What is the Star Trek sequel shooting inside a government lab?

We're finally starting to see some real clues to what's going on in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek sequel. We know who the villain is, we know Spock is up to something volcanic, and now we have word that the flick is shooting inside a massive government lab. So what can that tell us?

We don't know how many members of the cast are there, or how long they're staying, but it was confirmed this week that the flick is filming scenes at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. The lab is part of the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, and includes the National Ignition Facility, which the LLNL website hails as "the world's largest laser."

According to Dale Kaye, a Livermore Valley film commissioner, the scenes will be filmed inside the NIF, a massive structure the size of three football fields (that picture up there is a bit of what it looks like on the inside) filled with all kinds of fun futuristic equipment. Normally the NIF is home to laser experiments in which 192 laser beams are fired at a target center to generate massive quantities of energy.

From the NIF website:

"When all that energy slams into millimeter-sized targets, it can generate unprecedented temperatures and pressures in the target materials--temperatures of more than 100 million degrees and pressures more than 100 billion times Earth's atmosphere. These conditions are similar to those in the stars and the cores of giant planets or in nuclear weapons."

With power like that on their hands, we doubt the NIF is going to let Abrams and company waltz in and switch everything on just for the movie cameras, so we can assume they're just after the look of the place. So where will the NIF fit into the story? Is this one of Khan's superhuman schemes? Is Spock rocking some kind of science mission? We're not sure, but it seems that this time around the Enterprise crew will be venturing much farther from the bridge.

(Via Mercury News)

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