Plasma physics at your fingertips


Plasma Ball

Plasma Ball. (Image: EUROfusion)

Aspiring plasma physicists and future fusion researchers could start their training from their living rooms. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s Swiss Plasma Center (SPC), a EUROfusion consortium member, has kicked off the latest MOOC edition on plasma physics and its applications. The course which is set to run for nine weeks started on January 25, 2016, and will cover a range of titles from basics of plasma physics to advanced concepts in fusion.

EUROfusion fellow Christian Theiler, who has played a key role in putting the latest MOOC edition together, says that the team has implemented feedback from the previous courses and improved transcripts and assignments. In the current edition, the students will also have access to MATLAB Online, a tool which is crucial to churning out some of the plasma physics computations.

SPC Director Ambrogio Fasoli, who is also one of the course instructors, says that the team was aware that plasma physics needs more reach in many countries. And, when the previous edition saw an enrolment more than 6,000 participants, it was clear that the course was especially useful for students from countries that have little or no tradition in plasma physics and fusion. “We are happy to have reached many people in so many different places, to have received constructive criticism, which in turn helped preparing the [current] version of the course,” says Fasoli. The current course already has an enrolment of about 2,500. It is hosted on the edX platform, and the medium of instruction is English.

Further details are available on the dedicated course pages on edX and the SPC news webpage.