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World's First X-Ray Laser Goes Live

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the bring-x-rays-back-to-shoe-stores dept.

Technology 238

smolloy writes "The world's first X-ray laser (LCLS) has seen first light. A Free Electron Laser (FEL) is based on the light that is emitted by accelerated electrons when they are forced to move in a curved path. The beam then interacts with this emitted light in order to excite coherent emission (much like in a regular laser); thus producing a very short, extremely bright, bunch of coherent X-ray photons. The engineering expertise that went into this machine is phenomenal — 'This is the most difficult light source that has ever been turned on,' said LCLS Construction Project Director John Galayda. 'It's on the boundary between the impossible and possible, and within two hours of start-up these guys had it right on.' — and the benefits to the applied sciences from research using this light can be expected to be enormous: 'For some disciplines, this tool will be as important to the future as the microscope has been to the past,' said SLAC Director Persis Drell."

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238 comments

The one question we all want to know. (5, Funny)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 5 years ago | (#27668919)

Can it give me super powers if it accidentally hits me?!

Re:The one question we all want to know. (5, Funny)

captnbmoore (911895) | about 5 years ago | (#27669031)

No but as in the previous story it may sink your balls.

Bah, that's nothing... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27670463)

This [nimp.org] summary will really sink your balls.

Re:The one question we all want to know. (5, Funny)

Scutter (18425) | about 5 years ago | (#27669065)

Can it give me super powers if it accidentally hits me?!

It can give you the power to roll around on the ground and crap yourself. Does that count?

Re:The one question we all want to know. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669729)

sounds like he already has that power. Redundant!

Re:The one question we all want to know. (5, Funny)

dunng808 (448849) | about 5 years ago | (#27669113)

The way it works in old comics, a ray gun gives the *shooter* power. But what good is a ray gun that shoots right through stuff? Won't the ray from my gun just circle around past the end of the universe and hit me in the back, like having sex with my girlfriend's sister?

Re:The one question we all want to know. (5, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 years ago | (#27669387)

Where can I pickup my free Electron Laser? Will they be ad-supported (watch an ad before you get to fire the laser) or is there a 'pro' version?

Re:The one question we all want to know. (2, Informative)

hmccabe (465882) | about 5 years ago | (#27669175)

From what I know about sci-fi, if you are going to be shot with a laser that gives you super powers, it's likely to be from a scientist named something like Director Persis Drell.

Re:The one question we all want to know. (1)

justin12345 (846440) | about 5 years ago | (#27669185)

I didn't RTFA yet, but "x-ray laser" screams "soon to be defense contract". I wonder what they will blow up with it?

Re:The one question we all want to know. (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 5 years ago | (#27669671)

I didn't RTFA yet, but "x-ray laser" screams "soon to be defense contract". I wonder what they will blow up with it?

Dude, the question is, "What WON'T they blow up with it?"

Sometimes you get what you deserve!.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 5 years ago | (#27670581)

Dude, the question is, "What WON'T they blow up with it?"

Your Momma!...There are not enough explosives in the UNIVERSE! *sigh!*

*Disclaimer*
I do not know your Mom, and meant no direct disrespect...this was meant to be an 'Obligatory, but inane' post....YMMV, however!

Never discount the potential of 'bomb-pumped LASER weapons', if we ever figure it out....

Your Momma, my Momma, EVERYONE'S Momma will be at risk.

Even M.A.D.(Mutually Assured Destruction) has it's practical limits for rational beings. Let's hope humans belong to that group!

Re:The one question we all want to know. (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 5 years ago | (#27670169)

Never discount DARPA [wikipedia.org],or Sci-Fi: David Weber's Honorverse [wikipedia.org] series.

Bomb-pumped LASER weapons are not a new idea. If you are of the paranoid type, be very afraid!

If not, then go on with life!

Reality usually falls in between the two. :-)

Re:The one question we all want to know. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669191)

Yes indeed! You will become Atom Man! Your special power will be that you can turn yourself into a cloud of separate atoms, each disconnected from the other!

(Note: This does not mean that the laser will help you turn back.)

Re:The one question we all want to know. (3, Funny)

Verteiron (224042) | about 5 years ago | (#27670365)

On the upside, if you manage to reassemble yourself from that state, you'll get a nifty blue glow and no one will arrest you for running around naked all day.

Ha ha! Dangly parts.

