Princeton astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer Jr. (1914-1997) was among the 20th Century’s most visionary scientists. His major influences range from founding the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and its quest for fusion energy, to inspiring the development of the Hubble Space Telescope and its images of the far corners of the universe.
Figure-eight shaped tubes that confine hot plasma with external magnetic fields, developed by Lyman Spitzer in 1950 at the lab that became the PPPL.
PPPL physicists David Gates and Charles Skinner have been named as American Physical Society fellows – a prestigious honor that is given to only one half of one percent of all APS members each year.
Gates, a principal research physicist and stellarator physics lead who has been at PPPL for 16 years, and Skinner, a principal research physicist at PPPL for 31 years whose work has focused on spectroscopy and plasma-wall interactions, will be honored at the APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting in Denver Nov. 11 to 15. The two bring the total number of APS fellows at PPPL to 51.
More than 3,000 people flocked to PPPL’s Open House on June 1 where they were treated to rare glimpses of every corner of the Laboratory – from the machine shop water jets to tours of the National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade (NSTX-U).
About 175 PPPL staff members, including some family members, volunteered their time on a hot, sunny Saturday for the event, whether it was handing out snacks and water bottles, giving passersby directions or staffing the “Ask the Physicist,” and “Ask the Engineer” booth in the D Site parking lot.
David Gates is a principal research physicist for the advanced projects division of PPPL, and the stellarator physics leader at the Laboratory. In the latter capacity he leads collaborative efforts with the Wendelstein 7-X and Large Helical Device stellarator projects in Germany and Japan, respectively.
Stefan Gerhardt leads the Advanced Scenarios and Control research group in the NSTX organization. He operates numerous diagnostics on NSTX, along with designing plasma control schemes and running physics experiments. He has previously worked on a wide variety of fusion machines, including spherical tokamaks, stellarators, and field reversed configurations.
Physicists have discovered a possible solution to a mystery that has long baffled researchers working to harness fusion. If confirmed by experiment, the finding could help scientists eliminate a major impediment to the development of fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for producing electric power.