An atom, molecule or Bacterium placed at the focal point of the world's most powerful x-ray laser doesn't stand a chance. Up to a trillion high-energy photons, moving in unison, sweep through the matter, heating it to more than one million degrees Celsius—hot as the solar corona—in less than a trillionth of a second. When a pulse of such extreme radiation hits neon atoms, all 10 electrons boil off each atom, and the denuded nuclei explode away from their similarly ionized neighbors. The obliteration leaves a trail of destruction that can illuminate some of the mysteries of nature.