Our neighbour the Nobel
In 2018, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Gérard Mourou for his work on ultra-short, extremely high-intensity laser pulses—the so-called "chirped pulse amplification" (CPA).
Gérard Mourou, here with his wife on the terrace of the ITER cafeteria, responded to the invitation of ITER physicist Greg de Temmerman. ''Very, very impressive,'' he commented after visiting the ITER construction site.
Last week, the French physicist and his wife came to ITER as neighbours. Throughout his childhood, Mourou spent the long French summer vacations with his grandparents in a nearby village.
The Nobel Prize was responding to an invitation from Greg de Temmerman, a plasma physicist at ITER, following a recent conference in Marseille where both Mourou and ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot were plenary speakers.
Although he had never come to ITER before, Mourou has followed the project from afar, catching an occasional glimpse of the worksite when he would return to his grandparents' village.
"What I knew is that there is a very capable team managing this immensely ambitious project and that success can now be contemplated."
Whether a Nobel Prize or not, a visitor to ITER experiences something of a shock—the sheer size of the buildings and assembly tools, the volumes, the maze-like galleries... "Very, very impressive," he commented after his tour. "I have seen many large scientific installations—CERN, the Laser Mégajoule, NIF—but this is quite unique. And one really feels that things are progressing."
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