Press Releases Archive
Among the most feared events in space physics are solar eruptions, massive explosions that hurl millions of tons of plasma gas and radiation into space. These outbursts can be deadly: if the first moon-landing mission had encountered one, the intense radiation could have been fatal to the astronauts. And when eruptions reach the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth, the contact can create geomagnetic storms that disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and knock out power grids.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory will ring in the New Year with the start of its popular Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturday Lecture Series on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 9:30 a.m.
For more than 30 years, the lecture series has attracted hundreds of science enthusiasts ranging from high school students to retirees, who climb out of bed early on cold winter mornings to hear lectures from top scientists from Princeton University and around the country.
A system of antennas similar to those that astrophysicists use to study radio emissions from stars and galaxies will help shed light on fusion experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).
Physicists Luis Delgado-Aparicio and Egemen Kolemen of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have won a national scientific competition to conduct a full day of experiments on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility that General Atomics operates in San Diego for the DOE. The honor, known as the Torkil Jensen Award, is named after the late and internationally recognized scientist who was a member of the General Atomics Fusion Group for 44 years.
Larry Bernard, a proven developer of strategic communications programs, has been named director of communications for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), effective December 14. PPPL is the nation’s leading center for the exploration of plasma science and magnetic fusion energy.
Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and other national laboratories joined colleagues from around the world at the celebration for the first plasma of the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald, Germany. The Dec. 10 event heralded the start of the largest and most advanced fusion experiment of its kind in the world and could yield promising solutions to some of the most difficult challenges in developing fusion energy.
Schweickhard “Schwick” von Goeler, an award-winning physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) for more than 35 years and the inventor of numerous X-ray diagnostics used in fusion experiments worldwide, died of leukemia on Dec. 6 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was 84.
Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are proposing a new way to process nuclear waste that uses a plasma-based centrifuge. Known as plasma mass filtering, the new mass separation techniques would supplement chemical techniques. It is hoped that this combined approach would reduce both the cost of nuclear waste disposal and the amount of byproducts produced during the process. This work was supported by PPPL's Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program.
For fusion reactions to take place efficiently, the atomic nuclei that fuse together in plasma must be kept sufficiently hot. But turbulence in the plasma that flows in facilities called tokamaks can cause heat to leak from the core of the plasma to its outer edge, causing reactions to fizzle out.
At the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the spirit of tinkering lives. This past summer a team of engineers invented a mechanical device designed to be installed on ITER, the multinational fusion machine being built in the south of France, using 3D printing and parts bought at Walmart.
The editorial board of the journal Nuclear Fusion has selected Rob Goldston, a fusion researcher and Princeton University professor of astrophysical sciences, as winner of the 2015 Nuclear Fusion Award. The award recognizes Goldston’s paper describing a new model for estimating the width of the scrape-off layer — the hot plasma that is exhausted in fusion facilities called tokamaks — as the most outstanding paper published by the journal in 2012.
A team of physicists led by Stephen Jardin of the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has discovered a mechanism that prevents the electrical current flowing through fusion plasma from repeatedly peaking and crashing. This behavior is known as a "sawtooth cycle" and can cause instabilities within the plasma's core. The results have been published online in Physical Review Letters. The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
More than 1,750 researchers from around the world, including scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), have gathered in Savannah, Georgia, this week for the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics. Researchers at the five-day conference, which ends Nov. 20, will attend nine half-day sessions featuring nearly 1,000 talks on subjects ranging from space and astrophysical plasmas to the challenges of producing magnetic fusion energy.
Two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories working on very different types of fusion experiments have begun a novel collaboration. Under the arrangement, the DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) will design a diagnostic system to provide high-resolution analysis of research on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). This work is supported by the DOE Office of Science and LLNL.
