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Fusion on Earth ... for a change

French High Commissioner for Atomic Energy Catherine Cesarsky, a world-renowned astrophysicist, visited the ITER construction site on 7 December. From left to right: Bernard Salanon, a Euratom adviser; Gabriel Marbach, former director of CEA fusion research (IRFM); Jean Jacquinot, scientific advisor to the High Commissioner; Mrs Cesarsky; Alain Bécoulet, head of IRFM; Emmanuelle Tsitrone, assistant to the High Commissioner; and Alain Gauthier, advisor to the High Commissioner for Solar Energy. (Click to view larger version...)
French High Commissioner for Atomic Energy Catherine Cesarsky, a world-renowned astrophysicist, visited the ITER construction site on 7 December. From left to right: Bernard Salanon, a Euratom adviser; Gabriel Marbach, former director of CEA fusion research (IRFM); Jean Jacquinot, scientific advisor to the High Commissioner; Mrs Cesarsky; Alain Bécoulet, head of IRFM; Emmanuelle Tsitrone, assistant to the High Commissioner; and Alain Gauthier, advisor to the High Commissioner for Solar Energy.
In her long career as an astrophysicist, Catherine Cesarsky, the French High Commissioner for Atomic Energy since 2009, has observed millions of fusion furnaces. Fusion in the Universe has been her jurisdiction for the past 40 years, first in Argentina where she was raised and received her initial training, then at Harvard and CalTech, and from 1974 to 1985 as part (and eventually head) of CEA's astrophysics department.

On Wednesday 7 December another kind of fusion—fusion on Earth—was the subject of Mrs. Cesarsky's visit to the ITER construction site and the CEA-Euratom tokamak Tore Supra.

Observing fusion on Earth does not require the use of a giant telescope like those of the European Southern Observatory, which Mrs. Cesarsky headed from 1999 to 2007. Fusion on Earth—or at least the promise of—can be observed with the naked eye, from a bus window, and the view is almost as impressive ...


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