agency has clarified that they lost contact with Chandrayaan-2’s lander, Vikram, far closer to the lunar surface than what was reported. Initially, it was reported that the Lander was 2.1 km above the lunar surface when it went quiet. However, the Lander was likely as close as 400 m to the lunar surface when ISRO lost contact.

Last Sunday, ISRO also announced that it had spotted the Vikram Lander on the lunar surface with the help of the onboard cameras on the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which continues to orbit around the Moon.

What next: ISRO continues to try and re-establish contact with the fallen Lander but time is running out. Vikram’s mission along with the six-wheeled Pragyaan Rover was set-up  for a period of 14 days. ISRO has until September 20-21 to reconnect with the Lander.

America’s space agency’s, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, is currently orbiting the moon and will be passing over the Vikram Lander’s suspected crash site on September 17. NASA’s orbiter will capture images of the site and share it with ISRO. We hope this will provide additional data to ISRO.

Stay Tuned for more space news!


In the early hours of Saturday morning (7 September 2019), millions of people tuned in to watch India attempt to land a robotic lander near the Moon’s South Pole. As planned at 1.40 am (Indian Standard Time), the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft deployed its Vikram Lander towards the lunar surface. The lander started its descent smoothly but disaster struck when ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) contact with it less than two km above the lunar surface. 

ISRO Chandrayaan-2

This was a nail-biting moment for India and all the scientists that have worked tirelessly behind this complex mission. Scientists are now examining the last communication they have received from the Vikram Lander before they lost all contact. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other leaders and celebrities have posted messages on Twitter to encourage the scientists at ISRO.

This was an important mission for India as it was attempting to become the fourth country to successfully soft-land on the Moon and the first country to land a spacecraft on the Moon’s unexplored South Pole. The mission was also carried out at a cost of INR 978 crore (approximately US$141 million) which is much lower than what other countries have spent on lunar missions in the past. This is also the first ISRO mission to have been led by two women – project director Muthaya Vanitha and mission director Ritu Karidhal.

On a positive note, all is not lost. Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter is intact and is expected to circle the moon for another year to learn more about the lunar surface. The mission is still on!


To learn more about the Chandrayaan-2 mission read on.

Chandrayaan-2
Chandrayaan-2 journey

What is the Chandrayaan-2 mission?

On July 22 2019, ISRO, the Indian space agency, launched its most expensive and complex mission to the moon, the Chandrayaan-2 mission.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission is ISRO’s second mission to the moon. This time the mission planned to be the first spacecraft to ever soft-land on the Moon’s south pole. 

The spacecraft itself consists of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover, all equipped with scientific instruments and new technology to study the moon.

The Orbiter, which has a mission life of a year, will orbit the moon and take images of the lunar surface and help create 3D maps of it. The Lander was carrying a Rover in its belly and was meant to parachute onto the lunar surface. After a successful soft landing on the lunar surface, it was to send out a robotic rover to conduct experiments. The rover would have traveled up to a half a kilometer from the lander in search of water and minerals and measure moonquakes among other things. It would have sent data and images back to Earth for analysis.

Why has the moon’s south pole suddenly become a hot spot for exploration?

India isn’t the only one trying to land a spacecraft on the moon’s south pole. The American space agency, NASA and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company are all planning missions to this new hot spot.

Data from the previous missions have indicated that the permanently shadowed places on the south pole could contain ice and other minerals, which would be vital for setting up a base on the moon. This ice could be a potential source of drinking water for astronauts visiting the moon, but also could be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen could be used to provide breathable air and oxygen and hydrogen could be used as rocket fuel. The mountain peaks near the pole are illuminated for large periods of time and could be used to provide solar energy to a moon base.

Thus, the moon could serve as a base for scientists can test technologies and spacecraft to refill their tanks before heading out into the solar system for future deep space exploration missions

What was the Chandrayaan-1 mission?
Yes, Chandrayaan-2 is a follow up the Chandrayaan-1 mission which was the first Indian lunar probe. It launched in October 2008 and conducted a detailed search for water on the Moon using radars. It helped confirm water molecules on the earth’s surface and operated until August 2009.


Aging: Is there a cure for this in development?

People have been eating herbs, drinking all kinds of concoctions, and slathering themselves with oceans of potions in order to stay healthy, and in order to look young and beautiful for as long as possible. Pharmaceutical companies that make medicines, and cosmetics companies that make the lotions have been on the hunt for the Fountain of Youth for a long, long time. Well, there is now a company called resTORbio that is testing a potential medicine to slow down the process of aging. Far out!

First the basics: Where do we get medicinal ingredients from? So many of the medicines that are used today are derived from plants or other natural sources. For example, the antibiotic penicillin comes from mould, the anti-cancer medicine taxol comes from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, a medicine to help people with diabetes was derived from the saliva (spit) of the gila monster (a type of lizard)! The list goes on.

