#112 – Ian Hutchinson: Nuclear Fusion, Plasma Physics, and Religion

Ian Hutchinson is a nuclear engineer and plasma physicist at MIT. He has made a number of important contributions in plasma physics including the magnetic confinement of plasmas seeking to enable fusion reactions, which is the energy source of the stars, to be used for practical energy production. Current nuclear reactors are based on fission as we discuss. Ian has also written on the philosophy of science and the relationship between science and religion.

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Here’s the outline of the episode. On some podcast players you should be able to click the timestamp to jump to that time.

00:00 – Introduction
05:32 – Nuclear physics and plasma physics
08:00 – Fusion energy
35:22 – Nuclear weapons
42:06 – Existential risks
50:29 – Personal journey in religion
56:27 – What is God like?
1:01:34 – Scientism
1:04:21 – Atheism
1:06:39 – Not knowing
1:09:57 – Faith
1:13:46 – The value of loyalty and love
1:23:26 – Why is there suffering in the world
1:35:08 – AGI
1:40:27 – Consciousness
1:48:14 – Simulation
1:52:20 – Adam and Eve
1:54:57 – Meaning of life