The new atomic x-ray laser won't replace the LCLS and other accelerator-based systems. In fact, to make the atomic laser work, researchers blasted neon atoms with x-rays from the LCLS itself. Still, the results mark a conceptual triumph, fulfilling a 45-year-old prediction that such an atomic x-ray laser is possible. "Nobody had done this before, and everybody knew that somebody had to go out and do this," says Philip Bucksbaum, director of SLAC's PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science in Menlo Park, California, who was not involved in the work. "So this is great."It'll be interesting to see if they can turn this into a useful device, at least before an x-ray FEL catches up on producing similar quality x-ray beams.