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Jan Scheffel

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Researcher ID

About me

Professor in Theoretical Fusion Plasma Physics,
  School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), KTH
Deputy Head, division of Fusion Plasma Physics
Author of the book Tankens Villkor.

Academic assignments
- Chair, Election Committe for KTH Faculty Council
- Program Director, doctoral program in Electrical Engineering (E2DOC)
- Director, Plasma Track, E2DOC
- Member, EECS Council for Third Cycle Education
- 2012-2019 Vice chair, KTH Promotion Board

• My fields of research are fusion plasma physics and computational physics.
I enjoy devoting my free time to work in analytic philosophy. These activities are described in more detail below.
• Teaching undergraduate courses in engineering science, vector analysis and fusion physics, I am engaged in course design and course development. On the graduate level I teach courses in basic and advanced Magnetohydrodynamics as well as Kinetic plasma theory. 
• I have a keen interest for pedagogy and pedagogical leadership. I am presently program director of the Electrical Engineering (E2DOC) doctoral program. 
• In 2014 I received the KTH Pedagogical prize. 

Interpretation and prediction of fusion plasmas are complex tasks and can, as of yet, not be made in detail from first principles. New methods for more efficient and accurate solution of the modelling equations are of importance for designing more advanced and compact fusion power plants that could replace fossil fuels by the mid-century or before.
• As a theorist I develop novel theoretical and numerical tools for solving the systems of nonlinear partial differential equations that constitute our models of the hot fusion plasma. These fluid (3D space) and kinetic (6D phase space) equations feature phenomena on several distinct time scales, being demanding in terms of computer memory and CPU time. For this reason, my group focuses on efficient so-called time-spectral methods.
• My second field of interest is to explore operational limits of alternative plasma configurations. Such configurations, being more compact and easier to develop, would significantly shorten the time for commercialization of fusion power.  Some major work (for details, see portfolio):
Computational physics
  GWRM - a time-spectral method for solving initial-value PDE:s
  A time-spectral approach to numerical weather prediction
  Optimizing Time-Spectral Solution of Initial-Value Problems
  SIR - an efficient root solver for systems of nonlinear equations
• Operational limits of fusion energy configurations
  Effect of Thermal Conduction on Pressure-driven Modes in the Reversed-field Pinch
Numerical Studies of Confinement Scalings for the Dynamo Free Reversed-field Pinch
  Confinement Scaling Laws for the Conventional Reversed-field Pinch​​​​​​​
  Linear Stability of the High Temperature, Dense Z-pinch
  Large Larmor Radius Stability of the Z-pinch
Fundamental plasma physics
  Large Debye Distance Effects in a Homogeneous Plasma
  On the Minimum Elementary Charge of an Extended Electromagnetic Theory

My work in analytical philosophy primarily addresses problems in epistemology and philosophy of mind. I have found that elements of physics and mathematics, including information theory, are beneficial when addressing long-standing problems relating to, for example, knowledge and understanding, consciousness and free will. 
Publications (for details, see portfolio): 
Tankens Villkor, a book about the limits to rational thinking in mathematics, the natural sciences, philosophy and in everyday life; 
  Tankens Villkor
Understanding (published in the journal Filosofisk Tidskrift)
  Att förstå – betraktelser utifrån en ny teori
  Svar till A. Tollands kommentarer till artikeln Att förstå – betraktelser utifrån en ny teori
On the Solvability of the Mind-Body Problem (Detailed article)
  On the Solvability of the Mind-Body Problem (Popularized)
Free will
Free Will of an Ontologically Open Mind (Detailed article)
  The unsolvability of the Mind-Body problem enables free will (Popularized; see p. 26)

• I have taught and held courses at KTH since 1977 in calculus, differential equations, algebra, vector analysis, fusion plasma physics, engineering science as well as in theory and methodology of science.
• Presently I teach in the courses listed below. I am also engaged in pedagogical leadership at KTH, in particular as director of the Electrical Engineering (E2DOC) doctoral programme.
See also the portfolio on pedagogy (right column).
- Bachelor level
  ED1100 Engineering Science (Examiner, course responsible)
  ED1110 Vector Analysis (Examiner)
  EH1110 Global Impact of Electrical Engineering (Student mentor)
- Master level
  ED2200 Energy and Fusion Research (Examiner, course responsible)
  MJ2405 Sustainable Power Generation (Guest lecturer)
- Doctoral level
ED3230 Magnetohydrodynamics (Examiner, course responsible)
  ED3305 Magnetohydrodynamics, advanced (Examiner, course responsible)
  JD3300 Kinetic Plasma Theory (Examiner, course responsible)

Outreach in Fusion and Popular science
Blog in Forskning och Framsteg, a Swedish popular science journal.
For further contributions, please see portfolio.

Novel structure for textbooks and nonfiction
Nonfiction and academic textbooks are still written in a similar style as in the 17th century, whereas the readers’ demands have evolved. But there is a way out! - see portfolio.

Gender equality
At KTH, as well as at other technical universities, work is still to be done for achieving gender equality. Some humble initiatives can be found in the portfolio.


Degree Project in Electrical Engineering, specialising in Electromagnetics, Fusion and Space Engineering, Second Cycle (EA275X), examiner | Course web

Energy and Fusion Research (ED2200), examiner, course responsible, teacher | Course web

Engineering Science (ED1100), examiner, course responsible, teacher | Course web

Kinetic Plasma Theory (FJD3300), examiner | Course web

Magnetohydrodynamics (FED3230), examiner | Course web

Vector Analysis (ED1110), examiner, course responsible, teacher | Course web