Big news in the physics community arrives this week: Lawrence Livermore National Lab just successfully shot a 500 terawatt fusion laser at a single tiny target this week, which was the result of fifteen years of work. How powerful is 500 terawatts? That's 500 trillion watts, and it's 1,000 times more power than the entire country uses at any moment. It's also 100 times more powerful than any existing laser on the planet.

So yeah, big laser! It was actually the focused beams of 192 lasers, and it's the work of the National Ignition Facility, which has been working to try to harness nuclear fusion. In a laser. An MIT researcher said this Livermore laser shot created "unprecedented conditions in the laboratory that hitherto only existed deep in stellar interiors."

Basically, don't stand in front in it. Or park your country there either.

Update: Commenter Stephen Zielinski clarifies in ever-so-scientific terms, "500 terawatts, yes, but only 1.85 megajoules of total energy. This means the pulse lasted around 3.7 nanoseconds, with a total energy content equal to a bit over one and a half Snickers bars." Right, of course.

[SF Biz Times]