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News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Fuelling fusion | The magic cocktail of deuterium and tritium

    Nuclear fusion in stars is easy: it just happens, because the immense gravity of a star easily overcomes the resistance of nuclei to come together and fuse. [...]

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  • 360° image of the week | The cryoplant

    Cryogenics play a central role in the ITER Tokamak: the machine's superconducting magnets (10,000 tonnes in total), the vacuum pumps, thermal shields and so [...]

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  • Central solenoid assembly | First sequences underway

    What does it take to assemble the magnet at the heart of ITER? Heavy lifting, unerring accuracy, and a human touch. The central solenoid will be assembled from [...]

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  • Assembly | The eyes of ITER

    Supervisors ensure compliance and completion as machine and plant assembly forges ahead. In Greek mythology, Argus was considered an ideal guardian because his [...]

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  • Component repairs | Removing, displacing and disassembling

    A good repair job starts with a cleared workbench, the right tools on hand and a strong vise. This axiom, true for odd jobs in a home workshop, is also true for [...]

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Of Interest

See archived entries

"Today I saw the dream turning into reality"

A little less than ten years ago, on 21 November 2007, Chris Llewellyn Smith—a theoretical physicist who was at the time the director of the United Kingdom's fusion program—was elected Chair of the ITER Council. The ITER Organization had just been established and clearing and levelling of the ITER site would begin only a few months later. ITER was still a paper project waiting to coalesce into a tangible reality.

Chris Llewellyn Smith was the first Chair of the ITER Council (November 2007-December 2009). A theoretical physicist, he is now the Director of Energy Research Oxford and Council President for SESAME (International Centre for Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East). (Click to view larger version...)
Chris Llewellyn Smith was the first Chair of the ITER Council (November 2007-December 2009). A theoretical physicist, he is now the Director of Energy Research Oxford and Council President for SESAME (International Centre for Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East).
His term as ITER Council Chair ended in December 2009, a year marked by the completion of the platform preparatory works in April and by the opening of the International School for the children of ITER staff in October.

Last week, on 5 April, Sir Chris was back at ITER for the first time since the end of his term. His program included two presentations¹ to the ITER community and of course a tour of ongoing construction.
Back from the worksite, he was able to sit with Newsline for an informal interview.

It has been almost eight years since you last saw the ITER site with your own eyes. What did you feel when you went down into the Tokamak Pit this morning?

I can say that today I saw the dream turning into reality. Of course, I've been watching the progress of construction and manufacturing through the ITER website and publications. But this morning was a different experience. Suddenly, it's real and I can imagine how the Council members feel when they look through the windows of the Council Chamber on the fifth floor.

The years 2007-2009 were at times difficult for ITER. Did you ever doubt?

No, I never did. But it's always difficult when you are putting money into a project and don't actually see anything tangible coming out of it ─ I mean anything concrete and visible by all. It's like the synchrotron project² I'm involved with now in the Mideast. Big ambitious projects take time. It took more than a century to build a cathedral ...

Does this mean that we've lost the capacity to project our dreams over long periods of time?

Not if the stakes are high enough. The cathedral builders were prepared to build for future generations, and I think many people are happy to build ITER for their children and grandchildren.

Do you think there is sufficient awareness, among members of the general public, of the importance of ITER and fusion?

We've certainly come a long way but there's still a long way to go. Now when I give a talk or a presentation on energy, there is always someone in the room who raises the question of ITER and fusion. Maybe that wouldn't have happened a few years back ...

(1) "SESAME: Science and Diplomacy in the Middle East" and "Can Future Energy Needs be Met Sustainably?"
 
(2) SESAME (International Centre for Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) is a 2.5 GeV third-generation synchrotron light source which is about to come on line in Jordan. The Members are currently Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey. Sir Chris is the President of SESAME's Council.


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