Something Completely Different

Last Saturday was Open Day at Iter.

Unless you’re some sort of research physicist geek (HI PHIL!), you won’t know what I’m talking about.  So I’ll explain.  Iter is a massive research centre, the result of a joint effort by five (or possible six or maybe even seven) countries, where they will eventually work out whether nuclear fusion is a viable source of energy or not.  And it’s only 20 kilometres or so from where we live.  So when we heard they were having an Open Day, we decided to go along and find out more, and maybe learn all about nuclear fusion.

What we mostly found out was that Iter is a vast, vast building site, with some impressive holes in the ground and a visitors centre located on some high ground.


From the visitor’s centre


The hole in the ground which will eventually house the tokamak thingy which is basically a force field to retain the heat generated by the nuclear fusion



They don’t expect to be doing anything other than construction (pretty much) until 2020, at which time they might actually start some applied physics (as opposed to theoretical physics).

There are some nice views from the visitor centre….


…and we were super-impressed with this enormous building, which will be used to build the enormous superconductor coils – they’ll be too big to be manufactured elsewhere and shipped here.


I looked at the building and thought “Wow, what an awesome indoor arena this would make.”

The LSH looked at it and though “Hmm, you could make this into an interesting photographic studio.”

The little boy in the picture had a much more intelligent thought – what were the lines on the ground for? That’s where all the electrical outlets are, under a kind of trapdoor.

We sat in on a Q & A session for a while.  It seems the locals are worried about safety, but the staff were super-confident that nuclear fusion is far safer than nuclear fission.  Yeah.  We’ll have to wait until 2020 to see.

Anyhow, that’s my very fuzzy take on our trip to the Iter site and nuclear fusion.

I have much, much more interesting news on the horse front, which followers of my Twitter account (@MaGreenlee) and my Facebook page (Tails From Provence) have already spotted.

I jumped Flurry today! This is a BIG DEAL. I made a decision three years ago that I don’t need to leave the ground to feel fulfilled as a horsewoman.  The last time I jumped, almost eighteen months ago, was not entirely deliberate – see here for what happened!  But I always feel sorry for Flurry, cos he really loves jumping.

Right now, there’s a course set up in the arena because there’s a couple of jumping competitions coming up.  I had a lesson this morning and I spent most of it avoiding jumps, while Flurry kept suggesting that we go over them.  Eventually, I caved.

“I’ll just do a few small ones,” I said.

We started off with a couple of cross poles and then I came around a corner and we were lined up for a little straight, so we just kept going and popped out over it.  I don’t know how high it was – 70 or 80cm I suppose?  Finally, we did a line – a cross pole, and then six strides to a two stride double.  I knew from the feel of him over the double that he was really, really enjoying himself, so I wasn’t surprised by the string of YIPPEEEEE bucks that he threw as we went around the short end of the arena.  I figured I couldn’t let him finish by bucking, so I pushed him on through the corner and over another straight before calling it quits.

Loads of fun.  I was even almost seeing a stride.  We were both beaming afterwards.

See?  Far more interesting than nuclear physics.



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