Re:The one question we all want to know. (5, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 5 years ago | (#27669659)

Can it give me super powers if it accidentally hits me?!

Yes. It can make you disappear instantly. But only the one time.

Re:The one question we all want to know. (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 5 years ago | (#27670017)

Abso-fucking-lutely!!!
When it his your ass, decoherence and relativity will scatter your ass everywhere, and nowhere at once!

Meow!
You will be Snroedinger's cat, in a box, or not.

Be careful what you ask for, you may get your wish!

Re:The one question we all want to know. (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 5 years ago | (#27670443)

Accidentally? How many basement-dwellers that have read too many comics do you think will be throwing themselves in front of this thing?

Awesome (4, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 years ago | (#27669047)

I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Labs. They have a similar setup; using accelerated electrons to produce x-rays, the real achievement here is the coherency part. I wonder how this effects high speed x-ray crystallography, is it easier to decode the scatter if the light is coherent? Will we be getting real time videos of enzymes in action? If so I can only imagine what that will do for chemical and pharmaceutical research.

Re:Awesome (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about 5 years ago | (#27669493)

Isn't the problem simply one of integration time? (ie. getting enough interactions for imaging in too short a time cooks the enzymes.)

Re:Awesome (4, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 5 years ago | (#27669713)

I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Labs. They have a similar setup; using accelerated electrons to produce x-rays, the real achievement here is the coherency part. I wonder how this effects high speed x-ray crystallography, is it easier to decode the scatter if the light is coherent? Will we be getting real time videos of enzymes in action? If so I can only imagine what that will do for chemical and pharmaceutical research.

Also, I hope this is the first step in a fairly rapid development of a tabletop x-ray laser that can live in a lab. Last time I spent a week doing small angle x-ray scattering at Argonne I had to be in the top 3 of the 48 requests submitted for x-ray time on the beamline I wanted in order to get an invitation. The other 45 groups got rejected. X-ray time is a limiting factor in a very large number of scientific fields.

Not that I don't appreciate coherency.

Re:Awesome (2, Informative)

deglr6328 (150198) | about 5 years ago | (#27669773)

"Will we be getting real time videos of enzymes in action?"

No, enzymes in action must be in solution and not locked into a regular crystalline lattice of the sort required to diffract X-rays of comparable wavelength with the spatially encoded information of said molecular structure which is necessary to do diffractometry.

Re:Awesome (4, Informative)

thechao (466986) | about 5 years ago | (#27670121)

IAAECXRPX (I am an ex-computational-x-ray-protein-crystallographer). Lasers a bit left wing, since we usually use anode sources for x-rays on the home source and synchotrons for MAD sets. However, if the laser has tight enough phases (60-degrees) and coherency this is not just big but HUGE. Currently, there are two difficult steps in PX: (1) crystallization; and (2) phasing. The first is becoming easier using automated screening and robots (although we are only at the beginning of this process, so probably still 5--10 years out). The second has been considered one of the outstanding problems in (at least) biology if not all of science. To put this in perspective, it was only a few years ago that just *finding* the structure (phasing) was enough to warrant a Nature or Science paper. Nowadays you're gonna need some function, too, but the phasing is still spectacularly hard. If these guys have really done this, and they're getting good power, this will be a watershed event for all of biology.

Re:Awesome (4, Informative)

Bowling Moses (591924) | about 5 years ago | (#27670543)

Well for high-speed crystallography it isn't so much that data collection is the problem (for most applications). You can collect a high-quality data set of a protein at APS in under a half an hour. The real bottlenecks in x-ray crystallography is, was, and unfortunately most likely always will be protein crystallization. Way back in the day when protein crystallography was just starting, it was thought to be somewhat bizarre for proteins to crystallize. Fast forward four or five decades and now if your protein is reasonably soluble, reasonable stable, and has a definite structure (not all proteins have a well-defined structure and just flop about in a range of states), then you can probably get it to crystallize well enough to solve the structure. But it might take a long time to pull off, years even. But that's only for soluble proteins. If a protein is normally in the cell membrane, it is much, much harder. A cell membrane is basically soap. Soap doesn't crystallize. There are only a few structures of integral membrane proteins despite a lot of work on the problem. Also proteins that only have one domain or even just a helix poking into the membrane can be tricky--they're usually done by just removing the offending membrane bit but often suffer from solubility problems.

