Marshall Rosenbluth
Fusion Pioneer
died at 76

© Stephen O. Dean
Fusion Power Associates
September 30, 2003

   Marshall Rosenbluth, whose legendary scientific contributions to the world effort in fusion and plasma physics, began in the early 1950s, died September 28 in San Diego of pancreatic cancer. As a research scientist he authored and co-authored countless papers that provided much of the scientific basis of this evolving field. As a professor, he was mentor to a whole generation of plasma scientists. As a human being, few could match his honesty and wit, his genuine interest in people and his inquiring mind.

   He received his doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago in 1949 at the age of only 22. In 1950, he was recruited by Edward Teller to join the staff of physicists at Los Alamos, seeking to understand the physics that would make possible the hydrogen bomb. In 1956, he joined some of the most brilliant plasma physicists of the era at General Atomics in San Diego, seeking to tame fusion for the production of electricity. He was a professor of physics at the University of California 1960-1967 and again from 1987 - 1993, when he became Emeritus. He was also a professor at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study from 1967 - 1980 and at the University of Texas 1980 - 1987.

   He was the recipient of many awards, including the Lawrence and Fermi Awards and the National Medal of Science, the Nation's highest scientific honor. Fusion Power Associates honored him with its Leadership Award in 1987 and its Distinguished Career Award in 1997.

   Although he had been suffering from cancer for several years, he continued to attend scientific meetings and was actively providing advice to the fusion community until near the very end of his life. One cannot overstate the sense of loss that his death brings to fusion scientists around the world.

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