PPPL Founded in 1951
Magnetic fusion research at Princeton began in 1951 under the code name Project Matterhorn. Lyman Spitzer, Jr., Professor of Astronomy at Princeton University, had for many years been involved in the study of very hot rarefied gases in interstellar space. Inspired by the fascinating but highly exaggerated claims of fusion researchers in Argentine, Professor Spitzer conceived of a plasma being confined in a figure-eight-shaped tube by an externally generated magnetic field. He called this concept the "stellarator," and took this design before the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington. As a result of this meeting and a review of the invention by designated scientists throughout the nation, the stellarator proposal was funded and Princeton University's controlled fusion effort was born. In 1958, magnetic fusion research was declassified allowing all nations to share their results openly.