President Yamada to Receive the Prestigious Maxwell Prize


James Clerk Maxwell

Dr. Masaaki Yamada, FUTI’s newly elected president, will be awarded the highly prestigious James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics in November. The Maxwell equations which appear at the start of any study in electromagnetism, are originally formulated by the well-known 19th century Scottish mathematical physicist James Clerk Maxwell for whom this award is named. The Maxwell Prize is awarded to those who have made extraordinary contributions in the field of plasma physics. Prof. Yamada has been given recognition “for fundamental experimental studies of magnetic reconnection relevant to space, astrophysical and fusion plasmas, and for pioneering contributions to the field of laboratory plasma astrophysics.” Dr. Yamada is currently Distinguished Laboratory Research Fellow at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) located in the Princeton University campus.

Dr. Masaaki Yamada

Dr. Masaaki Yamada

Aside from not-yet-detected dark matter, most visible matter in the universe is in the plasma state in which positive ions and electrons are torn apart from atoms. The flow of this plasma interacts with magnetic field lines in space, causing a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. In this process magnetic field lines change their topological configuration and convert the magnetic energy to various plasma energy by accelerating and heating plasma particles. While magnetic reconnection is considered to play some role in the creation of the galactic system, it is known for being responsible for generating solar flares and the aurora. Furthermore, in nuclear fusion experiments where plasma is confined by magnetic field, magnetic reconnection often disturbs the control of the fusion plasma. Such magnetic reconnection is being investigated in the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) device at PPPL, the world-class machine which studies this phenomenon. As principal research physicist of MRX, Dr. Yamada has been instrumental in the planning, constructing, and managing the MRX.
Dr. Shigenori Matsushita, Chair of FUTI’s Scholarship Review Committee remarks, “Truthfully, the significance and subject matter of the prize was beyond the comprehension of a layman like myself, but when I had a chance to talk with several UTokyo professors, they enthusiastically explained that receiving this award was the highest of honors in the world of physics.” The award given to Dr. Yamada for his profound impact on the advancement of plasma physics, gives great joy to FUTI.
Congratulations, President Yamada.
Written by Shigenori Matsushita, Scholarship Committee Chair

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