Well, this is crazy. The LIFE project at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has plans to create a mini sun in the lab, one that could create more energy than it takes to create.

Yes, we're talking about fusion here. By focusing 192 huge laser beams at one 2mm ball of frozen hydrogen gas, they hope to create nearly limitless free energy. Oh, and it gets better:

In addition, the LIFE engine design can be "charged" with fission fuel. The resulting fission reactions will produce additional energy that can be harvested for electricity production. Moreover, by using depleted uranium or spent nuclear fuel from existing nuclear power plants in the blanket, a LIFE engine will be capable of burning the by-products of the current nuclear fuel cycle. Because the fusion neutrons are produced independently of the fission process, the fission fuel could be used without reprocessing. In this way, LIFE may be able to consume nuclear waste as fuel, mitigate against further nuclear proliferation, and provide long-term sustainability of carbon-free energy. A LIFE engine, via pure fusion or through the combination of fusion and fission, will generate the steady heat required to drive turbines for generating from 1,000 to 2,500 MW of safe, environmentally attractive electric power 24 hours a day for decades.

So wait, not only will it create free, limitless energy, but it will also do so while getting rid of harmful nuclear waste? OK, I guess I'm on board. [The LIFE Project via Kottke]