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The nuclear reaction that powers the Sun has been reproduced in a pocket-sized device, scientists announced today.
Researchers have for years tried to harness nuclear fusion to power the world. But its cousin, nuclear fission -- the breaking apart of atoms -- is the only method so far commercially viable.
The latest invention is not in the same league as efforts to build complex commercial reactors. The new device creates a relatively small number of reactions, and requires more energy to operate than it produces.
But the configuration is so small and simple that its creators think it may inspire unforeseen applications.
"I certainly find it interesting that you can heat a cubic centimeter crystal in your hand, then plunge it in cold water and it will cause nuclear fusion," Seth Putterman from the University of California Los Angeles told LiveScience.