Wednesday, 7 October 2015

London Diaries: with pieces of Oxford and Culham.

The excursion iaps4fusion, to Oxford University, JET (Joint European Torus @ Culham) and Imperial College, London, meticulously organized by the IAPS (International Association of Physics Students) was a great academic adventure. The reason? Find it below!

The 4 day (27th September-1st October) event, officially started with assembling of the 40 odd participants at the Department of Physics, Oxford University.

Day 1: After a satiating breakfast organised by the Oxford University, we headed on for lectures on basics of plasma physics, viz. magnetic confinement fusion, laser-plasma interaction, laser-driven plasma accelerators followed by laboratory visits to see Plasma Astrophysics center, laser-driven plasma accelerators. Doing a Masters in nuclear fusion science, it is always good to brush up the basics in plasma and fusion physics. The lecture on Laser-driven plasma accelerators was quite new and unique for me. Also, the petit 5 cm working model of a GeV electron beam accelerator was fascinating! That was mostly the pedagogic part of our first day, albeit visits to the Museum of Natural History and the University Parks were fun and refreshing.

Day 2: The most awaited part of the event- visit to CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) to see the the JET. Ever since my undergrad, whilst studying plasma physics and interning at the prestigious Institute for Plasma Research, India, I have been enamoured by the promise of future energy via sustainable fusion in Tokamaks. JET, being the biggest working model yet, was a long time contender to tick off my bucket list. After a brief presentation on the working and technology of JET, we got a guided tour of the JET facility. However, as the device was operational that day, we could not get a closer look to the diagnostics and the confinement vessel. The tour anyway, was really satisfying and encouraging to see so many scientists and engineers dedicating their careers for a promise in future energy via fusion.

Day 3: Having returned from Culham to London the evening before, we had sufficient time to relax, explore the maximum city by night and prepare for yet another amazing day. As the visit to Imperial College was scheduled after lunch hours, we visited the nearby museums viz. Science museum, Natural history museum and the Victoria & Albert museum (filled with antiques taken from India). We were welcomed with introduction to the PhD application process there, followed by presentations on theory research and inertial fusion confinement, especially, my favourite field on Dusty plasmas. We were fortunate to see the Blackett laboratory which included the CEREBRUS (100 TW laser system) and MAGPIE (Mega Ampere Generator for Plasma Implosion Experiments, 1.4 million amperes in 240 nanoseconds)

I talked to various professors about research opportunities and future projects at Imperial college during the tea break. The awe inspiring infrastructure indeed makes me want to apply there for further studies. Well, that was all the academic bit from the amazing and flawless event organized by the IAPS team (Francesco, Danielle, Steven, Kelvin & Deividas). The fun, however continued with the group moving towards the College Union Bar for dinner and drinks and me taking up as the Spotify DJ for the night. Also, with the next day comprising of a planned visit to the Greenwich Royal Observatory. 

The fusion team with me third from left.
Photo credits: CHOI Tsz Hei (Kelvin)
In a nutshell, it was a delightful gathering of like minded physics enthusiasts, resulting in a lot of friendships and knowledge sharing, for which, I would once again like to thank the organisers, and not to forget, FuseNet for funding this excursion and making it possible for me to be part of such an amazing experience.

For those who scrolled down without reading a WORD:

Crossing the English Channel enroute London (Ferry from Calais to Dover)

Tower Bridge

Trafalgar Square

London Eye

Westminster & Big Ben

Westminster bridge

Chinatown, London
British Library, King's Cross
London skyline as seen from Greenwich. Francesco everywhere!

Last one for the nerds.
T-rex's Galore @ Museum of natural history, Oxford.
P.S: I always knew I had a Ross Geller in me.

For more pics like these, stay tuned to my blog or simply find me on Instagram @myeuropediary!

Pictures shot using Nikon P600 and Sony Xperia M2.