Author Daniel Clery recently published “A Piece of the Sun,” a 320-page narrative of the history of fusion research and the personalities who have devoted their careers to it. Clery is a United Kingdom-based reporter for Science magazine who holds a bachelor’s degree in theoretical physics from York University and has covered fusion for more than a decade. While hardly an uncritical flag-waver for fusion, he recognizes its vast potential. He discussed his new book and the future of fusion with PPPL Science Writer John Greenwald.
Inertial confinement fusion
An experimental process that uses lasers to compress plasma to sufficiently high temperatures and densities for fusion to occur. Such experiments are carried out in places such as the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.
Research to develop fusion energy has shown “significant progress” in many areas, according to a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a think tank whose members represent some 90 percent of the electricity produced in the United States. At the same time, the report said that a commercial fusion power plant is at least 30 years away, and called for more research on the engineering challenges.
Ronald Davidson heads PPPL research on charged particle beam dynamics and has made numerous fundamental theoretical contributions to pure and applied plasma physics. Professor Davidson served as director of PPPL from 1991 to 1996 and as director of the MIT Plasma Fusion Center from 1978 to 1988, and has written more than 450 journal articles and books. He has chaired the American Physical Society's Division of Plasma Physics and Division of Particle Beams, and has participated in numerous national and international advisory and review committees on plasma physics and fusion research.