Science On Tap - Fusion: Creating a Star on Earth for Clean and Limitless Energy
Nov 5, 2018 at 7:00 PM
Minors OK when accompanied by a parent or guardian
Doors open at 6:00

$15 General Admission
$8 Students with ID

Fusion is the reaction that powers the sun. If controlled thermonuclear fusion can be harnessed here on Earth, it would provide a clean, sustainable, limitless energy source for all humankind. This is a grand scientific challenge, and scientists and engineers around the world are getting closer than ever. But how do you actually create a miniature star on earth? There are two options — magnets or lasers — but which one is best?

At this Science on Tap, join us to learn about what fusion is, how we could use it, and hear two different ideas for how to make it. On the laser side, Dr. Tammy Ma, experimental plasma physicist from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. On the magnet side, Dr. Arturo Dominguez, from the Science Education Department at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. Come learn plasma, fusion, possibilities for clean energy, and see some exciting demonstrations as well!
Science On Tap | 7:00 PM
Science on Tap is a science lecture series where you can sit back, enjoy a pint, and laugh while you learn. Listen to experts talk about the science in your neighborhood and around the world. You don’t have to be a science geek to have fun—all you need is a thirst for knowledge! more >>>
Dr. Tammy Ma | 7:00 PM
Lawrence Livermore’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) conducts research in the high-energy-density realm of physics. NIF helps Livermore carry out its stockpile stewardship mission, enabling the Laboratory to ensure the nuclear deterrent’s safety, security, reliability, and effectiveness. Experiments at NIF are also laying the groundwork to advance the nation’s energy security by demonstrating the feasibility of nuclear fusion as a clean source of energy.

Dr. Tammy Ma is a plasma physicist at NIF. She leads experiments aimed at achieving fusion ignition by using NIF’s 192 laser beams to compress fuel capsules containing deuterium and tritium (isotopes of hydrogen) in a process called inertial confinement fusion (ICF). The goal is to achieve sustained thermonuclear fusion, where the fuel fuses into heavier elements, and many times more energy is released than it took to initiate the reaction. The scientific and engineering challenges are vast, but the potential to produce abundant clean energy, as well as to better understand the physics of a process that powers all the stars in the universe is irresistible.

“What I love about working at Livermore is that we do science with a purpose. Whether it’s national security, or energy research, or climate change, it all has an angle that’s actually achievable and has real significance,” says Ma. “You bring together great people to work on difficult projects…it’s not one single scientist in his or her own little lab that can figure it all out. You need big teams and a lot of resources and you need support from the scientific community and the government, and you get all that here. Hopefully what we do has a positive impact on society and human life.”

Ma earned her bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Caltech in 2005, then received her master's degree in 2008, and Ph.D. in 2010, both from the University of California, San Diego. Ma always knew that LLNL was one of the most exciting places to be—she wanted to work with the biggest, most energetic laser in the world, to help push the frontiers of fusion research.

Following graduate school, she completed a postdoc at LLNL before becoming a staff scientist in 2012. Ma was recently awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on early-career science and engineering professionals. She also received the American Physical Society 2016 Thomas H. Stix Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Plasma Physics Research. more >>>
Arturo Dominguez is a man who clearly has zeal for the mission of teaching young people -- and anyone else who will listen -- about the bright future of magnetic fusion.

As the newest member of the Science Education staff at the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, where he is a postdoctoral fellow, Dominguez is full of enthusiasm for a job that allows him to combine his love of physics research with his passion for educating people about how plasma physics will lead to a renewable energy source.

“There’s a big disconnect between what we know about plasma and fusion and what the general community knows about it,” he said. “There’s a big learning gap that we really need to fill. I think that’s what got me into science education.” more >>>