Restored Federal Funding Re-Energizes MIT’s Fusion Center

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Bruce Gellerman

A unique MIT laboratory is back in business. The Plasma Science and Fusion Center was shut down for more than a year due to federal budget cuts. But scientists are once again at work, creating and controlling the energy of the stars, and possibly the power source for our planet’s future.

The Power Source Of The Future?

Even though Dr. Earl Marmar’s lab is just across the street from his office at MIT, the senior scientist puts on his coat. The day is bright and sunny but deceptively cold. It’s 20-something degrees outside, a stark contrast to inside his lab, where things really heat up.

“We’ve gotten to 100 million in our experiment — that’s centigrade or Kelvin,” Marmar explains. That’s about 200 million degrees Fahrenheit, about 10 times the temperature in the center of the sun. Marmar’s experiments are ambitious and audacious.

But it’s all in a days work at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, where for the past 20 years scientists have conducted experiments using a reactor known as “Alcator C-Mod” to create and control the energy source of the stars.


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