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World’s $3.5 Billion, Most Powerful Laser Up and Ready to Use

By Sandy Sand     Mar 31, 2009 in Science
A dozen or so years and $3.5 billion later the world’s largest laser will receive final approval today from the Energy Department.
Touted as the world’s most powerful laser, it’s capable of simulating the force of the energy produced by a hydrogen bomb and the power of the sun.
Once the certification is officially announced, the laser, built by the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, scientists will be able to begin experiments next year.
The hope is that their experiments will eventually mimic the pressure and heat found at the sun’s center.
The football field-size facility is comprised of 192 separate laser beams. Each one being capable of traveling 1,000 feet in one-thousandth of a second, and timed to converge simultaneously on a target no larger than a pencil eraser.
According to the Associated Press:
While the NIF laser is expected to be used for a wide range of high-energy and high-density physics experiments, its primary purpose is to help government physicists ensure the reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons as they become older.
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