While you were going about the last week as free individuals (or locked inside your home per your governor's orders), China was up to its usual games of world domination, this time powering up an artificial sun that reached a cool 150 million degrees Celsius.
The "sun," more technically named the HL-2M Tokamak fusion reactor, quite literally uses the same nuclear processes that power the stars.
Nuclear fusion has long been the pipe dream of sci-fi enthusiasts everywhere. If you've watched a movie in the past few decades, you may have seen examples in Marvel's Iron Man or Spiderman – especially Spidey villain Doc Ock, who decided it'd be a good idea to test drive such a reactor in the heart of Manhattan.
Instead of our traditional process of nuclear fission (splitting the atom), nuclear fusion combines atoms within a magnetic field, releasing insane levels of energy in the process. You know, the type of energy that can light the entire sky and heat a planet.
China has been working on various models of the Tokamak reactor since 2006 in a bid to harness that energy. The current reactor, which was completed last year in Sichuan, was started for a successful test on December 4, demonstrating the engineering is robust enough to scale.
Here's a model showing how the reactor combines atoms to create energy.
Unlike fission, nuclear fusion creates no radioactive waste, is much safer from any Chernobylesque accidents, and can be powered by water. As this video from Tech Insider points out, just the top inch of water from Lake Erie could provide more energy than all the fossil fuels left on Earth combined. There's a reason China is in an energy race to develop such technology.
Whoever does will effectively have an unlimited source of cheap, renewable energy for their entire nation.
Fortunately for the free world, China isn't the only nation competing for fusion tech. International collaborations such as the massive ITER facility in France (although China is also participating in that as well) are aiming to make clean, renewable nuclear power available around the world.
What may be a problem is that China is passionately spending billions on such technology (the HL-2M Tokamak cost $22.5 billion alone) while America seems to be focused on fanciful dreams of powering our energy grid with sunshine and rainbows.
As Forbes noted, should Joe Biden secure the electoral vote, he has a $2 TRILLION energy plan – five times more than all energy expenditures in the U.S. per year – that will focus primarily on installing "500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 made-in-America wind turbines."
How wonderful. While we're suffering rolling blackouts in 2025 but patting ourselves on the back with "Made in America" windmills and our worship of Mother Gaia, China will be supercharged on fusion juice that will give it power beyond its wildest dreams.