How South Korea Built a Mini Sun and Why It’ll Help with Making Cleaner Energy

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In the year 2020 South Korea broke all world records by being able to maintain a temperature of more than a hundred million degrees celsius. You might’ve thought that at temperatures that high you might not even need to bother with Celsius or Fahrenheit but a hundred million degrees celsius is almost a hundred and eighty million degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless of which temperature system you use that’s pretty hot. If your computer was running at that temperature I doubt you’d be able to finish your Jackpot Capital casino download.

Of course, if your computer was running at that temperature I’m pretty sure you’d have bigger problems on your hands than not being able to finish a download. I’ve heard an example of what would happen if something suddenly became a hundred million degrees celsius be compared to if you took a piece of the center of the sun and transported it onto the earth.

At a first glance this seems to be alright but what would actually happen is very different. For a start, the center of the sun is only fifteen million degrees celsius. That’s twenty-seven million degrees Fahrenheit and only a little bit above a tenth of what scientists and engineers were able to achieve here on earth.

Also, the real effects of a piece of the center of the sun appearing on earth aren’t actually the heat of it, because you’ll be dead before the heat even affects you. Because even a very very small part of the core is under an insane amount of pressure. Suddenly releasing that pressure by moving it to somewhere with way less stuff pushing down on it.

Well, it’s going to cause a boom. A pretty big boom. By pretty big I mean four thousand megatons of TNT type of big. To put it into context, that’s four billion tons of TNT. Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear bomb ever set off, had only a measly forty megatons of TNT. The top of its mushroom cloud reached sixty-five kilometers into the air and the flash was seen almost a thousand kilometers away.

The shock wave from that bomb traveled around the world multiple times and shattered windows near the testing site. The bombs that were dropped in World War Two on Japan by America that destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only barely fifteen-kilo tons of TNT.

All of those are children’s toys to the explosion that a piece of the center of the sun would make. It would destroy everything pretty much to the horizon and maybe even past. The shockwaves would shatter windows thousands of kilometers away and travel around the world multiple times, shattering eardrums. It would kick up mountains of dust and debris into the atmosphere that would launch the planet into an ice age for years to come.

This piece of plasma that South Korea made would blind you, burn everything in the room, and set fire to the entire building. Then it would turn into harmless gas and smoke and float away into the atmosphere. All in the time it would take you to blink.

Needless to say, even if what South Korea made is several times (ten times) as hot as the center of the sun it is quite a lot less dangerous.

How they made a mini sun

The mini sun, as many call it including the scientists who made it themselves, was made as part of South Korea’s KSTAR project. If you’re like me then you assumed that the name stood for the Korean STAR project. Sadly I guessed wrong and just like SHIELD (The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division from the Marvel universe) it’s an acronym that happens by pure chance to spell out a word relating quite a lot to the thing itself and surely no one planned the acronym around the word right?

KSTAR actually stands for The Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research. At least I got the Korean part right.

This isn’t their first attempt at getting something to temperatures so high like this, they’ve been making attempts for a few years now and actually breaking a few records. But none as big as this one.

This also isn’t their first time getting something to a hundred million degrees celsius but it’s their first time holding it stable for almost twenty seconds. In 2019 they were able to hold it for eight seconds, making this attempt more than two times better. And their first attempt, which was back in 2018 only lasted about one and a half seconds.

A few other companies have made attempts at heating something to a hundred million degrees or more and a few of them even succeeded but none of them were able to maintain it for more than ten seconds.

Now on to how they actually did it; they started by using hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen atoms are used before they are the smallest form of atoms on the periodic table of elements. This is important because a big part of heating things to levels this high is separating the electrons from the ions so that the matter turns into plasma, which is what all matter turns into when hot enough.

This meant that for every atom with more electrons, protons and neutrons separating them requires more energy. So the best one to separate is the one with the least. Hydrogen being the first item on the periodic table and also the one with the least electron, protons, and neutrons it was an obvious choice.

Hydrogen is also what is at the center of our sun. It’s what the sun uses as its fuel along with some other more complicated things and processes.

Now about something we mentioned earlier. I said that being near something as hot as a million degrees celsius would instantly combust pretty much anything. So how do they contain something like this?

Well with magnets! They have the plasma in a vacuum container being held by an electromagnetic field. That’s just fancy talk for an electronic magnet doing magnet things. They do this because heat doesn’t actually just radiate off something. Well, it kind of does but that’s not what I meant.

Most of the heat needs to travel through something to actually heat something up. So you just remove its connection to anything to travel through and the only heat that comes off it is from radiation. Which it does emit, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.

What this means to clean energy

This by itself is not revolutionary or anything of that sort. But it’s a very big step towards something that is very revolutionary. A fusion reactor.

Fusion reactors are like the more successful and cooler older brother of nuclear reactors. They’re what will really make the switch from very polluting power sources and energies to efficient, cheap, and viable clean green energy.

Fusion reactors would easily be able to replace most if not all the coal, oil, and other types of power plants across the world at a much much lower cost than those of massive solar farms and wind turbines.

The two big problems with fusion reactors are one; people are scared of anything radioactive or nuclear so they automatically will say no to it even if it could actually be safer than other alternatives we already use and two; we can’t build fusion reactors yet.

We just don’t have the technology for it. But with scientific and engineering advancements such as the KSTAR, we get one step closer to being able to actually build fusion plants. Maintaining plasma at a very very high temperature will play a pretty big role in most plans for a fusion reactor.

With experiments like this our understanding of how to actually do that gets better and better. This tied in with other amazing advancements in superconductors all bring us closer and closer to being able to completely revolutionize how we get power and what the limits of things are.


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Master reviewer of all types of products. Love XL Fountain Sodas!! Cheer Mom extraordinaire. Socialite to all things small town and founder of Come socialize and connect with me.

3 thoughts on “How South Korea Built a Mini Sun and Why It’ll Help with Making Cleaner Energy

  • This is a really intriguing post. I had no idea!

  • This is beyond incredible. I have always known that our sun does not have an infinite life. I just assumed all human life would perish with the sun. Perhaps not.

  • That’s very interesting. Hope they can find a way to use it to create clean energy in the near future.

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