You probably haven’t noticed anything different but just a few hours ago the world took a major step towards the goal of attaining clean, boundless energy through nuclear fusion. Physicists in Germany declared that they've just fired up one of the world's major nuclear fusion machines for the first time ever – and it was effectively able to hold super-hot blobs of helium gas, also known as plasma. The 16-metre-wide machine is known as the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) and it's a kind of nuclear fusion device called a stellarator. Researchers have been speaking about the huge potential of stellarators for decades now, but this is the first time a group scientists has revealed that it can produce and control plasma just as well as other fusion reactor designs.
And this is one of the reason why the launch of the stellarator is so thrilling, as it's projected that the device will be able to contain plasma for an unheard-of 30 minutes at a time. Hans-Stephan Bosch, who led the team, said "We’re very satisfied. Everything went according to plan."
To be clear on one thing, the point of W7-X has never been to actually harvest energy. This device is only a proof-of-concept to demonstrate that the stellarator idea really works.
If everything goes accordingly to the plan, the things we pick up from W7-X will help us construct the next-generation of stellarators, which can quite literally change the world, and end our dependence on fossil fuels forever.