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Science in Parallel

May 24, 2023

In early December 2022, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) had achieved fusion ignition—a reaction of merging hydrogen isotopes that produced more energy than the lasers put in. High-performance computing is an important part of designing, analyzing and refining these experiments, and this episode examines the connection between computing and fusion energy.

You’ll meet:

Tammy Ma, a plasma physicist at Livermore, talks about how supercomputing supported fusion ignition. Tammy also leads the lab’s Inertial Fusion Energy Initiative.

Tammy’s scientific expertise is doing experiments rather than simulations, but in her current role she considers all parts of the fusion puzzle. She’s at the forefront of one of science and society’s grand challenges: Can we produce clean, sustainable fusion energy on the scale needed to power our planet? Tammy talks about computing’s role in understanding and optimizing fusion reactions and how computing’s crossroads could shape fusion’s future.