Cold fusion

In the 1960s, my father worked at a laboratory at Princeton University that was trying to produce energy through the use of fusion, the mechanism that the sun uses to maintain its endless supply of energy. In order to harness that power here on earth, a reaction referred to as cold fusion, which is theoretically possible, needs to be done. (This was the discovery of Elizabeth Shue's character in the Val Kilmer film "The Saint").

My dad quit his job at that lab, because he had the feeling it would be a while before they had a breakthrough. We laughed when a news item a few months ago announced that the lab he worked at 40 years ago has just now managed a sustained cold fusion reaction for a fraction of a second.

Today as I was pumping gas, it occurred to me that that lab, and others like it, are funded by the government not because there is any real hope of them ever delivering on their promises, but rather as a way to placate the populace. Everytime I fill up my gas tank, I have the vague hope that some day soon I will no longer have to do this. Someday soon there will be electricity or hydrogen power or solar power or something else, and so my sin in burning up this gasoline and sending its molecules into the atmosphere will be mitigated. The government gives me false hope all the time, to keep me doing exactly what I am doing, day after day. They need not major breakthroughs, just the vague impression that somebody somewhere is trying to do something to make the situation better.


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