In its journey around Europe, presenting the progress of fusion research, the Fusion EXPO stopped for two weeks in Slovenia. The opening ceremony took place on March 21st, close to the birthday of Jožef Stefan, the great Slovenian scientist, whose name was taken by the leading research institute in Slovenia, which hosted the Fusion Expo. The aim of the event was to attract the general public, especially young people and to promote the European fusion research programme by describing the fundamentals of this discipline in a clear and simple way.

Jožef Stefan (1835-1893) was a Slovenian physicist, mathematician and poet. He published nearly 80 scientific articles. He is best known for originating the law stating that the total radiation from a black body is proportional to the fourth power of its temperature. He provided the first measurements of the thermal conductivity of gases, treated evaporation, and, among others, studied diffusion and heat conduction in fluids. Very important are also his electromagnetic equations and works in the kinetic theory of heat.

The exhibition was opened by the European Commissioner for Science and Research, Dr Janez Potočnik. “Europe has been involved in fusion energy research from its inception, and has developed a leading role”, said Potočnik. He stressed Europe’s readiness to build and operate ITER with the widest possible international cooperation, and with the aim to start construction this year. The audience was addressed by the Director of the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI), Prof. Vito Turk, and by the State Secretary from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Možina, who expressed the will of the ministry to support fusion research in Slovenia. Members of the newly founded Slovenian fusion Association were also present, as well other representatives of the European Fusion Programme.

Dr Milan Čerček, the promoter of the Slovenian fusion Association, guided the distinguished guests through the exposition. The Commissioner praised the instructiveness of the presentation and the way of promoting this potential source of energy for the future. He acknowledged the contribution of the Slovenian scientists and congratulated both the JSI and the University of Ljubljana for having established the Slovenian/EURATOM Association. In the visitors’ book Dr Potočnik expressed his belief, that “all those that strive for the future should be supported and listened to”.

Every year, the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI) celebrated Stefan’s birthday with a series of events devoted to important scientific achievements in Slovenia over the past year and awards to the best doctoral theses in the fields of natural and engineering sciences. The week of “Stefan’s Days” also included an open day at the institute’s two sites – in Ljubljana and at the Reactor Centre in Podgorica, and an exhibition, this year the Fusion Expo in the Ljubljana city centre.

On the same day, with the first Steering Committee meeting of the newly established Slovenian Fusion Association (SFA), Slovenia officially joined the European fusion community.

In the following days, ten guides, mostly researchers from the JSI with an expertise in fusion, guided about 2500 visitors through the exhibition. Both the questions posed during the visits and the number of visitors were an excellent indicator of the success of the Expo. The plasma ball, the small plasma magnetic-confinement experiment, the ITER model and the 3D film, Starmakers, were the main attractions of the exhibition.

The Expo was visited by the majority of Ljubljana’s secondary schools and many technical faculties triggering a favourable public opinion on fusion and a larger interest in science and engineering studies. The presence of the Expo in Slovenia will hopefully trigger a larger public awareness of the energy problem and of the opportunities provided in fusion research.