An enduring astronomical mystery is how stars and galaxies acquire their magnetic fields. Physicists Jonathan Squire and Amitava Bhattacharjee at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have found a clue to the answer in the collective behavior of small magnetic disturbances. In a paper published in October in Physical Review Letters, the scientists report that small magnetic perturbations can combine to form large-scale magnetic fields just like those found throughout the universe. This research was funded by the DOE Office of Science.
After nearly seven years as deputy director for operations at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Adam Cohen has been named Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Energy in Washington D.C. He succeeds Michael Knotek, who retired September 30.
The completion of the $94 million National Spherical Torus-Upgrade (NSTX-U) will usher in a decade of research that will lead to vital results for the international and national fusion programs and could lead the way to a next-step fusion facility, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Director Stewart Prager told staff members in his annual “State of the Laboratory” address on Oct. 5.
PPPL presented its 2015 outstanding research awards to engineer Charles Neumeyer and physicist Rajesh Maingi following Stewart Prager’s October 5 State of the Laboratory address. Neumeyer received the Kaul Foundation Prize “For the design analysis and overall management of the U.S. contributions to the steady state electric network (SSEN) that will supply power to ITER.
At the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), world-leading fusion research resumes later this fall. After more than six years of planning and construction — including three years of building and 574,000 hours of labor — the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) is ready to play a critical role in the quest to develop fusion energy as a clean, safe and virtually limitless fuel for generating electricity.
Just as autumn heralds the arrival of students at Princeton University, it also means the beginning of a new season of science colloquia at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The talks by invited speakers on various science and engineering subjects take place throughout the school year; the 2015-2016 inaugural lecture will be given on Sept. 21 by Princeton University physics professor Suzanne Staggs, who will present "Probing the History and Dynamics of the Universe with Polarized Signatures in the Cosmic Microwave Background."
If you happened to be in the lobby of PPPL's Lyman Spitzer Building on Aug. 12, you would have seen the next generation of top scientists preparing to launch their careers. Twenty-five undergraduates from colleges across the country spent this summer at the Laboratory as interns, working on projects ranging from figuring out how to remotely steer a set of mirrors that will be built into the upcoming ITER fusion machine to studying how nanoparticles grow inside plasmas.
Masaaki Yamada, a Distinguished Laboratory Research Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has won the 2015 James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics. The award from the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Plasma Physics recognized Yamada for "fundamental experimental studies of magnetic reconnection relevant to space, astrophysical and fusion plasmas, and for pioneering contributions to the field of laboratory plasma astrophysics."
Creating controlled fusion energy entails many challenges, but one of the most basic is heating plasma – hot gas composed of electrons and charged atoms – to extremely high temperatures and then maintaining those temperatures. Now scientist Elena Belova of the U.S.
As a young man, A.J. Stewart “Stew” Smith won the Canadian National Lacrosse Championship as a member of a powerful Vancouver, British Columbia, club team. That early success and love of teamwork foreshadowed an illustrious career in which Smith has played leading roles as an educator, administrator and particle physicist. Now, after nearly 50 years on the faculty and staff of Princeton University, Smith is stepping down next February from his current post as the University’s initial vice president for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).
Chuck Kessel, a principal engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has won the 2015 Fusion Technology Award. The honor, from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society, recognizes outstanding contributions to fusion engineering and technology.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a detailed model of the source of a puzzling limitation on fusion reactions. The findings, published in June in Physics of Plasmas, complete and confirm previous PPPL research and could lead to steps to overcome the barrier if the model proves consistent with experimental data. “We used to have correlation,” said physicist David Gates, first author of the paper. “Now we believe we have causation.” This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
Rotation is key to the performance of salad spinners, toy tops, and centrifuges, but recent research suggests a way to harness rotation for the future of mankind's energy supply. In papers published in Physics of Plasmas in May and Physical Review Letters this month, Timothy Stoltzfus-Dueck, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), demonstrated a novel method that scientists can use to manipulate the intrinsic – or self-generated – rotation of hot, charged plasma gas within fusion facilities called tokamaks.
