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Dr. Richard F. Post, Physicist, Dies At 96

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Dr. Richard F. Post

Dr. Richard F. Post, an American physicist noted for his work in nuclear fusion, plasma physics, magnetic mirrors, magnetic levitation, magnetic bearing design and direct energy conversion, died Tuesday, April 7, 2015 in Walnut Creek after a sudden illness.

Post was a winner of the James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics and led the controlled thermonuclear research group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for 23 years.

He held patents in the fields of nuclear fusion, particle accelerators, and electronic and mechanical energy storage.

Post was born in 1918 in Pomona, California. He received a BA in physics from Pomona College in 1940 and a PhD in physics from Stanford University in 1951. After his PhD, he was inspired to pursue fusion energy research by a college professor. Post joined the staff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as leader of the controlled thermonuclear research group until 1974.

During this time, he developed many of concepts of magnetic mirrors and direct energy conversion. He worked with Marshall Rosenbluth to develop the stability of plasma inside mirror machines.

From 1974 to 1987 he was deputy associate director of the magnetic fusion energy program at LLNL. After 1987, Post was senior scientist in the magnetic fusion energy program. He has held advisory roles at NASA, the National Academy of Sciences and the United States Air Force.

“His loss is a huge one for us, and we all believe it is also a huge loss to the scientific community and the field of alternate energy,” actress Markie Post, his daughter, told the Los Angeles Times.