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OMNI Magazine January 1981


OMNI Magazine January 1981

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There’s no question that if fusion works, it will solve the world’s energy problems once and for all. The real question is, Will it work? We understand well enough the physics of a fusion reaction, but time and money must assume generous dimensions if fusion is ever to demonstrate its potential as an infinite source of safe energy. Mike McCormack agrees. Before he was swept from office by the conservative tide last November 4, Congressman McCormack somehow persuaded his colleagues to vote for an energy package few of them even understood. Scientists and engineers for years have attempted to harness the power of the stars, but only recently have they demonstrated the possibility of actually building a fusion reactor. The former representative from Washington State guided a $20 billion program through Congress that guarantees a fusion reactor within the next 20 years.

“It’s the most important energy development since the controlled use of fire,” McCormack told science writer Dan Greenberg in “Fusion Politics” (page 52). But politics isn’t the whole story. The business and the science of fusion form other elements in a composite portending the eventual reality of free energy. This month’s Omni explores the implications of an alternative so profound we’d better not let it pass us by.

“Small is better,” says Robert W Bussard, whose independent company, lnesco, wants to build cheap, modular, “midget” fusion reactors. These machines could be used up and thrown away like light bulbs. How does Bussard’s midget miracle technology stand up to the big fusion establishment? K.C. Cole is the author of What Only a Mother Can Tell You About Having a Baby (Doubleday/ Anchor) and of several guidebooks on scientific phenomena. A contributor to, and former editor of, Newsday and Saturday Review, Cole has also written for the New York Times and Glamour.

Private industry’s development of commercial fusion has been but a drop in the bucket thus far, yet an increasing number of major firms are plunging in as the program swings from pure physics to engineering. The end result? A worldwide fusion economy within 50 years Former Newsweek writer R. Bruce McColm profiles the technicians who make it happen in “The Business of Fusion” (page 46).

Mike Edelhart’s “Fusion Odyssey” depicts a world where limitless energy has become a way of life. Cities, industry, even spacecraft, are powered by fusion reactors. An associate editor of OMNI, Edelhart has written several books and has had articles published in New Times, TV Guide, the Washington Post, Writer’s Digest, and elsewhere. He is also a columnist for TWA’s Ambassador magazine.

This month’s fiction includes Ian Watson’s ”A Cage for Death”. A 1963 graduate of Oxford University, Watson has lectured at universities in Tanzania and Japan. His first novel, The Embedding, won the French Prix Apollo; his second, The Jonah Kit, received top honors from the British Science Fiction Association. A novel based on the story ”A Cage for Death” is due in the fall of 1981, to be entitled Deathhunter.

Also featured is John Keefauver (“Body Ball,”). Keefauver has had many pieces published in such periodicals as National Review and OMNI. His work can also be found in several suspense anthologies, including Random House’s Hitchcock collections.

The visionary genius of fantastic realist Ernst Fuchs is displayed in a gallery of paintings entitled “Divine Alchemist.” Art expert Tom Weyr explores Fuchs’s hypnotic images and subliminal style.

Princeton’s controversial professor Julian Jaynes is profiled by science editor Philip Hilts in “Odd Man Out”. Hilts, a writer for the Washington Post, has profiled many big names, including Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley.