C16. Commission on Plasma Physics

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Report to the 2002 General Assembly for 1999-2002
Berlin, Germany
October 7-12, 2002


The commission had three meetings during the last three years. The meetings always coincided with the two main conferences in the domain of the commission, the International Conference on Plasma Physics, that convened in 2000 and 2002 and the International Conference on Phenomena in Ionized Gases that convened in 2001. Progress in plasma physics has been quite impressing. The relatively new field dusty plasmas grew almost exponentially and had impact in the domains of
fusion and astrophysics. Fusion itself made also important progress. Magnetically confined plasmas, mainly tokamak-plasmas had very good progress to report as especially JET performed much better than the original designers had ever dreamed of. The same was true for TFTR and the Japanese TOKAMAK. The field of plasma physics is also growing together because of the growing interest in the physics of the plasma outside the core of magnetically confined plasmas. Also progress in laser- plasma interaction in the domain of inertially confined plasma's was significant. Another rather new field is the plasma-accelerator physics. Plasma has in principle the possibility of sustaining an extremely high electric field gradient. This research seems very promising. The research in the domain of sun-terrestrial physics raises all kind of problems in plasma physics. Especially the field of magnetic reconnection seems not only very relevant in the magnetosphere, but also in the outer parts of the sun itself. From the needs of earth based radio astronomy interest in the physics of the ionosphere has resurrected. Here too, new and interesting plasma physical problems rise.

Most regrettable is the continuing delay in the process to come to a decision on ITER. The delay has been the subject of a thorough investigation in order to reduce the costs of the project. However, any further delay is only due to the very slow political process.

The whole process and progress of magnetic fusion research has been very adequately describes in a recent book by C.M. Braams and P.E. Stott, entitled Nuclear Fusion, Half a Century of Magnetic Confinement Fusion Research ( IoP, Bristol, 2002).

Frans W. Sluijter, Chair C16
Eindhoven, August 28, 2002.

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