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Scientists have been attempting to harness nuclear fusion since Albert Einstein’s equation E=mc², which he derived in 1905, raised the possibility that fusing atoms together could release tremendous amounts of energy.
Under Einstein’s theory, the amount of energy locked up in one gram of matter is enough to power 28,500 100-watt lightbulbs for a year. Until now, such fusion has only been possible inside nuclear weapons and highly unstable plasmas created in incredibly strong magnetic fields. The work at Livermore could change all this.
Scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, nestled among the wine-producing vineyards of central California, will use a laser that concentrates 1,000 times the electric generating power of the United States into a billionth of a second.
The result should be an explosion in the 32ft-wide reaction chamber which will produce at least 10 times the amount of energy used to create it.