For part two, lasers produce monochromatic light. One technique for doing real-time x-ray crystallography involves using polychromatic x-rays. Normally you get a single, specific, monochromatic wavelength (, or at least close enough that for data processing you largely ignore everything else. The resulting diffraction pattern looks something like that seen on wikipedia's page [wikipedia.org]. That page and links are actually pretty good. However you can use a broader spectrum of x-rays and get a different diffraction pattern due to having different wavelengths of light hitting your protein crystal over the course of the exposure, or a Laue diffraction image [anl.gov] (ignore the color--computer added). Interpreting Laue diffraction's significantly harder because you also have to take into account that you have basically multiple different wavelengths of light producing multiple different, overlapping diffraction patterns. Unlike monochromatic diffraction patterns, which require exposure times of at least tenths of a second even at APS (or potentially hours on a weaker rotating anode x-ray source like at an individual lab), Laue diffraction can be measured in picoseconds--on the time scale of chemical reactions catalyzed by enzymes. A few groups have done time-resolved x-ray crystallography with reactions by building up series of Laue images. You can't do it for everything, though. Data processing problems aside you typically need a chemical reaction that can be triggered by light. Also, proteins frequently undergo structural reorientations during catalysis--the change will have to be small enough so that the packing of proteins in the crystal lattice will not be affected. Time-resolved x-ray crystallography using Laue diffraction is never going to be widely used, but the results can still be very exciting.

What these guys have in mind and how practical it is I don't know since I've somewhat shifted away from protein x-ray crystallography. I do remember going to a conference a few years ago where some guys wanted to use a single molecule to collect data on--by blasting the bajesus (that's a technical term) out of it with an extremely short, extremely massive burst of x-rays. They had the problem though of ripping off basically all of the electrons in the process, IIRC. Even at weak home rotating anode x-ray sources you still have to worry about radiation damaging your crystal (and affecting your resulting model of the protein), but blasting away all the electrons? That's like comparing a flyswatter and a tactical nuke.

Re:Awesome (2, Informative)

Bowling Moses (591924) | about 5 years ago | (#27670625)

I forgot to include that there are movies of proteins during catalysis by using Laue diffraction, and I've been lucky enough to see a talk where they speaker showed such a movie. While I can't at the moment find a good example I did find this large .pdf [anl.gov] of a powerpoint presentation. Scroll down to page 17 and you can start to see a little bit of what's going on in the case of release of carbon monoxide from myoglobin. Which has some broader relevance as carbon monoxide poisoning results from that molecule binding to hemoglobin and out-competing oxygen. Got published in Nature too.

First? (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 5 years ago | (#27669067)

I seem to recall that they fired up an X-Ray laser as part of the tests for the Strategic Defense Initiative. The whole thing was powered by an atomic blast, so it was kind of a one-shot deal.

If they had actually deployed lasers like that one, I think I would have been more afraid of our missile defense than of any missiles.

Ronnie promised us that SDI would make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete". I think he didn't quite understand how hard that is.

Re:First? (4, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#27669213)

If they had actually deployed lasers like that one, I think I would have been more afraid of our missile defense than of any missiles.

Considering that our pre-Star Wars anti-bomber defenses included preparing to toss up missiles with nuclear warheads in the midst of bomber formations, often necessarily over populated areas (as with Nike-Hercules), its not like the bomb-pumped lasers to defend against ballistic missiles would have been all that out of line with what preceded them (had they, you know, been practical to deploy.)

Re:First? (4, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | about 5 years ago | (#27669837)

To be fair, the Nike-Hercules missiles were among the last nuclear defenses intended to be employed. The first was to knock out air bases with nuclear strikes to prevent bombers from getting in the air in the first place. After that came air interception using missiles such as the AIR-2 Genie. Nuclear-tipped SAMs would attempt to intercept over the ocean or unpopulated territory where possible (the Nike-Hercules had a range of over 75 miles), and explode over populated territories only if nothing else worked.

Re:First? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669285)

It's not the first - it's the most powerful and it is "hard" X-ray. The article itself does not make the claim of the "first", nor the wikipedia article linked in the summary.

 

Re:First? (2, Informative)

deglr6328 (150198) | about 5 years ago | (#27669845)

Not the first. Maybe the first X-ray FEL (maybe) but not the first X-ray laser proper. The first X-ray lasers were created in nickel and samarium plasmas created by few ns long, multi Kj, UV light pulses of LLNL's Novette laser [wikipedia.org] (predecessor of the Nova laser [wikipedia.org]) in the early '80s [harvard.edu]. The work was probably done with SDI in mind.

