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Fusion Roadshow attracts crowds

-Gieljan de Vries, FOM Institute for Plasma Physics Rijnhuizen

Fusion science went Lowlands this summer with the Fusion Road Show. (Click to view larger version...)
Fusion science went Lowlands this summer with the Fusion Road Show.
Between 20 and 22 August, over 55.000 music fans visited Lowlands, the Netherlands' largest music festival. On the floating LLowlab-stage, they found the Fusion Road Show, the fusion outreach activity of the Dutch plasma physics institute Rijnhuizen. Thousands of visitors participated in the experiments during the three-day festival and discovered fusion, the energy source of the future.

Science at Lowlands isn't new; the Lowlands University program has featured two short lectures by university professors a day for years. But the new LLowlab-stage is a first for Lowlands: three days long, visitors can see, experiment and discover new sustainable science and technology in this dedicated area. LLowlab features a hydrogen-kart built by Delft Technical University, a music stage powered entirely by solar-PV and by hydrogen fuel cells, and a sustainable energy quiz.

On the energy bike, kindly loaned by the Fusion Expo, visitors can discover how much power a human can produce: a few hundred watts. (Click to view larger version...)
On the energy bike, kindly loaned by the Fusion Expo, visitors can discover how much power a human can produce: a few hundred watts.
In LLowlab's dome-shaped Sustainable Playground, the Fusion Road Show was playing non-stop. Presenters Arian Visser and Gieljan de Vries used interactive experiments, movies of the sun and of fusion reactors, and live demonstrations to showcase the future of fusion energy. The stand drew thousands of visitors: "we really discovered that future energy production concerns our visitors," says Arian Visser: "some groups stayed for half an hour to talk about the details of fusion."

Is a 'difficult' topic like fusion fit to show to people who've just had a beer while listening to live music? "The beauty of the Fusion Road Show is that it's so accessible," explains Gieljan de Vries: "a levitating magnetic top, a compact fluorescent lamp or a plasma discharge in the microwave — people immediately become curious why you're showing them this. They come up with questions of their own, so you can really cater to what they find interesting about fusion."

Tools of the Fusion Road Show: magnetic spinning top (foreground) and plasma experiment ( background, in improvized dark room). (Click to view larger version...)
Tools of the Fusion Road Show: magnetic spinning top (foreground) and plasma experiment ( background, in improvized dark room).
The public relations officers are no strangers to science fairs, energy meetings, open house days or shows at secondary schools, but think that performing at Lowlands was unique. "People come here for the music, of course," say the duo. "And yet, they're happy to take the time to discover more about the topics at LLowlab. It's more than just seeing fun experiments and moving on. They want to know everything there is to know. Science is hot."
 
Read more here: www.lowlands.nl and www.llowlab.nl


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