Homemade laser pops 100 balloons

Scott A. Stevenson modded a Blu-ray laser flashlight to run at 500mW and used it to pop 100 black balloons. For science!

100 black balloons vs. Blu-ray laser! It is all over in under 8 seconds. The sound they make as they pop is a bit mesmerizing! Note: The laser used in this video is custom made from a flashlight body and the laser diode from a 12X speed Blu-ray burner drive and not purchased in a store or online.

Laser Videos by WorldScott.com (via Geekologie)


  1. That was very cool. I love it when people do the cool stuff I”m too lazy or unqualified to do :-)

    I hope anyone thinking of messing with laser diode of this kind will think of each one of those balloons as a retina. Even the reflected light from this laser can cause instant blindness.

  2. I’m taking 100-1 that the NRA are already lobbying for preparation of a bill to illegalize this kind of WMD production.  On the basis handheld lazers (pew-pew) were not foreseen by the writers of the 2nd Amendment.

      1. Methinks you’re confusing the minority ideological NRA with the majority gun manufacturer-funded NRA. Under these circumstances, expect the NRA to behave like the RIAA when faced with new competition.

  3. The number of balloons is immaterial as they were popped individually. The distance to the furthest balloon popped is what’s key here.

          1.  Everyone wondering about why the balloons pop slower the further away they are should ‘like’ Mark Dow’s comment here because it is correct.


  4. Physics problem: Compute the velocity at which the “front” of popped balloons proceeds forward.

  5. I like how it slows down towards the end as the delivered power diminishes with distance from the aperture.  Nice demonstration of the imperfection of the laser.

    1. Yes, I came here to say this.

      With some math, you could work out exactly how much the power of the laser diminishes over distance by the increase in time required to pop each one.

    1. Scattering?  Lazers are visible in both Star Wars and Star Trek.  In deep space.  Nothing there.

      Lazers are just visible pew-pew.

    2. Dust particles and air molecules. Interesting question to ask (and enlightening answers can be googled, i think) in case of air molecules: why is the sky blue?

      1. You know, in one of my senior year physics classes the professor asked that question and no one in the class got it right. 

    1. So do “homemade” cookies involve growing your own wheat?
      If he just put a PS3 on the ground next to those balloons, the video would’ve been a lot less interesting. :P

  6. Is there a reason why the balloons had to be black?  As the video begins, we are informed he’s using “100 black balloons.” Since that’s obvious, why not simply say 100 balloons unless the color black is integral to the experiment. And I don’t think black balloons are as common as other lighter colors.

    1. Black is black because it doesn’t reflect (much) light, and all that energy has to end up somewhere. In this case it gets absorbed into the balloon, which speeds up how fast it bursts.

    2. Black balloons absorb more of the energy whereas white balloons reflect more (with the colours inbetween absorbing their varying amounts). So yes: colour is important.

  7. I would have been far more impressed if he’d had a turret assembly to track and shoot down the balloons instead of having put them all in a line.

      1. I’m gonna start hearing “Can you come over… here?” in my dreams now.

  8. They didn’t fill the balloons up with hydrogen gas too?  They really didn’t think this through enough.

  9. Great. Now it’s going to fall into the hands of a super-villain who is going to totally ruin some kiddie birthday parties. Why do you hate us, science?!?

  10. I’ve worked with class 4 lasers and videos like this one scare the shit out of me. Easily accessible 500+ mW lasers in the hands of people uneducated about effects of laserlight on things like retinas will lead to lots of serious accidents.

    1. Way I see it, as long as the number of people with burnt out eyeballs is less than the number of people maimed in gun accidents (something like 16,000 per year in the US), it’s no big deal. 

      Given how enthusiastically gun rights are defended, anything producing fewer incidents is totally okay, right?

    2. OK, so wear protection if you have retinas or are a black balloon. Anything else, Mr. Cryptic?

  11. I work with lasers in the 1KW – 8KW class for a living.  They’re safe* with reasonable precautions.  Even this 0.5W laser is not safe when exposed.  This can be done without risk but it’s not to be undertaken casually.

    * except the one I caused a small fire in the other day by dragging my sleeve over a switch while inspecting optics.

  12. When I was young I used to stare at our old wooden radiogram and pretend it had a TV screen . Then , once we had a tv I saw the trailer for Star Trek . I was blown away ! Now , a blue laser blows up balloons and I see a ship born laser can bring down a drone . We live in wondrous times . Great effort . Well done . 

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