Playing "Still Alive" with a fiber laser and a piece of stainless steel

Chjade84 convinced an Automated Laser Corporation 20 watt fiber laser to play "Still Alive," Jonathan Coulton's epic anthem for Valve's video-game Portal; as a lagniappe, the laser performs this feat while carving Valve's Aperture Science's logo into a stainless steel plate.

There has been a lot of interest in these stainless plates with the Aperture logo (thanks!). I've sent a few emails to Valve asking for their permission to make them for you - it is their logo after all. If you want to be kept in the loop send me a message and I will keep you informed (probably $20-$30 shipped -- stainless ain't cheap!). Thanks again!

Portal's 'Still Alive' Played by Fiber Laser (Thanks, Alan!)



  1. Is it bad that after, what, almost five years now I still enjoy these videos?
    Small correction, you stated the laser carved the valve logo when it actually carved the Aperture Science logo.

  2. “Valve’s logo” is technically correct because they designed it but most would call it “Aperture logo”
    Edit: James was a couple of seconds quicker

    1. I understand your point and slightly agree with you, but when I think of the valve logo i think of that image of a bald man with a valve protruding somewhere from his skull (they seem to change its location with each new game they release; not that there are a whole lot of those….)

  3. Lasers are awesome, but maybe not for music. Sometimes slightly flat and nearly as melodious as a Stylophone.

  4. Started to watch the video for the concept, had to finish watching because I’m apparently physically incapable of shutting off any rendition of “Still Alive”.

  5. Gah, I thought the track was fun when I heard it in-game, but it’s so old now, I thought it was too much when I could download the track for Guitar Hero, and that was at least 2 years ago.

  6. Sure.

    But would anybody kindly explain to me how the plate is tuned? I must be stupid, but I can’t understand how a superhot light beam can vibrate at discrete frequencies something apparently lying flat on something else.

    1. You’re hearing the laser pulse rate, not the plate’s resonance. Each pulse makes a short popping sound as the metal vaporizes.

  7. I’m sorry, sir, but your job has been held up in CAM for two days. We’re not sure quite what the programming problem is, but I’ll see that it gets etched right away.

  8. This is so much full of win it knocked me right over!!!!

    But… I… I never realized it was a Jonathan Coulton song! Or I’ve forgotten… my memory is shorter than my nose. I’m so ashamed, please don’t take my geek badge away from me!!!

  9. Somehow, I misread that and was expecting Aretha Franklin’s “I Will Survive.”

    While I understand that this sentiment would not be shared by all here if they were under my circumstance, I was disappointed.

    1. And here I was expecting “Stayin’ Alive.”  Which, while certainly possessed of the groove to make your booty move, probably wouldn’t work so well played on the LaserSteel as this tune does.

      I’ve always liked “Still Alive” since I first played Portal a few years back, but I’m pretty sure it’s the only Jonathan Coulton song I’ve ever heard.  Is he, like, a thing?

      1. Technically, he’s a person not a thing, but yes. He is also an extremely talented musician, and very funny. The other song of his most people are familiar with is Code Monkey.

  10. Awesome to see someone use “lagniappe” in a sentence that isn’t about the word itself.  

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