Resume Reading — Energy



Could anything be more fundamental in life and science than energy? And be more various and mysterious?Energy may be the term we use…By Kevin Berger

Could anything be more fundamental in life and science than energy? And be more various and mysterious?

Energy may be the term we use most often without quite knowing what it means. It’s the first letter of the most famous science equation in history. It’s the radiance generated by the sun. It’s what drove an elongated fish to walk on land. It’s what you’re high on when you’re hiking the mountains with friends. So how do you begin to plumb the many meanings of energy?

We start with a profile of physicist Michl Binderbauer, head of TAE Technologies, a private startup, who’s put his company on “The Road Less Traveled to Fusion Energy.” While most fusion energy companies, public and private, harness the atomic fusion of hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, Binderbauer is gambling billions on what he sees as a less problematic fusion, between a proton (a hydrogen nucleus) and boron. How Binderbauer reached this conclusion is a portrait of an education in science, and how a mentor can remake your world.

We also tap into free energy, one of the most remarkable theories of how nature works that we know of. Hatched by neuroscientist Karl Friston, free energy “says that any self-organizing system that is at equilibrium with its environment must minimize its free energy. The principle is essentially a mathematical formulation of how adaptive systems (that is, biological agents, like animals or brains) resist a natural tendency to disorder.” Got that? I’m confident you will after you venture through the looking glass with Friston.

We explore the roles of energy in our climate future, emotional lives (“anger is an energy”), dinosaur metabolism, and the elements of music. (Yes, dinosaur metabolism. The slow-moving T-rex was an efficient predator.) Finally we ask how energy will reemerge when the universe burns out.

Lead image: Flystock / Shutterstock

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