One-Petawatt Laser Opens For Business In Texas

In the basement of the physics building at the University of Texas in Austin is the world's most powerful laser. Switched on for the first time last week, it has an output of a quadrillion watts—in terms of zeros, that's 1,000,000,000,000,000. Wired has gotten its hands on some stunning pictures of the US$7-million installation, and has a detailed explanation of how the thing works. The laser will be used to recreate astronomical goings-on, such as supernovae and, as the manager of the laser project says, "You'd have to go out into space and hang out with an exploding star to observe what we plan to observe here in Texas." [Wired]