In this space, visitors are invited to post any comments, questions, or skeptical observations about Philo T. Farnsworth's contributions to the field of Nuclear Fusion research.
Subject: Re: Dr. Robert Hirsch
Date: Feb 05, 7:30 pm
Poster: Tom Ligon
On Feb 05, 7:30 pm, Tom Ligon wrote:
To add to what Richard has to say, Hirsch, Bussard, and Alvin Trivelpiece were the designers of the present fusion research program. The story I've heard from a certain nameless physicist is that they knew the tokamaks wouldn't work at the time, but knew they could get funding for them, and figured they'd rob about 20% of the funding to find something that would actually work. It was all about political realities, pins in a map, and depressing stuff like that.
Dr. Bussard, funded by Riggs Bank and Bob Guccioni, was working on a small tokamak called the Riggatron. Unlike the DOE approach which uses superconducting magnets outside a lithium blanket, the Riggatron would run copper coils INSIDE the blanket. The machine would have hit breakeven by a margin of 4, but the magnets would have to be disposed of after only 30-40 days of use.
The project died because Guccioni could not afford the actual construction costs of $150 million, largely for a huge homopolar motor-generator to energize the coils. However, Princeton is presently working on a very similar machine, somewhat scaled up.
Bussard tells me that the present electrostatic fusion scheme was born while agnoizing over the demise of the Riggatron, looking for an affordable confinement scheme.