Powered by Kremlin, the world is busy capturing the Sun in a bottle

A technician looks at the circular bioshield inside the construction site of ITER in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, Southern France. Photo: Reuters

A cryptic note, “I know the secret of the hydrogen bomb”, was received at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU) in the early 1950s. Not many would have imagined that it would spark a quest resulting in a 35-year collaboration between China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) at Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, Southern France. Billed as the ‘artificial mini-sun’ on Earth, the ITER fusion reactor will mimic the process that makes the Sun blaze. After years of waiting, the reactor’s construction finally commenced in 2020 and is expected to be operational by 2035.

Usually, such notes, considered crackpot, are consigned to the dustbin; but the Kremlin decided to check out. To his amazement, the Kremlin official tasked to enquire about the letter’s author found Oleg Alexandrovich Lavrentiev, a Soviet soldier stationed at the Sakhalin island, to be a school dropout. After completing seven years of schooling, as the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, Lavrentiev had volunteered to join the Red Army. Nevertheless, inspired by the book Introduction to Nuclear Physics, chanced upon at the impressionable age of 12, Lavrentiev kept alive his dream to build a fusion reactor, an artificial star......