Sheng Xianfu was stunned.
When he sent out his thesis, he made some mental preparations in case he was ridiculed for it.
However, he didnt expect that his futuristic vision to be recognized by Lu Zhou.
Cold nuclear fusion isnt a ridiculous concept. Actually, for most concepts that we are not able to achieve, the concept itself isnt wrong, we just dont know enough about the universe.
Lu Zhou stood up from his desk and walked to the solar system framed picture that was hanging on the office wall. He looked at the ball of flame that had been burning for billions of years.
Just like how we dont fully understand the source of a stars power
Technically, the fusion reaction inside a star was also a form of cold fusion, but it wasnt the kind of cold that people could understand.
In order to achieve nuclear fusion, two protons must have sufficient energy to overcome the Coulomb potential barrier so that the distance between the nuclei would be less than 10^-14 meters. In order to reach this distance, the thermal kinetic energy of a single nucleus must reach at least an energy level on the order of MeV magnitude.
However, the average thermal kinetic energy of a nucleus inside the star was only on the KeV magnitude.
Comparing the magnitudes of energy level, one would expect that the thermal kinetic energy was too low to overcome the Coulomb potential barrier. Even considering the effect of gravity, the reaction inside the star didnt make sense.
It would be very difficult to explain this phenomenon from a classical mechanics perspective.
Therefore, one would have to introduce quantum mechanics concepts.
Like, the quantum tunneling effect.
Even though this concept might sound a little obscure, as long as one understood the principle of wave-particle duality and the uncertainty principle, it wouldnt be too difficult to understand this implication.
In quantum mechanics, all objects were in indeterminate states, and there was a range that determined their states.
For example, a small ball, a common classical mechanics example. Place the small ball in front of a mountain. According to the concepts of classical mechanics, when the speed of the ball was large enough, it could roll across the mountain. If it was not fast enough, it might roll to the middle of the mountain and run out of kinetic energy, thus going back to wherever it came from.
However, in quantum mechanics, even if the speed of the ball was small, when it rolled toward the mountain, it still had a certain probability of rolling up and across the mountain.
If we were to change the mountain into a barrier and replace the ball with an atom, we could explain why fusion was able to occur in stars.
Even though the energy of the nucleus in a star was much smaller than the potential of the Coulomb potential barrier, due to the existence of the quantum tunneling effect, the proton could still pass through the Coulomb potential barrier. With a barrier of this kind of probabilistic combustion, a star could burn steadily for billions of years, as opposed to exploding in an instant, thus exhausting all of its fuel.
Cold nuclear fusion is actually theoretically possible, or more scientifically, when the macroscopic conditions for fusion are not met, it is still theoretically possible for the fusion reaction to occur. However, we dont have a suitable method to advance our theoretical knowledge to fully reveal the mystery.
We want to solve the miniaturization of the controllable fusion energy problem, and we have to start from the basics. We have to understand what the strong interaction is and use a model to unify it with the electromagnetic force. Lu Zhou handed back Sheng Xianfu his thesis and paused for a second. He then said, If we can use a model to unify the strong interaction and electromagnetic force, our problem will become a lot easier.
Actually, I havent given up on the miniaturization of controllable fusion.
The thing is, Im the only one who can advance our theoretical knowledge.
Lu Zhou had made some progress with regards to the general solution of the Yang-Mills equations. However, the main difficulties were still unsolvable. He wasnt too worried. After he was done with the report, he would have plenty of time to think about this problem.
Time quickly passed by. Soon, it was May.
Lu Zhou had finished his computational materials science and number theory classes. He was waiting for his students theses to be published so that he could finally receive his system rewards.
Interestingly enough, he found out that this reward mission had more freedom than the previous missions. He didnt even have a time limit for the completion of this mission. In theory, if he wanted to, he could make it so that his students theses would have sky-high impact factors, and after that, he could collect the mission rewards.
However, it wasnt interesting to drag this mission on for any longer.
Every impact factor gave 1,000 experience points and 10 general points. Even if one had a hundred impact factor, that was only a hundred thousand experience points.
This obviously wasnt possible.
Lu Zhou made up his mind that he would complete the mission before June, no matter how many theses his students had. If there really wasnt enough time, then whatever. He had been resting for six months; it was time to begin another mission.
Three days before the report, Professor Klaus von Klitzing from Germany arrived in Jinling. He bumped into Lu Zhou, who had just finished his last computational materials lecture, at the laboratory building of the new campus.
Long time no see. Professor Klitzing gave Lu Zhou a warm hug and smiled as he said, I didnt think that in less than two years, your name would be giving the Nobel Prize Committee a headache again.
Lu Zhou smiled and said, Maybe.
Its not maybe. Regardless of whether or not they would choose a scholar who had just won a Nobel Prize, Ill still nominate you. Professor Klitzing smiled and said, Speaking of which, before I came to China, Professor Keriber told me to tell you something.
Uh, what thing?
He said youre a scary opponent. Professor Klitzing shrugged and said, He said that his biggest regret in life is showing off his laboratory to you. Thanks to you, hes been ridiculed by the economic and technology department. The technology department saw that you waved your hand and solved the controllable fusion problem, so they thought that controllable fusion was actually a very simple thing Apparently, in their latest meeting, the Wendelstein 7-X engineers nearly started a fight with the secretaries from the technology department.
Lu Zhou awkwardly coughed.
Um My apologies. If he doesnt think that Im being fair, I can let him visit the Jinling Institute for Advanced Study.
Haha, Im just kidding. Klitzing patted his shoulder and said, He doesnt hate you Hes actually quite thankful. After all, without your plasma turbulence model, the research on the stellarator would still be stagnated. Not to mention, if his laboratory achieved nuclear fusion first, Im sure he would have made the same decisions.
Lu Zhou made a helpless expression and said, I hope my research wont bring him more trouble.
How could it? Also, we might have the opportunity to cooperate in the future. Klitzing smiled and said, Several members of ITER have already reached an agreement with China on the exchange of many technologies. The agreement will be implemented in maybe five years.
Lu Zhou nodded.
Five years was a good buffer period.
Other countries werent certain if they could solve this problem on their own, so they were reluctant to exchange their chips too early. On the Chinese side, they also didnt want other people to achieve controllable fusion and lose their dominance in this field.
Of course, this was all because everyone knew that it was impossible to keep a technology secret.
Especially for civilian technology such as controllable fusion, which was destined to be implemented on a large scale. The only thing the government could do was to lock the technology in a basement and never implement it. Once controllable fusion technology was wide-spread, the secrets were bound to leak out.
In three to five years, controllable fusion power stations could supply more than 80% of the countrys electricity consumption. The decision to exchange political, technical, and other interests with other countries for controllable fusion technology in five years was the optimal strategy.
However, a lot of things could happen in five years