I don't think that ever actually worked (1)

mbessey (304651) | about 5 years ago | (#27670129)

As far as I can recall, while some work (and a lot of promotion) was done on bomb-pumped X-ray lasers for SDI, there wasn't any experiment that definitively demonstrated the effect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Initiative#X-ray_laser [wikipedia.org]

Wikipedia seems to agree, for what it's worth. I wish all my books weren't in storage - I'm sure this is mentioned in one of Richard Rhodes' books on the bomb, somewhere.

Re:First? (4, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 5 years ago | (#27670437)

Ronnie promised us that SDI would make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete". I think he didn't quite understand how hard that is.

Oh, I don't know; I'm pretty sure he did. You see, the whole idea of SDI was to start something very expensive that Just Might Work. That meant that the Soviets had to try to copy us, and the effort caused their rickety, barely-functional economy to collapse, bringing down the whole Soviet Union with it. And that, my friend, was the whole point of the exercise: fight the Cold War on economic grounds, where we could easily out do them rather than on military grounds where we were stuck in a stalemate.

A safer way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669075)

to give humans superpowers, without the risk of giving others nearby cancer, or the need to steal some nuclear waste from a local nuclear plant.

A big medical breakthrough. (4, Informative)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | about 5 years ago | (#27669079)

Right now X-Ray sources are quite random and waste _a lot_ of energy. A nice pencil thin directional beam would do wonders for CT scanners.

Re:A big medical breakthrough. (1)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | about 5 years ago | (#27669145)

Unfortunately, from TFA it seems that your CT scanner would need to have a two-mile linear accelerator behind it.

Re:A big medical breakthrough. (4, Funny)

Liquidrage (640463) | about 5 years ago | (#27669267)

But once they ship it off to Taiwan for mass production that two miles will become two centimeters. And we'll all have our own X-Ray laser pointer.

Re:A big medical breakthrough. (2, Funny)

lahvak (69490) | about 5 years ago | (#27669539)

And we'll all have our own X-Ray laser pointer.

Awesome! You won't be able to see what you are pointing at, but it can still burn out your eyes.

Re:A big medical breakthrough. (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | about 5 years ago | (#27669909)

> You won't be able to see what you are pointing at...

I suspect that sufficient power at 1.5nm will make just about anything flouresce. Or at least glow.

Re:A big medical breakthrough. (4, Informative)

Sentry21 (8183) | about 5 years ago | (#27669547)

As far as medical radiology goes, a pencil-thin beam would be nice for added precision, but also for dramatically reducing the radiation dose. My local hospital has stopped giving me CT scans because I've had so many in the past (out of necessity) that they don't want to fry me any more than necessary.

Replacing the emitters in a CT scanner, which basically spray you with radiation and rely on carefully-placed sensors to create the line-of-sight they want, with a directed, low-power beam that only hits with radiation those cells that actually need it, will dramatically reduce the amount of radiation that patients receive.

Re:A big medical breakthrough. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27670547)

My local hospital has stopped giving me CT scans because I've had so many in the past (out of necessity) that they don't want to fry me any more than necessary.

MRI doesn't do the job?

Re:A big medical breakthrough. (1)

tastiles (466054) | about 5 years ago | (#27669893)

Actually current CT's are designed to use a "cone beam" and measure radiation from as much area as possible at one time. This has allowed the time it takes for a CT scan to go from minutes per slice to tenths of seconds per slice. Unless you had hundreds (or thousands) of pencil beams, the current scanners would take much less time.

Huh? (2, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about 5 years ago | (#27669151)

X-ray laser (LCLS)

Strangest acronym evar.

Re:Huh? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 5 years ago | (#27669587)

What's so strange about LCLS as an acronym for "Linac Coherent Light Source"? (Other than the fact that Linac is itself an abbreviation for Linear Accelerator, so it should really by LACLS.

Re:Huh? Not an Acronym (1)

fuzzylollipop (851039) | about 5 years ago | (#27669805)

it is only an acronym if it is pronounced like a work (ie RADAR, LASER). LCLS is just an abbreviation.

