News & CommentPhysics

Behind the Official Optimism, Flawed Projections

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Science  06 Dec 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5293, pp. 1601
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5293.1601


Confidence in plans for the huge fusion-energy test-bed called ITER are being shaken not just by a new theory of plasma turbulence (see accompanying story) but also by an analysis of the ITER project's own optimistic projections of the machine's performance. Those projections are based on extrapolations from the performance of existing tokamaks, but now it seems that the extrapolations may have serious mathematical flaws.