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Reaching for the Stars (1964)

Melvin Oakes

Sound | 1964

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  •  More about the fusion research project sponsored by the Texas Atomic Energy Research Foundation 
  •  Laboratory complexes at the University of Texas at Austin and the General Atomic Division in San Diego, California 
  •  The difference between fusion and fission 
  •  Need for nuclear energy 
  •  How to create a controlled thermonuclear reaction on Earth 
  •  Dr. Marshall Rosenbluth, a General Atomics scientist. Following professorships at University of California San Diego and the Princeton Institute of Advanced Study, Rosenbluth joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin in 1980. He also served as director of the university’s newly formed Institute of Fusion Studies. 
  •  The gun-shot method 
  •  Testing plasma guns 
  •  Research conducted at the University of Texas 
  •  On the right is Dr. Hans Schlüter, a physics professor at the University of Texas from 1961 to 1968 
  •  Dr. Edward Creutz, a General Atomics scientist, assesses the progress made in understanding controlled fusion and its uses 
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Presented by the Texas Atomic Energy Research Foundation (TAERF) and the General Dynamics Corporation General Atomic Division, this 1960s educational film reports on efforts to achieve a controlled thermonuclear reaction. After introducing the research project, the film defines fusion and the challenges of its engineering. The necessary conditions do not naturally occur on Earth. Next, it visits the General Atomics laboratory in San Diego as well as the science facilities at the University of Texas at Austin to highlight ongoing research and testing. One theory the film explores in greater detail is the gun-shot method, with the resulting hot plasma trapped in a magnetic bottle. “Reaching for the Stars” was originally produced in 1960, but was rereleased in 1964 to incorporate additional footage shot at the University of Texas. TAERF was a consortium of ten power companies operating in Texas that supported plasma research at General Atomics and the University of Texas.