Of Unprecedented One Megajoule Laser Shots & Star Power on Earth

The successes streaming out of the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have generated headlines and pithy quotes: “the most powerful laser on earth,” “the megajoule barrier has been broken,” we are battling one of the “largest scientific and engineering challenges of our time.” Historic stuff is up.

Yet many of the articles beneath the headlines left me scratching my head. What are they doing, exactly? What have they achieved? It was time to dig a little deeper.

Skip the news releases out of Lawrence Livermore. Go straight to “Bringing Star Power to Earth,” an exciting flash video with a rhythmic Lord of the Rings soundtrack evocative of battle scenes and triumph. Check out the five-stars-at-YouTube BBC story featuring the National Ignition Facility, where scientists are creating a “stream of exploding stars.” The BBC story asks, “Can we make a star on earth?” The answer—in the not too distant future—will be yes.

Satisfy your need for vid, then the news releases make sense. The latest announces the requirements for fusion ignition were met only a few days ago. Historic stuff.

Dr. Kirtland C. Peterson—”Cat” to his friends and colleagues—feeds his left brain with science and his right brain with the rich feast of fiction, including SF and fantasy. Among his life’s highlights are sitting in the pilot’s seat of a shuttle prepping for launch at the Kennedy Space Center and responding to an invitation from Brannon Braga to pitch Star Trek stories at Paramount in LA. Currently reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s Cheek by Jowl: Talks & Essays on How & Why Fantasy Matters.


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