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Worlds Most Intense X-Ray Laser Takes First Shots

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 02:25 PM
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By Lisa Grossman June 30, 2010 | 1:58 pm | Categories: Physics

The worlds most intense X-ray laser may soon be the fastest strobe-light camera ever. Two of the lasers first experiments show the device will be able to take snapshots of single molecules in motion without destroying them first.

The laser, called the Linac Coherent Light Source, takes up a third of the two-mile-long linear accelerator at the SLAC National Accelerator Lab in Menlo Park, California. In the accelerator hall, tight bunches of electrons wriggle through a series of magnets and give off X-rays billions of times brighter than earlier X-ray sources could muster. The wavelength of these X-rays is comparable to the radius of a hydrogen atom about one angstrom, or one ten-billionth of a meter and each pulse can be as short as a few quadrillionths of a second.

These features make this kind of X-ray, called a hard X-ray for its ability to penetrate matter, an ideal scalpel to probe the inner workings of atoms and molecules. When the laser first flashed in April 2009, physicists dreamed of using it to make 3-D, time-lapse movies of atomic bonds breaking and proteins changing shape. Just like stop-motion photographs showed 19th-century photographers how horses run, the X-ray laser should show modern scientists how atoms interact.

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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 04:02 PM
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1. Finally, a pizza oven that doesn't burn the crust.
Where can I get one of my own? :9
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NickB79 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-04-10 02:12 PM
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2. Is it mounted on the head of a frikkin' shark?
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