Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Completion of the National Ignition Facility

I mentioned earlier of the pending completion of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore Lab. The US Dept. of Energy (DOE) is expected to officially certify its completion today, clearing the way for the NIF to start operation some time this June.

The facility, the size of a football field, consists of 192 separate laser beams, each traveling 1,000 feet in a one-thousandth of a second to converge simultaneously on a target the size of a pencil eraser.

While the NIF laser is expected to be used for a wide range of high-energy and high-density physics experiments, its primary purpose is to help government physicists ensure the reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons as they become older.

Hum... is this true or did the Associated Press got this one wrong? Isn't "sustainable fusion" its primary purpose rather than weapons test?


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