As part of the European fusion-EP Master, I did my thesis at Ciemat in Madrid. My work was focused on stellarators optimization with regard to neoclassical transport and lasted for about 4 months. During that time I had the opportunity not only to learn a lot about fusion theory but also to get a first contact with the daily life of researchers in the field of theoretical physics.
I didn’t really know what to expect and unconsciously had this obviously biased idea of a scientist sitting in an obscure room, a pencil in the hand, draining knowledge from his brain directly onto a sheet of paper disposed in front of him, and this all day long. Even though it did happen every so often that I had to work entire days a pencil in the hand, most of my days there were spent reading and coding.
The reading part allowed me to understand both the physics behind stellarator optimization and the mathematical framework used to describe it, then I was able to focus on the numerical implementation of a specific mathematical tool developed by Cary and Sasharina in 1997 that given the second adiabatic invariant and the value of the magnetic field strength on (roughly) half a flux-surface of a stellarator, yields the value of the latter on the rest of it.
I found the topic interesting and had a lot of fun working on my Master thesis but my experience at Ciemat wouldn’t have been complete without the nice atmosphere that the people working there created. I also loved the energy in the streets of Madrid at whatever hour of the day/night, and the cosmopolitan characteristic of the city.
Finally, I’d like to thank FuseNet for having provided me with financial support.