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The Green Life: The Power of the Sun in the Palm of Your Hand

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March 17, 2009

The Power of the Sun in the Palm of Your Hand

Laser Last week, in a compound the size of a football stadium, 192 lasers aimed and fired with highly calibrated precision into a palm-sized gold chamber containing a single frozen hydrogen pellet. The heated and compressed pellet reached temperatures of more than 800 million degrees Fahrenheit -- a manmade star to use at our energy disposal.

"We are creating the conditions that exist inside the sun," facility director Ed Moses told the Telegraph. "It is really exciting physics, but beyond that there are huge social, economic, and global problems that it can help to solve."

The National Ignition Facility, 50 miles east of San Francisco, boasts the world's largest laser, but its staff admits the entire process is still at least ten years away. The prospect of reliable energy from one of the Earth's most abundant elements, at the same $10 billion price tag as a new nuclear facility, is pretty interesting, but has anyone else seen Spider-Man 2? Let's avoid allowing mutated scientists to run this one.

--Jordana Fyne

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