After the piece on Gaudi I was curious if the plasma physics world has ever used scale models and innovative kinds of simulation to design confinement devices and the like.

To recap. Gaudi designed arches by hanging weights from suspended ropes, the ropes would hang in a shape which evenly distributes the tensional forces, Gaudi would then build his arch in that shape only inverted. Tension becomes compression, a catenary becomes an arch.

How about confinement vessels in plasma physics? Well there are Q-machines (pictured above) which produce coldish plasmas ~ 0.2ev of alkali metals but as far as I can see they don’t seem to have been used for modelling tokamaks or stellarators directly. Rather they’re very handy for studying plasma physics more generally as they produce very well behaved non-turbulent plasma.

I know that non-neutral plasmas have been used to simulate conventional fluid dynamics but how about the other way round? Can anything do the job? Liquid metals? suspensions of charged particles?