In a continuing pursuit toward ground-breaking inertial fusion research, Rochester congressional representatives secured $63.132 million from the FY 2004 Energy and Water Development Appropriations to fund the major expansion of the UR Laboratory for Laser Energetics.The funding, secured by Representatives Jim Walsh, Tom Reynolds, Amo Houghton and Louise Slaughter, will significantly aid in the construction of four Omega EP lasers, similar in energy containment to the world’s largest operating ultraviolet laser, LLE’s sixty-beam Omega laser.The Rochester-led mission to develop nuclear fusion as a reliable energy source began approximately nine years ago, when the Omega laser was first brought online. According to a 1995 UR press release, the Omega laser, along with other smaller lasers, has since been used to “directly illuminate, heat and compress a tiny target of hydrogen fuel to fuse hydrogen atoms and release energy.” According to LLE Director Robert L. McCroy, the present expansion of the LLE will allow the faculty to test the “fast ignitor” theory, which has the potential to significantly increase the amount of energy released from a fusion reaction.”The four new beams contain as much energy as the 60 Omega laser beams, but we will not use them at full energy,” McCroy said. “The Omega beams can compress a fusion target to near-ignition conditions…and be used to additionally heat the fuel to demonstrate what is called ‘boot-strap’ heating. “This scheme for using additional beams for this heating is referred to as the fast ignitor concept,” McCroy added. “This is when the areal density is high enough that the alpha particles from fusion reactions can redeposit their energy in the fuel and lead to additional thermonuclear gain and a propagating thermonuclear burn wave.”McCroy also commented in response to the present controversy concerning sustainability and the quickly dwindling supply of fossil fuels. “The fusion-supplied energy is essentially infinite as a fuel source,” he said. “There are no fission products to dispose of.” According to a news report released by the representatives, research conducted at LLE greatly contributes to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Defense Program, specifically the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which is an endeavor to research the technological efficiency and advancement of nuclear fusion. “This project will not only keep university scientists and engineers at the cutting edge but will also bolster the industries that support the facility and construction of the new building,” Slaughter commented in a news release. “The laboratory’s work in stockpile stewardship is one reason the nation is no longer required to test nuclear weapons.”For the past 34 years, through intense research, LEE has made significant contributions in liquid crystal optics, high-speed switching, X-ray laser technology, spectroscopy, and ultrafast science. It is currently the only facility that trains graduate students in the field of inertial fusion. “The laboratory is vital to the health of leading edge science in Upstate New York,” Walsh commented. “This facility will allow us to continue to retain and recruit some of the best and brightest engineers, scientists, and technicians in an area critical to the Upstate economy.” Welzer can be reached at

An interview with HermAphrodite, UR’s newest drag performer

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SageFest’s Total Preclipse

April 5 marked the 14th annual SageFest, an event organized by the Sage Art Center, UR’s studio arts building, and…