Fun in Fusion Research

Fun in Fusion Research

1st Edition - February 20, 2013

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  • Author: John Sheffield
  • eBook ISBN: 9780124078611

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This book discusses the fun side of the quest to develop fusion energy—a modern equivalent of the hunt for the Holy Grail. After more than 70 years of research, despite great progress, the goal has not been realized. Do you have to be crazy to love quests like this? Not really, but you do have to have an unshakeable optimism. Through humorous anecdotes, and accessible yet detailed scientific discussion, this book illuminates the enjoyment of scientific research through an account of fifty years working on fusion energy development. The anecdotes bring out the human side of research, in which innovative and sometimes egocentric scientists create both clever and nutty experiments. Among the many stories within are witchcraft at Harwell, shocking experiences, entertaining talks, and the wit of top scientists such as Marshall Rosenbluth. Above all the book highlights the significant advances made in developing practical fusion energy and the promise for an exciting future with the National Ignition Facility and International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. This book will be of interest to physicists as well as other students and researchers in the scientific and wider communities.

Key Features

  • Shows the exciting and fun aspects of science research
  • Author has spent 54 years working in the area, offering key insights on the history of fusion
  • Clear, detailed explanations of fusion energy are supplied, helping non-science readers understand the area


Students, researchers, and professionals in physics, as well as those interested in the fun in science.

Table of Contents

  • Dedication



    1. The Fusion Dream

    Big Bang

    A Cutting Review

    Genesis of Fusion Research

    Magnetic Fusion

    Inertial Fusion

    2. Harwell Heydays

    Arcs and Sparks

    3. Stick with Spiders—Tarantula


    Static Electricity

    Dress Code

    4. Ph.D. Experiment and Security

    My Ph.D. Experiment and Other Plasmas

    The Patrol Force

    5. Culture Shock

    Unexpected Diversions

    The Oblique Shock-Wave Experiment

    Two States Separated by a Common Language

    6. Talks Can Surprise Us

    Cakes and Ale

    7. Culham Again

    Neutral Beams and CLEO

    A Weird Occurrence

    8. JET: Larger and Larger

    JET Travels

    Entertainment in Dubna

    9. JET Design: Do It Again, and Again, and … ?

    Entertaining Times on JET

    Shocking Experiences

    Visiting the Former Soviet Union

    10. 1977: Back in the U.S.A.

    Security—A Serious Matter

    The Elmo Bumpy Torus

    The Early 1980s

    Listening to the Father of the Hydrogen Bomb


    11. Conferences in Erice

    12. The Winding Stellarator Road

    Stellarators and Koji Uo

    The Advanced Toroidal Facility (ATF)

    13. Fusion’s Prospects

    The Dinosaur Chart

    The Art of Stating Goals—JET and TFTR

    What’s in a Q?

    The Shiva Winner Altruistic Trust

    14. Fear and Flying


    What’s in a Name?

    Flying to D.C.

    Interesting Sides of Al Gore

    Interrupted Talks

    15. The Oscillating Fusion Program

    International Fusion

    16. What About Fusion Energy?

    Sir Walter Raleigh Selling Fusion Energy

    17. Fusion and the Universe

    Forces in the Universe

    Fusion Power Plants

    Fusion Energy and the Plasma State

    Background to MFE

    Background to IFE

    Main Challenges for Fusion Energy Research

    Confining the Plasma Energy

    Heating and Fueling the Plasma

    Handling the Fusion Power

    Challenges for a Fusion Power Plant

    Reflections on 50 Years in Fusion Research



Product details

  • No. of pages: 160
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2013
  • Published: February 20, 2013
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • eBook ISBN: 9780124078611

About the Author

John Sheffield

John Sheffield
John Sheffield PhD is known worldwide because of his involvement in numerous multi-national fusion energy projects for the U.S. and Europe. In the 1970s, he was on the design team for the 16-nation, Joint European Torus project at Culham in England; in the 1990s, he served as a U.S. representative on committees that defined and then gave technical advice to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)-China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States.

He served on the US-DOE’s Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee for over a decade, chairing it from 1996 to 2000. From 1988 to 1994, he was director of Fusion Energy at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. From 1995 to 2003, he was director for Energy Technology Programs at ORNL, and from 1997 also director of the Joint Institute for Energy and Environment at the University of Tennessee. There he remains as a Senior Fellow in what is now called the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment.

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