Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771

ENGINEERING COLLOQUIUM

Monday, April 10, 2006 / 3:30 PM, Building 3 Auditorium

Eric J. Lerner

"Aerogels"

ABSTRACT -- While aerogels have been known for 70 years, it is only in the last decade that interest in their applications has expanded rapidly. Having extremely low densities, but substantial strength, aerogels are now used to collect high velocity particle in space, to create super light capacitors, for electrodes in water purification, in heat insulation and in a dozen other fields. The recent addition of carbon-based aerogels to the older silicon-based ones has significantly enlarged the range of applications.

SPEAKER -- Eric J. Lerner is a plasma physicist. Lerner is currently president of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics in West Orange, New Jersey. He has studied cosmic plasma phenomena and laboratory fusion devices, especially the dense plasma focus. Lerner has written widely on scientific and technological topics for magazines such as IEEE Spectrum, Aerospace America, Discover, Industrial Physicist, and IBM Research, including a review article on aerogels for Industrial Physicist.

In his research in cosmology, he has developed original theories of quasars, large scale structure, the microwave background, and the origin of light elements, all based on the plasma cosmology approach. Recently he has analyzed data on the surface brightness of galaxies that contradict the predictions of expanding-universe models. In connection with this work, he was recently a visiting astronomer at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile.

For the past 20 years, Lerner has worked with others to develop the dense plasma focus device for fusion energy production. Lerner has done experimental work, funded by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on the plasma focus for fusion propulsion in space in collaboration with the University of Illinois in 1994 and with Texas A&M University in 2001. In addition, he developed an original model of the role of the strong magnetic field effect on plasma focus functioning, showing that this effect could make net energy production more feasible, potentially leading to an economical and safe source of energy. This model will be tested in a new series of experiments at the Thermonuclear Laboratory of the Chilean Nuclear Commission.

His scientific papers have been published in the Astrophysical Journal, Astrophysics and Space Science, Laser and Particle Beams, and IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science.



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