U.S. Remains Murky Date: December 7, 1992

It's the worst of times, but in some ways it's also the best of times for fusion researchers. On the upside is a complex, four- party agreement that was signed in July, commiting the world fusion community to a collaborative effort to design the next- generation fusion experiment. The United States is joining Japan, Europe, and Russia to design the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

The bad news is that the agreement is only to design the plant, not to actually build it. And, aside from this project, physicists complain that there really are no other major new experiments planned for U.S. researchers. Budget constraints have forced the domestic fusion effort to survive on experimental facilities built in earlier years and to put all its eggs into one basket, the tokamak design--a doughnut-shaped device that confines the fusion plasma via a magnetic field....

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