“With December 31, 2002 I am leaving EFDA to return to my research position with the Max- Planck Institut für Plasmaphysik in Garching. Dr. Jérôme Pamela, EFDA Associate Leader for JET, will fill, ad interim, also the EFDA Leader’s position, until the nomination of a definitive successor.

When I joined EFDA it was primarily with one mission in mind: to advocate the construction of ITER at all levels, including also that of our own community. Shortly after the start of my tenure, a dramatic thing happened (without my involvement, except perhaps through the magic powers of wishful thinking): a proposal for a European site was brought forward by CEA. This changed things dramatically within our community, and of course the second EU site proposal by Spain further enhanced the feeling of confidence now prevailing. I think enthusiasm for ITER is now a highly infective state of mind, which – as the colleagues who were with me in Snowmass can testify – has by now swept also over the US community and seems to spread rapidly into China, South Korea, India, etc. For the next phase, physics in the work for ITER will step behind technology and project management skills and also legal and diplomatic capabilities.

Physics will come back to central stage, once ITER will start operating. ITER is foremost a facility for experiments on burning plasmas. But even in the technology oriented language of reactor studies, the plasma is the central and most complex subsystem of a fusion reactor, and its functioning will be the contribution of us physicists.

If I can use this occasion to leave one grain (or rock?) of wisdom with our community, I would make the following statement:

It is misleading to think of ITER as one experiment, whose success hinges on the attainment of a precise set of parameters. ITER is rather a facility, which can cover a broad operating space, and the phase space where it will pursue and find success is very large. It is instructive to look at the frequently quoted graph of the triple product nTτ vs. years, not for the quantum jumps, which accompanied each new device, but for the big progress we have made on each given device (take the JET and JT60-U points, as prime examples) by learning (and sometimes luck).

I will now return to active research at IPP. We have, by now, a quite solid knowledge at least of the standard operating regime of tokamaks and how it extrapolates from one device to the other. We know much less about the detailed physics behind it. Searching for the latter promises to give us clues for further performance improvements, and – to be honest – is also big fun. I plan to get a share of this fun.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all EFDA Newsletter readers !”

Prof. Dr. Karl Lackner, EFDA Leader