The Star Builders: Nuclear Fusion and the Race To Power the Planet

Scribner. Aug. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781982130664. $28. SCI
This thoroughly researched, yet accessible book proposes that nuclear fusion may be the answer to the world’s climate-change problems. Turrell, a Bank of England economist with a PhD in plasma physics, explores how physicists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are attempting to perfect the nuclear fusion process, which could provide limitless amounts of clean energy. The author travels to different governmental and commercial research facilities in the United States and the United Kingdom to interview experts in the field, giving readers a sense of what the researchers—or star builders—are doing to produce and control fusion energy; namely, the power source of stars. He later delves into the costs, benefits, and dangers of pursuing fusion as a viable and sustainable source of energy and discusses how fusion could eventually help nations break free from fossil-fuel dependency and the damage of climate change. The book also mentions other applications of fusion, in medicine and space travel.
VERDICT Turrell’s enthusiasm for the topic, as well as his clear and easy-to-understand explanations of the physics involved in nuclear fusion, make this a thought-provoking read for anyone interested in learning about the cutting-edge technology that’s being applied to solving the climate crisis.
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