Sunday, December 28, 2008

Star Farming

man-made sun: National Ignition Facility (NIF), California

While it has seemed an impossible goal for nearly 100 years, scientists now
believe that they are on brink of cracking one of the biggest problems in
physics by harnessing the power of nuclear fusion, the reaction that burns
at the heart of the sun.

In the spring, a team will begin attempts to ignite a tiny man-made star
inside a laboratory and trigger a thermonuclear reaction.

Its goal is to generate temperatures of more than 100 million degrees Celsius
and pressures billions of times higher than those found anywhere else on
earth, from a speck of fuel little bigger than a pinhead. If successful, the
experiment will mark the first step towards building a practical nuclear
fusion power station and a source of almost limitless energy.


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