Researchers have long sought to generate significant energy from laser-based nuclear fusion, and it appears that they're finally making some headway. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reports that laser blasts in September and November produced more energy from hydrogen fusion reactions than they'd put into the hydrogen -- the first time that's happened. The key was an extra dose of caution. The lab team altered the laser pulse so that it didn't break a shell used in the necessary fuel-compression process, improving the energy yield. We're still far from seeing laser fusion reactors when just 1 percent of the power reached the hydrogen in the first place. However, the output was much closer to what scientists have been expecting for years -- laser fusion is now more of a realistic possibility than a pipe dream.
[Image credit: Dr. Eddie Dewald]