08/13/2012 04:52 pm ET

Nuclear Fusion: Scientists Continue Ambitious Quest To Recreate Sun's Power On Earth

In the dusty highlands of Provence in southern France, workers have excavated a vast rectangular pit 17 metres (56 feet) down into the unforgiving rocks. From my raised vantage point, I can see bright yellow mechanical diggers and trucks buzzing around the edge of the pit, looking toy-like in the huge construction site. Above us, the fireball Sun dries the air at an unrelenting 37C.

These are embryonic stages to what is perhaps humankind's most ambitious scientific and engineering project: to replicate the Sun here on Earth.

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