192 Lasers, Nuclear Weapons and Fusion Power

The human brain is incredible…

The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was built by the Department of Energy to gather data on the thermonuclear reactions that occur inside atomic weapons. And as an excellent side bonus, NIF (rhymes with stiff) could unlock the secret of harnessing fusion for unlimited, clean electricity.

To achieve these high-fallutin’ goals, NIF contains 192 of the world’s most powerful lasers, which wend their way through a series of amplifiers inside the three-football-fields-long laser bay. At the end of their journey, their energy is focused onto a tiny target about the size of the end of your pinkie.

When the facility is up to full-power, sometime next year, the physicists hope the lasers will fuse hydrogen atoms inside the target into helium, giving off more power than was pumped into them.

Check out the Wired Video blog to try and understand how the system will work… http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/10/video-podcast-6.html

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2 Comments

Filed under energy, technology

2 responses to “192 Lasers, Nuclear Weapons and Fusion Power

  1. James W Makepeace

    What’s happening at NIF over the next 2 years is hugely important and the world of science is already preparing to move things forward, once Lawrence Livermore have achieved proof of principle for laser fusion. Here’s a link to a short film just released about the European HiPER project, which is set to be ready to pick up the baton when the USA achieves the aim of “first ignition”… This is a vital step on the road to future energy sources ! Enjoy … and please think about it !!!
    http://www.hiper-laser.org/hiper_dvd01.wmv

  2. Incredible video about the hiper program! The key is really going to be getting everyone on board. Reminds me of the short story “Talking to God…” by the Ragged Trousered Philosopher. http://www.fullmoon.nu/articles/art.php?id=tal

    ‘So what are we supposed to do in order to qualify for membership of the universal intelligentsia?’

    ‘Evolve. Survive’

    ‘Yes, but how?’

    ‘Oh, I thought you might have got the point by now. “How” is entirely up to you. If I have to help, then you’re a failure. All I will say is this. You’ve already passed a major hurdle in learning to live with nuclear weapons. It’s depressing how many fail at that stage.’

    ‘Is there worse to come?’

    ‘Much’

    ‘Genetic warfare for instance?

    ‘Distinct Possibility’

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