Fusion Message Board

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: More history stuff
Date: Apr 26, 4:56 pm
Poster: Richard Hull

On Apr 26, 4:56 pm, Richard Hull wrote:


I am releasing info which I have learned on the real fusor story in bits and pieces as I feel the need. After all, setting the record straight is part of what this is all about.

After re-reading the Borderland article's account for the umpty-umpth time, and rediscussing events with the actual team members, I have some comments.

Farnsworth's first efforts with the fusor were a complete bust. The 1959 positive demonstration of a fusor is a fabrication and never happened. Phil struggled to do electron multipacting in the first fusors. Actually Phil rarely turned a screw or hooked up a vacuum flange.

He just wasn't around directing the day to day activities at all!!!!!!

He would offer suggestions, ask to have stuff made and then assembled, but didn't actively construct, tweak or sweat bullets on the project. Those days were behind him with the television operation.

The entire early period, (I call it phase I), was a time of consolidation of technique, assembling of materials and personnel. It was also absolutely without the production of neutrons! This was from 1959-1962. The entire period was spent with a positive central electrode! All activity was in the basement of the ITT Fort Wayne operation. This was the time of the dodecahedron multipactor, numerous other bell jar multipactors and the mark I machine. None produced statistically readable neutrons.

Phase II period was from 1962-1964 I also call it the "first neutron/real fusor" period. This was the period when Meeks worked up ion guns and "turned the machine inside out" (negative inner electrode).

This was a time of complete reversal of direction (in the correct direction). Still, only deuterium gas was used. The basement as well as an upstairs, east wing room was available and in use. The first true fusor with ion guns was the mark II and it was also a bell jar fusor. The first stainless steel demountable fusor reached a record 10e6 neutrons just prior to the arrival of Bob Hirsch in 1964. Sometime in 1963 the "pit" was made up to house future high power fusor systems.

Phase III or the "Hirsch era" begins with Hirsch's arrival in 1964 and would last until the end of the project in late 67 or early 1968. Hirsch quickly requested his own separate effort and the "cave" is madeup just for Hirsch's fusors. The "pit" was for Farnsworth's fusors), all built by Bain, Meeks, and Haak. In addition, Meeks is given permission to work up the mark II Prime on his own in his own lab room when he is not busy at other tasks.

Thus, we have the entire team of 5-6 individuals at work on three different devices! The first use of the Deuterium-Tritium mix is tried in 1964 and pure deuterium is never used again as 10e8 neutrons is immediately secured with the old machines at the same voltages. Farnsworth is completely removed from the picture by medical retirement in 1965 and doesn't contribute from this point on. Ultimately, 10e10 and 10e12 neutrons/second would be achieved before the end of the project and reassignment of the team members to other departments in late 1967.

All team members again state that there never was a sustained, or self powered fusion operation recordered. All also agree that the entire fusor concept was Phil's idea, and his "baby", but after 1963 the team sort of "self-managed" with only light overseeing by Phil until 1965 when he was out of the picture. All also agree that Hirsch's arrival heralded vastly improved fusors and designs. Whether this is totally due to Hirsch's influence, the introduction of the D-T mix or just the team's finally hitting its stride is a deeper issue.

Setting the record straight for you guys

Richard Hull