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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 23 declined, 18 accepted (41 total, 43.90% accepted)

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Submission + - ITER Fusion Reactor Enters Existential Crisis

deglr6328 writes: The long beleaguered experimental magnetic confinement fusion reactor ITER, is currently in what some are calling the worst crisis of its 25 year history. Still existing only on the paper of thousands of proposed design documents, latest cost estimates for the superconducting behemoth are soaring to nearly 20 billion USD; roughly twice the estimates of as recent as a few years ago. Anti-nuclear environmentalist organizations have seized upon the moment as an opportunity to use the current global economic crisis as a means to push for permanently killing the project. If ITER is not built, the prospect of magnetic confinement fusion as a technique to reach thermonuclear breakeven and ignition in the laboratory would be in serious question. Meanwhile, the largest laser-driven inertial confinement fusion project, the National Ignition Facility, has demonstrated the ability to use self generated plasma optical gratings to control capsule implosion symmetry with high finesse, and is on schedule to achieve ignition and potentially high gain before the end of the year.

Submission + - A novel negative entropy source for life on Europa (msn.com)

deglr6328 writes: Richard Greenberg, professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona, has presented findings at the current 41st meeting of the American Astronomical Society ("Vertical Transport through Europa's Crust: Implications for Oxidant Delivery and Habitability") suggesting that the oxygen content of the enormous oceans (suspected to be twice the volume of all Earth's oceans combined) on Jupiter's moon Europa, could be a hundred times higher than the previous estimate — story at MSNBC. Greenberg hypothesizes that the oxygen produced there from radiolysis of Europan surface ice as a result of Jupiter's intensely radioactive magnetosphere, could be sufficient to support ~3 million tons of complex multicellular life, should such life have oxygen requirements comparable to that of terrestrial animals.

Submission + - CERN's LHC Suffers Massive Magnet Quench

deglr6328 writes: "The Large Hadron Collider suffered a "massive" superconducting magnet quench in sector 34 at 11:27 local time today. Reports indicate over 1 ton of superfluid liquid helium was vaporized and vented into the beam tunnel. Vacuum in the beam pipe was lost. Superconducting magnet quenches occur when part of the electromagnet, for whatever reason (heat or locally high magnetic field), goes normally conducting and dissipates the huge amount of energy stored in its magnetic field into ohmic heating at the location of the quench. This can sometimes result in permanent magnet damage, though only time will tell if the LHC's magnets remain functional. Temperatures are now being brought down again but ~0.5 TeV collisions scheduled for next week will certainly be postponed. A small NMR machine magnet quench can be seen here."

Submission + - World's highest energy-most powerful laser online (rochester.edu)

deglr6328 writes: "The OMEGA EP laser at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics was dedicated today at the Robert L. Sproull Center for Ultra High Intensity Laser Research. The new laser, which has been in design since ~2002 will, at 1 kilojoule per 1 picosecond pulse, be the highest energy petawatt (1 petawatt = 1 million billion watts) scale laser ever created by far. For a fleeting fraction of a second, it will deliver a beam of infrared light at 1054 nm that is more powerful than the total energy consumption of all human activity on the planet, to a tiny spot the size of the head of a pin. Previous petawatt scale lasers such as the one created at Lawrence Livermore labs in the late 90's (and dismantled in 1999) were capable of only several hundred joules per pulse. The new OMEGA EP laser will be able to manifest power densities sufficient to examine Unruh and Hawking radiation-like phenomena in the laboratory and will have the capability to directly produce nuclear reactions through ultra high electric field initiated photodisintegration, thus allowing it to transmute (albeit in very tiny amounts) long lived nuclear waste into stable isotopes. OMEGA EP's primary purpose will be to investigate fast-ignition inertial confinement laser fusion, which attempts to compress a microscopic pellet of hydrogen-ice fuel using the older 60 beam 30Kj 60 terawatt OMEGA laser to pressures exceeding 15 times those found at the core of the sun and temperatures in excess of 100 million K, and then at the exact moment of maximum implosion, injecting the EP petawatt beam to heat the core electron energies to multi-Kev temperatures — igniting a nuclear fusion burn wave through the remaining fuel, producing energy gain. Petawatt scale lasers such as EP may even be able to attain zetawatt powers using some very clever tricks, and would thus be in the realm of having the ability to "boil the vacuum" or generate matter by merely focusing light into empty space. On today's birthday of the first visible light laser 48 years ago, the future of laser physics is extraordinarily bright indeed."

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