Exit The Fusion Critic

The persistent rumors that Robert Hunter was on his way out as director of DOE’s Office of Energy Research came true last month when Hunter resigned, effective immediately. His abrupt departure marked the end of a year-long battle with advocates of magnetic-confinement fusion projects like the Princeton Plasma Lab’s tokamak. Hunter preferred a process known as inertial-confinement fusion that is being developed at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national labs. But legislators, noting a dearth of outside support, criticized his plan. Hunter wanted to slow down magnetic fusion work and allow inertial-confinement research to “catch up” (The Scientist, Nov. 13,1989, page 9). Indeed, with politicians and magnetic-fusion scientists amassing-in opposition, even lOF program managers from the national labs shied away from endorsing Hunter’s proposal in public. The issue “is a live hand grenade I’d be stupid to touch it,” said one ICF official last...

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