One megajoule laser brings nuclear fusion power closer to reality

When you think of the laser these days, you're most likely imagining a giant beam that can scorch a few buildings within seconds. Putting your evil thoughts aside, why not think smaller yet more powerful, and something that may change the future of mankind for good? We're talking about the National Ignition Facility that has recently produced the world's first megajoule laser, which only lasted for a few nanoseconds but is still a milestone for nuclear fusion development (read: clean energy on a massive scale). In a nutshell, this laser should be able to produce sufficient X-rays in order to fuse hydrogen nuclei, and it also has financial and efficiency advantage over other systems by having an exposed reactor core instead of one shielded by a huge magnet. That said, until the NIF tries the laser on fuel capsules this summer, we can only be hopeful.

[Original photo from 2funnycats]