I'm curious about fictional use of fusion power (obviously any use of a fusion reactor is currently fictional as man hasn't had success in building a self-perpetuating one yet). My concern is that if I ask it in the physics forum I'll get a real-world hypothetical application (ie a really complicated steam turbine akin to a fission reactor). Something tells me that most spaceships\space stations aren't ultimately powered by steam (except maybe steampunk works, but I always found steampunk in space kinda odd).

My other concern is the scope of the question and that it will be closed as asking for a list; however, as far as I can tell, most works don't actually describe how the energy is extracted from a fusion reactor, so I want to cast a wide net so that I can catch anything.

So is this question better placed in physics, science fiction & fantasy, or is it just a bad idea that needs to die?

  • 3
    If you are asking about real physics, which it sounds like you are, and you are not asking about a specific universe (ie, aren't asking how fusion works in Star Wars) then it fits best on physics. If you are asking for a list of works where fusion is used, that's unwelcome in both places.
    – DampeS8N
    Jan 14, 2012 at 23:29
  • @DampeS8N Not specifically looking for a list, but curious about how the topic is generally covered by Sci-Fi... which unfortunately ends up looking a lot like a list.
    – erdiede
    Jan 15, 2012 at 3:43
  • BTW--The situation with fusion in the Real World (tm) is that lab reactors now actually produce more energy than they put in. Yeah! Not that they can capture it all yet...but still. Jan 15, 2012 at 17:41
  • @dmckee, yep, which is why I threw in the little quip about self-perpetuating and in a way is driving the whole reason I brought this topic up. It seems like the only meaningful way RL can deal with fusion is to boil water and it seems to me like that is such a miserable waste of all the potential. Kinda like using hydrocarbons to power internal combustion engines.
    – erdiede
    Jan 15, 2012 at 22:10

2 Answers 2


It depends quite a bit on what, precisely, your question is, but according to the Physics.SE meta, they don't want most of our questions about fictional physics and technology:

Questions about physics of fictional worlds
"Could warp drive get you out of a black hole?"
Most questions about fictional physics are not addressed by existing theories or experiments, so we do not have the ability to answer them by applying physical laws. If your question falls under this category, it may be on topic at Science Fiction & Fantasy. Exception: if a question is formulated specifically enough in terms of modifications to existing theories, it may be okay.

So basically if your question is really about modern theoretcal physics and is well-written from that perspective, they may take it. Otherwise, you'll have to see whether it's on-topic here. It sounds like your question is about how fusion is used to generate power, so I think it's unlikely to survive on Physics. Depending on what precisely you want to ask, it may be on-topic here.

  • I'm a little late to the party here, but I want to mention that that paragraph is more about keeping away questions which real-world physics is not able to answer. The wording you quoted is still up in the air a bit. When in doubt, we're always happy to have people ask on [Physics Chat](chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/71/physics) whether any specific question would be appropriate.
    – David Z
    Jan 24, 2012 at 4:45

If your question relates to how to build a fusion reactor, or the physics behind one, then Physics is your best bet.

If your question relates to how a fusion drive works in a particular world, then ask here.

Fusion is a real enough technology that it could be asked on Physics. We know it exists, we believe we can make a power reactor, but we just haven't made one that has positive energy.

Pretty much this same concept applies to any advanced science, where advanced is something we know exists, but don't know the specifics of it. Dark Energy, Dark Matter, and others are all examples of this which would fit this advice.

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