Light my fusion

by Gary Niederhoff on January 21, 2011

For our show You’ve Got Sol, Seth visited the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, where they’re attempting to fuse hydrogen atoms into helium to capitalize on the resulting energy. While there, Seth took the following photos and thankfully sent along accompanying descriptions because, what the heck is this stuff, and who is that guy?

Physicist Michael Dunne in front of the target chamber at the National Ignition Facility. The blue sphere behind him, larger than your average New York apartment, is where the fusion actually takes place.

The so-called “target”. All the power of the massive laser of the NIF is directed at the tiny red dot visible here. Heavy hydrogen within the dot is then fused into helium, releasing energy.

The laser room. The bevy of lasers seen here (the long, rectangular tubes) fire simultaneously for about a billionth of a second. Their light is then concentrated on a small target containing heavy hydrogen, raising its temperature to millions of degrees.

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