There are some things in the world that never get old. Zombies. Pirates. Ninja. Sharks. Dinosaurs. All these things we can count on to be perpetually cool. Top of the list for me, however, (and you already know this if you hang around the Blahg or me very much) is the topic of lasers. Sure, sure, sure – the previous things are great. But put sharks together with lasers and you far exceed the awesomesauce held by the mere category of sharks. Everyone likes the idea of pirates versus ninja. Suppose, however, you got a pirate and a ninja fighting on top of a laser beam? Only pirates and ninja could pull off a fight carried on completely on a beam of focused light, and they are way more fantastic for doing so. I think, by this point, that you get my point.
So with lasers consuming the position as awesomerest of awesome everything, just what could I want to talk about to impress even the laser fan? Well, how about the most powerful laser EVAR? Could this thing lift a squirrel into orbit? I don’t know. But it is a shit-ton of power:
Scientists working at the National Ignition Facility of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, have built the most powerful laser in the world, capable of simulating the energy force of a hydrogen bomb and the sun itself.
â€œThe system already has produced 25 times more energy than any other laser system,â€ said NIF Director Ed Moses.
These scientists worked more than a decade to come to this. They generate this power by combining 192 laser beams. And the whole facility is contained within a ten-story building that’s roughly the size of three football fields (American football, for my dear foreign readers). So just how much is 25 time more energy than any other laser, exactly?
NIFâ€™s 192 laser beams, housed in a ten-story building the size of three football fields, travel a long path, about 1,000 feet, from their birth at one of the two master oscillators to the center of the target chamber. As the beams move through NIFâ€™s amplifiers, their energy increases exponentially. From beginning to end, the beamsâ€™ total energy grows from one-billionth of a joule (a joule is the energy needed to lift a small apple one meter against the Earthâ€™s gravity) to four million joules, a factor of more than a quadrillion – and it all happens in less than 25 billionths of a second.
Yep – fully focused and powered up, this laser could lift 4 million apples one meter off the ground. Hmmmm. That doesn’t sound nearly as cool as it should. Let’s try again – this laser could lift 1 apple 4 million meters off the ground! Might need more exclamation points, but I think you get the idea. And that estimate of the value of a joule isn’t quite accurate, but it does simplify it and still leave us close enough.
Of course, that assumes the laser wouldn’t instantly vaporize the apple. But maybe if it’s a zombie dinosaur apple, it will survive the trip.
Technorati Tags: Lasers, 1.21 Gigawatts!, Apples, Zombies, Ninja, Pirates, Dinosaurs, I’m too fascinated by memes