Ian H. Hutchinson (born 1951) is Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and former Head of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department. He holds an M.A. in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics from the Australian National University. In addition to over 160 scientific journal articles, Dr. Hutchinson is widely known for his standard monograph: Principles of Plasma Diagnostics, whose second edition was published by Cambridge University Press in 2002. He has served on numerous national fusion review panels and editorial boards, and as editor in chief of the journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion. He is a fellow of the Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society, and was the 2008 Chairman of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society. He has been married to Fran for 35 years, has two adult children, and is an enthusiastic choral singer, squash player, and fly-fisherman.

His primary research interest is plasma physics, especially the magnetic confinement of plasmas (ionized gases): seeking to enable fusion reactions, the energy source of the stars, to be used for practical energy production. He and his MIT team designed, built and operate the Alcator C-Mod tokamak, an international experimental facility he directed for 15 years, whose magnetically confined plasmas, with temperatures reaching beyond 50 million degrees Celsius, are prototypical of a future fusion reactor. His personal scientific contributions span many areas of plasma physics, including pioneering experimental measurements of magnetohydrodynamic instabilities and radiation from energetic electrons, theoretical and computational investigations of plasma flow past embedded objects that establish how to measure plasma flow with probes, and observations of spontaneous toka- mak plasma rotation. He has also made major contributions to the development of plasma measurement and control techniques.

Throughout his professional science career, Dr. Hutchinson has been active in speaking to university and church groups on the relationship of science and Christianity, providing leadership in student and faculty conferences under the auspices of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and the Veritas Forum. He founded the Faith of Great Scientists Seminar at MIT, which examines how the Christian faith of so many great scientists of history influenced their science and how their science influenced their faith. He has assisted the American Association for the Advancement of Science in their Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion. He has recently completed a book-length study of scientism, its influence in the academy and society, and its role in the faith-science discussion. He is a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation.

Selected Scientific Publications

  • I.H. Hutchinson, “Magnetic Probe Investigation of the Disruptive Instability in Tokamak LT-3,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 37, 338 (1976).
  • I.H. Hutchinson, M. Malacarne, P. Noonan, and D. Brotherton-Radcliffe, “The Structure of Magnetic Fluctuations in the HBTX-1A Reversed Field Pinch,” Nucl. Fusion 24, 59 (1984).
  • I.H. Hutchinson, “Ion Collection by Probes in Strong Magnetic Fields with Plasma Flow,” Phys. Rev. 37, 4358 (1988).
  • I.H. Hutchinson, R. Boivin, F. Bombarda, et al., (C-Mod Group), “First Results from Alcator C-Mod,” Physics of Plasmas 1, 1511 (1994).
  • I.H. Hutchinson, J.E. Rice, R.S. Granetz, J.A. Snipes, “Self-Acceleration of a Tokamak Plasma during Ohmic H Mode,” Phys. Rev. Lett., 84 No. 15 (2000) 3330.
  • I.H. Hutchinson, “Oblique ion collection in the drift approximation: How magnetized Mach probes really work”, Phys. Plasmas, 15, 123503, (2008).
  • Selected Science and Faith Publications
  • I. H. Hutchinson, “Faith’s failure of nerve”, Cross Currents: Religion and Intellectual Life, 40, 213-227 (1990)
  • D. Hastings, I. Hutchinson, “The Two-Edged Sword of Technology,” re:generation 2, 27 (1996).
  • I.H. Hutchinson, “Faith in the Machine”, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 52, 260 (2000)
  • I.H. Hutchinson “Plasma Fusion Research and the Technical and Spiritual Challenges of Sustainable Energy”, American Vacuum Society 48th International Symposium, San Francisco (Invited Paper) p71 (2001).
  • I.H. Hutchinson, “Science Christian and Natural”, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 55, 72 (2003)
  • I.H. Hutchinson, “Warfare and Wedlock: redeeming the faith-science relationship”, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 59, 2, 91 (2007).

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