In what’s sure to be ripe fodder for all the online paranoids, mad scientists at the slightly frightening sounding National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, CA, have been busy harnessing nuclear fusion in an attempt to create a miniature star on Earth with the help of, get this Dr. Evil fans, 192 laser beams.
On November 2nd the NIF team unleashed all their laser power onto a glass target containing tritium and deuterium gases, releasing 1.3 million mega joules at record breaking temperatures of up to 6million degrees Fahrenheit, 22% of the temperature at the 27million degree center of the Sun.
With the results called ‘extremely encouraging,’ by NIF director Ed Moses, some predict that self-sustaining fusion could be possible in only two years time and that the system, to use Death Star terminology, will be ‘fully operational’ by 2020.
In what reads more than just a bit like science fiction The Daily Mail reports that, “The temperatures inside the chamber will be more than 100 million degrees and create pressures more than 100 billion times Earth’s atmospheric pressure.” I can already feel the celebs in California burning with envy (or is it envy)…
If it makes you feel any better, they say the machine, which ‘has 850 computers all working to align the laser beams to within 50 micrometers’ is totally safe and runs on seawater.