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Laser Creates Brightest Light On Earth (Texas)
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 4-8-2008 | Roger Highfield

Posted on 04/08/2008 7:06:29 PM PDT by blam

Laser creates brightest light on Earth

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Last Updated: 3:01pm BST 08/04/2008

The brightest light on Earth now shines in a laboratory in Texas, one which will enable scientists to create a tabletop star.

The $14m Texas Petawatt laser reached greater than one petawatt - one thousand million million watts - of laser power in the past few days, making it the highest powered laser in the world, says Prof Todd Ditmire, a physicist at The University of Texas at Austin.

The laser in action in the lab, the blue glass amplifiers can also be seen

Prof Ditmire says that when the laser is turned on, it has the power output of more than 2,000 times the output of all power plants in the United States.

The laser is brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun, but it only lasts for an instant, a 10th of a trillionth of a second (0.0000000000001 second). This is the key to the laser's power - it delivers modest energy in a microscopic unit of time.

Prof Ditmire and his colleagues at the Texas Centre for High-Intensity Laser Science will use the laser to create and study matter at some of the most extreme conditions in the universe, including temperatures greater than those in the sun - when gases break down into a soup of particles called a plasma - and solids at pressures of many billions of atmospheres.

This will allow them to explore many astronomical phenomena in miniature, such as mini-supernovas, tabletop stars and very high-density plasmas that mimic stellar objects.

"We use the laser to heat matter to a condition that is similar to the material one might find in an exotic object like a brown dwarf," says Prof Ditmire. " We create a state which is now often called "warm-dense matter". Such states exist in stellar interiors but we don't understand much about such matter's properties.

"Warm dense matter is interesting, and enigmatic because it is intermediate between the condensed matter state (ie normal solids) and hot plasmas, both states we understand well but both very different from each other. With a petawatt laser we can create such matter in the lab."

"We can learn about these large astronomical objects from tiny reactions in the lab because of the similarity of the mathematical equations that describe the events," says Prof Ditmire, director.

Such a powerful laser will also allow them to study advanced ideas for creating energy by controlled fusion, the same process that powers the Sun. A nozzle will spray clusters of deuterium (heavy hydrogen) atoms into the target chamber of the laser, where the beam will fuse them together, creating fusion power.

This is an alternative to another fusion power method, by confinement in magnetic fields, that will be studied by the vast international Iter fusion project. And the use of lasers this way is a traditional method used to study what happens inside H bomb warheads, as is done by Britain's Helen laser, which is why the facility is funded by the US Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Prof Ditmire adds that there is a rival operating petawatt laser in the UK, the Vulcan laser at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire. "The Texas Petawatt now (slightly) exceeds the power of Vulcan," he says, but adds "there has been some very nice science done recently on Vulcan."

To fire up the Texas laser, electrical charge has to be pumped into twenty 20,000-volt capacitors. These capacitors energise the amplification tubes that pump up the energy of the laser light beam. Each tube contains an amplifying material, usually glass, that is "excited" by lamps powered by the capacitors. Every time the laser passes through one of these sheets of glass it gains more energy.

The laser can only be fired in a "clean room," Prof Ditmire says, as it will produce so much power that it could blow apart any dust, hair or clothing fibres that enter the beam.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: brightest; energy; fission; fusion; laser; light; stringtheory; texas; utaustin

1 posted on 04/08/2008 7:06:30 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

Bet that will add to global warming.


2 posted on 04/08/2008 7:10:01 PM PDT by CONSERVE
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To: blam

Plus it removes tattoos. Completely.


3 posted on 04/08/2008 7:10:24 PM PDT by Sender (Stop Islamisation. Defend our freedom.)
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To: blam

Great. The price of oil is at record highs and now this.


4 posted on 04/08/2008 7:10:39 PM PDT by Arkansas Toothpick
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To: blam

Witchcraft! Stop this now!(/panicked liberal screams off)


5 posted on 04/08/2008 7:11:12 PM PDT by Mark (Don't argue with my posts. I typed while under sniper fire..)
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To: Arkansas Toothpick

Oh, another important question: is it a compact fluorescent bulb?


