Fusion: Science, Politics, and the Invention of a New Energy Source
For more than thirty years, the prospect of unlimited fusion energy has attracted scientists and the public. Joan Lisa Bromberg's book documents the history of the American magnetic fusion reactor program. It is also a lively account that will inform interested citizens of limited technical background who are concerned with the nation's energy strategy. The book carries the story from the program's inception under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1951 to its operations under the then-new Department of Energy in 1978.
Fusion concentrates on the four federally funded laboratories where most of the money has been spent (about $2 billion so far): Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Princeton. It recounts the crucial experiments along the way - the ones that succeeded, the ones that failed, the ones that showed "promise." And it explains and diagrams the various magnetic configurations and devices that were developed and tested: the "stellarator," the "pinch," the "mirror," the "tokamak."
With the government and the public constantly looking over the scientists' shoulders, it is no surprise that research directions were heavily influenced by extrascientific pressures: "the major decisions in fusion research have always emerged from a medley of technical, institutional, and political considerations." The intermingling of science and politics is demonstrated in specific detail.
The magnetic fusion reactor project is, of course, ongoing. Latest target date for producing commercial power: 2050. Estimated total cost: $15 billion.
Dr. Bromberg has written extensively on topics in the history of modern science.
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Which Way to the Future?
Appendix A A Glossary of Magnetic Fusion Terms
Appendix B A Chronology of Major Experiments
Interviewees and Interview Dates in Notes
Fusion Enters the Energy Marketplace
Alamos Artsimovich Astron Atomic Energy Author's interview Bishop Bohm diffusion breeder budget Coensgen coils commissioners Committee minutes conference confinement Controlled Fusion Controlled Thermonuclear Research Coppi density Deutch deuterium device director DOE-HO DOE-OMFE Electric electrons engineering experimental experiments fiscal fission funds Furth fusion community fusion power fusion program fusion reactor fusion research fusion scientists Geneva Gotdieb heating instability ions Johnson June Kerst Kintner laboratory LASL-RC leaders Levitron Livermore Los Alamos Lyman Spitzer magnetic field Magnetic Fusion Energy Matterhorn McDaniel million degrees centigrade Model multipole neutrons Nuclear Fusion Oak Ridge October office files ohmic heating Ormak panel particles physicist pinch Plasma Physics Postma Princeton problems Project Sherwood R. F. Post Report Review Ribe Robert Rosenbluth Ruark Science Scyllac Sherwood Conf Soviet stability Standing Committee Steering Committee stellarator Strauss Teller temperature TFTR theoretical theory Thermonuclear Reactions tokamak toroidal torus tritium Tuck Washington ZETA
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