"If you could hold a giant magnifying glass in space and focus all the sunlight shining toward Earth onto one grain of sand, that concentrated ray would approach the intensity of a new laser beam made in a University of Michigan laboratory." - Physorg
If that doesn't amaze you, you need a slap. The HERCULES laser can produce that intensity instantaneously, and it is said to be the most intense known light in the universe.
The beam is sustained for 30 femtoseconds, with one femtosecond being equivalent to a billionth of a second. So, it lasts longer than you do in bed, and it also performs a little better, too. However, this isn't Dr Robotnik having a wacky time for no use, it is hoped that the research will give rise to powerful cancer treatments, and when we say powerful, we do mean 300 terawatts of power, with an inconceivable, 20 billion trillion watts per square centimeter. What is that equivalent to? An astonishing, 300 times the capacity of the U.S. electricity grid. All of that energy is concentrated into a 1.3-micron point, which is roughly 100th the diameter of a human hair.
Victor Yanovsky, who spearheaded the lasers development, says the HERCULES is around two orders more powerful than its nearest competing laser. A beam can be generated once every ten seconds, and the entire contraption accommodates several rooms, is constructed from titanium-sapphire and the light that enters at one end is processed by mirrors and other optical elements. This results in an increase in the energised quality of focused light.
The high intensity light, beyond medical uses, could also be implemented in crazy physics based procedures called "boiling the vacuum," which will apparently result in spontaneous matter generation. Crazy. Let's hope no one hell bent on world domination starts attempting to put together a real Death Star, or we'll all be screwed. May the force be with you. (Note to self: End more articles with that line.) [University of Michigan via Physorg]