6 posted on 04/08/2008 7:11:33 PM PDT by Arkansas Toothpick
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Pheh! Call me when they have a functional lightsabre.


7 posted on 04/08/2008 7:12:34 PM PDT by RandallFlagg (Satisfaction was my sin)
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To: blam
I hope they realize that accidentally creating a microscopic black hole in the laboratory can ruin their whole day.
8 posted on 04/08/2008 7:16:53 PM PDT by Reeses (Leftism is powered by the evil force of envy.)
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To: blam

Can it be used for duck hunting? Just curious.


9 posted on 04/08/2008 7:17:39 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham ("The land of the Free...Because of the Brave")
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To: Arkansas Toothpick

It does not use much energy.

Power is energy divided by time, so a pulse of one Watt that lasts a second has one Joule of energy. Take that same Joule and pulse it not in a second, but a nanosecond (one billionth) and the power in Watts is 1,000,000,000.

This laser is “a tenth of a trillionth of a second” which sounds like 10 femtoseconds, .00000000000001 second, so the total energy does not need to be a lot of Joules to be “the most powerful (in Watts) in the world”.

The whole setup probably runs on less than a kilowatt or two, and a lot of that will be cooling fans and water pumps.


10 posted on 04/08/2008 7:17:54 PM PDT by DBrow
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To: blam

bump


11 posted on 04/08/2008 7:19:51 PM PDT by Captain Beyond (The Hammer of the gods! (Just a cool line from a Led Zep song))
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To: blam

I guess It’s my turn.....
EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS :)


12 posted on 04/08/2008 7:20:09 PM PDT by 1FASTGLOCK45 (FreeRepublic: More fun than watching Dem'Rats drown like Turkeys in the rain! ! !)
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To: blam
We have a "laser" capable of generating one petawatt of power and we will use it to create rivers of red hot magma and destroy the earth unless you give us ... one million ... uh one billion ... uh ... one hundred billion dollars.
13 posted on 04/08/2008 7:22:32 PM PDT by LiberConservative (Part of the "Vast Typical White Guy Conspiracy")
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham

Have you ever seen a duck explode?


14 posted on 04/08/2008 7:22:46 PM PDT by patton (cuiquam in sua arte credendum)
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To: blam

And I thought that I was the brightest light on earth. The women will be disappointed..............again.


15 posted on 04/08/2008 7:25:50 PM PDT by RC2
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To: 1FASTGLOCK45
"EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS :)"

It's true.

16 posted on 04/08/2008 7:28:20 PM PDT by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: patton

Yes.

I don’t like to talk about it.


17 posted on 04/08/2008 7:29:01 PM PDT by tokenatheist (Can I play with madness?)
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To: blam
It's big and it's in Texas, imagine that.
18 posted on 04/08/2008 7:29:19 PM PDT by bmwcyle (Obama's wife trained him to fight Hillary)
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To: blam

Is this going to unravel time and destroy the universe. Or can I sleep peacefully to night?


19 posted on 04/08/2008 7:32:13 PM PDT by ThomasThomas (<marquee>TEXT HERE</marquee>)
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To: blam
The $14m Texas Petawatt laser

"No Animals Will Be Hurt in the Testing of This Device..."

20 posted on 04/08/2008 7:34:18 PM PDT by mikrofon (Petawatting Zoo)
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To: blam

“The stars at night, are big and bright,

(clap, clap, clap),

deep in the heart of Texas!”


21 posted on 04/08/2008 7:36:22 PM PDT by garyhope (It's World War IV, right here, right now, courtesy of Islam. TWP VRWC)
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To: mikrofon
"No Animals Will Be Hurt in the Testing of This Device..."

DANG! I was just gonna ask ya ta hold muh beer.
22 posted on 04/08/2008 7:38:18 PM PDT by RandallFlagg (Satisfaction was my sin)
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To: tokenatheist

Do tell, do tell.


23 posted on 04/08/2008 7:41:03 PM PDT by patton (cuiquam in sua arte credendum)
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To: blam

petawatts?? What was I thinking???

