"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
Robert Oppenheimer, ‘father of the atomic bomb’, used this line from Hindu scripture after watching hundreds of tons of New Mexico desert being blown skywards in July 1945; a result of the world’s first nuclear bomb test.
The first atom bomb experiments actually started in Chicago, though, three years earlier. It was in under Chicago University’s sports stadium that scientists were piling up uranium rods to force a nuclear chain reaction -- right within a city of three million people. The pile had no shielding and so an explosion could have sent radioactive wind over the entire city. Luckily, that didn’t happen.
Unluckily, in Franken-Chicago, a Chicago of the near-future, nuclear engineers again thrust the Windy City into another epic atomic experiment; building within the city the world’s first nuclear 'fusion plant'.
Conventional nuclear plants have 'fission' reactors; they split atoms apart to make energy. A 'fusion' reactor, on the other hand, pushes atoms together to create energy.
For years and years, enthusiastic engineers promote, beguile and disrupt the locals (like near-future Dr. Frankensteins) telling Chicago residents that 'fusion plants' are way better than old-fashioned 'fission plants'! Fusion is safe and produces no radioactive waste! Nor can fusion reactors be used to make atomic bombs, unlike conventional fission plants.
Franken-Chicago by The Frankencity Project
In fact, fusion plants will produce radioactive waste -- just not so much as a fission nuclear plant; but the waste is still dangerous, and costs billions to manage safely, and can be used in radioactive 'dirty bombs' by terrorists and enemies. Also, the core of a fusion reactor could slowly degrade the structures surrounding it, leading to its eventual spectacular collapse. Welcome to Franken-Chicago!