As if global warming and erratic weather patterns weren’t bad enough, there are scientists busily playing around with extreme forces of nature on a galactic scale. CERN researchers in France have been working at creating artificial black holes. Not to be outdone, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California are creating miniature stars using hydrogen fusion.

To achieve this mean feat, they’ve built the most powerful laser in existence with $3.5 billion in taxpayer’s money. Nice to see that everyone has their priorities straight. This 192-beam monster laser is called the National Ignition Facility or NIF. (Yes, that’s the name of the device and not the facility where it’s housed. Confusing, I know.) According to NIF Director, Ed Moses, the super-powered laser system has already produced beams with 25 times more energy than the nearest competing laser. Take that Death Star.

The laser is housed in a 10-story structure that encompasses three football fields of space and shoots 192 separate low energy beams of about one-billionth of a joule through a specially constructed amplifier. The resulting beams are then focused to a single point of about 4 million joules onto a BB-sized pellet of hydrogen fuel. The result? Miniature stars that release energy from hydrogen fusion far greater than the energy required to pump and prime the laser shots.

Now if these eggheads could figure out how to route the energy output back to the laser drive system, we could have ourselves a nifty self-propagating (albeit runaway) fusion reaction. Even Emperor Palpatine would probably be duly impressed. However, our intrepid friends across the pond in France will probably want to invest in some SPF5000 sunblock.

Source: Gizmodo

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