Scientist Shunsuke Ide points to the large screen in the control room of the JT-60SA, a giant device for nuclear fusion experiments in a rural municipality northeast of Tokyo that is preparing for its first run. A demonstration video shows how the plasma crucial to the process is generated.

“Ten seconds before the discharge,” an automated female voice announces in English. “Five, four, three, two, one, zero!”

At this moment, a video taken from inside the vacuum vessel of the JT-60SA’s predecessor pops up, showing how plasma forms as hydrogen isotopes are heated to over 100 million degrees Celsius, alongside a computer simulation of the pink plasma inside the orange-shaped device.