Scientists are developing a laser 100,000 times more powerful than all of the world's power stations combined.
ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES...
Fortunately they are not super-evil, dastardly villains plotting to blow up planets a la Darth Vader, but inquisitive scientists examining how the cosmos was created.
Part of the laser amplification process
The High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS) is being built at the the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California.
It will then be transferred to the the European Union's Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines facility in the Czech Republic.
It will be capable of emitting 1023 watts per square centimetre but only for tiny fractions of a second.
Or in technical terms...
The design goal for the "High repetition-rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System" (HAPLS) calls for peak powers greater than one petawatt (1015 watts, or 1,000,000,000,000,000 watts) at a repetition rate of 10 hertz, with each pulse lasting less than 30 femtoseconds, or 0.00000000000003 seconds.
This equates the energy produced by the sun being emitted from an area just 10cm by 10cm.
The laser will have a number of applications in physics, medicine and biology and should be online by 2017.
Dr. Jan Ridky, the director of the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, said: "We are proud and excited now to be working with LLNL, which is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in high performance lasers."