Dr. Rusi Taleyarkhan - "making the sun in a jar"

Dr. Rusi Taleyarkhan - "making the sun in a jar"

Indian-born scientist, Dr. Rusi Taleyarkhan created a storm in teacup last month (March, 2004) when he claimed to have "made the sun in a jar". Dr. Rusi Taleyarkhan and his colleagues at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee claim to have achieved a nuclear fusion or Sonofusion through a simple desktop experiment; for years, fusion experiments have been achieved through large amounts of funding, expensive labs, reactors and equipment.

A similar experiment done by his team two years back, met with much flak by the scientific community, but "This time the results and the believability has improved a billion times," he told correspondents.


This time round too, the scientific community remains largely sceptical and unconvinced with the experiment, which used a neutron beam to generate microscopic bubbles in acetone, in which the hydrogen atoms had been switched for deuterium, a heavy hydrogen isotope. This tabletop fusion is said to generate temperatures similar to the core of the sun, which is known to have fusion.

A press release, dated March 02, 2004 by the Purdue University said, "…The researchers believe the new evidence shows that "sonofusion" generates nuclear reactions by creating tiny bubbles that implode with tremendous force…The device is a clear glass canister about the height of two coffee mugs stacked on top of one another. Inside the canister is a liquid called deuterated acetone. The acetone contains a form of hydrogen called deuterium, or heavy hydrogen, which contains one proton and one neutron in its nucleus. Normal hydrogen contains only one proton in its nucleus. 

The researchers expose the clear canister of liquid to pulses of neutrons every five milliseconds, or thousandths of a second, causing tiny cavities to form. At the same time, the liquid is bombarded with a specific frequency of ultrasound, which causes the cavities to form into bubbles that are about 60 nanometers - or billionths of a meter - in diameter. The bubbles then expand to a much larger size, about 6,000 microns, or millionths of a meter - large enough to be seen with the unaided eye." 

"The process is analogous to stretching a slingshot from Earth to the nearest star, our sun, thereby building up a huge amount of energy when released," Taleyarkhan said. 

Nuclear fusion has long been the holy grail of alternative, safe and cheap energy and if Dr. Taleyarkhan is able to dispel any and all clouds of doubt, he is sure to have achieved a place in the sun.
Read more about the experiment…

How Taleyarkhan put the Sun in a beaker
For many scientists it was a dream, much like alchemy. But it seems the researchers at Purdue may have struck gold.


It is being touted as the ultimate energy source for the planet. Scientists all over the world had tried to tap this source, but they had reached dead alleys, taken the wrong turns, remained fascinated by red herrings on the way and, sometimes, thought they had reached their destination when they had not even begun their journey. So if a scientist announces that he or she has finally done it, the announcement is bound to be regarded with scepticism


Science runs into trouble with bubbles
When a US physicist wrote up an experiment that seemed to produce nuclear fusion, rivals dismissed his work. It was published anyway. This month a new paper reignites the controversy.

…If Taleyarkhan's team have got their science right, the implications are huge. Attempts to harness the power of nuclear fusion, a potential source of limitless clean energy, have so far required vast, multibillion dollar test reactors. In comparison, Taleyarkhan's fledgling reactor could be built with loose change, and is no bigger than a couple of coffee cups. Too good to be true? That is exactly what worried many of the scientists in Arlington. "It's difficult for me to say I believe it because it's so implausible," says Larry Crum, a physicist at the University of Washington in Seattle. "It really is just incredibly implausible."


Table-top fusion: Here we go again
Is the world about to witness a repetition of the cold-fusion fiasco?

AS PARENTS scare their children with stories of ghosts and ogres, so professors scare their students with stories of Pons and Fleischmann. In 1989 Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, then researchers at Southampton University, in England, announced to an astonished world that they had performed nuclear fusion in apparatus built on a laboratory bench. For a few weeks people dreamed of limitless clean power. But other researchers failed to replicate their results and it was clear that a mistake had been made. Dr Pons and Dr Fleischmann were disgraced, and now labour in obscurity.

This week's Science includes a paper that makes similar, albeit more guarded, claims. The technique is different, but the apparatus still fits comfortably on a bench top. This time, the researchers do not state that they have seen fusion, but merely phenomena consistent with it. However, the subtext is clear: they think they have got there. Unfortunately, the ghost of hubris past will not let go of the subject. Another group of researchers has already claimed that it cannot replicate the trumpeted results.


NRI makes Sun in a jar
An Indian-born scientist and his team may have won a place in the sun by achieving nuclear fusion in a table-top experiment, leading to expectations that the world is on the cusp of a bounteous energy source. 
The scientific world is describing Dr Rusi Taleyarkhan's breakthrough, now revalidated after some initial skepticism, as "making the sun in a jar." 


More Doubts Cast Over Tabletop Fusion Device
Hopes for a tabletop fusion device dimmed further Tuesday after scientists reacted to a Monday announcement, but the researcher who led the invention of the laboratory process remains convinced his experiments were viable and can be reproduced.