24 posted on 04/08/2008 7:59:25 PM PDT by SlowBoat407 (It's a fine line between Guardian Angel and Stalker.)
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To: blam

“The $14m Texas Petawatt laser reached greater than one petawatt - one thousand million million watts “

“Warning: Avoid staring directly into the beam”


25 posted on 04/08/2008 8:03:28 PM PDT by EEDUDE
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To: SlowBoat407

Can I get those guys to shoot it at my next door neighbor, man he really bothers me.


26 posted on 04/08/2008 8:04:08 PM PDT by corkoman
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To: EEDUDE

Wrong warning.

The correct warning is “No not look into laser with remaining eye”


27 posted on 04/08/2008 8:10:14 PM PDT by tokenatheist (Can I play with madness?)
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To: blam

A friend of mine that used to work at a high powered laser lab, told me that when lasers get into the very high power range, there is a limit to how long it can fire because even at 99% reflectivity, The materials used as mirrors will melt with the tiny amount absorbed. Spooky but cool.


28 posted on 04/08/2008 8:25:46 PM PDT by Boiling point (If God had wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.)
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To: blam

Great, let’s mount it in a Boeing and call it good


29 posted on 04/08/2008 8:32:02 PM PDT by Colorado Doug (Now I know how the Indians felt to be sold out for a few beads and trinkets)
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To: corkoman

Yes, but I have dibs on it tomorrow, to mess wit’ the neighbors cat. Don’t know what it is but he never seems to get tired chasing that dot!


30 posted on 04/08/2008 8:36:21 PM PDT by Freedom4US
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a cool new weapon.


31 posted on 04/08/2008 8:55:25 PM PDT by isom35
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To: EEDUDE
“Warning: Avoid staring directly into the beam”

Ten petawatt-femotoseconds would be ten joules. While that would be powerful enough to blind someone, the hazard level is nowhere near what the "petawatt" number would suggest. For most purposes a laser that output 10,000 watts for a millisecond would have about the same effect.

32 posted on 04/08/2008 8:56:10 PM PDT by supercat
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To: blam
This is the key to the laser's power - it delivers modest energy in a microscopic unit of time.

Shouldn't this read: "This is the key to the laser's power - it delivers an unbelievably huge amount of energy in a microscopic unit of time."
33 posted on 04/08/2008 9:16:14 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: tokenatheist; patton
[Have you ever seen a duck explode?]

Yes...I don’t like to talk about it.

I don't mean to pry, but it might be good to get this all out. Only suggstin'.

34 posted on 04/08/2008 9:24:05 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham ("The land of the Free...Because of the Brave")
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham

Sometimes, discussing ones past can be good for the soul. Sort of cathartic.


35 posted on 04/08/2008 9:35:53 PM PDT by patton (cuiquam in sua arte credendum)
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To: patton
Sometimes, discussing ones past can be good for the soul. Sort of cathartic.

In youth, when playing Army, I once claimed that I wasn't "shot" when I really was.

36 posted on 04/08/2008 9:52:03 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham ("The land of the Free...Because of the Brave")
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham

As a young soldier, my squad was once a attacked by an officer with a “god gun”- think a laser tag gun, than does rapid fire in all directions.

My 203 gunner, all without orders, dropped a smoke round in his jeep, convincing the officer to go elsewhere.

(It was a darn good shot, actually - a couple of hundred meters uphill, and the 203 round landed right in the passenger side of the jeep.)


37 posted on 04/08/2008 10:14:46 PM PDT by patton (cuiquam in sua arte credendum)
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To: AdmSmith; bvw; callisto; ckilmer; dandelion; ganeshpuri89; gobucks; KevinDavis; Las Vegas Dave; ...

38 posted on 04/08/2008 10:40:09 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_____________________Profile updated Saturday, March 29, 2008)
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To: blam

39 posted on 04/09/2008 7:46:28 AM PDT by Paradox (Politics: The art of convincing the populace that your delusions are superior to others.)
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To: blam
The laser is brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun,

Another point of light in a dark world.

40 posted on 04/09/2008 8:43:58 AM PDT by kipita (“Love” is to humanity as gravitons are to an infinite # of universes.)
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To: blam

E=mc²


41 posted on 04/09/2008 8:56:14 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: EEDUDE

42 posted on 04/09/2008 9:02:54 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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