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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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World's Largest Laser Cost Doubles
4 May 2000 5:00 pm
A new rescue plan for the world's largest laser project would boost its ultimate cost to almost twice as much as planners originally estimated. Yesterday, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced a revised budget that allots at least an additional $1 billion to the embattled facility. Lab officials welcome the news, but members of Congress--who must approve the new spending--are grumbling about the huge overruns on the project.
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is designed to focus 192 powerful laser beams on a pellet-sized target. Designers hope it will allow them to test the feasibility of fusion energy and simulate nuclear weapons without actual testing. The project ran into serious problems last year, however, after Livermore officials revealed that technical glitches and management missteps would delay the project beyond its scheduled 2003 completion date and drive up costs (Science, 31 March, p. 2389).
Yesterday, Richardson said he will ask Congress to add up to $245 million to NIF's budget over the next two fiscal years, and put off NIF completion until 2008. That is less than Livermore officials had hoped to get, and would raise NIF's total construction costs to more than $2 billion--well above the original forecast of $1.2 billion.
NIF critics want Congress to scale back the project. "The idea that throwing more money at NIF will resolve its problems is flawed," says Marylia Kelly of Tri Valley Cares, a Livermore, California-based citizens group. And one House aide says, "jaws are dropping all over Capitol Hill" due to the overruns. The House Science Committee is considering holding hearings on the project next month.