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Greetings from the top

The National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) is facing a transition phase toward the “post LHD” era.  As Director, I will work with all members of the institute to organize the new NIFS as a lighthouse that illuminates the direction of fusion science in the academic tide. 

Fusion science is a complex of many different challenges.  The road to the fusion power is purgatory, which is much harder than the estimate made at the beginning (mid-20th century).  However, it is not necessarily unfortunate that we encounter unexpected challenges.  As many great researchers tell that discovery was born from failure, new truth exists outside the range that one can predict.  Fusion energy is a steep peak for development researchers to climb, but it is also a treasure trove for academic researchers.  The task of academic researcher is to output a new knowledge from the input of difficult problems.

In the challenge of fusion science, we first have to cast “difficult problems” into “good problems”.  Here, a “good problem” is a research target that leads to a general principle having a wide range of application.

So far, fusion science has focused on "numerical targets" that represent the access of plasma parameters (temperature, density, etc.) to the thermonuclear range, and has promoted big projects that literally pioneers the new frontier.  In parallel to pushing parameters, these projects have revealed the basic problems that make up the "reason" behind the numerical "results."  We have reached the level where the fusion science can be developed as diverse themes bearing academic meaning.  NIFS will evolve into an academic research institute symbolized by the theme of "good problems" representing fusion science.

LHD, being a unique experimental system, has been making many new discoveries.  It is necessary to generalize the results as principles that apply to various phenomena in the complex world, rather than ascribing them to the specialties (merits) of the device.  Here, generalization means extracting “genetic information” that can be realized by various objects.  Such genetic information will propagate to the DNA = blue print of future fusion reactors (as well as of various future technologies).  In the final phase of the LHD project (scheduled to be completed by 2022 FY), we will focus on creating "general information" that will be succeeded to the post LHD era.

Toward the new age, NIFS will make a drastic reorganization by constructing twin central pillars, “units” and “platforms”.

〇 The unit is an organizational element of academic activity; the "unit theme" of each unit represents the theme of fusion science that we define by our vision of the next 10 years.  We will organize about ten units.  The unite themes will be the identity of the future NIFS.

〇 The platform is the basic hardware supporting academic activities.  As an inter-university research institute , NIFS must fulfill diverse requitements of the fusion science community.  We will investigate the academic facilities that NIFS should have, the strategy that maximizes the value of the LHD properties, and the next generation large project that NIFS should start.

NIFS will create a broad avenue crowded with many researchers, through which the scope of “fusion science” will extend in the world of science.  I hope that many people pay attention to the evolution of NIFS, and participate in our activity.

April 2021