Re:Huh? Not an Acronym (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 5 years ago | (#27670279)

it is only an acronym if it is pronounced like a work (ie RADAR, LASER). LCLS is just an abbreviation.

I can haz LOLCLASS?

Do not look into laser... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669157)

...with remaining head.

But I was promised bomb-pumped x-ray warheads! (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | about 5 years ago | (#27669187)

How else would Honour Harrington defeat the peeps?

Re:But I was promised bomb-pumped x-ray warheads! (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 5 years ago | (#27670565)

By using the new Bomb Pumped Gravitic Lasers developed by Admiral of the Red Hemphill.

size (3, Funny)

jschen (1249578) | about 5 years ago | (#27669227)

So when will it be small enough to fit on a shark's head?

Re:size (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27669405)

HA. Typical non-mad scientists thinking! you will never get anywhere thinking like that!
The question is, "SO when will there be a shark large enough to mount this on?"

and that would be next week.

popcorn (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669251)

Can I suggest that they put this thing in the belly of an airforce drone and attempt to cook a tub of popcorn on the ground? Perhaps in my professor's house?

The only relevant question (0, Redundant)

noidentity (188756) | about 5 years ago | (#27669253)

The only question I have involves sharks, and when.

You knew this was going to be asked.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669421)

My shopping list:
30 x-ray lasers
29 sharks

i have the perfect test for it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669481)

get all the fags in one area and see if you can fry them off the face of the planet. faggots are useless.

Re:i have the perfect test for it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27670009)

> get all the fags in one area and see if you can fry them off the face of the planet. faggots are useless.

Interestingly enough, if you ROT13 this message, it reads "OH GOD I CRAVE HOT HARD THROBBING COCKS IN MY MOUTH PLEASE DON'T TELL THE GUN CLUB".

Stupid question (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 5 years ago | (#27669529)

Can it be used for more accurate photolithography [wikipedia.org]?

Re:Stupid question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27670673)

Not realistically.

X-ray sources have been experimented with for lith purposes. The trouble is, in order to take advantage of the small wavelength, you need to be able to have your photoresist - the photoactive compound that reacts to the light source - actually capture the x-rays.

Modern resist thickness can be on the order of tens or hundreds on nanometers. An x-ray source isn't even going to notice that on the way by. It won't hardly notice the substrate either, for that matter.

And it runs on RTEMS (1)

joelsherrill (132624) | about 5 years ago | (#27669545)

And it runs RTEMS [rtems.org]. There are a lot of RTEMS physics applications thanks to the EPICS community. Great group of talented folks.

X-ray drive (3, Insightful)

Anenome (1250374) | about 5 years ago | (#27669559)

How long until Sony announces their new 'Exray' drive, the successor to Bluray--capable of holding 60 petabytes on a single disk? :P

Re:X-ray drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669779)

Can we just skip straight to gamma rays so I don't have to keep re-buying the same movies?

Re:X-ray drive (1)

Anenome (1250374) | about 5 years ago | (#27669939)

"Can we just skip straight to gamma rays so I don't have to keep re-buying the same movies?"

XD Lol, nice one. But I think that could only happen once the copyrights expire on a significant number of movies... You could probably fit every movie ever made on a gamma-ray reading drive O_O

Priority review (1)

manoelhc (1172781) | about 5 years ago | (#27669663)

Why don't they focus on a powerful laser to destroy bad asteroids?

Re:Priority review (2, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 5 years ago | (#27669863)

Because they don't subscribe to your medieval worldview of "good" and "bad" asteroids?

And because it's ridiculously impractical?

Re:Priority review (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | about 5 years ago | (#27670289)

Because they don't subscribe to your medieval worldview of "good" and "bad" asteroids?

And because it's ridiculously impractical?

Much better to make popcorn!

World's *First* X-Ray Laser? I don't think so. (3, Informative)

imperious_rex (845595) | about 5 years ago | (#27669707)

The first x-ray laser was part of SDI research in the early 80's. Click here [llnl.gov] and here [iop.org] for more info.

Re:World's *First* X-Ray Laser? I don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669919)

actually the FLASH soft xray laser in hamburg has been operational for a while now

An X-Laser? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27669731)

Don't let Abaddon find out about it! He'll destroy billions in his quest for rushing human supremacy over the Galactic Milieu!!

