Wednesday evening at the lab – Isthmus


press release: For the fall semester, WN@TL goes hybrid with both Zoom and in-person presentations. Zoom’s registration link is still You can also watch a live web stream at

March 2 Cary Forest from the Department of Physics will warm up the room with his lecture on “Fusion Energy, Solar Flares, and Black Holes in the Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory.”

The description: Plasma physics is the overarching discipline describing plasma, the hot, energetic state of matter that makes up 99% of the visible universe. In my talk, I will introduce you to the exciting world of experimental plasma physics in which we are building devices here on Earth that replicate and mimic what we see in the Universe: from stars powered by merger; the planetary and stellar magnetic fields created spontaneously by the flows of plasma and liquid metals; spontaneous explosive bursts of plasma in solar flares that pound our planet, satellites and astronauts; and plasma accretion on supermassive black holes that give rise to galaxy-sized radio jets that accelerate cosmic rays into the Universe. Each of these systems are built from plasmas and have processes that can be studied on earth, which is what we do at the Wisconsin Plasma Lab. The experiments consist of large halls, heavy equipment like large vacuum chambers, intense amounts of electrical energy in the form of magnetic fields, high voltage power and microwave heating, and specialized diagnostics to measure the properties of plasma at temperatures above 100,000 degrees.

I will tell two stories in my talk. The first will describe a recent experiment we conducted to study how plasma could break away from our Sun’s magnetosphere and give rise to the solar wind that fills our solar system. This experiment complements a recently launched NASA mission called Parker Solar Probe, a satellite that is currently probing near the sun.

The second will be to revisit an old idea called a magnetic mirror with new technology to achieve fusion in a simpler and more useful way than is currently being considered in reactors along the route taken by Iter. We are currently building a new experiment called Wisconsin High-Temperature-Superconducting Axisymmetric Mirror (WHAM) at the Physical Sciences Laboratory to test our ideas.

Organic : Professor Cary B Forest graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin in 1986 in the Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics program, then went on to graduate school at Princeton University where he obtained a doctorate. in 1992 in astrophysical sciences. During his thesis, he invented and demonstrated a new method for “priming” a tokamak (a donut-shaped magnetic bottle used to confine hot fusion plasmas) and helped build the first “spherical tokamak” in the United States. -United.

After grad school, he spent 5 years working at a private company, General Atomics, as a scientist, where his work focused on advancing the tokamak to a fusion reactor.

Forest’s research program at UW since 1997 has been at the interface between nuclear fusion research and laboratory plasma astrophysics. While in Wisconsin, de Forest’s group commissioned four (and soon to be five) major new experiments, including the Madison Dynamo Experiment (sodium), the Rotating Wall Machine, the Plasma Duvet Experiment, and the Big Red Plasma Ball in the Wisconsin. Plasma physics laboratory. More recently, Forest has revived magnetic mirror research in the United States and built the Wisconsin High Temperature Superconductor Axisymmetric Mirror (WHAM) device as a prototype fusion reactor with academic and industrial applications. Three of Forest’s students received the Rosenbluth thesis prize for the best thesis in plasma physics from the APS.

At UW, Forest received the Romnes Fellowship, the Vilas Associate Award, the Kellett Mid Career Award, and a chair named WARF. Nationally, he is the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation Fellowship, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, received an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award, and is a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He is currently director of the Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory.



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