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French Science Minister "understands ITER timeline"

In the course of her work, French physicist and Minister of Higher Education and Research Sylvie Retailleau has designed and used several kinds of cryostats. None, however, can compare with the ITER cryostat that she saw as she peered into the Tokamak assembly pit. "The cryostats I used for my research can sit on a table and their volume is only a tiny fraction of ITER's. This is absolutely amazing."

French physicist and Minister of Higher Education and Research Sylvie Retailleau (here with ITER Director-General Pietro Barabaschi) visits ITER on Thursday 29 June. (Click to view larger version...)
French physicist and Minister of Higher Education and Research Sylvie Retailleau (here with ITER Director-General Pietro Barabaschi) visits ITER on Thursday 29 June.
The Minister, who visited on Thursday 29 June, already knew a lot about ITER. But seeing it for herself made her take the full measure of the challenges the project, which she described as both "scientific and industrial," is facing. "When I see the size and complexity of the components; when I am told of their micrometric specifications, unprecedented at such a scale; when I imagine how long it took to manufacture them and how long it will take to test them ... I understand the project's timeline better."

But whereas the physicist and former university president knows from experience that the pace of research can be slow, the politician is acutely aware of the need for "milestones" to highlight a project's progress—especially as far as ITER is concerned.



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