What began as a chat between husband and wife has evolved into an intriguing scientific discovery. The results, published in May in BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) Open, show a “highly significant” correlation between periodic solar storms and incidences of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and giant cell arteritis (GCA), two potentially debilitating autoimmune diseases.
If you’ve always wanted to learn about the science behind plasma physics and fusion energy, you can listen to the very same lectures being offered to college students at PPPL in a weeklong introductory course this week without having to leave your home or office.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have for the first time simulated the formation of structures called "plasmoids" during Coaxial Helicity Injection (CHI), a process that could simplify the design of fusion facilities known as tokamaks. The findings, reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, involve the formation of plasmoids in the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.
Three Princeton University-related computer programs have been chosen to run on a new supercomputer that will deliver enhanced scientific findings when it begins crunching numbers in 2018. The projects, consisting of a Princeton Department of Geosciences program and two studies involving the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), encompass high-performance computer codes to map the interior of the Earth and advance the scientific basis for developing fusion energy to generate electricity.
Scientists from General Atomics and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have discovered a phenomenon that helps them to improve fusion plasmas, a finding that may quicken the development of fusion energy. Together with a team of researchers from across the United States, the scientists found that when they injected tiny grains of lithium into a plasma undergoing a particular kind of turbulence then, under the right conditions, the temperature and pressure rose dramatically.
If a picture is worth a thousands words, a computer graphic is worth millions. With that thought in mind, PPPL has named Computational Scientist Eliot Feibush to lead a new University consortium that will share efforts to turn mountains of scientific data into eye-friendly computer visualizations.
At 10:44 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, NASA launched the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS), a set of four spacecraft that will study the magnetic fields surrounding Earth. Sent into space aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, the craft mark the first NASA mission dedicated to investigating magnetic reconnection, a mysterious phenomenon that gives rise to the northern lights, solar flares and geomagnetic storms that can disrupt cell phone service, black out power grids and damage orbiting satellites.
The European Physical Society (EPS) has named physicist Nat Fisch winner of the 2015 Hannes Alfvén Prize. Fisch, director of the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics and professor and associate chair of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, will receive the honor in June at the at the annual meeting of the EPS Division of Plasma Physics in Lisbon, Portugal.
Researchers from General Atomics and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have made a major breakthrough in understanding how potentially damaging heat bursts inside a fusion reactor can be controlled. Scientists performed the experiments on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, a tokamak operated by General Atomics in San Diego. The findings represent a key step in predicting how to control heat bursts in future fusion facilities including ITER, an international experiment under construction in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy.
In a rare transition, engineer Russ Feder has stepped into a management job that a distinguished physicist last held. Feder leads PPPL’s development of all diagnostic tools for US ITER, which manages U.S. contributions to the international ITER experiment, succeeding physicist Dave Johnson in that role. “I’m excited to keep the momentum going and proud to be part of our strong team,” Feder said. “I also recognize the tough challenges of the job and will need the help of our team and the U.S. diagnostics community to be successful.”
Two local teams turned their knowledge of science and math into a ticket to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl® after winning the N.J. Regional Science Bowl® at PPPL on Feb. 20 and 21.
The West Windsor-Plainsboro South (WWPS) High School team won first place in the High School Science Bowl on Saturday, Feb. 21 in 12 rounds of fierce competition. The contest brought 32 teams from throughout New Jersey together to compete to answer challenging questions in general science, earth science, physical science, math, and technology.
The 3-D printing scene, a growing favorite of do-it-yourselfers, has spread to the study of plasma physics. With a series of experiments, researchers at PPPL have found that 3-D printers can be an important tool in laboratory environments.
Like a new passenger jet or power plant, the National Spherical Torus Upgrade (NSTX-U) must be certified safe to operate. At the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), the task of evaluating the safety of the $94 million upgrade belongs to the Activity Certification Committee (ACC), whose work remains ongoing. “This is a critical group,” said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at the Laboratory. “When you have a complex activity like the upgrade you need a standing committee to guarantee that it will run safely.”
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