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Plasma Physicists Seek New Uses for the Legacy of Fusion

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Science  08 Dec 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5242, pp. 1569-1570
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5242.1569


Louisville—The magnetic fusion program may be in tatters after Congressional budget cuts, but plasma physicists are applying fusion hardware and concepts to new problems. At a meeting here, one group reported using a fusion machine to study how pressure fluctuations in a plasma can drive a natural dynamo, producing a magnetic field—a process that may be responsible for some of the magnetic fields that thread the cosmos. Two other groups described schemes for turning fusion devices into rocket thrusters. A fourth line of work may have solved a problem that plagued fusion studies: explosions within plasmas that theory says should be stable.