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Visualized: inside the National Ignition Facility

The $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility may not have yet reached its "ignition" goal -- essentially, fusing the nuclei of hydrogen atoms and generating more energy than was required to start the initial reaction -- but it did recently complete its first integrated ignition experiment on September 29th, in which a capsule containing hydrogen fuel was briefly bombarded with 1 megajoule of energy from the 192 lasers in the test chamber. Impressive, to be sure, and a prime opportunity to take a look at just how impressive the facility itself is. Check out a few more jaw-dropping shots in the gallery below, and hit up the link below for The Big Picture's own retrospective.