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When one of Hye-Sook Park’s experiments goes well, everyone nearby knows. “We can hear Hye-Sook screaming,” she’s heard colleagues say.

It’s no surprise that she can’t contain her excitement. She’s getting a closeup look at the physics of exploding stars, or supernovas, a phenomenon so immense that its power is difficult to put into words.

Rather than studying these explosions from a distance through telescopes, Park, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, creates something akin to these paroxysmal blasts using the world’s highest-energy lasers.

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