That's the title of a gripping talk by Ed Moses, director of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore Labs. I'm not qualified to judge this scientifically - maybe some readers are - but that sure would be nice, wouldn't? Money quote from a summary of the lecture by Stewart Brand:
The question, Moses said, is "Can we build a miniature Sun on Earth?" The recipe involves a peppercorn-size target of hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium heated to 200 million degrees Fahrenheit for a couple billionths of a second. To get that micro-blast of heat, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) uses lasers---coherent light---at a massive scale. Laser engineer Moses notes that photons are perfect for the job: "no mass, no charge, just energy."
Moses ran a dramatic video showing how a shot at the NIF works. 20-foot-long slugs of amplified coherent light (10 nanoseconds) travel 1,500 yards and converge simultaneously through 192 beams on the tiny target, compressing and heating it to fusion ignition, with a yield of energy 10 to 100 times of what goes into it. Successful early test shots suggest that the NIF will achieve the first ignition within the next few months, and that shot will be heard round the world.
I've long believed, given my somewhat grim view of human nature, that only a new energy technology would wean us off fossil fuels. Many have starts and stops and I can only hope this one pans out. But can you imagine a world in which we didn't have to drill into the earth or bow to Islamists or risk global war with a long-term death struggle for finite resources?