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Honda of Ithaca - 2010
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World's Largest Laser And Earth's Smallest Star
elo27@cornell.edu
| April 29, 2010
Are you a fan of stars and lasers? If so, you'll probably like this story. Scientists in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California are working on using the world's largest laser to create a star...right here on Earth. If you've heard anything about how stars work, you're probably wondering if that's a good idea. Don't worry though, it's a really tiny star. How will they do this, and why do they want to? If these scientists succeed, it would mean a huge advancement in energy production technology for the world. If this experiment works, these scientists will have successfully produced usable energy through nuclear fusion, a long-standing dream among dreams in the science world. The experimenters will be shooting 192 intersecting laser beams at a single point, at which there will be a gold-wrapped sample of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium. If everything goes according to plan, this will cause the deuterium and tritium to fuse, releasing an incredible amount of energy and a ton of free neutrons. The reaction itself is expected to heat up to over 100 million degrees Celsius, which is more than six times hotter than the center of the sun. Essentially, they'll have a small star of their own. Could this kind of energy production method help to meet all of our future energy needs? We're likely to find out more over the next few months. Fortunately, as Lynda Seaver, spokeswoman for the project has assured, the experiment is going to be completely safe. No one is in danger. The worst thing that could happen here is that the project just won't work…but I hope it does.
Share Your Thoughts
Tom from South of Ithaca | May 6, 2010, 4:49pm
Wow. Very cool story.
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