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Inside the World's Most Powerful X-Ray Laser

On Tuesday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu made it official with a ceremony for the cameras. But work at Stanford University's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park has been underway for several months already. The university calls the SLAC the world's most powerful X-ray laser and the only one of its kind in the world.

As the Associated Press noted in its dispatch, the device can view "matter on a scale of individual atoms and enables scientists to take stop-motion pictures of moving atoms and molecules. Researchers plan to use the X-ray laser for experiments that they say may lead to new discoveries in drug development, energy production and computer science."

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.