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Worlds biggest laser is in California
The world's largest laser is currently being used in Livermore at the National Ignition Facility and it can reach temperatures six times hotter than the sun. (April 12, 2017)
John Bartell, KXTV 11:31 PM. PDT April 12, 2017
Fortunately, mankind is still a few years away from creating a "Death Star" like the one in Star Wars, but the next closest thing is located right here in California.
The world's largest laser is currently being used in Livermore at the National Ignition Facility. It can't blow up a planet, but it can reach temperatures six times hotter than the sun.
"Anytime we do an experiment here we like to say we are the hottest place in the solar system," said Tammy Ma Fusion Physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The National Ignition Facility or "NIF" is located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The NIF laser has two main jobs, it's first job is to keep existing nuclear bombs safe.
"We are not using the NIF to make new nuclear bombs. We are just using it to maintain the nations deterrents." said Ma.
There's no nuclear bombs on site and the laser is kind of like a test simulator.
The NIF's second job is fusion research. Fusion is what's happening on the sun, which essentially the sun burns so hot that it creates its own energy. Scientists at the NIF center are trying to make a mini sun on earth to eventually create free electricity.
"This is the holy grail for fusion research." said Ma.
To make a giant laser, NIF uses 192 small lasers and amplifies them thousands of times. All 192 lasers are fired at target the size of a pepper flake and the whole process take 50 billionths of a second.
"In all, the laser will travel about a mile" said Ma.
If you think that the laser make a large explosion you are wrong. The ignition is less than a fire cracker.
The NIF hasn't solved the worlds energy needs yet, but it did power the USS enterprise on the movie star trek into darkness.
"Yes, different locations at NIF were used as a back drop for the movie," said Ma.
The giant laser more than a movie scene... Its science lab for mankind. "NIF is a national science lab so we open it up to scientists all over the world." Someday the laser technology could take us to "deep space nine" or just provide the world with clean energy.