In 1954, Francis "Frank" Chen was among Lyman Spitzer's first 15 employees at Princeton's Project Matterhorn, now known as PPPL. There, he instituted experiments on linear machines that led to the discovery of resistive drift waves, whose mechanism he worked out while on sabbatical at Fontenay-aux-Roses, France, in 1962-63. Two other young physicists were there at the same time: Paul Rebut and Robert Aymar, who later were instrumental in designing ITER. At UCLA since 1969, Frank opened up research on laser fusion, laser accelerators, and low-temperature plasmas. He never lost interest in magnetic fusion, however, and decided that the greatest need was to explain fusion to the public. This book is his first attempt.
Written "for a variety of readers, from green enthusiasts with no science background to Scientific American magazine subscribers," Chen's book gives a comprehensive summary of the stakes of climate change and energy supply—and how controlled fusion fits into the picture. "I tried to give a concise, impartial picture of the facts," Chen writes, admitting that he himself is not an expert on climate topics. "Here I am out of depth. I get my information from the same newspapers, magazines and websites that you do. But I think it is important to put fusion in the proper context within the general scheme of the world's future."
An Indispensable Truth is both an entertaining and an informative book that manages to explain the complexity of plasma physics without using formulas. "This is an important book for anyone who wishes to understand the greatest challenge we face," writes Steven Cowley, Director and CEO of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, UK and one of the book's reviewers. "Frank Chen makes the science of fusion and energy clear, compelling, and hugely enjoyable."
To read the book online, click here.
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