The Corpus Callosum

Z Machine

Deputy Dog has a post detailing “5
unbelievably cool research facilities
.”  The one
shown here is the Z
, at the Sandia National Lab in Albuquerque, New
 (Sandia Labs have more than one location.)


This device produces X-rays.
 Sure, there are a lot of X-ray machines.  But only
one can burn 290 trillion watts.  That is about 80 times the
entire world’s production of electricity, although it only lasts for a
few billionths of a second.  It attains temperatures of about
1.6 million degrees (Celsius).  

The idea is to get to 3 million degrees, the temperature needed for
nuclear fusion.  More technical details here.


  1. #1 Dave Briggs
    January 22, 2008

    The idea is to get to 3 million degrees, the temperature needed for nuclear fusion. More technical details here.

    A really cool machine! I hope they get the temp up soon. I have heard there is a lot of helium 3, a big contender for use in fusion, on the moon. Maybe if we get this thing cooking there will be more incentive to hurry on back to the moon?
    Dave Briggs :~)

  2. #2 Kris Verburgh
    January 23, 2008

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for the link.

  3. #3 John Fleck
    January 24, 2008

    This picture was taken by Randy Montoya, a technical photographer at Sandia Labs and a pal of mine. I think it’s a masterpiece. People aren’t allowed in the room when they fire a shot (something about it killing you, apparently), so Randy mounted a camera and triggered it remotely as they fired off the shot. Sadly, an upgrade of the machine completed last year means it no longer makes these beautiful sparkly bits when they fire a shot. But, on the positive side, they get more power from each shot, so it’s a net plus. I covered a shot once for the newspaper I write for. You’re in a control room next door. When they fire the shot, it’s strangely anti-climactic, like an enormous garage door slamming or something.

  4. #4 Joseph j7uy5
    January 25, 2008

    Mr. Fleck,

    Thanks for commenting. It is nice to know who gets credit for the photo. It’s also nice to hear what it is like to be there when the thing goes off.

    I assumed the photo was a work of the US Government, therefore in the public domain. I hope that is the case.

  5. #5 John Fleck
    February 3, 2008

    Oh, yeah, definitely in the public domain. We’ve used it in the newspaper, and I think it’s actually appeared in National Geographic.

  6. #6 baley
    March 15, 2008

    Nice Photo let’s hope their budget won’t get cut as it seems to happen in major science experiments in the world …

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