Did you know that the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor is not far from London, and it’s occasionally open to the public for tours?
Before you worry that the dreaming spires of nearby Oxford will melt in a nuclear accident, nuclear fusion is the sort-of nice sort of nuclear power, the version that doesn’t go bang, and potentially could be the fuel of the future.
While a huge fusion reactor is being built in France to prove the technology, it is the UK that leads the development work – and their research labs are open for public tours. You can get right up close and personal with a fusion reactor. You have to book in advance, but they are free, and you are allowed to take photos – it is not the sort of secret secure place that a fission reactor has to be.
The next public tours will be on the evening of Wednesday 14th June 2023.
The event starts at 6:30pm with a talk, and then you spend about 2 hours in small groups going around the site, finishing at around 9pm after filling your head with loads of Big Science.
The tours are free and tickets can be booked from here.
Trains to Culham from London Paddington, via Didcot take about an hour, and the research centre is about 15 minutes walk from the station.
A frustrating note is that the return train from Culham to Didcot doesn’t leave until 10:55pm, but there’s a very nice pub right next to the station to wait in, or get a taxi back to Didcot and catch an earlier train back to London.
I visited a few years ago – my article about that is here.