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Plasma astrophysics

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A field of physics that is growing in interest worldwide that tackles such astrophysical phenomena as the source of violent space weather and the formation of stars.

Celebrating Lyman Spitzer, the father of PPPL and the Hubble Space Telescope

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.

COLLOQUIUM: One Second After the Big Bang

A new experiment called PTOLEMY (Princeton Tritium Observatory for Light, Early-Universe, Massive-Neutrino Yield) is under development at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory with the goal of challenging one of the most fundamental predictions of the Big Bang – the present-day existence of relic neutrinos produced less than one second after the Big Bang.  Using a gigantic sail of a single atomic layer of graphene to hold 100 grams of tritium, radio antennas capable of sensing the motion of single electrons undergoing cyclotron motion, and a massive array of cryogenic s

Big Bang or Big Bounce?

Was the event that occurred 13.7 billion years ago a big bang – the beginning of space and time – or a big bang bounce – a transition from contraction to expansion?  This talk will explain how the two possibilities lead to very different pictures of the origin, evolution and future of the universe and how recent and near future observations may resolve which picture is correct.  

COLLOQUIUM: The Chorus of the Magnetosphere

Whistler-mode chorus waves were first reported in the early 1950’s and so-named due to the resemblance of their sound to a ‘rookery of birds at dawn’, when played through a loudspeaker.  In the ensuing decades, as better observations and more accurate theory began to emerge, a coherent and fascinating picture began to emerge of chorus playing a key role in the dynamics of the inner magnetosphere.

Worldwide conference on plasma science coming to Princeton area

More than 350 participants from around the world will gather in Plainsboro, N.J., on September 30 for the 66th Annual Gaseous Electronics Conference (GEC). The week-long event will bring together physicists from numerous plasma science disciplines for workshops, panels and poster sessions on topics ranging from basic research to uses for plasma in microchip etching, nano- material manufacturing and other technologies.

COLLOQUIUM: The Formation of Stellar Groups

Stars do not form singly, but in groups. Within the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy, we have systems ranging in population from 100 to 10,000 members. Their origin is still poorly understood, and many basic questions remain.  How do local conditions in the interstellar medium lead to one type of group rather than another? Why do the most populous and massive groups disperse after a few million years,  while comparatively unimpressive systems of a few hundred stars remain intact for up to a billion years?

Premiere issue of "Quest" magazine details PPPL's strides toward fusion energy and advances in plasma science

Welcome to the premiere issue of Quest, the annual magazine of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). We are pleased to provide this news of our strides in advancing research into fusion energy and plasma science—two topics of vital interest to the United States and the world.

A.J. Stewart Smith, Princeton's first dean for research, becomes vice president for PPPL

A. J. Stewart Smith, the Class of 1909 Professor of Physics, served as Princeton's first dean for research from 2006 to 2013. On July 1 he begins a newly created position as vice president for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

In his tenure as dean, Smith built the Office of the Dean for Research from its inception into a fully functioning department of professionals dedicated to making the University research activities run smoothly.

PPPL partners with China in an ambitious new center for fusion research

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has joined with five leading Chinese research institutions to form an international center to advance the development of fusion energy. Creators of the center organized its framework in March at a two-day session in Hefei, China, that brought together leaders of the world’s major fusion programs.


U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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