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A laser that pushes the boundaries of science

This is Science Today. The world's largest laser, located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility, of NIF, has the power to recreate the processes that power our universe using fusion energy. Former astronaut Jeff Wisoff, who serves as principal associate director of NIF, says harnessing the power of the stars here on Earth is particularly awe-inspiring to him.

Wisoff:            When I was up in the shuttle and you looked out at the stars, you know, there's no atmosphere between you and the stars, so it's a very clear view when you see millions and millions of them and when you think about that fusion energy is what's powered the universe since the very short moments after the Big Bang, it gives you a sense of awe to think that we're going to recreate those conditions here on Earth. It almost seems like a certain amount of audacity to think that human beings can do that. But we are really at that point and that's exactly what human beings want to be doing - is pushing the limits and learning and doing things that are right at the limits of their capability.

Narrator:        NIF will start ignition experiments next year. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.