Richard F. Post

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Richard Freeman Post[1] (14 November 1918 – 7 April 2015) was an American physicist notable for his work in nuclear fusion, plasma physics, magnetic mirrors, magnetic levitation, magnetic bearing design and direct energy conversion.[2]

Post was a winner of the James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics[3] and led the controlled thermonuclear research group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for 23 years. He held a total of 34 patents[4] in the fields of nuclear fusion, particle accelerators, and electronic and mechanical energy storage.

Early life and education[edit]

Post was born in 1918 in Pomona, California.[5] 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.[6]


Post joined the staff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) as leader of the controlled thermonuclear research group until 1974.[5] During this time, he developed many of concepts behind magnetic mirrors and direct energy conversion.[2] He worked with Marshall Rosenbluth to develop the stability of plasma inside mirror machines.[7] From 1974 to 1987 he was deputy associate director of the magnetic fusion energy program at LLNL. This was a heavily funded effort by the United States Department of Energy to build a succession of magnetic mirror machines, including the Mirror Fusion Test Facility (MFTF) and the Tandem Mirror Facility. After 1987, Post was senior scientist in the magnetic fusion energy program.[5] He has held advisory roles at NASA, the National Academy of Sciences and the United States Air Force.[5]

His notable work includes inductrack[8][9][10] and magnetically levitated flywheels.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Post and his wife Marlyee (a poet) were the parents of actress Markie Post and her two brothers,[1] Steve and Rodney.[4] Although he retired in 1994, Dr. Post continued to work in his lab four days a week, up until the week of his death on 7 April 2015.[4]


  1. ^ a b Grant, James (3 March 1986). "Though She Plays a Lawyer on Night Court, Markie Post Can't Help Feeling Guilty". People. 25 (9). Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Post, Richard (September 1969). "Mirror Systems: Fuel Cycles, Loss Recovery, and Energy Recovery". BNES Nuclear Fusion Reactor Conference at Culham Laboratory. 
  3. ^ "1978 James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics Recipient: Richard F. Post". American Physical Society. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Thomas, Jeremy (April 8, 2015). "Longtime Livermore lab physicist and "father of the flywheel" dies at 96". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d Richard Post at Array of Contemporary American Physicists; accessed 6-28-2013
  6. ^ Post, Richard. "Thoughts on Fusion Energy Development", Fusion Power Associates Annual Meeting and Symposium - "Honoring Fusion Pioneers Richard F. Post and John H. Nuckolls", 3–4 December 2008
  7. ^ Post, R. F.; Rosenbluth, M. N. (1966). "Electrostatic Instabilities in Finite Mirror-Confined Plasmas". Physics of Fluids. 9: 730. Bibcode:1966PhFl....9..730P. doi:10.1063/1.1761740. 
  8. ^ Heller, Arnie. "A New Approach for Magnetically Levitating Trains — and Rockets". Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  9. ^ Post, Richard F. (January 2000). "MagLev: A New Approach". Scientific American. Archived from the original on March 9, 2005. 
  10. ^ Post, Richard F. "The Inductrack Approach to Magnetic Levitation" (PDF). 
  11. ^ Post, Richard F. (1 August 1993). "The electromechanical battery: The new kid on the block". Office of Scientific and Technical Information, US Department of Energy. Retrieved 20 April 2015.