x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

High hopes for energy from fusion reaction

In his science article The power source of tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow) (January 30), Robert Matthews described how the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California is working with a giant laser to trigger a fusion reaction, the energy that powers the stars.

The laser bays at the National Ignition Facility in California are being used to trigger a fusion reaction. A reader expresses the cautious hope that the technology will lead to future power plants.
The laser bays at the National Ignition Facility in California are being used to trigger a fusion reaction. A reader expresses the cautious hope that the technology will lead to future power plants.

In his science article The power source of tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow) (January 30), Robert Matthews described how the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California is working with a giant laser to trigger a fusion reaction, the energy that powers the stars. Doubtless he will be delighted when the NIF achieves the single-shot Proof of Principle for laser fusion, whatever cynicism may currently be expressed. It is dangerous to talk about achieving this by May, (or even during 2010). Nobody knows exactly how soon during the sequence of test shots at NIF fusion will be triggered, but there is a lot of certainty among those involved that this will happen at some point during the forthcoming series of laser shots.

Once the NIF gets a fusion burn with energy break-even, the European facility High Power laser Energy Research (HiPER) is hoping to take on the next challenge: to develop all the technologies needed to enable the future construction of a prototype laser fusion power plant. Let's not get too excited, but let's not allow the funding to be switched off. There aren't too many viable alternatives out there for a species that uses energy on the scale we do. Let's wait and see, shall we? James M, UK

I refer to the article Child dies in latest of hundreds of fatal falls from windows (January 22). Speaking as someone who has worked in the construction industry in the UAE for 21 years, it is the responsibility of architects to make sure that windows are safe for children. The municipality should not issue building completion certificates unless dangerous windows are secured by a grill and that should be made mandatory for all old and new buildings. Owners of buildings want to save money at the cost of children's lives. Please, we can stop further casualties? Mushtaque Rangwala, Dubai

This is with reference to the news article Al Mabhouh travelled to UAE without bodyguards (January 31). While the news that the Israeli secret service Mossad may have been involved in the assassination of a leading member of the military wing of Hamas on January 20 doesn't come as a surprise since Israel is well known for such acts, what is surprising is how Dubai's soil has been used by outsiders to settle their political and personal scores.

In July 2008, Suzanne Tamim, a popular singer from Lebanon, was brutally murdered inside her Dubai residence. In March 2009, Sulim Yamadayev, a prominent opponent of the pro-Kremlin Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, was shot dead near his Dubai residence. It is to the credit of Dubai police that in all these cases the alleged killers were quickly tracked and identified. In Ms Tamim's case, the Egyptian court relied heavily on the evidence provided by the Dubai police and the mastermind and the hired assassin were sentenced to death. In Yamadayev's case, an Iranian and a Tajik national were quickly apprehended by the Dubai police and charged with aiding and abetting the murder which was allegedly masterminded by a close aide of Chechnya's president. However, it is clear that Dubai's liberal and peace-orientated policies towards foreigners are being abused. A strong message needs to be conveyed to the world that Dubai cannot become a staging area for ending feuds by shedding blood. Amitabh S, Dubai

The article JLT drivers face six months of gridlock (January 30) was a good report, though factually incorrect. There is not one exit but two exits from Jumeirah Lakes Towers to Sheikh Zayed road. Similarly there are two entry points into JLT. The ongoing roadworks are an inconvenience but I never had to spend more than 10 minutes getting out of the traffic queue.

At the end of the day, development work has to continue though, if possible, better alternate arrangements should be provided. I remember that the Al Salam Street roadworks made it impossible for me to reach my office without a delay of up to one hour. However, I was comforted once the project was completed. One-way roads into JLT are an excellent idea, avoiding chaos. Sal S, Dubai

I refer to the opinion article An Israeli attack on Iran? Don't hold your breath (January 28). A nuclear Iran is not a threat to the Arabs, but a hostile Iran is. Small disputes that exist between neighbours can be easily solved with open minds and open hearts. However, if Iran starts to think with a colonial mind, that is a problem for the Arabs. Bakr al Tamimi, Dubai