News & CommentNational Laboratories

A Harsh Light Falls on NIF

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Science  18 Jul 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5324, pp. 304-307
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5324.304

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is meant to simulate aspects of nuclear explosions by training 192 of the world's most powerful laser beams on a speck of nuclear fuel. To be built at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the $1.2 billion machine is a key element of science-based stockpile stewardship: a program to monitor and assess the aging nuclear stockpile without actually exploding any warheads. But critics question both NIF's relevance to weapons and whether it can meet its technical goals.