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Eye witness report from the Plasma Diagnostics course in Lausanne, Switzerland, part 2

FUSENET sponsors the Plasma Diagnostics course in Lausanne, Switzerland. The course gives students the opportunity to get acquainted with a variety of plasma diagnostics. One of the students present, Owen Jones, reports:

DAY 4: Thursday 2nd February
It is 10:15, and time for the morning coffee break. The week's lectures have just been concluded with a whistle-stop tour through the world of fast imaging techniques in tokamaks. To many, this will have come as a welcome break from the extensive coverage of electrostatic and magnetic probes; one possible criticism of this course is the relatively narrow range of diagnostic techniques which are described in detail. In future years, with the possibilty of bringing a greater diversity of CRPP lecturers on board, this situation may well improve. Nonetheless, the last day and a half have been engaging. Yesterday afternoon we were given a guided tour of the various data analysis techniques, coded in Matlab, used by the CRPP group. Miraculously, the server through which we accessed the TORPEX data survived the onslaught of 24 simultaneous requests. 'Videos' of plasma blobs were reconstructed using the method of conditional sampling. We were able to see at first hand the power of computational data analysis techniques on experiments which generate a seemingly overwhelming mass of data; messy, turbulent behaviour was averaged out, and an almost comprehensible picture of the phenomena appeared. Much the same could be said for the simpler, single-probe data analysed earlier in the session.
In the run-up to lunchtime, we engage with the data once again. This time, magnetic probe measurements from TCV are picked apart and reveal their secrets via Fast Fourier Transforms and spectrograms. The session has clearly been well planned, as the steps through which we are guided tie in well with the material of yesterday's lectures. In a way, this is indicative of the approach taken by the course organisers to the whole programme: they have managed to put together a schedule in which each session complements those which have gone before. As a result, we near the end of the week feeling as though we have a real insight into the tools available to experimental physicists, and how they fit into a coherent whole.