SLAC public Lecture Series
Jupiter in a Bottle: Extreme States of Matter in the Laboratory
Normally we think of hydrogen as a gas. But elsewhere in the universe, hydrogen under extreme pressure can exist in more exotic states. In the center of Jupiter, hydrogen becomes liquid or even solid. In the center of the sun, hydrogen is a plasma that burns itself up by nuclear fusion. Very hot, dense hydrogen can eject particles that we see as cosmic rays. At SLAC, we are now studying these extreme states of matter in the laboratory. We apply enormous pressures to hydrogen samples and use our X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source, to take split-second photographs of the states that result. This lecture describes these experiments. The information we are gathering has potential applications to astrophysics, controlled fusion and generation of proton beams for cancer therapy.