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Pelosi visits C-Mod, PSFC layoffs delayed

U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi visited MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) Thursday, where she learned about MIT’s fusion experiments performed on its tokamak Alcator C-Mod, according to MIT News. The experiment faces an uncertain future and may fail to receive federal funding in FY 2014.

Pelosi discussed MIT’s fusion research and learned about the hot magnetically confined fusion plasmas that MIT researches with C-Mod. Proponents of fusion research suggest the technology could someday provide a clean source of energy. MIT News reported that C-Mod currently is in a “warm shutdown” status until Congress decides whether to make funding available in the 2014 budget.

Though Congress has yet to restore funding, according to an email MIT Vice President for Research Maria T. Zuber wrote to The Tech on Oct. 8, C-Mod layoffs have been rescinded through the end of 2013 “to maintain the facility staff with the hope that Congress will pass a budget at some point … that would restore operation.”

Fusion research has been a popular topic in the House of Representatives, according the News Office. According to the American Institute of Physics, fifty members of Congress signed a letter this April in support of the Fusion Energy Sciences Program. The requested $458.3 million would go to the same budget that has historically been the source of funding for C-Mod, but cuts to this budget may affect C-Mod.

—William Navarre