Bringing power to the people
In tandem with the annual Fête de la Science, a French exhibition on the sciences, the European research consortium EUROfusion is premiering a new travelling exhibition on fusion in Marseille, France.
The 30th edition of the Fête de la Science opened on 1 October, bringing together hundreds of scientific organizations and thousands of volunteers to showcase their work through engaging displays and interactive exhibits. From 9-10 October, the ITER Organization joined the event in Marseille. A cluster of tents set up at the Hôtel de Ville drew in a multigenerational crowd, and in the midst of it all was ITER's stand on fusion, featuring globes of shivering blue plasma.
A model slice of the WEST tokamak glows through the window of the Fusion Expo space. The event opened Friday, 8 October as part of Marseille's Fête de la Science.
But for those who missed the event, a fusion exhibition that has been years in the making has only just opened in Marseille and will stay open until mid-December.
EUROfusion's exhibition, Fusion: Power to the People began as an idea to introduce the public to fusion. "Fusion energy is not familiar to most, but we believe it's a vital topic for people to explore," Mohamed Belhorma said in a recent press release on the event. He is an outreach officer for EUROfusion and played a major role in conceptualizing the exhibition and bringing it to life.
The first sight as the visitor enters the exhibition space is an introductory video. Stars burn and neutrons fuse, and the visit continues with a series of curiosities. Visitors are enveloped in a velvety darkness, with spotlights puncturing the space like stars in the night sky. These spotlights illuminate a spiral of copper, a metallic rod or a circle of compasses. The QR codes on the side of each display are the key to understanding these pieces, with each code opening a video on the visitor's phone. Each piece demonstrates the power of magnetism, a crucial factor in controlling plasma during a fusion reaction. Each video is short, but packed with information giving the visitor a new piece of the puzzle.
In another area, a series of vintage television screens are set up to resemble a control room. Others showcase the history of many different fusion projects, including WEST, COMPASS and ITER.
The interactive ''Fusion: Power to the People'' has been in development for many years to ensure that the story of fusion is told accurately and clearly. Equally important, the exhibition must engage visitors and leave them with a lasting impression.
The expo looks to the past in its journey through time, but also envisions the future. "We are convinced that fusion has an important role to play in sustainable energy and we want to have a discussion with the public about what that role could be," explains Belhorma. The exhibition blends virtual and real worlds by combining tech, science and art into one cohesive experience.
More pieces of the Fusion Expo are yet to unfold, as more interactive elements are layered on the pre-existing exhibit. An app will take visitors through a treasure hunt of sorts, finding clues to solve puzzles and learning more about fusion along the way.
ITER's display at the Fête de la Science in Marseille drew in many curious visitors on 9 and 10 October. ITER staff shared the history and science of fusion, and provided resources for people to learn more.
EUROfusion's Fusion Expo is free and open to the public at Les Docks in Marseille, France, until 19 December 2021, hosted with the participation of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and partners ITER Organization and Aix-Marseille University (AMU), in particular the Institute for Fusion Sciences and Instrumentation in Nuclear Environments ISFIN. It is open daily from 10:00 to 19:00. Once the Expo closes in Marseille, it will travel across Europe to bring fusion education to an even wider audience.
To learn more about the event, visit EUROfusion's website here. (Information in French can be found here.)
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