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  Facility with the world’s largest laser opens (see video)


Narrator:        This is Science Today. For decades, scientists have been trying to come up with a way to harness the enormous force of the sun and stars to supply fusion energy here on Earth. The National Ignition Facility, or NIF, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is poised to do just that. Jeff Wisoff, principal associate director of NIF, says the facility is the size of three football fields and houses the world's largest laser.

Wisoff:            This laser can put out five hundred terawatts of power. The way to think about that is in that is in twenty billionths of a second, which is the length of the pulse of this laser. We put in more power than is on the entire world's energy grid for that period of time. The key is that we use lasers, so we can put all of that energy into a very short period of time and we can focus it into a very small volume and that allows us to create a very intense energy field to essentially ignite our fusion targets and recreate these mini stars inside of our chamber.

Narrator:        The goals are threefold to benefit national security; enable clean energy and advance the frontiers of science. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.