Image Source: ELI.
Laser technology is reaching new extremes in terms of power and brevity of time (work with a new European mega-laser will be conducted in attoseconds, or a billionth of a billionth of a second, or one quintillionth of a second; "for context, an attosecond is to a second, what a second is to about 31.71 billion years"). Three ELI facilities will conduct this research: "attosecond science in Hungary, beamline generation of secondary sources in the Czech Republic and laser-driven nuclear physics in Romania." According to the ELI Website, the construction phase began late last year and is expected to last for five years. A fourth, undetermined facility will house a mega-laser:
These two aspects of Europe's Extreme Light Infrastructure Project will create a laser that can rip apart space. Researchers are hoping that lasers will offer some solid proof for quantum physics. Dvice reports:The first three Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) research stations are relatively tame--sticking to ultra-short energy particles and radiation, atomic photography, and ultra-short energetic particle.The crown jewel of ELI’s laser research facilities, the highest intensity pillar location of the four, is still being decided upon but they plan to create the world’s most powerful laser there. A 200-petawatt laser to be exact, which is 100,000 times the power of the world electric grid.
The laser is expected to contribute to the fields of "particle, nuclear, gravitational, and ultrahigh-pressure physics; as well as nonlinear field theory, astrophysics and cosmology." Again, the science of the very small is colliding with the science of the very large. (Hat tip: @Swadeshine)The European Commission has approved the construction of three gigantic new research lasers, with the option for a fourth that would, for an instant, be several hundred times more powerful than the entirety of the power generated by our civilization. The hope is that this will be enough energy to actually conjure virtual particles out of nothingness.At peak power, the fourth laser in Europe's Extreme Light Infrastructure project (or ELI) will combine ten beams into a single pulse measuring 200 petawatts. 200 petawatts is significantly more power that our entire race generates at any given moment, and in fact more total power than Earth receives from the sun.... The only way that this massive amount of power is able to be harnessed is if the amount of time that it's being used for is insanely small. The 200 petawatt pulses will only last 1.5 x 10^-14 second, which is about the same amount of time that it takes for light to travel from one side of a human hair to the other, if you shave the hair down by 90%.The point of all this is to try to explore some of the weirdness of quantum mechanics, which suggests that space is actually a giant party of random particles that are popping in and out of existence too fast for us to see. The hope is that a laser this powerful might actually be able to tear apart the vacuum of space-time itself, revealing the matter and antimatter underneath.
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