Scientists have labored for decades in pursuit of the holy grail of energy technology: fusion. Familiar to most Americans as the means for powering Doc Brown's flying DeLorean in Back to the Future 2, fusion power promises massive energy output with negligible waste or environmental impact.

Despite billions of dollars of research, fusion power remains little more than a fantasy. What is the key to solving fusion and, with it, the insatiable energy demand that is pilfering the global environment and fueling apparently ceaseless conflict in the Middle East? Is it coconuts? Let's go with coconuts.

The New Republic's Bradford Plumer looks into the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor facility in southern France, which will seek to develop, among other things, fusion. He says of a related story in New Scientist magazine,

The piece outlines some of the considerable obstacles to fusion power, though the best part is that ITER will rely on coconuts--tons and tons of coconuts--to make a key substance in the reactor's vacuum pumps that will scoop up waste helium. For whatever reason, charcoal made from coconut shells seems to work best--particularly 2002-vintage Indonesian coconuts. Good thing they have a stockpile.