The National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California, has been called a modern-day moon-shot, a project of "revolutionary science," and "the mother of all boondoggles." NIF, as it's known, is a five-billion dollar, taxpayer-funded super laser project whose goal is to create nuclear fusion – a tiny star – inside a laboratory. But so far, that hasn't happened.
For all of the laser's exciting aspirations and promise of new technology, the press' reaction to NIF throughout the twelve years of its construction has been often lukewarm, and at worst scornful.
It's one of the most expensive high-tech projects the United States has ever attempted, and some say it will never work. QUEST visits the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, where scientists will soon aim the world's largest laser at a target the size of a pencil eraser. The goal? Nuclear fusion — and, they say, […]