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News & Media

Also in this issue

  • In the vast hall of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a 10-ton divertor cassette mockup has just been successfully inserted into a replica of the ITER vacuum vessel ... just as delicately as a model ship gets inserted inside a bottle.

    Like inserting a ship into a bottle

    In Tampere, Finland—a small town two hours north of Helsinki—an important demonstration took place for ITER this past winter. They came from Barcelona, where t [...]

    Read more

  • For Bernard Bigot, who took up his functions on 5 March 2015, all project actors must work together as a single entity.

    A new Director-General for a new phase

    After Ambassador Kaname Ikeda (2006-2010) and the physicist Osamu Motojima (2010-2015), both Japanese, the third Director-General in ITER Organization history [...]

    Read more

  • Noriaki Nakayama, the Japanese Minister of Science and Technology, and Janez Potočnik, the European Commissioner for Science. Nearly two years of negotiations were necessary to decide which of the sites proposed by Europe or Japan would host the ITER Project.

    28 June 2005: a home at last

    Ten years ago, on 28 June 2005, a home was found for ITER. In Moscow, where ministerial-level representatives of the ITER Members had convened, a consensus had [...]

    Read more

  • The visible Universe is nearly entirely made up of plasma. Because very hot plasmas create the conditions where atoms can fuse, for more than 50 years physicists have worked to understand this "fourth state of matter" in order to control — and exploit — its potential.

    Plasma: a strange state of matter

    The least well-known state of matter is, paradoxically, also the most prevalent: 99.99% of the visible Universe, including stars and intergalactic matter, is i [...]

    Read more

Mag Archives

800 visitors on the fusion launch pad

The pillars on the north side of the Assembly Hall basemat add a spectacular dimension to the Tokamak Complex worksite. (Click to view larger version...)
The pillars on the north side of the Assembly Hall basemat add a spectacular dimension to the Tokamak Complex worksite.
Some 17,000 people visit the ITER site every year but only a few are given the opportunity to enter the Tokamak Pit and stand on the floor of the Tokamak Complex — the Holy of Holies of the ITER Project.

On Saturday 30 May 2015, as ITER's doors were opened wide to the public, some 800 people experienced first-hand the construction of the largest and certainly most ambitious science venture of all times—the quest to mimic the energy of the Sun and stars.

The majority had come as neighbours; some had driven all the way from Spain, Italy, or Switzerland... All wanted to see up close what they only glimpsed from afar or read about in newspapers and magazines. And all sought to understand how, by fusing hydrogen atoms in a giant furnace, mankind was on the way to opening a new chapter in its history.

Standing on the floor of the Tokamak Complex amid a forest of steel rebar was like standing on the launch pad of a Mars-bound space rocket. The launch pad may not yet be complete—and the rocket not yet assembled—but the feeling of awe was already there.

Of course, everything required explanations. What is a plasma? (See related article in this issue.) How can it be heated to temperatures in excess of 150 million degrees? What "container" holds it in? Are you certain it's going to work?

In front of the tokamak mockup in the Visitors Building — probably the most complex machine ever designed.<br /><br /> (Click to view larger version...)
In front of the tokamak mockup in the Visitors Building — probably the most complex machine ever designed.

The ITER Communication team, supported by volunteers from the technical and scientific departments of the ITER Organization and by specialists from the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy, did its best to explain the hows and whys of fusion energy and ITER in understandable terms. Representatives of Agence Iter France—the agency that acts as an interface with the host country—introduced the youngest visitors to the challenges of preserving the site's biodiversity.

In the buses that drove visitors across the ITER worksite, in front of the tokamak mockup in the Visitors Building, and in the cordoned-off area of the Tokamak Complex, a clearer picture progressively emerged—that of a project which, despite its complexity and challenges, holds a potential key to a better future: access, for the benefit of all mankind, to an unlimited, safe and clean source of energy.