Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California recently released a study theorizing a laser hotter than the sun. Let that sink in for a minute. A solid, controlled beam of energy that is hotter than the sun in the hands of a human. Super villains all over the world are having this reaction right now:
In all seriousness though, this is a pretty incredible scientific discovery. As the fusion researchers involved discuss in their study in Nature Communications, the theoretical models that they are studying could allow us to replicate the kind of energy that powers stars. Fusion is what happens when hydrogen atoms collide at incredibly high temperatures, meaning millions of degrees Celsius, and create helium. That kind of nuclear reaction could theoretically be self-sustaining and solve a lot of energy issues. The problem we face is that we haven’t been able to heat things to the required temperature to really make it happen in the real world.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is home to one of the most complex laser systems in the world. What they are theorizing involves taking advantage of electrostatic shockwaves to heat materials up incredibly fast. The electrostatic shockwaves are a byproduct of shining a high-powered laser directly at matter. The shockwave causes ions (charged atoms) to speed up without creating heat. Not the solution right? What the scientists have discovered is that if they heat specific types of different matter with a laser and speed up the ions within them, the different ions – because they’re different – rub against one and other causing friction and thus heat.
If scientists can figure out how to make these theoretical models a reality, a laser with the heat of the inside of the sun could feasibly be a reality. The practical applications of fusion research are many and could feasibly solve a lot of problems if the movie The Saint is to be believed.
What do you think? Are you ready to live on a world where we can heat things to the temperature of our star? Tell me in the comments below!
HT Gizmodo / GIF via New Line Cinema