May 29, 2009

Schwarzenegger dedicates Livermore laser

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Friday dedicated the world's largest laser system in Livermore, calling it a gateway to new energy sources.

The sprawling National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory east of San Francisco has been 12 years in the making and is designed to further research into fusion energy.

NIF has the potential to revolutionize our energy system -- teaching us a new way to harness the energy of the sun to power our cars and homes, Schwarzenegger said in a written statement.

California was the home of the first working laser, so it is no surprise that the Golden State has now produced the world's largest and most powerful one.

The NIF will house 192 lasers that together will produce temperatures and pressures on par with the sun when the beams are focused on a small hydrogen-filled target.

The 10-story center will also carry out advanced astrophysics research and be used to test the reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons without having to actually detonate a bomb.

The governor's office said the NIF would support around 1,000 jobs and will have generated more than $2 billion in spending in California by next year.