Fast-forward into the future, say, to the year 2020.
It's a beautiful spring weekend, wildflowers are peeping through the winter's melting snow. And you decide to spend the day in the Wasatch mountains.What you do that day, the appliances you use, your mode of transportation, maybe even the way you think, was forever changed 30 years earlier by a discovery at the University of Utah.
But, of course, you don't ponder that discovery this fine day. You have things to do.
You shower first. The hot water gushing from the faucet is heated by your house's self-contained nuclear fusion reactor/furnace/water heater. The only fuel bill you get from Utah Power & Light is an emergency backup hook-up fee; the only natural gas bill from Mountain Fuel Supply is for your gas range. Your monthly fuel bills don't total $35 - even in the dead of winter.
After breakfast, you pack for the day's outing. Key to the enjoyment is your portable fusion backpack reactor. Rela
tively lightweight, the reactor provides enough electrical power to run a small camp stove and even lets you watch the National Basketball Association playoffs on your miniature TV.
You stow your gear in the back of your new car. Yes, it too is powered by a fusion reactor. Steam and electricity are back in vogue. Without the bulky batteries required in old-fashioned electric cars, your new car weighs less than the piston/-gasoline-powered four-wheel drive vehicle you used to own.
Your new car has great pick-up as well, going from 0-60 mph within 11 seconds.
Off you drive.
The sun has risen over the Salt Lake Valley. But there's no smog. Fusion
cars, while not eclipsing their polluting piston cousins, are becoming more and more available. The federal government has a plan to phase out piston passenger cars before the year 2050. People are breathing easier, even in Los Angeles.
You drive onto the freeway, the only sound your car makes is a light hum. With the window down you can hear the squeak of your tires on the road. There's no clatter or knocking under the hood, no exhaust coming out the back.
The light-rail electric train - a mass-transit system that has been newly enlarged - rushes past. You recall that the cost per ride has just gone down due to lower electrical rates made possible by huge fusion reactors.
Once at the trail head, you unload your backpack and unfold your portable, fusion-powered mountain bike. The bike is a wonder, and you still can't believe how much power you can get out of such a quiet machine.
You peddle when you feel like it, adding drive to the rear wheel and electricity to the small fusion reactor, or sit back and ride for free.
Overhead you hear the chop-chop-chop of a small helicopter. Freed of the weight of gasoline and heavy engines, personal helicopters powered by fusion have become light, affordable and prolific. To you, however, they've become an eye- and ear-sore and you fully support legislation to keep them out of the mountains.
You motor past a small lake where several anglers are already trying their luck. Although acid rain hasn't been a major problem in Utah's mountains, fishermen, environmentalists and health officials throughout the world are praising the switch from coal-fired power plants, which sent millions of tons of acid rain-causing sulfur into the air, to fusion power plants. And with the reduced reliance on oil, there hasn't been an oil spill from a supertanker en route from Alaska or the Middle East in years.
At the end of a pleasant day you return home at twilight.
The sun, Mother Nature's original fusion reactor, sets over the Oquirrh Mountains. The sun gives us life, for no living thing can survive on Earth without it. It won't burn out for millions of years.
The harnessing of fusion power has given us safe, cheap, easily used power. Fusion's fuel of heavy hydrogen found in the Earth's oceans will last for millions of years also.
You flip the switch inside your garage door. The electric light goes on. And you take it for granted.
-Late 1960s: Attempt for an innovative experiment involving cold nuclear fusion is seeded when Martin Fleischman conducts research on the separation of hydrogen and deuterium isotopes.
-1975: At Fleischmann's recommendation, B. Stanley Pons was admitted to the graduate program at the University of Southampton in England, where he receives a doctorate in 1979.
-1983: In separate research, Pons looks at isotopic separation in electrodes and is puzzled with certain results. Pons and Fleischmann ponder the data and later discuss the findings on two memorable occasions: once during a drive through Texas; and later on a hike up Millcreek Canyon on the outskirts of Salt Lake City. Later that year, research strategy is concocted in the Pons' family kitchen. The two perform the experiment and have an immediate indication that it works.
-1983-89: Working into the late night and on weekends at Pon's U. laboratory, the two continue to improve and test the procedure.
-March 23, 1989: The scientific community is rocked as Pons and Fleischmann announce their breakthrough in cold nuclear fusion energy at a press conference at the University of Utah.
-March 24: Researcher's scientific paper is submitted to the British journal, "Nature," for possible publication Brigham Young University scientists, Steven E. Jones, who has studied cold nuclear fusion since 1985, also submits a paper ato "Nature."
-March 24: Department of Energy announces that a $322,000 grant has been approved to enable Pons and Fleischmann continue their research. State Board of REgents passes resolution urginign state funding of the project. Regents and higher education commissioner Wm. Rolfe Kerr travels to St. George to take the request to a vacationing Gov. Norm Bangerter.
-March 24: Bangerter says he'll call a special session to urge lawmakers to grant $5 milion in state funds to develop and commercialize the fusion breakthrough.
-March 28: Following a closed door meeting with the Regents, governor and U. President Chase N. Perterson, legislative leaders call an April 7th special session to dicuss the fusion funding issue.
-March 31: Pons conducts his first scientific coloquium before colleagues and students at the University of Utah.