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Tomorrow Today

Focused - High-intensity laser beams to fathom our universe

The Petawatt High Energy Laser for Heavy Ion Experiments is called PHELIX for short, and physicists in Darmstadt are using it to extend our knowledge of matter. The scientists are trying to find out how matter behaves under extremely high temperatures and pressure.

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This is possible because PHELIX fires intense laser beams for a few billionths of a second at a tiny gold sphere, heating it to a temperature about ten million times that of the surface of the sun.