With unidentified crap from space raining down upon us with disturbing regularity, there’s no better time to have a giant laser in your planetary defense arsenal.

This years must have gift for the arch-villain in your life is on the verge of getting fired up – five years late and billions of dollars over budget, the world’s largest laser is preparing for ignition at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Sporting a final price tag of $3.5 billion , the National Ignition Facility, which is as large as 3 football fields, will seek to produce self sustaining nuclear fusion in a 2mm sample of beryllium, deuterium and tritium.

To this end, they’ll be bombarding the sample with 192 laser beams, ultimately creating an environment that replicates the conditions on the Sun. The laser has a multitude of different applications, the most practical of which is simulating the conditions of a nuclear explosion in order to help researchers better understand the cleanup process for  nuclear material. But it will also allow chemists and physicists to better understand the way that different types of plasma interact with one another, chemical reactions in super dense environment, such as on a gas giant like Jupiter, and, of course, the power mad devastation of all those who oppose you. 

Whether it’s ultimately used to help us learn more about supernovas or just bring small nations to their knees, one thing is for sure – it’s only a matter of time before some scientist working late gets a wild hair and tries to carve his name into the moon. And to that hypothetical future researcher, I say this – well played, sir. Well played.

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