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)

Mmmm Gort think maybe mix batshit and smelly yellow powder from Volcano with Burnt wood. Mmm Gort love paste made from all three on top of Leaves. Mmm now Gort have after dinner smoke *BOOM*

So lets try and build a "Mini Sun" on the "Earth". What do you do if it is a complete success, and you can not put it out? Can we just call these fellas at the NIF "Gort"?
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Wait, why are they trying to poke that guy on the cherry picker with a giant pencil? Or did those mad bastards shrink that man???

...I really need to read the article before commenting...
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a star is really like a (long lasting) perpetual atomic explosion (on a huge scale, of course). So a mini-sun should be like a little nuclear explosion, right? I hope they make sure its short-lived.

speaking of surviving the Hardon Collider, did they actual do collisions? I thought it was postponed because of some helium leak?
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What they're going to draw it with a giant pencil? Reminds me more of Duck Amuck.

Anyway, why should we worry? Pistol Shrimp fire that kind of heat off all the time.
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It's a race to see who can blow up the world first.

or alternatively

Who can recreate the best black mesa.

LHC already has that one guy so i think they're in the lead.
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A "fusion" reactors are safe. They WILL NOT melt-down like the fission reactors we currently use. If something goes wrong in the system, the reaction stops immediately. So there is no chance of a melt-down or large nuclear explosion.

In addition there is no harmful radioactive bi-products or pollution produced from the process.

You guys should be excited!! This is a big deal, if they can ever get a fusion reactor to work. If they can get a net gain from the energy they put into the process, then the worlds energy needs would be solved overnight.
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I'm surprised the words "inertial confinement" don't show up anywhere in the article. Like Morris said, if this works, the world's energy problems will be solved. I'll be very impressed if this actually works, as I'm not aware of any other fusion reactor that has even reached break even let alone a gain of 10.

The wonderful thing about fusion is that you're basically able to choose the products of the reaction, based on what you decide to fuse, unlike fission which is guarenteed to produce dangerous radioactive particles. Fusion is 100% safe, unless you count the extremely high operating temperatures and high-energy neutrons (theoretically used to create tritium).

And even though the primary fuels are rare isotopes of hydrogen, there's enough deutrium to sustain all the fusion reactors we could possibly need for longer than the sun will live. And tritium, as I mentioned above, can actually be bred as a byproduct of the fusion reaction. Frickin' sweet!

And no, it's not like the sun or Spiderman 2 in the sense that we won't be seeing a sustained ball of fusing matter. In the case of inertial confinement reactors, reactions last a fraction of a second, multiple times per second. Think rapid pulses of energy.
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