The National Ignition Facility is an amazing place in Livermore, California. It houses the world's larges and highest-energy laser in the world, all with the goal of "creating a miniature star on Earth." Why would they want to do that? Two words: free energy.
The goal is to achieve fusion, which would create more energy than it would take to do it. That would, in theory, allow us to create a limitless supply of free energy. Not a bad goal.
The Big Picture has an amazing photo set of shots from the NIF, well worth checking out for fans of very, very complicated equipment.
Via The Big Picture