Laser Friday

News on lasers of all sizes hitting targets of all sizes…  let’s start small – hey, small is beautiful, after all.  Besides, this is one laser you could own at a reasonable size one day.

Small Gun, Lots of Small Targets

Former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold currently runs aptly named Intellectual Ventures.  At TED (not to be confused with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) he presented a laser system that can shoot down mosquitoes at a rate of 50-100 mosquitoes per second (!).  Here’s a demo video – obviously in slow motion:

The best part: he assembled this system from commercially available parts, in fact some components were acquired on eBay.  The guiding software is said to be refined enough to not only find the target, but determine their size, speed, sound characteristics, in fact separating females (the gender that bytes humans) from males, and only hit the real enemies.  So your birds, pets and neighbors are safe. That is, until a hacker decides to experiment 🙂

If this sounds like mini Star Wars, here’s the real thing:

The Big Bang.  Big Gun, Big Target

The US Airforce’s he Airborne Laser Testbed system had a successful test off the California coast this week, when an airborne laser successfully  destroyed a missile minutes after it’s launch, while it was still in boost phase:

Not sure if the youtube version of the video will be allowed to stay on, but here’s a link to another version. While the experiment was technically successful, the future of the program is in doubt: there is only one system on one single airplane.

Well, let’s see, I promised all sizes: we’ve had the Big One, and a small laser against lots of tiny targets.  Let’s see what happens when lots of small lasers target on tiny target.

192 Lasers Hitting One Little Target

A research team at Livermore National Laboratory successfully fired a focuses array of 192 laser beams at a helium-filled target no larger than a BB shot and instantly heated it to 6 million degrees Fahrenheit. The gas vanished in a tiny explosion.   Wow… I wonder how they measured 6 million degrees?  But it’s nothing, the objective is to reach 200 million degrees.

Heartwarming news… especially that I live a mere 10 miles from that Lab.  But not all is lost, I got some assurances from Charlie 🙂

@ZoliErdos we’ll try to remember you after the The Ignition

Thanks.  Forever 🙂

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve )

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