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Under Pressure, Deuterium Gets Into Quite a State

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Science  21 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5380, pp. 1135
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5380.1135

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A team of researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has used the Nova laser--the world's most powerful laser--to subject a drop of deuterium to intense pressures and temperatures, mimicking conditions inside giant planets. Their results, published on page 1178 indicate that deuterium, and by extension hydrogen, is more compressible and becomes metal-like at lower pressures than expected. The findings may help solve the puzzle of why Saturn appears younger than the rest of the solar system, and they may help explain the intense magnetic fields of planets such as Jupiter.