The Extreme Light Infrastructure Project: Powerful enough tear apart the vacuum of space-time

The European Commission is about to begin construction on three of the most powerful lasers ever built. The Extreme Light Infrastructure Project or (ELI) will use ten individual beams to create a single laser pulse measuring in the 200 petawatt range. The goal according to project scientists; is to “tear apart the vacuum of space-time itself revealing the matter and antimatter underneath.” Source : New Scientist It is hoped that once researchers open up a tear they will gain greater understanding in to the nature of what are called virtual particles by literally pulling them from the vacuum of space-time. “These so-called “virtual particles” normally annihilate one another too quickly for us to notice them. But physicists predicted in the 1930s that a very strong electric field would transform virtual particles into real ones that we can observe. The field pushes them in opposite directions because they have opposite electric charges, separating them so that they cannot destroy one another. Lasers are ideally suited to this task because their light boasts strong electric fields.” Source : New Scientist The project could be completed by 2015. You can read the project report here on the Grand Challenges of this project as well as the report of the ELI scientific Advisory Committee.