File this story under “cool things the government does.” The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory plans to use the world’s largest laser to create a controlled fusion reaction it hopes will eventually result in “nearly limitless” energy.
Livermore this summer will fire a mile-long laser beam, split it into 192 smaller beams, and focus the beams on a pinpoint of deuterium and tritium — two reactive hydrogen isotopes that can be extracted from seawater. CNN reports that the fusion reaction is expected to be so intense it will actually create a tiny star.
If the experiment works – and proves lasers can create the same type of controlled fusion reactions that take place in the sun – Livermore said it could pave the way for commercial fusion power plants. One gallon of seawater could provide the same energy as 300 gallons of gasoline, according to the lab. But that won’t happen for at least another 20 years.
Livermore says there’s no danger from this experiment. The tiny, 100 million-degree-Celsius star they will create will die in 200 trillionths of a second. And spokeswoman Lynda Seaver says there’s no way it can explode: ”The [worst possible] mishap is, it doesn’t work.”
That reminds me. Large Hadron Collider, we’re still waiting for that planet-killing black hole. Don’t leave us hanging.