China’s “Artificial Sun”

Layan Al-Khaled, News Editor

If the internet was to be perceived as the sole perpetrator of one action, perhaps it would be misinformation. When a video of a Chinese rocket launch ascending hit Instagram under the caption, “China has launched the world’s first artificial sun,” the internet spread it like wildfire. 

The truth is that there isn’t an artificial sun in the sense of a manmade object floating in space and replicating the effects of the sun, but there is a Chinese “artificial sun” reactor replicating stars’ nuclear fission.

Although the truth may sound minacious in nature, the development of the artificial sun, as named by the scientists who invented it, marks a monumental moment in environmental engineering. This artificial sun, being one of three, set a record for sustaining an astounding temperature of 126,000,032° Fahrenheit, nearly five times hotter than the core of the sun, for more than 17 minutes. Though the Chinese Academy of Sciences operating this project has achieved this temperature previously, it has never aligned with this important fusion milestone before.

By recreating the physics of the stars in the solar system, nuclear fusion reactors merge atomic nuclei in order to produce colossal amounts of energy that can be manipulated into electricity. This process of nuclear fusion is almost the complete adverse of the fission process that currently powers nuclear power plants. Rather than the splitting of the atoms of heavy elements, it instead converges atoms of light elements to create heavier atoms. And in this process that requires no fossil fuels, fusion is a cleaner process with its end product being helium, replacing the radioactive waste formed by commercial nuclear energy production.

With this stellar development of the replication of the stars’ nuclear fission, which has been dubbed the “holy grail” of clean energy production, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and physicists worldwide hope that it could create a nearly limitless clean energy source, furthering the future from a mass-polluted world.