Virtual Pressroom 2008
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.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic UN conference on the Peaceful uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva as well as the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics. At the same time this year marks a pivotal look forward as governments and research communities representing over half the world population are collaborating on finalizing the design and starting the construction of the historic ITER experiment which aims to demonstrate the possibility of igniting and controlling a burning thermonuclear plasma. The broad scope and intellectual vitality of plasma research activity are reflected in major advances which span from space and astrophysical phenomena to fundamental experiments on the fourth state of matter, to advances on thermonuclear fusion energy involving the use of magnetically confined plasmas, or powerful beams of light or particles.
These highlights and results of many other subjects will be addressed at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Plasma Physics, to be held November 17-21, 2008, in Dallas, Texas. More than 1600 attendees will present over 1500 papers covering the latest advances in plasma-based research and technology.
The American Physical Society is the world's largest professional body of physicists, representing 46,000 physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the US and internationally.
Reporters seeking additional information should contact Saralyn Stewart, 512-694-2320 (cell), or James Riordon, 301-209-3238.