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