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Chairs Corner Archive 2003

Chair's Corner Archives

2003 - Mike Mauel

Welcome to the APS Division of Plasma Physics. I hope you'll enjoy the new look of our Divisional website. We've designed the site to be a convenient starting point to your participation in the life of the DPP and in the APS. Please send us your comments and suggestions (and be patient as the last few pages are written!) Thanks and appreciation for the new website goes to John Cary (University of Colorado, and former chair of the DPP Public Information Committee), Vincent Chan (GA, and DPP Secretary-Treasurer), and Saralyn Stewart (University of Texas, and DPP Administrator).

Today is an exciting time for plasma physics. A quick scan of the past four issues of Physical Review Letters (from July 25 through August 15, 2003) reports more than ample evidence to justify my excitement. To name just a few first-time results: the successful reproduction of anamoulous transport measured in a tokamak by supercomputer simulation (Jeff Candy and Ron Waltz), the confinement of energetic electrons in a reversed-field-pinch by suppression of magnetic turbulence (R. O'Connell and the MST group), the careful measurement of the transport of energy due to stochastic magnetic fields being found in good agreement with theoretical expectations (T. Biewer and the MST group), the use of global plasma modes for nondestructive measurements of positron plasmas (by the ATHENA Collaboration that recently produced cold antihydrogen at CERN), the measured turbulent density and velocity fields in a linear device and a spherical torus are found to be well-described by a Kolmogorov-Kraichnan cascade (Ghassan Antar, UCSD), and the discovery of strongly-correlated radial turbulent transport and parallel (scrape-off-layer) flows (Carlos Hidalog and co-workers at JET).

Plasma physics has also benefited from good news in the national press. First light at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at LLNL was achieved in December, 2002. (More recently, in May, 2003, NIF set a world-record for laser performance, producing more than 10 kJ of UV light from a single laser beam line.) In February 2003, President Bush announced his vision for energy independence. He described a future world "in which our cars are driven by hydrogen and our homes heated by electricity from a fusion power plant." After more than 50 years of research, this was the first time a U.S. president put in plain words the goal of fusion energy as a means to national security that will also address serious environmental concerns. Next, just in time for our April APS meeting, scientists from Sandia reported the first production of thermonuclear neutrons from the successful compression of a deuterium pellet using x-rays from the Z pulsed power facility. In June, the physics community was introduced to plasma accelerators by way of the wonderful review by Chan Joshi and Tom Katsauleasr that appeared in Physics Today. Finally, the NRC has now released the final printed version of Frontiers in High Energy Density Physics: The X-Games of Contemporary Science, the report of the Committee on High Energy Density Plasma Physics chaired by Ron Davidson. I'm happy to report that the DPP will be sending complementary copies of this report to every undergraduate physics department in the nation.

Having now comfortably recovered from my duties as past chair of the 2002 Orlando meeting, I am delighted to report the very capable leadership of Dave Hammer, our chair-elect, who is busy with the final preparations for our 45th Annual Meeting to be held in Albuquerque, NM from October 27 to 31. The final program will be posted on August 18 (next week) http://www.aps.org/meet/DPP03/, but I already know that it will be a fantastic meeting. I'm looking forward to the talks, hallway discussions, and opportunity to catch-up with old friends and collaborators. This year's meeting will maintain our recent, easy-to-navigate time-schedule, feature our "best-in-the-APS" education and outreach program for students and teachers, the 2003 Plasma Science Expo and Science Teacher's Day, and benefit from the largest number of abstracts (nearly 1550) in several years.

I encourage everyone to register early for the Albuquerque meeting, attend our Wednesday afternoon General Business Meeting, and attend our Divisional Banquet to welcome our new Fellows and congratulate this year's prize and award winners.

As many of you know, the Division of Plasma Physics runs on the voluntary service, and considerable energy and enthusiasm, of its members. I personally want to thank all of you who take an active interest in the work of the Division, and I particularly want to thank the Officers and members of the Executive Committee, the Program Committee, and the hardworking Standing Committees (especially the committees for Women in Plasma Physics, Public Information, Fellowship, Publications, Education and Outreach, Nominations, and the award and prize committees for the James Clerk Maxwell Prize, the Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research, and the Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award in Plasma Physics.)

Looking forward to seeing you in Albuquerque!

Mike Mauel
2003 Chair of the DPP
August 10, 2003