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Finding the right waves at PlasmaSurf 2013

One of the FuseNet members, the IST School of Engineering in Portugal, organized the first edition of the PlasmaSurf summer school on plasma physics from 7-13 July, 2013. Organized at the coastline of Oeiras, not far from Lisbon in Portugal, the students had the opportunity to relax at the beach in between the physics courses.

The summer school started with a surprising mini-course on oceanography aimed at the physics of ocean waves, before it continued with some generic plasma physics and computational physics courses. On the second day, the courses focused on the basic topics of magnetic confinement fusion and inertial fusion, leaving the more advanced and specialized topics for the remaining three days.

The students also remotely operated a plasma experiment available at the IST e-lab infrastructure, and made site-visits to the Tokamak ISTTOK and the Laboratory for Intense Lasers of the IST laboratories. And of course, being a summer course in Portugal where you can find one of the highest ocean waves in the world, a visit to the beach was not forgotten.

The analogy between a surfer and an electron?

PlasmaSurf was not only about plasma science. It also was about fun, and learning that physics is all around us - even at the beach.

Students got a vast social program including a visits to the neighborhoods and practicing cannoning, climbing, and mountain-boarding. Unfortunately due to the weather conditions, there were no actual waves to surf on in the popular Carcavelos’ beach. And although not about plasma science, it was still physics at the center stage in two interesting off-topic lectures:

  • How oceans generate waves for surfing by prof. Pedro Bicudo, a physics professor at IST who turned out to be a surfer and waves enthusiast.
  • The physics of super-heros by James Kakalios, a physics professor who is also the author of the book The Physics of Superheroes and helped Hollywood to get more realistic physics in scenes as of the 'The Amazing Spiderman'. Do you know how many physics details were correct or wrong in the original 'Spider-man 2 - birth of Doctor Octopus' scene, including the plasma instability incident? Come to the next PlasmaSurf for a complete explanation!

Participants of the 2013 PlasmaSurf Summer School