Discovery of D-D fusion

The authors recognised neutrons, although the discovery of the neutron was announced only two years before, by James Chadwick (see his article and the Nobel Prize in 1935). It must have helped that James Chadwick worked in the same laboratory! The two possible D-D fusion reactions were correctly identified, and a third option […]

picture of Igor Kurchatov at AERE Harwell, 1956

Lecture of I.V. Kurchatov at Harwell

In 1950s, in the period when thermonuclear fusion only began to be perceived as a potential source of safe energy, the world was divided into two rival social systems. Because of the newly developed nuclear weapons, their military industries worked under extremely secret conditions, and any nuclear research was by […]

Interview with JD Lawson

John D Lawson, well known for his derivation of the Lawson criterion – a fundamental criterion (or principle) in fusion research – originally trained as an engineer. Through a series of coincidences he became involved in fusion research from its early days, and made important contributions that continue to influence […]

50 years of Lawson criteria

Fifty years ago, the young Harwell engineer John D. Lawson – who had joined the then secret British fusion research – wrote the above short and basic report. In it, two criteria were introduced that have to be met in order to achieve a power-generating fusion reactor: minimum temperature and […]

Success of T-3 – breakthrough for tokamaks

In the 1950s, physicists believed that mastering thermonuclear fusion would be straightforward, and there were even a few premature claims of the controlled release of major fusion power. Following significant developments in plasma diagnostics, a quite pessimistic period followed in the 1960s. It was demonstrated that man-made plasmas could not […]

JET demonstrates alpha particle heating

In a magnetic confinement fusion reactor the plasma self-heating is provided by “alpha particles” – charged fusion products. JET unambiguously observed alpha particle heating in the deuterium-tritium experiments of September 1997. So far, only two tokamaks have been capable of handling Tritium, and thus experimenting with Deuterium-Tritium (D-T) fusion – […]

Discovery of E=mc2

Albert Einstein was only 26 when he published the brief, 3-page article that announced the equivalence between mass and energy, known today as E=mc2 (see e.g. Wikipedia, or listen to experts). This article appeared as the last in the series of Einstein’s four 1905 breakthrough papers. The current World Year […]

Discovery of the energy source in stars

“A star is drawing on some vast reservoir of energy by means unknown to us. This reservoir can scarcely be other than the sub-atomic energy which, it is known, exists abundantly in all matter; we sometimes dream that man will one day learn how to release it and use it […]

The ITER initiative

The brief statement above is considered as marking the birth of ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project. Potential joint research into fusion energy played an ice-breaking role at the first Summit of President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev, after several years of difficulties between the two super-powers. The same […]

Growth of European fusion collaboration

After the second world war, the main players in fusion research were the USA and USSR, with a brief but key contribution from the United Kingdom in the 1950s. However, due to the constant efforts of people like Prof. Palumbo, the emerging European fusion community could take advantage of international […]