Does the phrase "focused their energy into a pulse with the punch of a speeding truck" mean "a speeding truck's punch made the energy focused into a pulse"?

In October 2010, in a building the size of three U.S. football fields, researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory powered up 192 laser beams, focused their energy into a pulse with the punch of a speeding truck, and fired it at a pellet of nuclear fuel the size of a peppercorn. So began a campaign by the National Ignition Facility (NIF) to achieve the goal it is named for: igniting a fusion reaction that produces more energy than the laser puts in.

Source: Science Laser fusion reactor approaches ‘burning plasma’ milestone By Daniel CleryNov. 23, 2020

  • The picture explains itself. llnl.gov/news/… Nov 24, 2020 at 6:36
  • OK. I took a look into the pictures and still wondering the grammar of the phrase: Was I on the right track in interpreting in the OP?
    – NewPlanet
    Nov 24, 2020 at 7:11

1 Answer 1


Your interpretation isn't quite right.
What happened is that the scientists powered up 192 laser beams, and focused their energy to heat up a pellet of material.

Those focused laser beams delivered a large amount of energy into the pellet in a very short time, that is, in a "pulse". That's all that is being described.

As to the truck, the writer has used a very poor metaphor to describe that delivery of power: "the punch of a speeding truck." Trucks don't punch, and whatever speed they have could crush a car if the truck ran into it, but wouldn't do anything to that peppercorn-sized pellet but bump it out of the way.

  • That's it. Thank you. But I don't understand "bump it out of the way", which would cause the experiment to be disrupted.
    – NewPlanet
    Nov 24, 2020 at 10:32
  • 1
    i'm using that phrase to show how bad the truck metaphor is. It doesn't fit at all. Nov 24, 2020 at 15:54
  • I think it's much more than a "poor metaphor". The kinetic energy of the laser pulse is quantitatively similar to that of a speeding truck -- millions of joules. In this sense, the pulse has "the punch of a speeding truck". The point is to visualize that large amount of energy (which, as you note, would completely crush a car) concentrated onto the small pellet. An actual truck impact would not concentrate the energy in that way, but the pulse does.
    – nanoman
    Oct 15, 2021 at 5:58

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