Big Step Toward Fusion: Lab's Laser Creates Mini-Star
In first, scientists get more energy out than put in
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff | Suggested by T.A.R.D.I.S
Posted Feb 13, 2014 12:33 AM CST
The National Ignition Facility focused 192 laser beams on a tiny target.   (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

(Newser) – After years of frustration, scientists have finally made a breakthrough in the quest to harness the same fusion energy that powers the sun. Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say that by pointing the world's most powerful laser at a peppercorn-sized target, they unleashed a huge amount of energy with a fusion reaction—in effect, creating a miniature star for a split-second, the Wall Street Journal reports. The breakthrough, which follows many failed experiments, was made last fall but was only revealed this week in a study published in Nature.

"For the first time anywhere, we've gotten more energy out of the fuel than what was put into the fuel," says a researcher at the California laboratory, though useful levels of fusion still appear to be a long way off, NPR finds. The ultimate goal is to reach "ignition"—a self-sustaining fusion reaction that would provide the world with an almost limitless source of clean energy. A Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences compares the process to lighting a match and then igniting a pile of lumber. "They’re close to getting the match lit," he tells the New York Times. "Which is a big step."

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Giant Laser Briefly Creates Mini-Star is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 26 comments
Feb 13, 2014 3:57 PM CST
Nice, but not a big step toward fusion. Roughly 100X the energy went into the reaction as came out. Producing the hydrogen isotope is hyper-expensive. This is not really a science story without the qualifiers.
Feb 13, 2014 12:04 PM CST
Well its about time you earthlings caught up to my home planet ....Krypton! Keep up the good work!
Feb 13, 2014 11:52 AM CST
I wonder if this could get out of hand. We have never been able to create more energy than we use. How are we supposed to contain the energy when it is generating itself?