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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Colossal Laser Headed for Scrap Heap
14 November 1997 8:00 pm
LIVERMORE, CALIFORNIA--Researchers have pulled the plug on a key component of what was long the world's biggest and most powerful laser, the Nova, located here at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The shutdown of the "Two-Beam" target chamber on 12 November marks the beginning of the end of what was a fusion-research workhorse for more than a decade.
The now-defunct Two-Beam, which was completed in 1985, is an extension of two of Nova's 10 arms into a cavernous wing of a four-story building. Two-Beam began as a laboratory for studying the physics of x-ray lasers--then championed by Livermore as the missile-killers in the ill-fated "Star Wars" antiballistic missile shield. But it was also the scene of major civilian advances: In 1992, the laser's measurements of iron opacity helped astronomers correct mathematical models of Cepheid variable stars. Two-Beam also made the world's first x-ray laser micrograph, which showed DNA strands packed into the head of a rat sperm. Its swan song was an experiment probing the behavior of hydrogen under extreme heat and pressure.
Two-Beam's demise is the first step toward dismantling Nova altogether, says Joseph Kilkenny, who runs the lab's laser fusion programs. The rest of the laser will become history in less than 2 years. "It will be a sad day for me when we turn it off," he says. But happier days await laser researchers: Nova's successor, the $1.2 billion National Ignition Facility, is under construction at Livermore, with an expected startup of the first module--packing twice Nova's power--in 2001.