Let There Be Light

Nuclear fusion is known as the holy grail of energy but years of setbacks have not stopped people from trying to build an artificial star on Earth.
Available on CBC Gem

Let There Be Light

documentary Channel

Nuclear fusion is known as the holy grail of energy because it’s clean, abundant, and so far, frustratingly unobtainable. Obsession, fraud, and failure have destroyed many scientific careers in the world of fusion. But decades of setbacks have not stopped people from trying — in fact, they’re pushing harder than ever. The world’s richest countries are pooling resources to build ITER, the most expensive scientific experiment of all time (as well as a political gamble and bureaucratic quagmire). Meanwhile, private sector entrepreneurs are also racing to create fusion — only they want to do it much faster and cheaper.

The film focuses on two brilliant scientists dedicating their lives to fusion, each taking a drastically different route. Mark Henderson is a plasma physicist who plays a tiny but vital role at ITER: he’s helping to build the part that would ‘turn on the sun’. Michel Laberge was an ace-printer technician who turned his mid-life crisis into a new business venture: a company called General Fusion that wants to ‘achieve ignition’ in only 3-5 years. As crazy as that might sound, General Fusion is building momentum, attracting investors from Silicon Valley to the government of Malaysia.

Humankind’s insatiable thirst for energy has led to an at times quixotic push for definitive solutions. Let There Be Light focuses on the very human characters behind the science, and look at what motivates someone to dedicate their life to fusion. Are these visionaries on the cusp of a major breakthrough, or lost on an impossible quest?


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