Lizzie Wade | Feb. 17, 2014 | Science
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—This week, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced an important milestone on the road to achieving ignition, which could lead to producing controlled fusion reactions here on Earth. But NIF isn’t just about harnessing the energy of the stars—it’s also about learning how stars produce their energy in the first place. In fact, pushing matter to extreme pressures and temperatures lets scientists explore all sorts of unanswered questions. Here, at the annual meeting of AAAS, which publishes Science, four physicists sat down with us to discuss NIF’s basic science potential and what experiments they would do if they had the laser all to themselves.
Q: What was NIF designed to do?
Ani Aprahamian (University of Notre Dame): With ignition, we would have a power source like the sun, producing endless energy. But there have been some technical difficulties on the way to get there.