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Fusion, the process that powers the sun, is the forever dream of energy scientists — safe, nonpolluting and almost boundless. Even here at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where the primary focus of fusion work involves nuclear weapons, many scientists talk poetically about how it could end the world’s addiction to fossil fuels.

“It’s the dream of the future, solving energy,” said Stephen E. Bodner, a retired physicist who worked on fusion at Livermore in the 1960s and ’70s, recalling that the military focus was basically a cover story, a way to keep government money flowing to the lab for energy research.

“Everyone was winking,” he said. “Everyone knew better.”

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