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SCIENCE FILE: An exploration of issues and trends affecting science, medicine and the environment : Livermore Lab Produces 125 Trillion Watts With Laser

<i> From Times staff and wire reports</i>

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have successfully test-fired the most powerful laser ever. At full power for the first time Monday night, the laser produced 125 trillion watts of power in an extremely short pulse, lasting less than 0.5 trillionths of a second, said Livermore spokesman Mike Campbell. Campbell said the components of the new laser would fit in a small truck; the previous most powerful laser, called Nova, is the size of a three-story warehouse.

The laser is a prototype for a “petawatt” laser, capable of producing 1,000 trillion watts of power, that the scientists hope to test before the end of the year. The laboratory said the powerful new laser, capable of focusing intense power on very small spots, will have applications in physics, X-rays and fast-igniter research.


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