The Energy of the Universe

1st Edition - January 31, 2005

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  • Authors: Garry McCracken, Peter Stott
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080492711

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Unraveling the role of fusion in the universe has taken almost a century since Einstein's proof of the equivalence of energy and matter in 1905. The discovery that fusion reactions are responsible for the building of the light elements in the "Big Bang" and the subsequent development of the heavier elements in the stars and in exploding supernovae is one of the field's most exciting successes. In this engaging book, McCracken and Stott reexamine these discoveries in astrophysics and discuss the possibility that fusion reactions are not only our sun's source of power, but may also be induced for our use on earth.

Key Features

* Details the initial discovery of nuclear fusion, all related research, and today's concern over future energy supply
* Examines current attempts to create nuclear fusion here on earth
* Enhanced with color illustrations and examples
* Provides a non-technical treatment of fusion using straightforward language
* Includes technical notes for aspiring physicists


Professionals and undergraduate students in Physics and Engineering, especially Nuclear Engineering. Also appropriate for general science enthusiasts.

Table of Contents

  • Contents


    1 What Is Nuclear Fusion?
    1.1 The Alchemists’ Dream.
    1.2 The Sun’s Energy
    1.3 Can We Use Fusion Energy?
    1.4 Man-Made Suns
    1.5 The Rest of the Story

    2 Energy from Mass
    2.1 Einstein’s Theory
    2.2 Building Blocks
    2.3 Something Missing

    3 Fusion in the Sun and Stars
    3.1 The Source of the Sun’s Energy
    3.2 The Solar Furnace
    3.3 Gravitational Confinement
    3.4 The Formation of Heavier Atoms
    3.5 Stars and Supernovae

    4 Man-Made Fusion
    4.1 Down to Earth
    4.2 Getting It Together
    4.3 Breaking Even

    5 Magnetic Confinement
    5.1 The First Experiments
    5.2 Behind Closed Doors
    5.3 Opening the Doors
    5.4 ZETA
    5.5 From Geneva to Novosibirsk

    6 The Hydrogen Bomb
    6.1 The Background
    6.2 The Problems
    6.3 Beyond the “Sloyka”

    7 Inertial-Confinement Fusion
    7.1 Mini-Explosions
    7.2 Using Lasers
    7.3 Alternative Drivers
    7.4 The Future Program

    8 False Trails
    8.1 Fusion in a Test Tube?
    8.2 Bubble Fusion
    8.3 Fusion with Mesons

    9 Tokamaks
    9.1 The Basics
    9.2 Instabilities
    9.3 Diagnosing the Plasma
    9.4 Impurities
    9.5 Heating the Plasma

    10 From T3 to ITER
    10.1 The Big Tokamaks
    10.2 Pushing to Peak Performance
    10.3 Tritium Operation
    10.4 Scaling to a Power Plant
    10.5 The Next Step
    10.6 ITER

    11 Fusion Power Plants
    11.1 Early Plans
    11.2 Fusion Power Plant Geometry
    11.3 Magnetic-Confinement Fusion
    11.4 Inertial-Confinement Fusion
    11.5 Tritium Breeding
    11.6 Radiation Damage and Shielding
    11.7 Low-Activation Materials

    12 WhyWe Need Fusion Energy
    12.1 World Energy Needs
    12.2 The Choice of Fuels
    12.3 The Environmental Impact of Fusion Energy
    12.4 The Cost of Fusion Energy

    Further Reading

Product details

  • No. of pages: 224
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2005
  • Published: January 31, 2005
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080492711

About the Authors

Garry McCracken

Garry McCracken gained a PhD in solid state physics but has spent most of his working life as an experimental physicist working on various aspects of the magnetic confinement fusion program with the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Culham Laboratory. His main interest has been in the study of the plasma boundary and in the interaction between the plasma and the surrounding structures and in studying the design of fusion reactors and the radiation damage problems which may be encountered. In 1979 he spent a year at the Plasma Physics Laboratory of Princeton University, USA, where he worked on the Princeton Large Tokamak.

When the JET Joint Undertaking was set up as a European Fusion Laboratory to build the JET experiment he led a Task Agreement on the plasma boundary physics. His group built and installed major diagnostics on JET and an active experimental programme was pursued. In 1993 he went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA and worked on the C-Mod tokamak in the Plasma Fusion Center. Returning to the UK in 1996 to work again on JET, until his retirement in 1999.

He has published over 300 scientific papers including three major reviews in the general area of plasma-surface interactions. He was a regular lecturer at the Culham Plasma Physics Summer School until 1991 and has been invited to lecture at a number of other Summer school courses in Canada and Europe. During these latter lectures he began to feel that there was no adequate book to explain the subject of nuclear fusion to the staring physicist and engineer or the interested layman and set about writing the present book.

Affiliations and Expertise

UK Atomic Energy Authority, Culham Laboratory, Oxfordshire, UK

Peter Stott

Peter Stott became interested in fusion energy whilst still an undergraduate student in 1962 and did his PhD in theoretical and experimental plasma physics working between Manchester University and the Harwell and Culham Laboratories. He joined the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Culham Laboratory in 1966 and has spent his professional career as an experimental physicist working on magnetic confinement fusion.

After several years working on lower temperature plasma experiments, he moved into tokamak research in 1970. In 1973-5 he spent 18 months at the Plasma Physics Laboratory of Princeton University, USA working on the ATC tokamak. He has pursued a wide range of interests in the tokamak field including: the first applications of neutral beam injection heating, development of the control of impurities by gettering and by divertors, plasma boundary physics, plasma confinement and plasma diagnostics.

In 1979 he joined the JET Joint Undertaking to take charge of the design and construction of the plasma diagnostics systems and from 1982 to 1999 he was Head of JET’s Experimental Division 1. From 1989 to 1999 he was coordinator for the European contribution to the design of diagnostics for the ITER project and was a member of the International Advisory Group. He left JET in 1999 to move to the Département des Recherches sur la Fusion Contrôlée, Cadarache, France.

He has published over 200 scientific papers and has edited six books on plasma diagnostics and co-authored two on fusion energy. He has a keen interest in scientific publishing: being Honorary Editor of the journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion from 1991 to 2000 and a member of its International Advisory Panel since 2000; a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Nuclear Fusion from 1987 to 1994; and Series Editor of the Institute of Physics Series of Books in Plasma Physics since 1995. He has been Director of the regular series of Courses and Workshops in Plasma Diagnostics.

Affiliations and Expertise

Département des Recherches sur la Fusion Contrôlée, Cadarache, France

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