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: Skepticism? NO,.. honesty!
Date: Jan 13, 4:15 pm
Poster: Richard Hull

On Jan 13, 4:15 pm, Richard Hull wrote:


After re-checking my recent notes, tapes, etc from interviews with all the Farnsworth team members, I must conclude, due to emphatic, unilateral statements made by each and every team member that......... at no time, ever, during the entire period of fusor work by any team member (1959-1968 ITT - until 1972-end of BYU era), did any sustained or even suspected sustained fusion reaction occur!

This is just a statement of fact, not a blanket of pessimism thrown at the work. Nor, is it any form of condemnation of the dreams or hopes of Farnsworth. I believe there is hope for finishing the dream. Before this can be done, some money must be spent to do the job at least as well as the original team. (probably in the millions)

Today's best fusors built by the best college teams can't compare to the best 1967 ITT team results. The reason is funding and commitment.

I am unaware of anyone using D-T fusion in their fusor. This would boost results considerably. The ion guns in the original patents also add a distinct advantage to the system, even though they are not needed to just "do fusion". It appears that they are needed to do fusion well.

So the next time you read a "pump me up", "heart wrenching", sad account of how "the goal" was achieved and then squashed. Remember, that it is a load of hooey!

I have adequate data that points to time just flat running out on the fusor project. ITT was dragged against their will to the Fusor project almost totally due to the efforts of retired admiral and ITT vice president, Fredrick R. Furth who kept the faith for years by shuttling constantly back and forth weekly between New York and Fort Wayne.

Furth made promises to ITT execs and the team struggled brilliantly, but time just ran out. Hard capitalistic results never came forth over the 1959-1968 period of ITT funding. So dispondent were the team members, that upon learning of the end of funding, they abandoned the ship voluntarily with over a half year of full funding on the table!! These funds were never used.

It is true that in the first year or two of the project, ITT was rather niggardly in their monetary outlays for the project. As the neutron numbers came up, in 1960 and 61, so did the funding. By 1963, as three team members verified, they could ask for and receive ANYTHING they desired!!! Monetary support came in bucket loads. The corportae edict and order in the Fort Wayne ITT plant that the "weirdo" fusor team and its needs came even before the production floor's needs, created a distinct and severe loathing by the normal workaday folks at the Fort Wayne facility. The fusor people were always different, strange and appart, even at home!!! Requisite security and safety precautions around the lab made it even more isolated from the 9 to
5 'ers in fort Wayne. Admiral Furth held strict command over who could and could not enter the sacred and hallowed inner sanctum of the fusor lab.

What never came to the team, was ITT corporate "headshed" acceptance of the project as something close to their hearts.

Any half witted business person could see that with the continuous drain of funds into a project that was not even in the domain of normal company operations was ludicrous. SO........the half witted business types after giving a truly decent run ended what they thought was folly.

Some hope extended into the abortive Farnsworth Associates in Utah, but that ended in 1969. Three team members and a number of other first rate ITT, Fort Wayne technicians and engineers moved families and everything to continue the dream, but it came to naught. Only one, Gene Meeks, continued at the low key BYU fusor program funded by money supplied by the AEC at the behest of Bob Hirsch who had since leaving ITT become a "wheel" in the AEC. This money ultimately ran out in 1972 or 73 and the last operating fusor was shut down in Utah.

Richard Hull