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Record Setting 500 Trillion-Watt Laser Shot Achieved 252

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-the-eyes dept.
cylonlover writes "Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) have achieved a laser shot which boggles the mind: 192 beams delivered an excess of 500 trillion-watts (TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to a target of just two millimeters in diameter. To put those numbers into perspective, 500 TW is more than one thousand times the power that the entire United States uses at any instant in time."
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Record Setting 500 Trillion-Watt Laser Shot Achieved

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  • One Thousand Times (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dopaz (148229) on Monday July 16, 2012 @01:38PM (#40664513) Homepage

    "To put those numbers into perspective, 500 TW is more than one thousand times the power that the entire United States uses at any instant in time."

    Except for the instant when the lasers were on, of course.

  • by LordStormes (1749242) on Monday July 16, 2012 @01:47PM (#40664629) Homepage Journal

    As a means to prevent malicious use of the weapon, require multiple access keys to activate it, and provide one each to the governments of the UN Security Council members. Unanimous, active participation would then be required to fire the weapon, which would only realistically be achieved due to a true threat to the entire planet.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Monday July 16, 2012 @02:02PM (#40664837) Homepage Journal

    By that logic, we shouldn't have useful electricity since flying kites in storms doesn't produce a sustainable current.

  • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> on Monday July 16, 2012 @02:53PM (#40665387) Homepage

    For another perspective, the 1.85MJ of energy is approximately 0.5 kWh, which is how much your boiler spends for a shower. So basically geeks that play with these lasers instead of showering spend roughly the same amount of energy.

  • by DM9290 (797337) on Monday July 16, 2012 @04:52PM (#40666501) Journal

    Important difference: The LHC was built to be massively powerful because there were (apparently accurate) calculations of what would be needed. Ignition of a fusion reaction has been Real Soon Now for decades. Evidently, the theory behind nuclear fusion reactions is not nearly as good as that behind the Higgs boson. That is the point of my snarky remark.

    Ignition of a fusion reaction was done a long time ago. The theory is sound. The problem was never theoretical. It is technical: how to keep the hot plasma contained without using up more power generating magnetic fields than the amount of power produced by the reaction. And then actually building such a containment devices with such powerful magnets that are flawless. And then finally making the device with such low tolerances that it could be feasible in a commercial environment and maintained with very long duty cycles and very little maintenance. which means materials that can resist gama rays for many years, and can be easily replaced and maintained etc. its a huge engineering problem -- not a scientific one.

    Nuclear fusion has been real soon now for decades because the theory is so sound and so simple that its easy to underestimate the technical challenges.

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