Twisted logic

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Science  23 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6259, pp. 369-371
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6259.369

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In a gleaming research lab in Germany's northeastern corner, researchers are preparing to switch on a fusion device called a stellarator, the largest ever built. The €1 billion machine, known as Wendelstein 7-X looks a bit like Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, towed in for repairs after a run-in with the Imperial fleet. Stellarators have long been dark horses in fusion energy research but the Dali-esque devices have many attributes that could make them much better prospects for a commercial fusion power plant than the more popular tokamaks: Once started, stellarators naturally purr along in a steady state and they are not prone to the potentially metal-bending magnetic disruptions that plague tokamaks. Unfortunately they are devilishly hard to build.