In June 2008, the ITER Council charged the Briscoe Panel with performing an independent assessment of the ITER resource estimates. Nominees to the Panel from the seven ITER Members met in July and in September, and in October the Panel presented 36 recommendations for effective cost management to the Management Advisory Council (MAC). The Briscoe Panel convened for a third time last week in Aix-en-Provence. Following the meeting, Panel chair Frank Briscoe submitted the following statement:
"I am very pleased with the response of the ITER Organization to the recommendations which we made in our first two meetings last year. The ITER Organization has made substantial progress in the past six months; in particular it has put in place the infrastructure—work breakdown structure, estimating process and experienced personnel—to make a new cost estimate that will be well-based and more robust compared to the cost estimate made last year. The panel will meet again in the week beginning 5 October and I hope that the new cost estimate will be finished and ready for review at that time. I would like to congratulate the ITER Organization and involved Domestic Agency staff on the progress that has been made and wish it success in performing the remaining work."
The High Commissioner to Atomic Energy is an independent scientific authority in France whose mission is to advise the French President and the French government on nuclear policy in all the domains where the CEA (Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique) intervenes.
Catherine Cesarsky, whom the French Council of Ministers appointed to this post on 22 April, is a world-renowned astronomer. She succeeds Bernard Bigot, who became High Commissioner in 2003 and is now CEA Administrator General.
Trained in physics at the University of Buenos Aires, Catherine Cesarsky obtained her Doctorate in Astronomy at Harvard and joined the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) in 1971.
Ms. Cesarsky, who was born in France in 1943, went on to work for the Department of Astrophysics of CEA in 1974. Her research contributed to making the CEA a world leader in infrared and high energy astronomy.
In 1999, she became Director of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the European organization for astronomical research in the southern hemisphere. Under her stewardship, the Mount Paranal Observatory, with its Very Large Telescope (VLT), became one of the leading observatories in the world. In 2006, Catherine Cesarsky became President of the International Astronomical Union.
A member of the French Academy of Science, the Royal Society, and the US National Academy of Sciences, Ms. Cesarsky sits on the Panel for Independent Assessment of ITER Resources Estimates—better known inside ITER as the "Briscoe Panel". She was a participant in the Panel's third meeting held last week in Aix-en-Provence.
On the motorway between Aix and Manosque, you have certainly noticed the large road signs that indicate a hilltop village named "Moustiers-Sainte-Marie." You may have wondered what differentiated Moustiers from other Provençal hilltop villages. Well, two things at least make Moustiers special.
The first is a strange feature in the landscape. In Moustiers, a golden star hooked to a thick forged-iron chain is suspended between the two rock formations that tower over the village. Five centuries ago, scholars were already wondering who had tied this 220-metre-long necklace and for what reason. Tradition linked the peculiar adornment to a vow that a local knight had made at the time of the Crusades; should he come back safely to his village, he would dedicate a monumental iron chain and golden star to the Madonna in the Moustiers chapel. The identity of the Crusader knight may be lost, but his offering has endured more than a thousand years. Municipal services regularly make sure that the chain still holds and—once or twice a century—they replace the eroded star with a brand new one.
Some six centuries after the Crusader knight returned to Moustiers, a 28-year-old potter named Pierre Clerissy started an earthenware craft shop that was to bring worldwide fame the village. The year was 1679 and Clerissy is said to have obtained the secret of milky white enamel and fine cobalt blue decoration from a monk who came from Faenza, a small town in northern Italy—hence the name "faïence."
The wares manufactured in Moustiers during the 17th and 18th centuries were so delicate, fanciful, and of such high quality that they found their way to royal tables all over Europe. This came to an end with the French Revolution, however. With the ruin of the nobility, the Moustiers workshops closed one after another.
A revival of the "Faïence de Moustiers" occurred in the late 1920s, with the establishment of a museum and, some years later, the creation of new workshops. There are presently approximately a dozen of them; catering to tourists rather than to royals this time.
Fifth from the right: Mr Frank Briscoe, Chairman of the Briscoe Panel. On Thursday 29 April, in the scope of the third independent cost review meeting, members of the Briscoe Panel visited the ITER site. Thierry Brosseron from Agence ITER France gave them a presentation on ITER site preparation.
An article featuring ITER appeared last week, 30 April, in The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.
Last week, US President Barack Obama announced "the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in the American history." In his address to the audience at the 148th Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, Obama declared that the US government will devote more than three percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to research and development. "We double the budget of key agencies, including the National Science Foundation [...] and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. And my budget doubles funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Science ..."
In Inampudi, the village where Rambabu Sidibomma grew up, you didn't feel like you were poor because everybody was. But life was hard in this remote corner of Andhra Pradesh, one of India's largest and most populated states. Many families lived on less than a hectare of land and a pair of buffaloes. Rice came from the fields, fish from the small river running through the village, milk from the buffalos ... and dung provided gas to cook it all.
Through merit and a succession of government grants and scholarships, Rambabu was able to go to school, professional college, and then university where he earned his mechanical engineer's degree. But government didn't provide money for clothes, and movies, and fun. Only "hard labour in the fields" could do that. "My children cannot imagine the kind of hardships I went through."
Rambabu joined the Institute for Plasma Research in Gandhinagar—a new town in Gujarat, named after Mahatma Gandhi—in 1997. "A major fusion program had just started, aiming at the construction of a "new generation," steady-state superconducting tokamak called SST-1. I worked on the neutral beam heating system and I still feel part of that community."
Last October, Rambabu joined ITER as a Senior Designer Analysis Assistant. His job is to make sure, through computer simulations, that the poloidal field coil structures withstand the forces and mechanical stresses they are submitted to. "I wanted to have that experience, getting acquainted with new techniques and new approaches."
Rambabu has settled in Manosque with his family. His two children, aged 3 and 7 attend the International School and have begun teaching him French. Combined with the weekly classes he is taking, Rambabu is confident he'll soon know enough of the language to handle the day-to-day requirements of living in France.
Learning to speak other languages is nothing new when you are an Indian. "I grew up speaking Telugu, which is the official language in the state of Andhra Pradesh; I learned Hindi at school to communicate with people from other parts of the country; and English is a requisite when you work in science. So, if I can master the problem of the pronunciation, the 'silent vowels' and some other tricks of the French language I think I'll be okay. And my children will be there to help me ..."
On 1 May, H.E. Mr. Koji OMI: Founder and Chairman, STS Forum; Member, House of Representatives, former Japanese Minister of Finance visited ITER.
He was accompanied by Mr. Shuichi FUKUDA: Director, Japan International Science and Technology Exchange Centre (JISTEC), Ms. Yu SERIZAWA Secretary-General, STS Forum and Mr. Takayuki FUJIYOSHI: First Secretary, Embassy of Japan in France. Kaname Ikeda, ITER Director-General gave a presentation on the ITER Organization, and Francois Gauché, Director of Agence ITER France, coordinated a visit to the site.
Pascale Amenc-Antoni, Senior Advisor to the Director-General, Sachiko Ishizaka, ITER Council Secretary, Hiroshi Matsumoto, Head of the Office of the Director-General, Neil Calder, Head of Communication as well as ITER Japanese staff also took part in this visit.