Let There Be Light
Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor.
Fusion fans have the opportunity to give themselves a most welcome gift this holiday season. Amazon Video recently began carrying a fusion documentary called Let There Be Light. Principally filmed in 2015, it presents the state of the ITER project at that time. However, throughout the movie alternative approaches to fusion are presented. Researchers from General Fusion, LPPFusion and Wendelstein 7-X are covered.
Directed by Canadian filmmakers Mila Aung-Thwin and Van Royko, the documentary highlights the hurdles to fusion-based power generation. By examining the challenges before ITER, the filmmakers illuminate the complexity of the problem, the costs required and the significant project time scales that result. The difficulties plaguing ITER; funding, international management, expectations, collaboration, are poignantly demonstrated when new ITER Director General Bernard Bigot’s speech is interrupted by a cell phone call. Even the smallest things conspire to delay the march toward fusion. The film follows Mr. Bigot as he travels to Washington D.C. to argue for continued U.S. participation, and to Wendelstein 7-X events.
Interspersed with the ITER narrative are highlights from fusion projects very different from ITER. Each spotlights a visionary mind creating their own path toward fusion outside the mainstream approaches. General Fusion’s founder Michel Laberge gives impassioned views of mankind’s need for fusion before flying off in his stunt plane. Mr. Lerner is featured several times, underscored by leading his team through a shot from the Focus Fusion 1 reactor. Finally, first plasma at the Wendelstein 7-X reactor is shown with Chancellor Angela Merkel pressing the countdown button to a one-second plasma burst.
The film is beautifully shot and edited. Footage is gathered from many countries including the U.S., Canada, France and Germany. Very effective animations are included that help illustrate the history of fusion research. The historical progress of fusion research is well covered in the film. The historical contexts adds depth to the challenges still ahead on the road to viable fusion power.
The film ends with a quip from LPPFusion’s Chief Scientist Eric Lerner on the difficulty of doing fusion research at current funding levels. To help offset this financial reality, LPPFusion is currently running an investment round tailored to the ordinary investor. More information on how to invest in LPPFusion’s venture can be found on their WeFunder page.