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Latest ITER Newsline

  • Without minimizing challenges, Council reaffirms commitment

    On 24 October 2007, the ITER Organization was officially established following the ratification by the seven ITER Members of the project's constitutive document [...]

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  • Heat waves

    Plasma is like a tenuous mist of particles—light atoms that have been dissociated into ions (the atom nucleus) and free-roaming electrons. In order to study pla [...]

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  • What a difference ten days make

    There was a time when progress in Tokamak Complex construction was easy to follow.Excavation in 2010; the creation of the ground support structure and seismic f [...]

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  • What's in the box?

    At ITER, even the opening of a box takes on a spectacular dimension. The operation requires a powerful crane, a full team of specialists and, as everything ITER [...]

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  • EU Commission has "positive appreciation" of ITER progress

    On 14 June, the European Commission issued a Communication presenting the revised schedule and budget estimates for European participation in ITER. Its object? [...]

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Of Interest

See archived articles

Fields Medal Villani sees where equations lead

-Robert Arnoux

2010 Fields Medal laureate Cédric Villani visited the ITER site on Thursday 20 December before giving a seminar at CEA-Cadarache's IRFM. (Click to view larger version...)
2010 Fields Medal laureate Cédric Villani visited the ITER site on Thursday 20 December before giving a seminar at CEA-Cadarache's IRFM.
There's poetry in mathematics and this may be the reason why Cedric Villani, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his generation, dresses as a 19th century romantic poet—long, dark riding coat; a large, loose cravat that the French call a lavallière; and, of course, shoulder-length hair. (Oftentimes, a large brooch in the form of a spider is also pinned to his lapel.)

A professor at the École normale supérieure and the director of the Institut Henri Poincaré, Villani, 39, was awarded the Fields Medal two years ago. The Fields—equivalent in prestige to a Nobel Prize (not awarded for mathematics)—is the highest prize a mathematician can receive.

Although not directly connected to fusion research, Villani's work stands "at the extreme theoretical end of ITER," exploring the properties of some of the equations that describe the behaviour of particles in a plasma, or the movement of stars in a galaxy.

In the summer of 2010, he taught a course at Marseille's international centre for mathematics meetings (Centre International de Rencontres Mathématiques) as part of a program on mathematical plasma physics related to ITER. Last Thursday 20 December, before giving a seminar on non-linear Landau damping at the CEA Cadarache-based Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (IRFM), he paid a visit to the ITER site with a party of IRFM physicists.

In a previous Newsline interview the Fields Medal laureate had stressed the importance, when one deals with abstractions, of remaining solidly "anchored in reality." The mathematical equations he explores, after all, are the true foundations of the ITER Project.


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