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The E-Cat and the EmDrive, Two Unicorns That Might Change the World Tomorrow

While the world is occupied with the day to day struggle, to make tomorrow’s deadline and to meet the next GDP target, in a world consumed by crises, hunger and the usual territorial and resource conflict, there are two technologies are creeping up to us that are straight out of the science fiction literature: The E-CAT Cold Fusion Device and the EmDrive. Needless to say, the controversy around these devices is so fierce that one risks being burnt at stake, professionally and reputationally speaking, for even entertaining the possibility that these devices might actually be real, and not hoaxes.

Cold fusion is not a new concept. It has been the alchemy of the 20th century and many scientists have lost their career trying to crack a nut that according to many is uncrackable. The promise is proportional with the stake: unlimited, cheap or free energy. Of course, when you hear unlimited, and free, you are entitled to be suspicious, after all, we are coming from a culture where nothing is free, and most certainly nothing lasts forever. This however, is not necessarily true for everything. We do know of objects that are capable of incomprehensible (at least not in human terms) energy outputs for incredibly large periods of time; periods that in human terms can comfortably be associated with infinity. What stars do seems to defy reason: they create new, heavier materials, from lighter ones and instead of consuming energy, they produce more of that too… and lots of it. The trick up their sleeve is called fusion, a well known physical process that, up to a point at least, produces large amounts of energy. Unlike fission, fusion, does not generate radioactive waste and it does not rely on rear substances, on the contrary, it relies on the most abundant substance in the universe: Hydrogen. Hydrogen is a component of water, and it turns out that we have so much of it here on the planet that we could sustain our energy needs (in terms of current needs) for billions of years. There is a catch though: fusion needs temperature that can only be naturally found in the cores of stars, and as such, it is a daunting task to contain it.

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