Scientists Set to Ignite a Tiny Man-Made Star


Photo: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Scientist at the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California, are getting ready to do something spectacular: ignite a tiny man-made star inside a lab and trigger a thermonuclear reaction!

Scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, nestled among the wine-producing vineyards of central California, will use a laser that concentrates 1,000 times the electric generating power of the United States into a billionth of a second.

The result should be an explosion in the 32ft-wide reaction chamber which will produce at least 10 times the amount of energy used to create it.

"We are creating the conditions that exist inside the sun," said Ed Moses, director of the facility. "It is like tapping into the real solar energy as fusion is the source of all energy in the world. It is really exciting physics, but beyond that there are huge social, economic and global problems that it can help to solve."

Inside a structure covering an area the size of three football pitches, a single infrared laser will be sent through almost a mile of lenses, mirrors and amplifiers to create a beam more than 10 billion times more powerful than a household light bulb.

Igniting a tiny man-made star, what could go wrong? Seriously though, this is pretty nifty: Link | National Ignition Facility website | video clip at Wired Science

Is it time for an I Survived the Tiny Man-Made Star T-shirt yet? (Much in the line of our I Survived the Large Hadron Collider T-shirt)


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