Yuka Yoneda

Scientists to Use World's Largest Laser to Create Star on Earth

by , 04/28/10

star power, nuclear fusion, limitless energy, national ignition facility, lawrence livermore national laboratory, green power, clean power, clean energy, laser, world's largest laserImages via CNN

According to scientists at a government lab in Livermore, CA, all we need to do in order to save our planet from its energy woes is create a star right here on Earth. It’s that simple! All joking aside, researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are 100% serious and believe they’ve come up with a way to use the world’s largest laser (it’s about 3 football fields long) to trigger a nuclear reaction so powerful that it will make a star form right on the surface of the Earth. We’ve written about the laser itself before, but read on to learn more about how they intend create the mini-star and solve our power issues with near limitless energy.

What the scientists are proposing is a form of nuclear fusion – a miracle power solution that has been attempted many times in the past. All that have tried, however, have failed, so many in the scientific community have reason to believe that this new attempt won’t be any different. The team at Livermore is optimistic though. Bruno Van Wonterghem, a manager of the project told CNN, “We have a very high confidence that we will be able to ignite the target within the next two years,” [thus proving that controlled fusion is possible. That would put the lab a step closer to] “our big dream, which is to solve the energy problems of the world.”

star power, nuclear fusion, limitless energy, national ignition facility, lawrence livermore national laboratory, green power, clean power, clean energy, laser, world's largest laserImages via CNN

All that seems fine and dandy, but how does one go about building a star? First, build the largest laser in the world, and then split this humongous laser into 192 beams. Then, aim all of them at a single point that’s about the size of a BB pellet coated with deuterium and tritium (two reactive isotopes of hydrogen that can be extracted from seawater). Make sure to surround those atoms with a gold capsule that’s smaller than a thimble. Lastly, the fun part – fire the laser! If the whole Earth doesn’t implode (we’re just kidding, according to Lynda Seaver, a spokesperson for the project, there is no danger to the public), the resulting reaction will be more than 100 million degrees Celsius (hotter than the center of the sun) and will exert more pressure than 100 billion atmospheres. Then hydrogen isotopes will band together with so much force and heat that their nuclei will fuse, creating energy which, as you can imagine, will be plentiful enough to supply abundant power.

How soon will this mini-star be a reality? The Livermore team claims that it will be possible as early as this summer but the U.S. Government Accountability Office released an audit of the lab this month citing hold-ups and mismanagement and basically saying that it is unlikely the scientists will create a fusion reaction this year. While we’re still skeptical that this extremely ambitious plan will work, we think the amount of money and time being poured into the project does add credibility to the fact that we can’t play around about our energy problems anymore. We need to bring out the big guns – uh, lasers, now.

+ Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

Via CNN

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11 Comments

  1. im awesome April 3, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Have you guys tried the experiment when you put bi-card soda with vinegar?

  2. CE October 5, 2011 at 5:23 am

    1. Black holes exist ONLY in math for the moment (or so I am told; who understands this stuff anyway?). NO-ONE person has yet to “see” a black hole, NONE!
    2. As usual, all this is is just guess work, at best. No one knows what really might happen, you just can’t, it is why we call it “experimentation with observation” leading to more calculations leading to more ideas, lather rinse repeat. .
    3. This experiment appears to be loosely based on an idea as described by theoretical physicist – Michio Kaku in “Through the wormhole”, where-by a metric ton of satellites focus lasers to a point in space containing an atomic nucleus that heats up and POSSIBLY creating a black/worm hole. Please re-read number two if you really think this may happen…

  3. arty32l October 13, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Hmm, i don’t know either. What happens if this star on earth goes Chernobyl. Energy that big could do irreversible damage that we cant even imagine. After it happens, everyone will be saying “it feels like a dream”…. It really isn’t.

  4. World's Largest Laser a... October 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    [...] metal sphere where they delivered a 1 megajoule blast to the hydrogen-filled pellet. Fusion power is the holy grail of energy production — though it has never been achieved, it has the [...]

  5. lowfro May 3, 2010 at 5:15 am

    It will be finnished in 2 years! 2012, just prove that the movie is right! I know that I am an uneducated person, but making a star on the earth! I mean come on!

  6. politicalslug May 3, 2010 at 3:29 am

    @ jagger27

    You’re talking about the mass needed for a star to collapse into a black whole after going nova. Albeit patrick’s “1000 year later hole of doom falling into the core” nonsense is just that: nonsense. Black holes range in size from supermassive (at the heart of most galaxies), large (collapsed star), all the way down to microscopic. Black holes (of all sizes, large to small) give off radiation, and microscopic black holes evaporate as quickly as they appear (Hawking radiation).

  7. Danskey May 3, 2010 at 3:02 am

    Someone correct me if I am wrong but I believe the great work done with this laser does not represent any kind of \”go it alone where all other have failed\” approach. In fact the opposite may be true, I think the laser is the US contribution to the multinational, multi-decade fusion project known as ITER. The laser is not sufficient to form a nuclear fusion reactor, it is the ignition switch (if you will) on the car that is a fusion reactor. Other pieces, made by other countries, such as a giant tokamak, which will create a magnetic field to contain the uber hot materials are needed. The US can, and does, play nice with other countries of the world. BTW the first test reactor with US laser tech will be built in France, check it out! http://www.iter.org

  8. j82 May 3, 2010 at 2:35 am

    They will make it work, it will be safe, but it will NEVER be affordable. It stuff like this that makes solar energy so comparatively cheap that it is utterly pointless to pursue fusion.

    It is still the economy stupid.

  9. jagger27 May 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    @Patrick

    Clever, but not quite. In order for a star to form into a black hole, it needs to be at least 10 times larger than our own Sun. Since the star itself is only the size of a thimble it wouldn’t have enough mass to collapse.

    Read up on gravitational collapsing.

  10. Patrick1232 April 30, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    umm have you ever thought that the energy/ heat will burn the earth and enter its core causing a supernova in the star turning it into a black hole. If that doesnt happen, then it will have only 1000 years of a life span then it will turn into a black hole and suck the earth up. basically this is a time bomb for suicide of the living race.

  11. enkergrene April 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I base most of my opinions on the lessons learned by the movie versions of popular comic book franchises, so I’m a little skeptical about how safe this is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6AoCZ2CaBI

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