An Interview with Stewart Prager, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Anti-terrorism efforts are getting a boost from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). A team led by PPPL engineer Charles Gentile has developed a Miniature Integrated Nuclear Detection System, called MINDS, which can be used to scan moving vehicles, luggage, cargo vessels, and the like for specific nuclear signatures associated with materials employed in radiological weapons.
The Paul Trap Simulator Experiment (PTSX) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory doesn't trap people named Paul or simulate the trapping of Pauls. Its mission is much grander.
Currently, scientists do not understand the required conditions and the accretion, or matter collection process, involved in star and planet formation. But the Magnetorotational Instability (MRI) experiment at PPPL may shed light on this mystery.
The PPPL Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) was built to study a fundamental plasma process in a controlled laboratory environment. A plasma is a hot, ionized gas that can be confined using a magnetic field. Plasmas are often considered to be the fourth state of matter after solids, liquids, and gases, and account for more than 99 percent of the visible universe.
For centuries, the way in which the sun and stars produce their energy remained a mystery to man. During the twentieth century, scientists discovered that they produce their energy through the fusion of light atoms.
E=mc2, Albert Einstein's familiar formula, provided the basis for understanding fusion. Einstein's theory that mass can be converted into energy was further explored by other physicists who discovered two practical methods for achieving this conversion.
The Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX) produced its first plasma in September, 2008. The new device will continue the promising, innovative work started on CDX-U in 2000, involving the use of pure lithium metal on surfaces facing or contacting the plasma. PPPL researchers believe that LTX may herald a new regime of plasma performance with improved stability, lower impurity levels, better particle and temperature control, and more efficient operation.
Harnessing nuclear fusion, the energy that powers the sun and the stars, has been a goal of physicists worldwide since the 1950s. It is essentially inexhaustible and it can be created using hydrogen isotopes — chemical cousins of hydrogen, like deuterium — that can readily be extracted from seawater. New York Times article from 2011, "How Seawater Can Power the World"
The National Compact Stellarator Experiment (NCSX) represents a promising and uncompleted pathway to fusion as a safe, clean and virtually limitless source of energy for generating electricity.
The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is yielding research results that may open an attractive path towards developing fusion energy as an abundant, safe, affordable and environmentally sound means of generating electricity.
The NSTX device is exploring a novel structure for the magnetic field used to contain the hot ionized gas, called plasma, the fuel for the production of fusion energy.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
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