MIT dean sees ‘very dramatic’ things in energy’s distant future

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An academic’s ideas about what the future might hold inspired Gov. Charlie Baker to invite him to speak to Canadian premiers and New England governors.

Speaking to the international assembly in Boston on Monday, MIT School of Engineering Dean Ian Waitz said in two decades or more the technology of electricity production could change profoundly.

Waitz said some people are studying “compact nuclear fusion,” which he said is the “same kind of physics that power the sun.” Waitz said that type of technology could power Boston for 50 years “with the energy in the top inch of the water in Boston Harbor.”

“If they come to fruition, they really will change our lives. There’s a reason to be optimistic about what’s happening,” Waitz said in a ballroom at the Hynes Convention Center.

Baker introduced Waitz and recalled meeting him at an event at a church in Cambridge where people presented big ideas and then faced questions about them. Baker said he asked Waitz to speak to the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers after that event.

Waitz opened up a panel Monday that looked at the near-term future, though he said he looks a little farther over the horizon.

“You should know that one of the things that promoted Governor Baker to invite me here is that I talk about something that’s probably a little farther than 10 years out,” Waitz said. “But there are things that are 20 or 30 years out that are very dramatic.”

According to MIT, Waitz is also a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and his current work focuses on the environmental impacts of aviation and ways to mitigate those effects.

— Written by Andy Metzger

Copyright State House News Service