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Most Powerful Laser

May 5, 2008

The world’s most powerful laser can create miniature stars right in the laboratory.


Making stars in the laboratory…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Want to create a miniature star right on your tabletop? All you need, according to physicist Todd Ditmire of the University of Texas at Austin, is a laser with a petawatt of power.

TODD DITMIRE (University of Texas at Austin):
That’s a quadrillion watts or thousand trillion watts.

He says the Texas Petawatt Laser concentrates this huge amount of energy and releases it as a pulse of light lasting only a tenth of a trillionth of a second.

So for a short period of time over a very small area we have the brightest light in the universe.

The laser heats matter to temperatures exceeding that of the center of most stars, allowing scientists to observe astronomical events in miniature. Eventually, the world’s most powerful laser could be used to ignite fusion reactions for energy production. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.