Friday, March 23, 2012

Reason #160: Insert Dr. Evil Joke Here

Scientists in California have just broken the record for the most powerful laser ever fired by mankind. The National Ignition Facility's laser delivered 1.875 MJ of energy to its target (though at one point the beam was measured as producing 2.03 MJ, which confuses me - are energy production and energy output two different things?).

While firing, the beam generated one thousand times as much power as the entire United States uses in the same amount of time. But before you get too excited, that amount of time was 23 billionths of a second.

Now that they've set a new benchmark for overall laser power, the goal is to fire the laser at a specific target in order to produce the first artificial fusion reaction; technology which will then, I'm sure, get slapped under the wing of a fighter jet somewhere.

That sounds scary enough until you hear about Europe's pending "Extreme Light Infrastructure Ultra-High Field Facility", whose stated intention is nothing less than to "tear apart the fabric of space". I say "pending" because people are still bidding on the privilege of building it in their country. God, I love science.

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