Life & Faith: Going Nuclear

A leading nuclear physicist says that there’s more to knowledge, and life, than science can offer.

Nuclear fusion energy has been heralded as the answer to the global energy crisis, a virtually endless – and cleaner – source of power that will last several generations.

If there’s anyone who should be singing its praises the loudest, it’s Professor Ian Hutchinson from MIT, a leader in this field. While he’s certainly enthusiastic about the science and technology behind fusion power, he’s quick to downplay the hype.

“There is no magic bullet for energy resources for human kind, he says, “so I don’t want to promote fusion as an instant solution to energy problems that exist.”

There’s still a lot of work to be done, he says, namely, finding a stable environment on our planet at 100 million degrees Celcius for nuclear fusion to happen – and he’s right in the thick of it having built such an environment.

“It has the strongest magnetic field of any experiment and, I have to admit, starting up that experiment … was very much a highlight of my scientific career.”

But as powerful as he knows science to be, as much as he finds it intellectually engaging and satisfying, Professor Hutchinson also believes that science does not hold all the answers.

“Science works by being able to do repeatable observations or experiments … and we’re find out about the ways in which the world behaves reproducibly,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean that that’s the only thing to find out about the world.”

In this episode of Life & Faith, Professor Ian Hutchinson talks about the latest developments in nuclear energy, and the fusion of faith and science in his work and life.

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