5 Trillion Watt Laser Slated To Make Miniature Star in California: Energy Solution Vs. Total Plutonic Reversal

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Bay Area has built a facility that takes a single 1/billionth of a joule laser, splits it into 48 beams that are amplified, split again into 192 beams and further amplified exponentially, eventually building to “1.8 million joules of ultraviolet energy”, which is 1,000 times as much energy produced by all U.S. power plants, a staggering 5 trillion watts. This energy will be directed into an ignition chamber wherein lies a frozen hydrogen fuel cell in a gold-plated cylinder, dubbed the “hohlarum”. There, the lasers will be transformed into incredibly intense x-rays that will compress the hydrogen almost instantly, fusing the atoms together and essentially creating a small star.

Wow.  Should we be excited that our energy problems are at an end or should we be worried that we’ll pull half the solar system into a laboratory-generated rip in the fabric of the space-time continuum?  This type of research is really exciting, just like nanotechnology, genetic manipulation, and other forays into quantum mechanics, like Cern’s Hadron collider.  As we learn more about our natural world on a smaller and smaller level, and gain the ability to manipulate these properties, we truly begin to have power over our material world.  We have the potential to cure disease, stop world hunger, to solve our energy crisis, maybe eventually to travel across space and time and communicate with other civilizations, and other concepts that thus far have been reserved for science fiction novels.  Unfortunately, our track records as humans has shown that we, in general, lack the foresight and wisdom to properly develop and use these technologies.  Capitalism, greed, and lust for power drives these industries forward, pushing them for marketable results, often without considering the possible ramifications or side effects of the wonders that we create. We’ve created transgenic crops that have both helped to feed starving children, and at the same time left subsistence farmers hopelessly in debt and committing suicide by the thousands after promised engineered cotton crops have failed.  Nuclear fission has powered our homes, yet it has killed hundreds of thousands of people, contaminated soil and groundwater, and caused significant human illness and morbidity.  These technologies are child’s play next to nanotechnology and quantum manipulation.  The potential for good is incredible, yet the potential for disaster is as, if not more amazing.

Should we ban genetic manipulation, nanotech, and quantum physics? No, definitely not. Advancing scientific knowledge is imperative for the human race to survive, especially with the path we’ve taken – we’ll need advanced technologies to either reverse the damage we’re causing, or to make conditions habitable enough in spite of the damage. We should, however, be frightened enough of the potential catastrophies to be wise in it’s use and ensure oversight and regulation of these technologies as they develop.

via Gizmodo

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3 Responses to “5 Trillion Watt Laser Slated To Make Miniature Star in California: Energy Solution Vs. Total Plutonic Reversal”

  1. Victor Argueta Says:

    Clinton,

    Just to clarify. A joule is defined as a Watt/sec. In non-international metric unit countries the equivalent of the joule would be the KW.h (which is strange because Watts are metric system).

    Also, using “trillions” and “billions” is just wrong, no serious academic writing is ever going to use those expressions. A trillion can be either 10e12 ( a 1 followed by 12 zeros) , more common in the US, or 10e18 (a 1 followed by 18 zeros), for the rest of the world. That’s a six order of magnitude difference!!!

    In any case let’s assume that we use the American notation and that a trillion in this article means 10e12. So for 1.8 million joules produce 1 trillion Watts that would mean that the laser is sending pulses of less that 1 microsecond, which is not really that impressive (any communication systems send pulses at a much higher rate)

    If we consider the international notation of a trillion, then the laser pulses have to be in the order of picoseconds… which is more impressive….
    Another factor also, is the area in which the beams are being concentrated. The smaller the area the higher the intensity (which a simple experiment with a magnifying glass can demonstrate)

    Now, to send 192 beams in pulses of a couple picoseconds and add them constructively in order to excite a noble gas… that’s really impressive. (I’m making a supposition here: The experiment requires the splitting of the original laser so that each arm has the same phase and coherence length in order to add them constructively)

    But of course that impressive amount of energy is generated in a very small lapse of time. Which by the way is perfectly consistent with the uncertainty principle for time/energy. Now, there are several reported experiments with high energy pulses in the order of femtoseconds that have produced hundreds of Joules of energy!

    Anyway, say hi to Laura for me and have a nice weekend!

  2. What a waste of money. It would be better to use for helping poor people in our own country. Being the so call “world leader” we should be ashamed that we still face economic and poverty problem. Where goes the American dream..

    —————————
    Do you know how to save 70c per gallon on gas?

  3. The laser technology you speak of is for creating fusion energy. Which is the same thing that makes the sun shine. This technology is really for creating fusion weapons, which is why there is such a big fuss about going back to the moon where an element called Helium 3 is suppost to be in abundance. As we have seen over the last 63 years nuclear technology of any kind has been used not only against other people but our own people as well. It is sheer stupidity of humans to think that we can manage the power of the sun through fusion energy without there being profound consequeces for our drunken obsession for ever greater power and control over others. The possesion and use of any nuclear technology is a form a terrorism that we can no only tolerate. To speak of this subject and couch it in such a guarded lexicon, betrays the serious ramifications that a civilization faces from this techonolgy. Instead of continuing to waste our resources on a technolgy that has been proven NOT to work over the last 50 years, we could have installed enough sustainable alternative energy to supply every counrty on the planet with electrical power from here to eternity and we should be spending a capital on renewables of every kind. War is never the answer to any problem and the possession of this technology makes war that much more probable when we have so many bullies trying to tell others what to do.

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