Thomas H. Stix, a leader in the development of the field of plasma physics, has died. He was 76.
Stix, professor emeritus of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, died Monday in Princeton, N.J., of complications from leukemia.
Stix's work advanced research in plasma physics by showing how waves could heat plasma, also known as ionized or electrified gas. He showed how microwaves, injected from antennas or waveguides, could heat plasma to thermonuclear temperatures--tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit--while confining it within powerful magnetic fields.
Stix also contributed significantly to the theory of stochastic and chaotic behavior of particles and magnetic fields in plasmas.
His book "The Theory of Plasma Waves" explored and formalized the subject of waves in plasma, both for laboratory and astrophysical applications. The influential textbook educated several generations of plasma physicists.
Born in St. Louis, Stix served as an Army radio technician in the South Pacific during World War II.
After the war, he earned a bachelor's degree at Caltech before going to Princeton, where he received his doctorate. Stix then joined Project Matterhorn, then a small classified project on Princeton's Forrestal campus.
The project aimed to harness fusion energy for peacetime use. It grew quickly, however, and in 1961 Stix became head of the experimental division.
He is survived by his wife, Hazel Sherwin Stix, a son, a daughter, two brothers and four grandchildren.