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: Project Sherwood
Date: Nov 15, 10:47 am
Poster: Richard Hull
On Nov 15, 10:47 am, Richard Hull wrote:
I have read the bulk of Bishop's book now and it is interesting to note that in 1958, Bishop pretty much discounts electrostatic confinement fusion. (this happen at about page 18 in the book! This was about one year before the Farnsworth ITT effort got underway.
The national fusion effort at this time was not a national effort at all. The Atoms for Peace program came into being following Ike's speech to the UN. Americas fusion effort was a sort of secret, sort of open process left pretty much up to the individual labs. It was, for the most part, unsupervised (governmentally), and somewhat rivalrous in nature. The government money pouring in was sparse but present nonetheless. If a lab's fusion work impacted weapons research they got more money and more security clamps on what they could share.
This left the US in a bad psoition at world wide symposia on fusion, for much of the work had some security locks on it.
Confinement meant "magnetic only" at that time. The stellerator, the astron, a couple of mirror machines were the total effort in 1958 and it was mostly theoretical with virtually zero thought for commercial power applications. Coal was king and just a few dollars a ton. What energy shortage?
Bishop notes that fission power would be good for hundreds of yers to come. Atoms for Peace best showed its effectiveness with a multitude of fission plant startups across the nation with an even more intense ramp up just over the horizon.
Fusion research was viewed by most as a great employment opportunity over the long haul as fission would take care of 100% of the nation's needs well past 2100. So there was no immediate rush.
They were already running up against the multiple instability wall and were at a loss to see how to proceed. They had fully resigned themselves to the maxwellian plasma and were seeking ways to make it pay off with bigger and better confinement ideas.