A laser powerful enough to tear apart the fabric of space could be built in Britain as part major new scientific project that aims to answer some of the most fundamental questions about our universe.
Due to follow in the footsteps of the Large Hadron Collider, the latest “big science” experiment being proposed by physicists will see the world’s most powerful laser being constructed.
Capable of producing a beam of light so intense that it would be equivalent to the power received by the Earth from the sun focused onto a speck smaller than a tip of a pin, scientists claim it could allow them boil the very fabric of space – the vacuum.
Contrary to popular belief, a vacuum is not devoid of material but in fact fizzles with tiny mysterious particles that pop in and out of existence, but at speeds so fast that no one has been able to prove they exist.
The Extreme Light Infrastructure Ultra-High Field Facility would produce a laser so intense that scientists say it would allow them to reveal these particles for the first time by pulling this vacuum “fabric” apart.
They also believe it could even allow them to prove whether extra-dimensions exist.
“This laser will be 200 times more powerful than the most powerful lasers that currently exist,” said Professor John Collier, a scientific leader for the ELI project and director of the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, Oxfordshire.
“At this kind of intensity we start to get into unexplored territory as it is an area of physics that we have never been before.”
The ELI Ultra-High Field laser is due to be complete by the end of the decade and will cost an estimated £1 billion. Although the location for the facility will not be decided until next year, the UK is among several European countries in the running to host it.