Cover image for Fusion : a voyage through the plasma universe
Fusion : a voyage through the plasma universe
Wilhelmsson, Hans.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bristol [England] ; Philadelphia : Institute of Physics Pub., [2000]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 158 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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QC791.73 .W55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Journeying through fusion in the universe, Fusion: A Voyage Through the Plasma Universe discusses all aspects of fusion and how they relate to our universe. It also studies the attempts to produce fusion energy on Earth. The book addresses a wide range of topics from stars, galaxies, comets, pulsars, black holes, and quasars to the auroras, lightning, and fluorescent tubes.

Interestingly, the author explores how artists and authors like Vincent van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, and Hannes Alfvén have been fascinated by cosmic phenomena that rely on fusion and plasmas. He discusses motions in plasma, such as flames, waves, and whirls similar to those that occur in water.

The book also examines several other branches of science where parallels can be found with fusion plasmas, including ecological systems that provide only very short-term weather forecasts and the dramatic changes in the world economy with its explosive tendencies and sometimes catastrophic results. It briefly shows how these nonlinear phenomena are at the heart of modern fusion plasma theory.

Author Notes

Hans Wilhelmsson is Professor Emeritus of the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Wilhelmsson (emeritus, Chalmers Univ. of Technology, Sweden) has written a book that is rather difficult to review because its intended audience is difficult to determine. Written in an anecdotal style with references to art and literature, it resembles a popular treatment of plasma physics, both in the laboratory and in the cosmos. However, there are many references in passing to concepts and scientific methods that require quite sophisticated understanding of several areas in physics not explained in this book. Thus it might be suitable for supplemental reading for undergraduates, but not as a course text. It is well produced, has subject and "character" indexes, is illustrated with colored and line drawings, and has a short dictionary of fusion-plasma terminology. With a wide sweep, this small but well-written book covers and emphasizes the importance of plasma physics in astrophysics and its potential use in solving the earth's energy problems. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate students; professionals. ; NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. xv
The importance of words and of formulaep. xix
The vocabulary of fusion plasma sciencep. xxiii
Part 1 Fusion in the Cosmosp. 1
1 Plasmasp. 3
1.1 The secrets of plasmasp. 3
1.2 Plasma physics peculiarities and gamesp. 6
2 Nuclear fusionp. 10
2.1 Nuclear fusion reactionsp. 10
2.2 Nuclear fusion plasmasp. 12
3 The cosmosp. 16
3.1 Fusion in the cosmosp. 16
3.2 How it all began...p. 17
3.3 Galaxies and starsp. 20
3.4 The Sun's metabolismp. 24
4 The plasma universep. 30
4.1 Around the Sunp. 30
4.1.1 The magnetoplasma revolutionp. 30
4.1.2 The challenge of space plasma explorationp. 35
4.1.3 Cosmic plasma jetsp. 37
4.1.4 The all-pervasive Alfven wavep. 41
4.1.5 The dynamic face of the Sunp. 43
4.1.6 Solar flares and prominencesp. 45
4.1.7 Cometsp. 49
4.2 The Sun-Earth interplayp. 54
4.2.1 The solar windp. 54
4.2.2 The Earth's magnetospherep. 57
4.2.3 The ionospherep. 60
4.2.4 Aurorasp. 62
4.3 Beyond the Sunp. 64
4.3.1 Supernovasp. 64
4.3.2 Pulsars: lighthouses of the cosmosp. 65
4.3.3 Quasarsp. 67
5 Electrical dischargesp. 71
5.1 Applications of plasmasp. 71
Part 2 Fusion On Earthp. 75
6 Dynamic fine structure of plasmasp. 77
6.1 Modelling as a tool for interpretation and predictionp. 77
6.2 Waves and instabilitiesp. 79
6.3 Nonlinear effectsp. 83
6.4 Three-wave interactionp. 85
6.5 Evolution of populations: explosive instabilitiesp. 88
6.6 Vorticesp. 90
6.7 Wavelets and turbulencep. 94
6.8 From fine structure to global dynamics of fusion plasmasp. 95
7 The art of magnetic confinementp. 100
7.1 The principle of magnetic confinementp. 100
7.2 Fusion energy generation and self-sustained fusionp. 101
7.3 The architecture of magnetic confinementp. 102
7.4 History of alternative conceptsp. 103
7.5 Stellarators and tokamaksp. 104
8 Microballoon explosions by lasers: inertial confinementp. 106
8.1 The principle of inertial confinementp. 106
8.2 Instabilitiesp. 107
8.3 The concepts of direct and indirect drivep. 107
8.4 Laser fusionp. 108
8.5 Ion beam driversp. 110
9 The fusion reactorp. 113
9.1 Reactor requirementsp. 113
9.2 Reactor designp. 114
9.3 Heating and confinementp. 114
10 Outlook into the futurep. 116
Conclusions--the great fusion plantp. 120
Afterwordp. 121
Acknowledgmentsp. 128
Appendix 1p. 130
Appendix 2p. 132
Appendix 3p. 133
Glossaryp. 137
Short fusion-plasma dictionaryp. 140
Subject indexp. 153
Character indexp. 157