Saturday, May 9, 2009

Scientists working on Death Star laser

The National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is working on creating a laser which can compress and heat a single fuel capsule to more than 180 million degrees in order to trigger a thermonuclear reaction. In short, they’re building a Death Star Laser. But for good, not evil. The idea is to create a kind of miniature sun on earth that would supply “limitless, safe, and carbon free energy.”

Normally, fusion – which is the bonding together of heavy atoms to create energy – takes place in hot environments like stars, but with 192 giant lasers, the NIF is attempting to create the same kind of reaction here on earth. The reaction will be accomplished by super heating the outside of a fuel capsule containing about one millionth of a pound of deuterium and tritium. This will cause the interior of the capsule to compress while the exterior explodes much like a star does. The biggest challenge? Containing the reaction as 180 million degrees will melt just about any known substance here on earth. But the reaction itself may be the key to containing it as, according to the NIF, the reaction consumes the cooler outer region faster than the capsule can release the hotter elements, thereby containing it.

Serious ignition testing is scheduled for next year. Then its’ bound to be a horse race to see if it can beat the Hadron collider in destroying the planet.

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