Many times, while these medicines are being tested to see how much they can help people with a disease, or how ‘effective’ they are at treating that disease, the researchers will find other diseases that the medicine can help with. These are other ‘indications’.

taxol, made from the bark of the Pacific yew tree
The bark of the Pacific yew tree. Credit: The National Cancer Institute

Got it! What’s all this about anti-aging? In the 1980s, a medicine called rapamycin was isolated from soil bacteria – this was found to help patients who were receiving organ transplants. This same medicine was found to lengthen the life span of some creatures like worms and mice and It is now being tested for this ability to help slow down the process of aging in humans. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the most sought-after ‘indications’ – the Holy Grail, some might say, of medicine. How to stop humans from growing old!

How in the world would you measure this? Well, that’s the difficult part. So the scientists at resTORbio have hypothesised that one of the things that happen when people grow old, is that their immune systems (what fights off infection) get weaker. So they are testing the ability of the medicine to improve the immune systems of older people in their clinical trial. Pretty ingenious!

Will this work? We will know in about a year. If it does, and if there are no really significant side effects, this could be a pretty important discovery!


Written by: Sunaina Murthy


An ambitious project: Nuclear fusion and the creation of a mini Sun on the Earth!

With the recent launch of Chandrayaan-2, India has taken a giant leap in its space programme by trying the reach the south pole of the moon. In its latest project, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now trying to tackle the Sun. 

Obviously, missions to the Sun are very tricky – its surface temperature is 15 million degrees Celsius! But India is participating in an experimental project in southern France to create a mini Sun on Earth to harness energy. 

Which project is this? The ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactors) Project will be the most expensive science undertaking ever, with 35 different countries participating in the venture. It is estimated to cost Euro 20 million. India is covering 10% of the cost. In today’s world, where countries are often at war with each other, this is truly a global venture. A real example of how science, and an aim for the greater good of humanity at large, can unite people! 

The ITER nuclear fusion reactor
The ITER nuclear fusion reactor. Credit: ITER.org

What are they building? Called a tokamak, it is an experimental machine that aims to harness the energy released through fusion, a carbon-free source of clean energy based on the science that powers our Sun and other stars. This energy is stored as heat in the walls of the reactor or chamber where the fusion reaction takes place, and it is hoped that this energy will then be able to be converted into electrical energy. 

What is India contributing to this project? India is contributing to one of the most significant parts to the project – the world’s largest refrigerator, or cryostat. This will house the massive reactor where the fusion reaction will take place. 

What is ‘fusion’? The process by which two atoms of hydrogen combine or ‘fuse’ together to form an atom of Helium. This process releases energy. Conditions necessary for fusion are very high temperatures, and a lot of pressure to hold the atoms together for the fusion reaction to take place. The Sun and the stars have the force of gravity creating the pressure. On Earth, we need to create fusion reactors that can maintain the appropriate conditions for the reaction. This has proved to be very difficult.

The tokamak uses a very strong magnetic field to create the pressure to power the process in the reactor. The first tokamak was developed by the Soviets back in the 1960s, but nuclear fusion has been very hard to put into practise. The ITER reactor is going to be the largest ever – on completion it will be about 28,000 tons – that’s roughly the weight of 4666 adult elephants!! It will have an incredible ten million parts that will be assembled on site. It will hopefully produce upto 500 megawatts of energy. 

Nuclear fusion and fission
Nuclear fusion versus nuclear fission. Credit: Science ABC

How is power made today? Today’s power plants mostly burn fuel to release heat, which is then converted into mechanical and then electrical energy. Many power plants use fossil fuels as the raw materials. There are also nuclear power plants that use a process called nuclear ‘fission’ to produce energy.

What is nuclear ‘fission’? Nuclear power plants  use the process of ‘fission’, where atoms of a weakly radioactive substance called uranium are split apart. This process releases energy which converts water in the fission reactor into steam, which is then used to generate electrical energy.

Why continue to pursue the development of a fusion reactor if it is so hard? To generate energy through a clean source – the raw materials deuterium, lithium and tritium are very widely available, and no carbon dioxide is released during the fusion process. In addition, the ITER says that fusion can generate much more energy than other power plants can. For example, it can generate 4 times the energy generated by nuclear fission, the process used in current nuclear reactors, and nearly 4 million times the energy released by traditional power plants that burn fossil fuels! The waste materials are also much safer than the radioactive waste of nuclear fission plants. 

Where does the project stand today? In November 2017, the project was halfway done, and experiments should begin in 2025.


Written by: Pereena Lamba and Sunaina Murthy