Victor D. Chase

Housing Lasers

It is as big as a professional sports stadium and will eventually house 192 powerful lasers, all of which will be focused on a BB-sized capsule sitting inside a small tin can-like structure. When fired off in unison, the lasers’ powerful light beams will crunch the tiny capsule, causing the atoms inside to fuse together. The result will be a colossal burst of energy from the same nuclear fusion process that takes place in the Sun, and the other stars in the universe.

In this instance, however, the venue will not be the fiery interior of a star, but the more tranquil surface of planet Earth. The specific location is the National Ignition Facility (NIF), now under construction at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, California.

The earthbound fusion process that will take place in NIF, which is scheduled for completion in 2008, has been successfully created in smaller, predecessor laser facilities at LLNL, known as SHIVA and NOVA, but more energy had to be used to create those fusion reactions than was created by them. The intent is to reverse that equation in NIF, so that the process produces more energy than it consumes. If the process is successful, nuclear fusion could provide an endless source of energy, since the fuel contained in the target capsule consists of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium, and hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe.

Selected Works

Books
Shattered Nerves: How Science Is Solving Modern Medicine's Most Perplexing Problem
My book is as much about the people involved in this dynamic new field as it is about the science. In it I tell the stories of the researchers and of the patients on whom this technology is being tested, some of whom have become an intrinsic part of the teams creating these devices.
Computer Articles
Modeling An Earth-Shaking Event
“Earthquakes don’t kill people,” seismologist Arthur Rodgers says. “Buildings do.”
A Chilling Tale Of Nuclear Weaponry
Freezing and maintaining the reliability of the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile would appear to be diametrically opposed concepts. Think of one and the notion of shivering in the cold comes to mind. The other conjures images of an inferno....DEIXIS 2004-2005 (a DOE publication)
Made to Order: IBM Makes Sense Out of Unstructured Data
Researchers are developing systems to bring a rapidly growing and seemingly uncontrollable mass of information, into an orderly, usable state of being. IBM’s Think Research, 2002
Detecting Defects
When something you’ve purchased is defective, you usually send it back for a replacement, or throw it out and buy a new one. If you happen to be in the explosives business, however, the opposite holds true...DEIXIS 2004-2005 (a DOE publication)
Housing Lasers
Developing laser fusion may be the ultimate solution to the energy problem, and computational science is helping us get there. Deixis, 2002-2003 (published for the DOE).
Environmental Articles
Model Mixes Ice, Heat, Water And Salt To View The Ocean's Future
Within the next several decades, ice over the Arctic will completely disappear during the summer. That’s just one of the clear and dramatic predictions to come from models developed by the Climate Ocean and Sea Ice Modeling (COSIM) program at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Waiter There’s a Dye in My Soup
Food dye may prove to be the ultimate safe pesticide. Environmental Health Perspectives (a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), Volume 104, Number 2, February 1996.