FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – OCTOBER 27, 2006
Melting diamonds, fusion energy advances, lab astrophysics, and more at Philly Plasma Conference
Physicists gather in Philadelphia for world's largest annual plasma conference
Most of the matter we are familiar with in everyday life comes in three states — solid, liquid, or gas. But much more of the matter in the universe exists in a fourth state known as plasma. Plasmas are gaseous collections of electrically charged particles such as electrons and protons. Stars are primarily composed of hot plasmas. On Earth, plasmas are formed in lightning strikes and produce light in fluorescent bulbs. They are used to inscribe patterns in computer chips and other electronics, and they are also at the heart of the most promising nuclear fusion devices that may someday lead to an abundance of cheap, clean, and safe power sources.
Seven international partners, including the U.S., have now committed to the construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) as the next step toward fusion energy. Many new advances relevant to magnetic confinement in ITER—such as methods to suppress plasma instabilities, control heat loss, diagnose plasma behavior, and enhance heating—have been recently achieved. At the same time, impressive progress in inertially confined fusion plasmas, high-energy-density physics, space and astrophysical plasmas, and basic plasma science has been made.
These highlights and results of many other subjects will be addressed at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Plasma Physics, to be held October 30-November 3, 2006, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. More than 1500 attendees will present 1600 papers covering the latest advances in plasma-based research and technology.
Here are some of the highlights of the meeting:
Philly Science Teachers Visit DPP Meeting and DPP Scientists Take Plasma to Local Schools
During their fall meeting in Philadelphia, the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics will be engaging local teachers and students in the study of plasma, the fourth state of matter, through teacher workshops and in-school visits. On "Science Teachers Day," Tuesday, October 31, local teachers will arrive at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott to receive a special day of training. Over 90 teachers will attend morning and afternoon workshops about plasma and related science. Topics range from space weather, to fluid instabilities, to fusion demonstration activities for the classroom. Scientists will also be visiting local schools. Teams of specialists from Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, General Atomics in San Diego, the University of Wisconsin's "Wonder of Physics" program, and the Contemporary Physics Education Group will engage local students with hands-on demonstrations of plasma-related physics.
Diamonds Aren't Forever - Sandia Researchers Use Strong Shock Waves to Melt Diamond
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown - Grand Salon CDE
Experiments have been performed at Sandia National Laboratories to measure the melting properties of diamond by studying the speed of sound in diamond subjected to 6 to 10 million times atmospheric pressure. This study represents the highest pressure study of melting ever performed using the sound speed technique. Diamond is one of the materials being considered in the design of fuel capsules for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments at the National Ignition Facility. ICF uses high-powered lasers to vaporize a target capsule containing fusion fuel, creating an implosion that compresses the fuel in the capsule to the temperatures and pressures necessary for fusion. Understanding diamond's shock melting properties is critical to designing capsules and the pulse-shapes that implode them. To reach the high pressures they required, Sandia researchers pounded diamond samples with aluminum/copper plates moving at speeds of up to 54,000 mph (24 km/s). The impact leads to a shock wave traveling at the speed of sound in the diamond. Because sound speed in sensitively dependent on the state of the material, the researchers were able to pinpoint the pressures needed to liquefy the precious stone to between 6 and 7 million atmospheres.
From Zero to a Billion Electron Volts in 3.3 Centimeters
Bringing Stars and Galaxies Down to Earth: A New Perspective in Astrophysics
Measuring how High Temperature Plasmas Boil
The Interactions of Dense Colliding Plasmas with a Background Magnetoplasma
Novel Method Developed for Generating Plasma Current in Tokomaks
The American Physical Society (www.aps.org) is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities. APS represents over 51,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, MD (Headquarters), Ridge, NY, and Washington, DC.