Just two months prior, we all stood in awe of the mighty HERCULES laser housed at the University of Michigan. Now, however, those 300 terawatts of power look mighty puny compared to the one petawatt potential claimed by the Texas Petawatt. Hailed as "the highest powered laser in the world" by Todd Ditmire, a physicist at the University of Texas at Austin, the device has the "power output of more than 2,000 times the output of all power plants in the United States," and in case that wasn't impressive enough, it's also "brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun" -- but alas, only for a tenth of a trillionth of a second. Aside from totally ganking the geeky gloating rights from the Wolverines, the Longhorns will use the laser to study astronomical phenomena in miniature (and probably take over the world in short order).

[Via Physorg, image courtesy of University of Texas at Austin]