US engineers complete laser capable of simulating force of hydrogen bomb

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March 31, 2009 02:28

After more than a decade of work and $3.5 billion, US engineers have completed the world's most powerful laser, capable of simulating the energy force of a hydrogen bomb and the sun itself. The federal Energy Department will announced Tuesday that it has officially certified the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, clearing the way for a series of experiments over the next year that eventually is hoped will mimic the heat and pressure found at the center of the sun. The facility, the size of a football field, comprises of 192 separate laser beams, each traveling 1,000 feet in a one-thousandth of a second to converge simultaneously on a target the size of a pencil eraser. 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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