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Public events focus on plasma and solar storms

Posted on 20 March 2013

The University of York is offering people of all ages an opportunity to learn more about plasma and solar storms.

Coronal Mass Ejection erupts on the Sun

A free interactive exhibition in the superb Ron Cooke Hub on 26 March, ‘Plasmas and our World’, will feature a gazebo filled with plasma balls, a fusion demonstration and an opportunity to walk through a tokamak – today's most advanced and best investigated fusion device design - in the 3Sixty exhibition space.

Dr Kate Lancaster, from the University’s York Plasma Institute, Department of Physics, said: “Plasma is a form of ionised gas, and is abundant in the Universe – stars, including the Sun, are in a plasma state, as is the solar wind, the Northern Lights and lightning.

“Plasma can be relatively cool, such as in a modern television set or a fluorescent light bulb, or extremely hot, such as in the core of the Sun. The exhibition will give visitors of all ages a better understanding of plasma, the fourth state of matter.”

The exhibition will be followed by a free lecture by Professor Jim Wild from Lancaster University, who will discuss ‘Weathering Solar Storms’ and the implications of living with a star.

The Earth is embedded in the outer atmosphere of the Sun and is constantly buffeted by the solar wind and bathed in remnants of the Sun’s massive magnetic field. Professor Wild will explain how changes in the space environment – so-called ‘space weather’ – can have an impact on man-made technologies under, on and above the surface of the Earth.

The public events are part of the 40th Annual Spring Conference on Plasma Physics. Organised by the Institute of Physics (IOP) Plasma Physics Group and the University’s York Plasma Institute, the four-day conference will feature talks, poster sessions and a table-top exhibition.

We are particularly pleased to host the event at York this year as it provides an ideal opportunity to showcase the York Plasma Institute and demonstrate the breadth of science we carry out here

Dr Nigel Woolsey

Conference Chair, Dr Nigel Woolsey from the University’s Department of Physics, said: “The annual conference is one of the most important meetings in the UK for plasma scientists, providing a forum for discussing the latest research and results.

“We are particularly pleased to host the event at York this year as it provides an ideal opportunity to showcase the York Plasma Institute and demonstrate the breadth of science we carry out here.”

The York Plasma Institute, the result of a £6m collaboration between the University and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), was officially opened last year.

Part of the Department of Physics, the Institute represents a capital investment of £3.7m and provides facilities for research and training in fusion energy; low temperature plasmas for technological and biomedical applications; and laser-plasma interaction.

The exhibition, ‘Plasmas and our World’ on 26 March in the Ron Cooke Hub from 4.30-6.30pm, is free to attend and no booking is required. Professor Wild’s lecture will take place from 6.30-7.30pm, also in the Ron Cooke Hub. Admittance is by free ticket, available here or by emailing publiclectures@york.ac.uk or phoning 01904 324778.

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

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