Only his brother can save us!

obligatory filk to celebrate: (1)

mblase (200735) | about 5 years ago | (#27670179)

X-ray lasers sing this song
doo-dah, doo-dah
Blasting holes 'bout nine miles long
oh, de-do-dah-day
Gonna recharge all night
Gonna align all day
You're standing right in the beam line now
You better get out of the way

(And if anyone can tell me who that's attributable to, you'll be my new Internet Best Friend.)

I wonder how long it will take (1)

bombastinator (812664) | about 5 years ago | (#27670221)

I wonder how long it will take for all the advances produced by the millions and millions of dollars and careers spent will be squandered by crappy information security and shipped to china for 37 cents in long distance charges.

So when can I buy one online? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27670247)

So what I'm really wanting to know is how long until someone sells a cheap Chinese knock-off online? Fuck blue lasers! I can imagine loads of fun pointing this at people in the mall, during baseball games, at the movies, etc.

Apologies to Peter Benchley (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 years ago | (#27670343)

(Looks at 2 mile long accelerator): "We're going to need a bigger shark."

It is impressive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27670409)

but not the first by a few years.

The first X-ray laser is in Hamburg: Flash. And it is operational since 2005 open for outside users!!!
http://zms.desy.de/press/background_information/photon_science/flash/index_eng.html

Come on guys!!! Research before saying first!!!

I think you are confused. (4, Interesting)

smaddox (928261) | about 5 years ago | (#27670461)

Everyone seems to be confused about what an x-ray laser is. It isn't like a laser pointer that can be focused down to a small dot. X-ray's can't readily be focused, except by clever uses of beryllium [accel.de], and even those aren't very efficient.

No, the applications of this are quite different. Think about an expanded laser beam. What can you do with that? Well, you can make holograms, for one. An interesting thing about holograms is that the size of the image scales with the light that illuminates them. So, if you could record a hologram in X-rays, then view it with red light, it would be magnified by ~700 times. Unfortunately, x-ray holograms are unlikely, because recording a hologram requires redirecting the beam at least once. The best X-ray mirrors (beryllium) are no more than 1% efficient.

So X-ray lasers aren't really that interesting for the layman. However, they are extremely important for science. I don't know specifically what this one will be used for, but you can bet it will lead to new discoveries.

In my best Flounder imitation... (1)

CBob (722532) | about 5 years ago | (#27670467)

I'd like 100 square miles of thin film solar cells please....

The next phone call goes to SpaceX.

An Evil Overlord's work is never done.

Light (1, Insightful)

Kazymyr (190114) | about 5 years ago | (#27670483)

"The world's first X-ray laser (LCLS) has seen first light. A Free Electron Laser (FEL) is based on the light that is emitted by accelerated electrons when they are forced to move in a curved path. The beam then interacts with this emitted light in order to excite coherent emission (much like in a regular laser); thus producing a very short, extremely bright, bunch of coherent X-ray photons. The engineering expertise that went into this machine is phenomenal -- 'This is the most difficult light source that has ever been turned on,' said LCLS Construction Project Director John Galayda. 'It's on the boundary between the impossible and possible, and within two hours of start-up these guys had it right on.' -- and the benefits to the applied sciences from research using this light can be expected to be enormous: 'For some disciplines, this tool will be as important to the future as the microscope has been to the past.' said SLAC Director Persis Drell."

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Yes indeed! You will become Atom Man! Your special (1)

lsjylp (1538237) | about 5 years ago | (#27670561)

Yes indeed! You will become Atom Man! aerobic exercise [wazhe.com] Your special power will be that you can turn yourself into a cloud of

X-ray (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27670593)

So when are we going to start using sharks for precision dental X-rays?

SHOE STORES! (2, Funny)

aqk (844307) | about 5 years ago | (#27670613)

What, no comments yet?

I remember, half a century ago, just walkin' in to a local shoe store, with a coupla pals. We'd have fun playing with the shoe-store X-ray machine.
"Wow! watch me wiggle my toes !" etc etc

And then would go home, and later that night in bed, after Mom or Dad told me to turn the light off, I would read my Captain Marvel comics to the light of my glowing feet...

Then those evil machines got banned.
  Strangely, all my kids seem to have assumed adult-hood without... uhhh.. "mutations".
We were just lucky I guess.
And my feet are OK. 'Cept when I go barefoot in cold weather...

Jeez. 50 years later. I can still run a daily 10Km on those feet. Is there something that I don't know?

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