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Outlook of the plasma physics & fusion field?

  1. Aug 9, 2006 #1
    This is definitely the field I'm most interested in. Does the outlook look good for the field? I would think that with much of the country more than open for energy alternatives, this field would be one with a bright future, but I don't hear much about fusion research in mainstream.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2006 #2
    This was a topic of discussion within our plasma group. There was a consensus that with projects like ITER (Internation Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) being proposed the work prospects for us up and coming physicists are good. They are wanting to employ the next generation of people that will run and maintain such fusion reactors. yay!

    I am assuming you are from the US...which is good since you have a decent stake in ITER. However for us down-under the goverment is not spending anything or expressing interest into ITER which means we will be paying out of our proverbial backsides once fusion energy comes online.

    The reason why fusion research has not been heard about in the mainstream is a result of the many (unsubtantiated) promises that were made in previous decades that said we'd have fusion power within x amount of years which didn't happen. However as far as I have been informed by plasma physicist at the moment, the prediction is for ITER to at least provide a 10-fold return in energy once it is operational. So the basic premise of ITER is to sort out the design of fusion reactors for energy production. Basically the future looks good but you can't predict the politics of the day which is why it seems like fusion research never goes anywhere.

    From a student fascinated by fusion.
    James
     
  4. Sep 1, 2006 #3

    ZapperZ

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    Carrying on the theme that I have tried to impress on many people here, try not to restrict yourself to a particular application of the subject matter that may inhibit your "employability".

    While fusion and fusion reactors are certainly big areas of application for plasma physics, these are not the only ones. Most people, especially students just starting out, do not realize that another area in which plasma physics is widely applied is in accelerator/beam physics. In particular, the plasma wakefield accelerator scheme combines both accelerator beam physics with plasma physics to create what could possibily the next high-gradient acceleration mechanism.

    http://www.slac.stanford.edu/grp/arb/e164/

    This is where expanding one's horizon may be beneficial. What you learn and study, although it is for a particular application, can actually be quite general and have significant relevance in other fields that you may not know even existed.

    Zz.
     
  5. Sep 1, 2006 #4
    I'm seeing what you're talking about more and more. Although my main interest is plasma physics pertaining to fusion research, I've also become interested in the study of non-linear dynamics and how while studying it with respect to plasma physics I could also be getting a valuable education as far as maybe something in finance or medicine if the opportunity arrises.
     
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