Description: Plasma Physics is the overarching discipline describing plasma, the hot and energetic state of matter that makes up 99% of the visible universe. In my talk I will introduce you the exciting world of experimental plasma physics in which we build devices, here on Earth that replicate and mimic what we see in the Universe: from fusion energy powered stars; planetary and stellar magnetic fields spontaneously created by flows of plasma and liquid metals; spontaneous explosive bursts of plasma in solar flares that hammer our planet, satellites, and astronauts; and accretion of plasma onto supermassive black holes that gives rise to the galaxy sized radio jets that accelerate cosmic rays in the Universe. Each of these systems is built up from plasmas and have processes that can be studied terrestrially, which is what we do in the Wisconsin Plasma Lab. Experiments consist of big rooms, heavy equipment like large vacuum chambers, intense amounts of electric energy in the form of magnetic fields, high voltage power, and microwave heating, and specialized diagnostics to measure properties of plasma at temperatures greater than 100000 degrees.
I will tell two stories in my talk. The first will describe a recent experiment we carried out to investigate how plasma might break away from the magnetosphere of our Sun and give rise to the Solar Wind that fills our solar system. This experiment complements a recently launched NASA mission called Parker Solar Probe that is a satellite that is now probing close to the sun.
The second will be about revisiting an old idea called the magnetic mirror with new technology for making fusion in a simpler and more useful way than currently envisioned in reactors along the path that Iter is going. We are now building a new experiment called the Wisconsin High-Temperature-Superconductor Axisymmetric Mirror (WHAM) at the Physical Sciences Lab to test our ideas.
Bio: Prof. Cary B Forest received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1986 in the Applied Math, Engineering and Physics program and then attended graduate school at Princeton University where he received a Ph.D. in 1992 in Astrophysical Sciences. In the course of his thesis work he invented and demonstrated a novel method for “bootstrapping up” a tokamak (a donut shaped magnetic bottle used to confine hot fusion plasmas) and helped build the first “spherical tokamak” in the US.
After graduate school he spent 5 years working at a private company, General Atomics, as a Scientist where his work focused on advancing the tokamak towards a fusion reactor.
Forest’s research program at the UW since 1997 is on the border between nuclear fusion research and laboratory plasma astrophysics. During his time at Wisconsin, Forest’s group has brought into operation four (and soon five) new major experiments, including the Madison Dynamo Experiment (sodium), the Rotating Wall Machine, the Plasma Couette Experiment, and the Big Red Plasma Ball in the Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory. Most recently, Forest has reinitiated magnetic mirror research in the United States and is constructing the Wisconsin High Temperature Superconductor Axisymmetric Mirror (WHAM) device as a prototypical fusion reactor with both academic and industrial applications. Three of Forest’s students have received the Rosenbluth Thesis Award for best thesis in Plasma Physics from the APS.
At the UW, Forest has received the Romnes Fellowship, the Vilas Associate Award, the Kellett Mid Career Award and a WARF Named Professorship. Nationally, he is the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation Fellowship, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, received a Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and is a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He currently serves as Director of the Wisconsin Plasma Physics Laboratory.
We will dive into salinization of Wisconsin’s freshwater environments, and probe how, why, and where salinization is occurring–and what we can do to curtail current trends.
Bio: Dr. Hilary Dugan is an assistant professor at the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a limnologist, Hilary studies how terrestrial and atmospheric changes, such as warming air temperatures or land use patterns, alter biogeochemical fluxes and aquatic processes in lakes. Her research balances field-based programs, which rely heavily on sensor networks, with the use and development of analytical models, and the application of geophysical and geospatial tools. Her research focus is on temperate and polar lakes, with sites spanning from Wisconsin to Antarctica.
Remember, we’ve now shifted to Hybrid so we can both Zoom and gather in one Room—Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison WI.
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H
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WN@TL begins at 7:00pm Central
You can also watch the web stream at biotech.wisc.edu/webcams for one last time on October 20
. The web stream thereafter will redirect viewers to the WN@TL YouTube livestream.
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Visit UW-Madison’s science outreach portal at science.wisc.edu for information on the people, places & programs on campus that welcome you to come experience science as exploring the unknown, all year round.
1. The live WN@TL seminar, every Wednesday night, 50 times a year, at 7pm CT in Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center and on Zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59
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