China’s $1 Trillion Artificial Sun


On December 30th, 2021 in Hefei, China, an artificial sun glowed 5 times hotter than the sun for 17 minutes, breaking the world record set by France’s Tore Supra Tokamak in 2003.

This nuclear experiment conducted by the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science for the Chinese Academy of Science was an absolute success, and just in time to cross off their goal of achieving 1,000 seconds in 2021. The artificial sun, or EAST(Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak), maintained a temperature of 158 million degrees Fahrenheit for 1,056 seconds, whereas the actual sun is around 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

EAST was modeled after a star, which burns through the process of nuclear fusion. As opposed to fossil fuels like coal and oil, fusion energy is considered almost unlimited on earth, and scientists believe it to be the future of humanity. By fusing hydrogen atoms to make helium with very high pressure and temperatures and then trapping it in a slightly donut-shaped reactor chamber, EAST was able to convert matter into light and heat, making enormous amounts of energy like the sun, but without producing greenhouse gases or radioactive waste.

But achieving this was not an easy task. One of the main obstacles for the scientists has been how to handle a plasma that is hot enough to fuse, because to make an artificial sun, you require very hot temperatures and finding a way to enclose the plasma so that it doesn’t burn through the reactor walls is difficult.

EAST’s experiment is not finished running yet, and who knows what it will bring next? Possibly the scientists will perfect their futuristic fusion reactor and be able to generate clean energy for all. Maybe EAST will be the first artificial sun to go to space. The future of China’s artificial sun is looking very bright indeed.