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Eye witness report from Culham Plasma Physics Summer School, part 0

FUSENET sponsors the Culham Plasma Physics Summer School in the UK. One of the students present, James Simpson, reports:

Summary - 1st Week Culham Summer School

After saying farewell to my family and girlfriend I bored my train to Oxford, which took longer than some other peoples flights! Upon arriving in Oxford I took a taxi to what I thought was my accommodation, but actually turned out to be the college associated with the accommodation. I had unfortunately misread the address! After that rather exhausting trip, it was time to unpack and get some sleep. 

Breakfast came around on our first day and everyone was very quiet, but we all soon got to know each other very quickly. Some of the Culham staff came to pick us up, and had great fun attempting to pronounce some of the students names.

We had a welcome lecture, and then we dived straight into plasma theory. The next few days consisted of covering fundamental plasma theory – MHD and Kinetic Theory.  Both were taught very well. I particular enjoyed learning  a different derivation  of the fluid equations from kinetic theory, as opposed to taking moments of the Valsov equation as I had previously learnt it.

For the rest of the week we had problem sessions to supplement our plasma theory foundation and started to learn about waves in plasmas. We also had some introductory lectures into – Space plasma physics, inertial confinement fusion, low temperature plasmas and magnetic confinement fusion.  All in all we received a solid foundation in plasma theory, and got a taste of it applications.

Students were encouraged to bring posters about their PhDs and present them on Wednesday. Here is Bibes Chaulagain with his poster.

Congratulations to Alexandre Storelli for winning best poster!

In the evenings we spent the week getting to know each other better. The Culham staff had organised a welcome dinner for us at St Edmunds hall, which was a great ice breaker.

We spent the remainder of the week, visiting new pubs and restaurants. The Culham staff also organised a boat trip for us. This was great we took a trip down the river Isis, there was a band playing and a bar on board. It was a trip which involved everyone – staff and students, so we all got to know each other quite well.

We also all gained quite an interest in playing ultimate Frisbee at lunch time. It got quite competitive but it was great fun!

The weekend soon came around and some people used to their advantage to see some of England. On Saturday a large group headed off to London to see the sites! I however used this day to catch up on some much needed sleep! We all reconvened that evening and had a bit of a gathering my room! On Sunday we organised a mini bus to take 16 of us to see Stonehenge. I too had not seen this so took the opportunity to go. We spent about an hour getting there and few hours at Stonehenge.

We then moved onto the nearest town called Salisbury, where we grabbed some lunch and visited the Cathedral. This was an impressive piece of architecture and it also housed a copy of the Magna Carta. This was my favourite part of the day, I was quite excited to see the Magna Carta! We returned later that evening and we all caught up on some sleep ready for our next set of lectures.