The Joint European Torus (JET)
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This paper addresses the history of JET, the Tokamak that reached the highest performances and the experiment that so far came closest to the eventual goal of a fusion reactor. The reader must be warned, however, that this document is not a comprehensive study of controlled thermonuclear fusion or even of JET. The next step on this road, the ITER project, is an experimental reactor. Actually, several prototypes will be required before a commercial reactor can be built. The fusion history is far from been finalised. JET is still in operation some 32 years after the first plasma and still has to provide answers to many questions before ITER takes the lead on research. Some physical interpretations of the observed phenomena, although coherent, are still under discussion. This paper also recalls some basic physics concepts necessary to the understanding of confinement: a knowledgeable reader can ignore these background sections. This fascinating story, comprising successes and failures, is imbedded in the complexities of twentieth and the early twenty-first centuries at a time when world globalization is evolving and the future seems loaded with questions. The views here expressed on plasma confinement are solely those of the author. This is especially the case for magnetic turbulence, for which other scientists may have different views.
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