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Physics is phun!

Bonjour tout le monde, 

I'm Emelie, a Swedish girl doing a French Ph.D. in Cadarache near Aix-en-Provence at an institute called CEA, located right next to ITER. I actually went to ITER for the first time the other day. The visit was quite impressive, the facilities are really high tech and modern. I kind of felt like I was stepping into the Google offices. Me and my supervisor went to ITER for a meeting on the topic of my thesis: formation and mitigation of runaway electrons. 

Relativistic runaway electrons avalanches 

More specifically I work on kinetic modelling of relativistic runaway electron avalanches in tokamak plasma. Runaway electrons are electrons that accelerate to relativistic energies in an electric field. This strong acceleration is possible because a higher speed implies lower friction between the electrons and their surroundings. A small population of runaway electrons can set off an entire avalanche of fast electrons, through knock on collisions in which enough momentum is transferred to kick the slow electrons into the runaway momentum region.

It is an extremely urgent problem to solve, since the runaway electrons pose a serious threat to large scale tokamaks, like ITER!

Doing a thesis on plasma physics is a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it!

Working in France means we get a lot of holidays, I really can't complain. I just returned from a trip to Bali with my sister where I took a break from the runaway electron theory, but I practiced some Landau damping (surfing).

What is the best part of doing a thesis in nuclear fusion?

We get to go to exciting conferences, summer schools and meetings all over the world. This summer I went to Carolus Magnus summer school in Germany and met some really nice students and professors. I also like how there is a direct application to the fusion plasma physics, the goal is to work towards an energy source for the future.

Last but not least, plasma physicists are phun! Phun is a new concept that me and a friend came up with, it just means fun, but in the context of physics. I believe we are a little bit more phun than physicists in other fields. Wanna have phun? Join the crew!