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Dr. Evil would be proud of The University of Texas's petawatt laser.
The lasers at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas

The most powerful laser in the world was announced at the University of Texas at Austin last week. The massively powerful laser is rated at one petawatt and is the only petawatt laser operating in the United States.

A petawatt is one quadrillion watts and when the laser is turned on it generates the power output of more than 2,000 times all of the power plants in America according to Todd Ditmire a physicist at the university.

Ditmire goes on to say that the laser is brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun when activated. For those wondering how exactly the university keeps from bursting into flames when the laser is on Ditmire says that the laser is activated for a 10th of a trillionth of a second (0.0000000000001 second).

Researchers at the University of Texas plan to use the massive laser to create environments similar to extreme conditions in the universe. The researchers plan to study gases at temperatures greater than those in the sun and solids at billions of atmospheres of pressure.

The researchers also say that they plan to create mini-supernovas, tabletop stars and very high-density plasmas that mimic brown dwarfs. The powerful laser will also allow the study of advanced ideas for creating energy by controlled fusion.

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By boogle on 4/8/2008 11:55:12 AM , Rating: 2
They must have some massive capacitors to run that laser. How long does it take to build up sufficient charge for an experiment?

RE: Capacitors
By wayout41 on 4/8/2008 12:23:24 PM , Rating: 2
Probably a fairly long time.. The admin staff are gonna be really annoyed when they see the power bill!

RE: Capacitors
By eye smite on 4/8/2008 12:33:07 PM , Rating: 3
I'm 3.5 hours from Austin, been wondering about the brownouts here. hehe

RE: Capacitors
By TheDoc9 on 4/8/2008 1:01:09 PM , Rating: 2
There were brownouts here in Austin, but it was some guy trying to steal the copper off of some cabling at one of the plants. Needless to say the poor soul burst into flames and died, but not before leaving half the city in a brownout for an afternoon.

RE: Capacitors
By FITCamaro on 4/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: Capacitors
By codeThug on 4/8/2008 9:09:24 PM , Rating: 3
For the record Fit, in Texas it's pronounced Messcans...

RE: Capacitors
By Ringold on 4/8/2008 8:59:07 PM , Rating: 2
Natural selection has at least partially survived the introduction of civilization.

RE: Capacitors
By JonB on 4/9/2008 1:30:18 PM , Rating: 2
I'm afraid Natural Selection fails its most effective timing here. This guy probably left behind two or three copper stealing rug rats at home.

RE: Capacitors
By waltzendless on 4/8/2008 5:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
Hell, I'm a student at UT. I guess now I'll have to upgrade my apartment's defenses in response to this Penta-laser and walk around in aluminum foil all day.

RE: Capacitors
By dagamer34 on 4/8/2008 5:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
I'll be joining you. You think Jester can withstand a blast? It's build like a prison!

RE: Capacitors
By xti on 4/8/2008 6:48:46 PM , Rating: 2
if they havent torn down moore hill yet, maybe they can use this.

RE: Capacitors
By matthewpapa on 4/8/2008 11:20:48 PM , Rating: 2
nah, RLM

RE: Capacitors
By nayy on 4/8/2008 12:31:33 PM , Rating: 1
Acording to my calculations
1*10^12 watts / 1*10^-13 Sec = 0.1 Watts/Sec
So not much.

What's amazing is how fast they release the energy, I imagine they do it with ton of parallel capacitors, but i am well over my head on that one.

RE: Capacitors
By nayy on 4/8/2008 12:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
In the formula replace "/" for "*" and "Watts/Sec" "Watts*Sec"


RE: Capacitors
By VahnTitrio on 4/8/2008 2:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
A single capacitor could easily store the amount of charge the laser would require. The problem is for a brief moment in time this thing is going to draw a ton of current. There will be some inductance within the conductors that will not allow the current to increase that quickly. Similar to the rail gun problem they must have found a way to get the inductance down to effectively zero.

RE: Capacitors
By emboss on 4/8/2008 2:41:19 PM , Rating: 5
The "capacitor" is the population inversion in the lasing material - essentially an optical capacitor as opposed to an electrical one. As the pulse passes through the lasing material, stimulated emission results in the pulse being amplified.

The main problem with cranking up laser power at this level is intensity. Whatever the lasing medium is has to survive this incredibly high intensity pulse passing through it, as do any other optical elements such as mirrors. In order to get around this, they stretch the pulse before injecting it and compress it when it comes back out again (very, very, simplified description of course).

The only way it's similar to the rail gun problem is that in both cases, if you push it too far it breaks in rather expensive ways :)

RE: Capacitors
By phxfreddy on 4/8/2008 3:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
Pay attention boys....ITS NOT ON LONG. Intensity or not its PULSED.

RE: Capacitors
By Basilisk on 4/8/2008 2:13:40 PM , Rating: 2
(Presuming the US Ides of Taxes are upon you, may I recommend H&R Block? :P)

Shouldn't it read:

10^ 15 Watts * 10^-13 Sec/Pulse = 100 Watts*Sec/Pulse

Still not much... if they don't pulse too often.

RE: Capacitors
By ikkeman on 4/8/2008 4:15:57 PM , Rating: 2
so basically, this thing is as powerfull as a lightbulb???

RE: Capacitors
By bobsmith1492 on 4/8/2008 5:54:47 PM , Rating: 2
No, it's putting out the amount of energy a 100W lightbulb uses in one second but the energy goes out in one trillionth of the time.

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