Friday, June 17, 2005

2.8 Billion for Nothing?

WASHINGTON (AP) - A giant laser being built to simulate the explosion of a hydrogen bomb is facing funding cuts in the U.S. Senate that supporters said could kill the project after $2.8 billion has been spent on it. The device, which would focus 192 lasers at a single point to create a huge release of energy, is nearing completion at the Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons lab in northern California.

But a spending plan for energy and water projects approved Thursday by the Senate appropriations committee would shut off further construction money for the project, leaving it with just the four laser beams now in place.

Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico complained ballooning costs on the project, called the National Ignition Facility, are a drain on other programs that maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal. New Mexico is home to the two other U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories, Sandia and Los Alamos.

Full Story...

[My Take] If we have already spent $2.8 Billion for this project. Do we really want to stop funding for it now? That sounds like a BIG waste of money to me. I would also like to see this laser if it is completed because it sounds pretty nifty. As noted in the article, this would still be used for experiments and be the largest laser in the world, but without more lasers it cannot reach fusion ignition - the hoped-for energy release.