Photo: Dave Bullock
Dave Bullock, one of our favorite photographers here on Neatorama, has just sent us his latest photos from his visit to the innards of the National Ignition Facility. Wired has the story:
It may look like one of Michael Bay's Transformers, but this mass of machinery could soon be the birthplace of a baby star right here on Earth.
Using 192 separate lasers and a 400-foot-long series of amplifiers and filters, scientists at Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility (NIF) hope to create a self-sustaining fusion reaction like the ones in the sun or the explosion of a nuclear bomb — only on a much smaller scale.
Sci-fi-inspired End of Days jokes may follow this historic undertaking like they did for CERN's Large Hadron Collider, but the science behind this advanced laser system is profoundly serious.
"Completion of the NIF construction project is a major milestone for the NIF team, for the nation and the world," said Edward Moses, the facility's principal associate director for NIF and photon science. "We are well on our way to achieving what we set out to do — controlled nuclear fusion and energy gain for the first time ever in a laboratory setting."
The hope is that this reaction will release more energy than the lasers put into the target isotopes and perhaps redefine the global energy crisis in the process.