Navratil Presents 2006 Con Ed Lecture

Gerald A. Navratil, the new Thomas Alva Edison Professor of Applied Physics, presented the 2006 Con Edison Lecture: "Bold Step by the World to Fusion Energy: ITER" on March 21, 2006 in Davis Auditorium.

One of the top scientific ‘grand challenges’ has been to harness the nuclear fusion process that heats the stars and lights up the visible universe for practical energy generation here on earth. After nearly a half century of research, the scientific knowledge base is in hand to design an experimental facility to produce the first controlled ‘burn’ of a fusion plasma that would be the fusion energy equivalent of Fermi’s first self-sustained fission chain reaction in uranium at the University of Chicago stadium in 1942. Seven international partners (Europe, Japan, China, Korea, Russia, India, and the United States) are working together to take this historic step to fusion energy with the ITER Project. ITER will be sited in France and hosted by Europe which has agreed to put up half of the construction cost, with the other half provided equally by the other six non-host partners. When completed it will be the largest international science project ever constructed. The 2006 Con Edison Lecture by Prof. Gerald A. Navratil, the Thomas Alva Edison Professor of Applied Physics, will review the history of the quest for fusion energy and describe the plans for this bold step by the world to fusion energy.

2006 Con Ed Lecture (pdf)

Photos of the Event


Gerald A. Navratil was appointed the Thomas Alva Edison Professor of Applied Physics in July of 2005 in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and has been a member of the Columbia University faculty for 27 years.

Prof. Navratil is internationally known for his work in the field of plasma physics applied to the development of fusion energy. He directs $1.6 million in annual research on fusion energy science funded by U.S. Department of Energy that includes the HBT-EP tokamak experimental facility in the Columbia Plasma Physics Laboratory as well as off-campus collaborations of at the DIII-D National Tokamak Facility in San Diego and the NSTX Experiment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1989 and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Physics in 1984.

In 1977, Prof. Navratil joined Columbia University as an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering and in 1978 was a founding member of what is now the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, serving as department chair for over 10 years from 1988 to 1994 and from 1997 to 2000, as well as acting Vice-Dean in 1995. Prof. Navratil is President of the University Fusion Association for 2005-2006 and since 1998 has been a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Fusion Energy Advisory Committee appointed by the Secretary of Energy. He was also co-chair of the 2002 Fusion Energy Sciences Summer Study held at Snowmass, CO, which carried out a technical assessment of approaches to a next step burning plasma experiment for the U.S. which ultimately was used to support the U.S. joining the ITER fusion project. Prof. Navratil currently serves as a member of the U.S. ITER Project Advisory Committee.

Prof. Navratil received his bachelor's degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1973 and his Ph.D. in plasma physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1976.

Prof. Navratil is the second professor in the Department of Applied Physics and Appiled Mathmematics to be named the Thomas Alva Edison Professor of Applied Physics. In 1984, Prof. Herbert Goldstein was the first professor to hold the title in the university and he presented the first Con Edison Lecture in 1985 titled "Nuclear Waste Disposal in Prehistoric Times".

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