November 29, 2022
Clip from The Sun of Man (NJN, 1988)

In 1988, New Jersey Public Television (NJN) produced a documentary, The Sun of Man, on fusion energy research, which included a visit to Moscow, where I was working at the Kurchatov Institute as an exchange scientist from MIT. Here is a clip with the segment about US-USSR collaboration. The Sun of Man aired nationally on PBS/Nova in April, 1989. The segment opens with some tasty old AEC newsreel footage from the 1958 Geneva conference.

The NJN crew visited at an ideal time: glasnost had opened up Soviet life so people felt more free to talk about how things really were, and NJN was free to shoot throughout the Plasma Physics Division of the lab, which was not classified (unlike most of the Kurchatov Institute). The result is a nice period piece about Soviet fusion research and US-Soviet collaboration shortly before the Russian fusion program collapsed along with the Soviet Union itself. T-15 was never finished. Many of the younger physicists that I worked with moved to the US and Europe, while others left physics for other careers. The older scientists retired.

The only reference to this documentary that I have seen online is this catalog listing from the University of Toronto Physics and Astronomy Videotape Library. I sent an email to NJN asking about it, and never received a reply.