From cat toys to Blu-Ray players, we humans like our lasers, but a new crazy-powerful laser under construction in the Czech Republic will have even the likes of Dr. Evil turning red with jealousy. The Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) Beamlines project is an EU-funded lab that astrophysicists and evil masterminds alike will covet the world over.
Due to be switched on by 2017, ELI Beamlines will construct a laser called the High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS). This bad boy will emit a short laser burst with an intensity of 1023 watts per square centimeter. That's 100,000 times more power than all the power stations in the world can put out — combined. It's as if all the energy of the Sun were focused into a single beam about as big as coaster.
These laser bursts will last only 1/100,000th of a billionth of a second. Still, within that short time they'll afford researchers unprecedented access to the workings of the cosmos. Through the ELI Beamlines project, we could emulate the radiation given off by pulsars or learn how matter behaves within brown dwarf stars and massive exoplanets. Just don't go standing in the way of a blast from the HAPLS once it's ready to fire, or you might find out just what Shakespeare meant when he wrote "...the white-hot heat of a thousand suns."