YouTube mirror: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-fbBRAxJNk
A more technical video explaining how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyqt6u5_sHA
Computational feasibility is one of the things physicists in that field need to admit is holding them back, and may be a little humility in seeking out advice from computer scientists is warranted in my opinion.
 this statement won't give me much criticism here, but it wouldn't go down well in a room of my peers.
(For what it's worth, I'm a physicist, but not one who does anything numerical, and I'm happy to admit arrogance by physicists could be a problem here.)
I've run into the problem of figuring out how to organize the whole dang thing and sometimes have to go back and re-write a lot of code. Can you recommend any good books that introduce computing concepts for applied physics and engineering?
It isn't domain specific but there is so much good advice in there around variable naming, code structure, general principles of bug-resistant coding that you will get a tremendous amount from it.
Theoretical computer science is quite distinct from coding and large scale numerical computation practice. Just as theoretical physics, or even experimental physics, is quite different from structural engineering.
Because CS students don't learn differential equations or real and functional analysis.
What school did you go to? What school would issue a BSc in computing science without analysis and differential equations?
CFD is a very vibrant field with applications across the entire spectrum of engineering.
In fact, modern supercomputers are MOSTLY running CFD codes (weather prediction is effectively a gigantic CFD simulation). Nothing else really demands that level of power.
I guarantee that most CS professionals (CS; not necessarily developers) are able to write much more efficient code than most professional physicists, because they spent the same amount of time understanding software and hardware that these guys spent building a fusion reactor.
that said, considering the billions that have been spent on fusion research, I doubt they did it in a bubble. it would seem strange if they didn't enlist the help of some CS
Sounds like the joke about the guy who dropped his keys in the bushes but is looking for them under the streetlamp, because there's light there so they should be easier to find.
1 million assembly hours at 370 million project cost = 370 Euros/hour (assembly + management overhead costs).
This means it generates way less neutron radiation, which in turn means less need for shielding and easier working conditions on and close to the machinery, avoids material degradation, ...
Also, if I understand German sources correctly the 370 million doesn't include wages of the people working there (maybe external construction contractors, but not the effort by MPI personnel). (EDIT: found a quote of ~1 billion EUR as cost for the entire project since 1995)
The US Fusion Energy Sciences program is over $400m a year (source: http://science.energy.gov/~/media/budget/pdf/sc-budget-reque...).
Is there any idea what scale of power generation we'd eventually be able to make with a system of similar size in the future?
Does someone know, why it looks like it looks? Why is it circular? Why are the path and the surrounding magnets twisted like this? Please ELI5.
Hopefully someone who knows what they're talking about will be along soon ...
Basically (if I understood correctly) it has to do with confining the plasma within the torus without the need of an electrical magnetic field (which is what the Tokamak uses).
Fusion reactions of this sort are quite clean. The actual reactor will be bombarded by neutrons so parts of it will become radioactive but the effect should be much less than a conventional fission reactor.
edit: as for how the actual energy production works, you get deuterium and tritium up to very high temperatures and get the atoms to collide. The kinetic energy in these reactions will be so high that electrostatic repulsion will not be able to prevent the collision (normally, like repels like, but this force can only stop so much energy). once the two collide, the strong nuclear force takes over and forms helium and releases one of the neutrons plus a whole bunch of energy
Unlike fission reactions, there are no leftover radioactive byproducts. There's nothing to bury and there are no carbon emissions (like e.g. coal). The reactor itself does become radioactive but this should be a much easier problem to deal with.
Fusion is the transformation that powers the sun. Harnessing nuclear fusion is one of the ultimate acts of power over nature that man can do.
Thanks for explanation!
It would be hard for them to extoll all the virtues of this without knowing if this design can work. One possible outcome from this test is that the reactor design, the stellerator, is not presently feasible for power plant design. That would be disappointing but at least they would have paid relatively less to figure that out.
There are no "fission fragments", nothing heavily radioactive. There is significant neutron radiation while the reactor is running, which over time will mean the reactor components themselves become low-level radioactive - but we're talking the kind of thing that's dangerous for decades, not centuries. The tritium fuel is somewhat radioactive but would float away quickly if released as it's so light.
Fusion can only occur under active containment; if the reactor loses power or the containment system fails then all you have is a pile of mildly radioactive plasma (which is not exactly great, but as above, if released into the atmosphere it would fly off into space, there's no risk of it finding its way into rainwater or anything like that). There's no "meltdown" scenario even theoretically; the physics just doesn't create that kind of possibility.
Maybe some day we will all have a Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor in our cars
(now that's a bad joke)